Thursday, December 15

How to pick your countertop

Many people don't know which countertops surface will match their kitchen best. A question I get often is "Do you match your cabinets?" "How much contrast cos right?" Well, here are some quick tips to get you started.

Contrasting the Cabinets: While the right amount of contrast is personal choice, you don't want to try to match. Now I will admit a white marble top on a white painted cabinet is one of my favorite combinations, it is a rare exception. Think of it this way, light tops darker cabinets, light cabinets darker tops. Of you have a mid range finish cabinets, then you can go either lighter or darker.

Next, everyone I talk to wants this super invincible top that will withstand the Apocalypse with no maintenance. I am sorry to tell you all, I haven't found that surface yet. Yes there are scratch resistant tops and heat resistant and highly durable, but they can still get damaged. Here are some of the more popular tops an their features.

Granite: a nature made surface and very durable. Many people shy away from this surface due to maintenance and sealing requirements, however it is exceptional easy. Also, many suppliers are now selling granite that has been treated with a permanent sealer that is typically warranties for ten to fifteen years. Granite is heat resistant and scratch resistant, however keep in mind resistant, not proof! Granite can be scratched with harder or equally hard stones like other pieces of granite or diamonds. It is recommended that you DO NOT cut directly on granite, as you probably won't scratch it, but you can destroy your knives and cutting tools. As for heat resistance, it can withstand heats up to 400 degrees, however it is advised that you again, DO NOT put hot things directly on it. If you are needing to put something hot on it as an emergency, by all means. However it is good practice to consistently use hot pads and trivets, as granite had small hairline cracks that with exposure to heat, can cause them to "pop" and break, similar to the earth and earthquakes.

Quartz: surfaces are very similar to granite, however since they are typically man made they are much more consistent. These tops do not require sealing but as far as heat and scratch resistance, they are very similar to granite. There are quite a few manufacturers of quartz surfaces so it is best to check the specs of the specific surface you choose.  Most quartz surfaces by companies like Silestone, Cambria, and Caesarstone are a man made material, but some stone companies will sell solid quartz slabs that are nature made.  They look similar, and are priced similar, so

European Style Kitchen with Corian 
Acrylic: also known commonly as Corian, is a softer surface that is repairable and maintenance free. Since it is softer, it can scratch much easier, but the lighter the surface the less visible. Also, since they are repairable, you can easily repair them yourself or have the fabricator fix it for you. These surfaces are available in glossy and matte, however the matte finish is much more forgiving under heavy use. I had Corian in my house for several years and it looked as good the day we moved out as it did the day it was installed. It is best to use cutting boards and hot pads with this surface, just like granite and quartz.

Formica 180FX 
Laminate: also commonly known as Formica, is One of the least expensive surfaces available. We have all had a laminate top, remember back to that first apartment you rented. They are not as scratch resistant as a granite or quartz, and they aren't repairable like acrylic, but they are still a great contender in the countertop market. They are typically maintenance free, and come in hundreds of colors, including granite, quartz, and other natural stone inspired finishes. Laminate tops also have several different sheen's and textures, including new upgraded finishes such as High Def by Wilsonart and FX by Formica.

I will tell you, not every family will chose the same surface type. If they did, then there wouldn't be so many choices. It is best to review the information given above as well as the information provided my manufacturers, fabricators, etc. and make sure you are getting the best surface to suit your families needs (and budget)!