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Counter Considerations

Considering new countertops for your kitchen or bath? Many homeowners in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex are doing the same! Whether you are upgrading for your own enjoyment or planning to put your house on the market, updating your counters can dramatically improve the look of the space. Counter material options run the gamut in terms of colors and cost, so it’s usually possible to find a material you love at a price that works for your budget.

How to choose your countertop

There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to selecting countertop colors or materials. High-contrast combinations like dark cabinets with light counters or white cabinets with black granite or marble look modern and sleek. Going with varying shades in the same color family, such as off-white cabinets with ivory-colored quartz, creates a timeless, elegant look. Mid-tone wood cabinets have been popular for decades, due in part to their ability to pair so well with so many types of countertops and décor styles. Both an industrial décor style and urban farmhouse styles can pair well with soapstone, a natural stone that is usually a dark grey color. Avonite, Corian, and Swanstone are all man-made, solid-surface materials that come in a nearly endless variety of colors that can complement any cabinet color and décor style. With all of the color and material options available, how do you choose?

Let’s look at some of the most popular options in countertop materials for North Texas homeowners.

Granite

Granite has been a very popular countertop material option since the 1990s. While considered a luxury choice, granite’s expense comes with some distinct advantages. Extremely strong and durable, granite is needs nearly no maintenance when properly treated with sealers. It is almost impervious to heat. In addition, granite is considered a major upgrade and therefore adds resale value to your home. However, DIY installation is not possible with granite countertops. Granite counters can crack if not installed correctly. The stone is porous and can be stained if not well-sealed.

Marble

Marble is a luxurious natural stone that provides great beauty as a counter, but it does present some challenges. Marble is heat resistant and waterproof, but it can be stained or scratched fairly easily. This stone must be sealed regularly to help reduce the risk of staining. Its expense can be countered by the benefit of adding resale value to your home, but must be carefully maintained and making repairs on stained, cracked, or damaged marble is difficult. DIY installation is not possible with marble.

Soapstone

The deep gray color of soapstone takes on a darker, antique-like patina over time that works well with certain kitchen styles and in historic homes. It is highly impervious to heat and somewhat stain resistant. While soapstone is a very hard stone, scratches and damage can occur. However, most can be sanded off if desired; otherwise, the distressed appearance may contribute to the antique impression. Regular application of mineral oil can help to develop the darker patina faster. As with other natural stones, DIY installation is not possible.

Quartz

Beautiful quartz countertops are not solid quartz slabs that have been quarried like granite or marble. Quarts countertops are an engineered stone material composed of quartz particles and other minerals, which is then shaped into slabs and bound with resins. Quartz is designed to be a more functional, lower-maintenance alternative to natural stone counters. However, quartz is very heavy, so DIY installation is not recommended. It is a nonporous surface that requires no sealing and is resistant to both stains and scratches. Because it is a man-made product, it is available in an extensive range of colors, including combinations with veining or patterns that are very similar to marble and granite.

Solid-surface materials

Solid-surface material counters are composed of a blend of acrylic particles and resins that are pressed into sheets. While originally considered a luxury choice of material, solid-surface material is now a mid-range cost option and a practical choice for many homeowners. It is stain resistant and low-maintenance. However, it can be damaged by hot pans, so care should be taken to prevent contact. Professional installation is recommended.

DIY Counter Options

Ceramic or porcelain tile

Ceramic or porcelain tiles come in more color and design options than most other countertop materials, making it a fantastic choice when you want a unique look. Ceramic and porcelain tiles offer more design options than nearly any other countertop material. The cost of updating countertops with tile will vary according to the cost of the tiles selected, but DIY installation can help keep the expense down. Tiles are low-maintenance, heat resistant, and easy to clean. It is possible for tiles to crack under impact, but replacement of damaged sections is much easier than with other types of countertops.

Laminate

Laminate counters are plastic-coated synthetics with a smooth surface. They are created by bonding the laminate sheets to a particleboard (MDF) core. Laminate countertops can be purchased as pre-formed segments (called "post-form countertops"), or custom-fabricated to specifications. Easy to install and to clean, laminates are the lowest-cost option in countertop materials. Due to the recent surge in retro designs, laminate countertops are seeing increased popularity. However, if upgrading in order to put your home on the market, consult with your realtor, as laminate countertops may not seen as a desirable countertop material for the buyers in your area.

Conclusion

There are lots of kitchen and bath countertop options on the market and each material has its pros and cons. Some are budget-friendly and some are quite expensive. Some resist staining and scratching, while others can be easily damaged. The right option for you will depend on your goals for the update and your budget.

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