Tips on Ultimate Kitchen Countertops
If cabinets define the design of the kitchen then kitchen countertops are the finishing touches, like the leather upholstery in a thoroughbred automobile. They are not only important for the symmetry of the kitchen but they are the working areas as well. Without good countertops food preparation can be a chore instead of a great pastime. Not only does a kitchen countertop reflect the tastes of the homeowner, and provide tastes for the dinner table, it is a long-term investment that could reap rewards when it comes time to sell the home.
Natural Stone Drives Kitchen Countertops
During the past ten years Canadian homeowners who are building a kitchen have been drawn to the polished surfaces of natural stone. Polished-stone surfaces are very durable and add a dash of elegance to kitchen and bathroom vanity countertops. In addition, there is a stone product that can match almost any decor. For the environment, natural stone does not give off dangerous, organic gases when manufactured and is available in abundant quantities. The only drawback is the natural stone is porous and has to be sealed at least twice a year.
The crème de la crème of kitchen countertops in Canada is granite. Available in a myriad of colours and textures granite can be mined in China or locally. In fact, many brands of granite countertops come from quarries that are not more than five hundred miles away. This cuts down on transportation costs and puts Canadian granite in a competitive area.
Probably one of the world's first countertops was made from marble as archeologists have found polished marble surfaces in the ruins of Roman villages. The colouring and veins in marble make it an outstanding fashion piece for the home. Coupled with a matching backsplash marble suddenly transforms the kitchen into an area right out of a picture in a trendy renovation magazine.
Both marble and travertine are hardened limestone with marble having been under pressure longer. Travertine is more porous but can show more of the vibrant colours that came from the leeching of the sandstone sediments. Impurities, including copper, iron and carbon, can appear as blossoms or wide swaths in the polished surface. Like granite and marble, travertine is very porous and needs regular sealing.
Usually thought of as the medium of Inuit carvings, soapstone makes a great countertop surface. Soapstone is also known for its beautiful grey, dark-green and black colours. However, unlike granite, marble and travertine soapstone is non-porous and so doesn’t need to be regularly sealed. The knock against soapstone is that it is softer and so easier to scratch than other natural stone. After cleaning an application of mineral oil will help erase scratches and bring back the deep colouring.
Another metamorphic stone, like marble, the beautiful colours of slate are due to the process of eons of pressure. These include dark-greys, reds, coppers, turquoises and blacks. Although slightly porous slate needs only slight sealing o maintain the rich colours.
The Beauty of Engineered Stone
Engineered stone is manufactured to imitate the look of natural stone by mixing small stone chips with resins and natural colouring. They are also non-porous and resist stains without the use of a sealer. While these surfaces are not designed for heavy impacts like many natural stones, engineered stone is resistant to scratching, burning and staining.
A combination of resins and natural fillers, solid surface countertops mimic the look of natural and engineered stone surfaces. They are non-porous, resist stains and come in a wide variety of designs and colours. In addition, backsplashes can be manufactured with the countertops for a seamless fit. Scratches and blemishes can be can be filled or polished out. However, setting hot pans on these surfaces can cause discoloration.
When countertops were first by the pioneers they were made of wood. Today, the natural look of wood countertops is very desirable for an authentic look to a kitchen. Woods like maple, walnut and cherry are popular as each wide plank provides a unique character that changes down the length of the piece. Butcher block counters can be easily installed and sealed for a practical counter surface.
Many modern kitchen designs look to commercial operations where the stainless-steel countertop has been a mainstay for decades. Easy-to-clean and extremely durable stainless-steel can be polished to a high shine with jeweler's rouge or left raw for a brushed-look. But the best part about these counters is that they are readily available second-hand at places that sell used restaurant supplies.
For those homeowners who want an artful taste to their kitchens a polished concrete countertop will provide a decorative focus in the kitchen. Built on site the standard 1 1/2-inch thick countertops can be customized to include fossils, metal strips, coloured glass or any other products to make accents in the concrete. However, they are expensive and can run anywhere from $100 to $150 per square foot.