by Mina Fies
Aside from cabinetry, countertops are perhaps the most eye-catching feature of a kitchen, and thus should receive ample consideration during design. When it comes down to it though, your countertop selections – which should make up about 7 percent of your kitchen’s budget – may suffer from a lack of inspiration. Many homeowners fall back on a popular standby material, granite, for a clean and upscale look. Others may balk at the price or might just want to break away from the trend. Lucky for homeowners and designers, there are seemingly endless options for kitchen countertops in terms of material and style. Here, we’ll try to debunk some myths regarding the all-important kitchen topper, while also providing some fresh ideas.
1) A granite or stone look is too expensive for my budget
Granite is priced in different levels – with less exotic patterns coming in at around $50 to $65 a square foot – but if a slab is out of your price range, it doesn’t mean you have to forego the upscale look. Granite tiles cost considerably less than a slab, at about $25 to $50 per square foot. Depending on the grout color you choose, a tile countertop can come very close to resembling a solid surface.
In addition to granite tiles, there are other materials that can effectively mimic the sleek look of natural stone. Engineered quartz, such as Silestone or Zodiaq, is a durable material made from crushed quartz and resin binders. It’s as tough as granite, but is also stain-resistant, anti-microbial, and non-porous, so it doesn’t have to be sealed. Quartz countertop comes in hundreds of colors, so you can achieve a granite look or go in a whole other direction. For a slightly lower price tag, acrylic solid-surfacing (Corian or LG HI-MACS, for example) achieves a similar look and comes in just as many colors, though it’s not as hard or heat resistant as other options.
2) Concrete is only for sidewalks and driveways (and it has to be grey)
Concrete is in fact a newly popular kitchen countertop material, largely because of its eco-friendly properties. Concrete can be made with large percentages of post-industrial resources and other recycled materials such as paper and glass. The style options for concrete surfaces are more numerous than you might think. Pigments can be added to the mix to create colors, from brown or black to cream, and even some more vibrant hues. The best feature of concrete is that it can be cast on-site and customized for your space. It is easy to create free-form shapes and even to set other unique materials into the slab, such as pieces of glass, metal, or stones. A concrete countertop will require an epoxy sealer to prevent stains, and may need resealing every so often. Make sure your installer is experienced with concrete countertops, to ensure that the end result is soundly constructed and beautiful.
3) All of the countertop in the kitchen has to be the same material
An easy way to create interest in your kitchen is to vary the materials that you use. Don’t be afraid to introduce one or two different types of countertop without losing the cohesiveness of your design. An especially striking material on a central island will add a “wow” factor when guests come into your home. You might want to feature a reclaimed piece of wood or a dramatic copper, or simply vary the color used on the rest of the counters (black against white, for example). Many homeowners like to designate a certain area of countertop for a specialty material which is useful for chopping or kneading, such as butcher block or marble. Showcasing an elegant material in one area of your kitchen is also a good way to make a statement while adhering to a budget. By finishing the rest of the countertops with a less expensive material in a similar color or something different, you will save more money than if you finished the whole kitchen with an exotic granite.
Don’t be hesitant to do something different in your kitchen! As long as you get all the facts regarding cleaning, sealing, and upkeep to maximize your counter’s lifetime, many options are available to you. Easy and budget-conscious touches of personality will ensure your space unique.
© Mina Fies is the Founder and CEO of Synergy Design & Construction, Inc. To learn more about Mina or request your FREE Kitchen Remodeling Roadmap™ using our contact us page, please visit www.renovatehappy.com
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