Types of Kitchen Countertops to Choose From - Wood, Laminate, Ceramic & More
All countertops need not be created equal. Besides giving you a customized look, using two or more materials, such as marble, wood and laminate, can yield separate countertop areas devoted to specific tasks, especially in the kitchen. This could include pastry making or chopping. And judiciously mixing materials can make your renovation dollars go further. You can splurge on, say, marble for the island and then use plastic laminate for other counters. Your choices include:
- Wood: Factory made butcher block made of thick, laminated hardwood pieces in standard counter width (25 inches) is sold by the linear foot, ordinarily in 2 to 12 foot sections. Because it's prone to warping and/or cracking when exposed to moisture, keep it away from the sink. Most stains, scratches and burns can be sanded out. An alternative is inexpensive construction-grade pine two by sixes, but these need to be professionally glued, clamped, sanded, sealed and finished, a labor intensive process that may make them more expensive than a butcher block.
- Plastic laminate: New-generation laminates are colored all the way through, so those unsightly black seams are no longer a problem Besides durability and easy maintenance, there's an almost limitless range of colors, patterns and textures available by the square foot. Pre-laminated counters in stock sizes are somewhat cheaper, but color choices will be limited.
- Ceramic tile: Glazed tiles resist stains, water and grease better than the unglazed kind but are more apt to crack from hot pots and pans. Plan on spending a fair amount of money on installs. Ceramic tile itself is practically maintenance-free. But grout will absorb grease, stains and moisture. Just seal the grout with liquid silicone or another sealant when the tile's installed and a few times a year afterwards.
- Synthetic marble: Another popular kitchen countertop idea! In a solid color or slightly grained, it looks like white or almond marble but is made of natural minerals and acrylics in half-inch thickness in most cases. The material maybe cut and worked like wood using ordinary power saws and routers.
- Marble, granite and slate: All are subject to staining to some degree, especially by liquids like wine and lemon juice, making them a more logical choice for a bathroom than kitchen. But what some calls stains, others call charm. Marble is an organic material that ages well. As for price, cutting and finishing runs up the tab a bit more than buying the materials raw or "as-is". If your plan calls for curves, elaborate edges or cut-outs, the cost goes up. Corian can mimic honed marble but costs much less. Seamless laminates yield solid colo surfaces or layered edge treatment.