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Your Guide to Choosing Countertops in Pittsburgh April 18, 2016

Choosing a Countertop

It is tempting to choose countertops based on looks alone, but the materials’ durability, the maintenance involved and cost are also important factors to consider. Homeowners also need to access the way they live and how their countertop will be used before making a decision on which countertops will best fit their needs.

How Lifestyle Affects Your Countertop Choice

How you use your countertop is important when selecting between the different materials that are available on the market today. Some materials will hold up better than others, so it is important to take this into consideration when choosing a countertop. If you have three kids and are making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches every day, it may not be a good idea to go with a marble, soapstone or an exotic granite. Each of these are better for low traffic kitchens, as they can scratch easier than other options and may require a bit more maintenance. If you like a specific look of a countertop, but the material doesn’t match your lifestyle, don’t despair. There are several materials available that can give you a similar look and will also fit your individual needs.

Countertop Types

What Countertop Material Will Work Best for You?

Granite

Granite is currently the number one choice in countertops. Granite comes in a variety of shades, such as: black, white, green, color and beige. No two pieces of granite will be exactly the same given that it is a natural material. This is a plus because it provides a unique and interesting look for countertops while still offering a sophisticated and seamless appearance.

Pros: can be used with an under-mounted sink and also hold up to spills and heat. They are also resistant to scratching.

Cons: corners are prone to chipping and will need to be repaired if this happens. Granite countertops also need to be sealed periodically to continue to be stain resistant, which is an added maintenance cost that needs to be considered.

The cost of granite can depend on several variables such as the color, the finish, and the origin of the stone itself. Choosing imported granite will be more expensive since you have to factor in the cost of shipping. As an example, imported granite shipped from Zimbabwe will only ship once a year. This makes this choice for granite not only more expensive, but also less accessible which could delay your kitchen remodel. These are other factors to consider when choosing your countertop.

Quartz

Quartz is also known as engineered stone, due to being made up of stone chips, resins and pigments. While some of the material used to make quartz countertops are naturally occurring, quartz is not considered to be a natural material.

Pros: comes in an array of vibrant colors and styles that closely mimic natural stone countertops. They are perfect for heavily used kitchens that may see a lot of abuse. Quartz resists stains, heat, and scratching. It is also waterproof, so it can be used with an under-mounted sink. Quartz also does not need to be sealed, which is a savings to the homeowner.

Cons: because Quartz is engineered, the patterns can sometimes appear to be unnaturally uniform which may not appeal to those that prefer a natural look. While Quartz is a fairly durable material, the corners of these countertops can chip which will have to be repaired by a professional. Quartz is fairly expensive due to its durability and low maintenance. The cost is comparable to granite and in some cases slightly more expensive.

Marble:

Marble is a beautiful and classic natural stone that has been widely used in Europe for ages.

Pros: small nicks and scratches can be polished out of marble countertops. Marble does not conduct heat very well so it stays natural cool all year round. This is a major plus to those that make baked goods and pastries fairly often, as the surface is perfect for rolling out dough.

Cons: softer than granite and requires more delicate use and greater care. Marble countertops must be sealed periodically. Marble can chip and stain more easily than granite as well. If you have hard water where you live, it is possible that it will leave stains on your marble, even if it has been sealed.

Recycled Glass

Recycled glass countertops offer a contemporary and unique style for the home. Recycled glass countertops consist of recycled shards of glass that are placed together to create interesting and perhaps colorful design option.

Pros: design possibilities are endless. Recycled glass provides a truly unique look that you can be proud of. The material durable as well as being resistant to heat, cuts and scratches.

Cons: recycled glass can be highly susceptible to cracks and chips. These are costly to repair for a homeowners. While recycled glass is said to be heat resistant, it has been found that high heat has caused hairline cracks in the surface of these countertops, so extra caution should be placed to keep the countertops from cracking or chipping.

Soapstone

Soapstone is a natural stone material similar to granite, but much softer. It also has a beautiful matte finish or can be polished for a nice glossy finish.

Pros: resistant to staining, heat, and etching from acid. Small scratches can be buffed or oiled away on a soapstone countertop. Soapstone does not need to be sealed or cleaned with any type of special cleaner. Any regular household cleaner will work on its surface.

Cons: because it is softer than granite, it will require more delicate use and greater care. Soapstone countertops must be sealed periodically. Soapstone is also not as common, so it may be harder to get and more expensive than other stone countertop options. Soapstone countertops need regular oiling and buffing. The color of the countertops also tends to darken over time, which may be undesirable to some. In addition, there aren’t as many color and style options available.

Solid Surface

Solid surface countertops are made of polyester or acrylic resins that are combined with mineral fillers. This countertop material has a lot of appeal because of the endless design possibilities. Since solid surface countertops are a manufactured material they can be shaped into almost any shape imaginable. The ability to shape this material works well for those that have unique design ideas. Solid surface countertops also offer the ability to add colors and designs to them for a truly one of a kind look.

Pros: solid surface countertops are resistant to heat and impact. If the material does end up getting small chips or scratches they can be easily be buffed out instead of needing to have extensive repair. Solid surface works with under-mounted sinks and is waterproof unlike natural material countertops. This material can also be used as a backsplash which offers a cohesive look to your kitchen. The joints on solid surface countertops are practically invisible as well which guarantees a desirable, seamless finish.

Cons: solid surface countertops can stain or scratch fairly easily, so some care and caution needs to be taken to keep the countertops looking good for years to come. Solid surface is less expensive than other materials such as marble, granite, and Quartz.

If you are remodeling your kitchen and need expert advice and installation of countertops, then contact Lexmar. Lexmar has many options and styles of countertops to choose from. Contact them today and have your dream kitchen become a reality in no time.