It’s no doubt that we spend an exorbitant amount of time in our kitchens. These spaces have become much more than a place to cook a meal. Kitchens are places where families congregate to share recaps of their day over a meal. Kitchens are where guests tend to hang out at family events and holidays. For this reason, homeowners are forking out big dollars to renovate these spaces to make them more functional and also more comfortable.
Of the various items that tend to be renovated or replaced in a kitchen, the biggest tend to be appliances, cabinets and countertops. Though all of these items serve a specific function and need within the home, the countertop tends to be the one that experiences the most traffic. From sitting and eating around a kitchen island to plating and serving food to even doing your homework or paying the bills, the countertop plays a vital role in any kitchen space.
If you are thinking of investing in a new kitchen countertop, there are many considerations to ponder. If you are thinking of stone, it is likely because you love the simple and understated elegance. But stone is also well known for its durability, ease in maintenance and overall value for your home.
As you start to think about what you want for your countertop, consider first how your kitchen is used. Are you a baker? A chef? Do you like to experiment? Or is take-out more for you and your countertop is used when you are entertaining? Maybe you just use your countertop to pay the bills. Whatever it is that your kitchen is used for, it is good to go into the selection process with a bit of information under your belt. Maintenance is yet another consideration to take into account. Most of the natural stone materials that are used for kitchen countertops require occasional maintenance, such as resealing. And with any kitchen countertop, cleanliness is important so you need to understand that certain stones have certain cleaning requirements.
Here are some of the popular stone surfaces available on the market today:
• Granite – Granite is perhaps the most popular of all stone countertops. Both stain and scratch-resistant and highly durable, granite comes in a variety of colors and finishes which makes it easy to match any look you might be going for. A common concern about granite is that it does need to be sealed after installation and will need resealing approximately once per year. It is also recommended that granite be installed professionally to ensure that it is properly balanced and that your cabinets can withstand the weight.
• Quartz – Though quartz is a fabricated stone and not a natural stone as a full slab, it is created from pieces of natural quartz that are held together with resin. Quartz comes in a variety of colors and it is easy to match whatever look you are going for, as color can be added during the fabrication process. More durable than granite, it isn’t as porous and as such, does not need to be resealed. Though quartz is not a natural stone like granite or marble, its cost is similar to what you would pay for granite and less than what you would pay for marble. You may also discover that quartz has a more polished finish than granite. Therefore, if you want more of a natural look, quartz might not be right for you.
• Marble – Many homeowners desire marble in their homes as they love the subtlety in the typical white or black colorations. Marble can bring warmth to a kitchen, and is known for its elegance and correlation with wealth and prosperity. For bakers, marble is an excellent choice as the surface stays cool, thus making it a great surface to roll dough. On the down side, however, marble is more expensive than quartz or granite. And, it requires regular maintenance including professional sealing. Marble should be sealed every three to six months when the kitchen is used heavily and just slightly less often if the kitchen is not overused. Despite the potential concerns of marble, there are many homemakers who will have nothing but marble for their kitchen countertop. This goes to show that the elegance is worth the extra care in maintenance.
• Soapstone – Though you don’t see this as often, soapstone is another great option. Usually dark in color and with a feel that is smooth and silky to the touch, it serves as an excellent alternative to granite. You will often find soapstone in historic homes and modern homes alike. Many homeowners love how over time, soapstone acquires a dark antique-patina that is quite lovely in the kitchen. Soapstone is quite resistant to stain though it will be subject to scratches. If you elect to go with soapstone, you will need to have it professionally installed. For maintenance, you will need to treat it with mineral oil.
• Slate – Slate countertops offer excellent aesthetics, great durability, heat-resistance and a non-porous surface which makes for easy cleaning. Further, slate requires less overall maintenance than some of its other natural stone countertops such as granite and marble. And, it won’t easily chip or scratch. Slate is quite versatile and works well in kitchens as well as bathrooms and on wet bars.
Whatever stone you decide to go with in the kitchen, you will inevitably add value to your home. Homeowners love natural stone, so whether or not you are building new, renovating for your own enjoyment, or remodeling in preparation to place your home on the market, you really can’t go wrong. As long as you do the proper homework to consider the use and function of your kitchen before you shop, you will find yourself well-armed with the information you need to make the right decision. Natural stone is the most popular choice today, and for so many reasons.
By Jules Hopkins