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Need Countertops? Are you building a new home? If so you might be interested in learning about the different countertop options.
There are several countertop options to choose from, here are some of the most common ones that I specify for my interior design clients.
Engineered quartz: this is by far the most common type of countertop that people are installing in their new homes. Natural quartz, one of the hardest and most common minerals on Earth. It is the most durable, beautiful countertop on the market today. It also has anti-microbial properties, making it food safe and because of its dense structure is does not require any sealant (as does granite). They pulverized quartz and mix it with a resin to hold it's shape. Usually the ratio
will consist of 93% stone aggregates by weight and 7% resin.
Important note: there are several budget countertop suppliers that do not have the same quartz/resin ratio as the top three engineered quartz manufacturers. These suppliers may have more resin added and less quartz. I strongly caution my clients to stay away from any of the lesser priced/ budget manufacturers. The quartz is often not food safe and they can stain very easily. I have a client who selected a budget priced engineered quartz on her own and spilled turmeric on the countertop. Unfortunately, it stained the surface and it was very challenging to remove. She did get some of the stain out but you could still see it mildly embedded in the surface of the engineered quartz.
With low cost quartz you may find:
The top three engineered quartz companies I use are Caesarstone, Silestone and Cambria. I find Cambria has more 'Granite looking' countertops, some clients like that but as a designer I find them quite busy looking and I prefer a more classic looking countertop. Personally I love Caesarstone as I find that they have great patterns that are simple but classic looking and they have great colorways without splotches of resin in them (which can make them look like a brownish Gray blob).
Granite: Most of my clients don't use granite anymore, it has a very strong pattern comprised of several colours. When using Granite you absolutely must select the rest of the components for your kitchen or bathroom; based on one of the many colours found in that particular granite. Adding another colour not found in the granite creates a very busy look to the home. Personally, I have not specified this since 2005 as I find it too busy looking.
Granite is only about 40% to 60% quartz, along with other softer minerals and impurities.
Dekton: is a newer countertop material, very beautiful looking and also very expensive. Dekton is offered in slabs of varying thicknesses that can be adapted to your design based on the application and the desired effect. It has a high scratch, stain and heat resistant rating and is available in very large slabs.
Corian: we started using this in the 1980s or so and although it looks beautiful it has a tendency to scratch so I don't recommend it anymore.
Laminate countertops: this is the most cost-friendly countertop. It comes in a variety of colours. They do look a little like a 'picture of a stone' but when you need to be budget-friendly this is absolutely a perfect alternative. We have it in our Laundry room.
Quartzite: Quartzite is a metamorphic rock made almost entirely of the mineral quartz. It is a very hard Stone and is very durable. One caution is that suppliers often sell countertops labelled as quartzite when in reality it is a softer limestone or marble product.
A good way to determine if this is true quartzite or a look-alike is to take a sharp metal object and try to scratch sample of the material. If it scratches it is definitely not quartzite is more likely a soft limestone. Another test would be using lemon juice or vinegar. Apply this to the sample and leave it for 15 to 20 minutes. If it does not etch then it is quartzite, if it does etch then again it is mislabeled and it's not true quartzite.
What about Super White?
Super White is one of the stones that is frequently caught in the quartzite vs. marble question. Most commonly, Super White is dolomitic marble. That means it can be scratched with a knife, and it will etch with acids. Some Super White has minor amounts of quartz mixed in with the marble. But the rock is still marble and will act like marble so be warned.
Marble: This is the most beautiful countertop in my opinion. It does need to be sealed yearly and even with sealing has a tendency to absorb stains such as red wine and it if you happen to cut a lemon on the surface or spill a vinaigrette, it will etch. Some clients absolutely love it and they are willing to accept the stains and etching. It can also be repolished but this is certainly an added cost. Most of my clients are quite busy without time for upkeep, so I don't specify a marble countertop very often.
Wood: We occasionally use it for kitchen island countertops, not usually for the perimeter as it's not good with water. But it sure looks beautiful!
I hope this article helps show you the different types of countertops available and the pros and cons for each one.
If you need help designing your own home we have on site and online services where we can specify all finishes for your beautiful new home. We would love to help.
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Jil Sonia McDonald - Interior Designer of Jil Sonia Interior Designs.