The style of your countertop is an important consideration for your kitchen or bath remodel, regardless of whether you want a contemporary, traditional, or minimalist look. A new countertop is an investment that should last as long as your kitchen or bathroom cabinets and service your every need. Think about what you’ll be using your countertop for. Do you cook or bake a lot? Could some beauty products potentially stain it? Does the surface need to be heat resistant or able to withstand sharp knives? How much wear and tear could you tolerate? Are you wiser to go with a natural or composite material?
Your countertop needs to harmonize with its surroundings, especially if it’s a waterfall style countertop that sweeps down to blend with your floor material. Cabinets and vanities should work well alongside your countertop. When budgeting for your remodel don’t forget to take installation into account. Some countertops might incorporate sinks in the casting process and others could need extra manpower or skill to install.
An experienced kitchen and bath design professional will help you understand the style, practical, and budgetary considerations when choosing a countertop. Whatever your taste or needs, here is our all-inclusive guide to countertop styles.
Where Do I Start?
It’s important to establish what your priorities are for a countertop material, and this may differ depending on the room and how you use it. Look for a stain and chip resistant material for a bathroom countertop. For a kitchen design, go one step further and look for heat resistance that can withstand food prep requirements. You can always mix materials with a durable quartz and a section of butcher block or marble for a custom-made food prep or baking area.
Choose a shade to go with your overall color scheme and a material that suits your design. Where possible, take a sample home to see how it works in different light in your home.
The type of sink you want can also influence your countertop choice. Undermount, top-mount, vessel, or seamlessly incorporated sinks pair best with specific countertop materials. Ensure you get a quote to include sink cutouts as well as installation and removal of any old countertops. At McDaniels we can advise on all the latest trends and ensure you find the perfect countertop material that pairs with your cabinetry and other kitchen or bathroom design elements.
What Makes a Durable Countertop?
Quartz is undeniably durable and always a popular choice for countertops. It’s engineered from quartz particles combined with resin and can imitate many materials after pigment is added for effect. Marble, concrete, and granite can all be imitated with quartz in a highly durable, nonporous surface that doesn’t need to be re-sealed.
Quartz tolerates heat, but not at a very high temperature. In general, these countertops give you the appearance of high-end materials without the high maintenance. Quartz is a luxury material, so be prepared to commit enough of your bath or kitchen remodeling budget if this is your countertop choice.
How Can I Customize a Countertop?
One of the best ways of putting your own stamp on a kitchen or bath design is with custom-made terrazzo. It has come back into fashion as a durable flooring and countertop material and the possibilities are endless. It’s made from various fragments suspended in resin to give a striking end product with no VOC’s. You can choose from fragments of glass, cement, or natural stone, depending on your taste and budget. Then decide on either a vibrant or neutral color for the resin. The result is a unique countertop that works as a focal point in your bathroom or kitchen design.
What Gives a Contemporary Look?
Recycled glass is ideal to contemporize your kitchen or bath design. If the glass is finely ground, it resembles solid surface countertops. The larger the shards of glass, the more contemporary your vibrantly colored countertop appears. It can chip and stain, but is resistant to scratches, cuts, and heat.
Is There a Budget-Friendly Natural Stone?
Limestone is a popular natural stone, as it is a slightly more affordable classic than marble or granite. It works well in areas that aren’t too busy as it can scratch, dent, and stain easily. Limestone is porous, so it needs to be re-sealed every year. It comes in beautiful, neutral colors with light patterns and is resistant to heat, so maintaining it pays off with its soft, calming, appearance.
What Is Soapstone Made of?
Soapstone is a natural gray stone that contains a high proportion of talc which gives it a soft, flexible texture. This means it won’t crack or chip too easily and is heat and bacteria resistant. It just needs to be oiled instead of sealed and lasts a long time. It can be marked and scratched from knives and stains are hard to remove, but if you view these as character and patina then a soapstone countertop could be for you.
How Do I Achieve a Classic Look?
There’s no doubt that marble is a classic and sophisticated natural stone that brings luxury to a kitchen or bath remodel. The veining in each slab is unique and marble comes in shades such as green, gray, or blue as well as black and white. Its cold surface is loved by bakers, so even a section of marble in a kitchen design could serve you well. Pair this with customized kitchen cabinet storage for all your baking supplies. Marble is durable, but not suitable for cutting on as it scratches and chips, and it can be prone to staining. Marble needs to be sealed every year to retain its luxurious appearance, so be prepared to factor in this annual maintenance if marble is your preferred countertop choice.
What Is Good for a Large Area?
Solid surface countertops are made from acrylic resins and mineral fillers and imitate many other materials. They are formed into a tailor-made countertop that can also include a backsplash or sink. Solid surface is dent, stain, and heat resistant (to a point) but scratches easily. Any scratches can be sanded out over time, so it is possible to maintain its sleek surface. Solid surface is perfect for use in a design with a lot of countertop space, especially if you want to focus your budget on high-end cabinetry and stylish, but affordable countertops.
What Adds Edginess to a Design?
If you’d like something to enhance a modern or industrial design or to elevate a traditional one, then concrete could be the answer. Concrete’s heavy nature means it must be cast where it is being installed, adding to the cost. Chips and cracks are easily repaired but cement needs to be sealed regularly. Penetrative seals only protect against heat and topical seals only repel stains, so you must choose which you need most. Despite these drawbacks, a concrete countertop’s edgy, imperfect appearance can transform a standard kitchen or bath design.
What is a Sustainable Choice?
Bamboo is a good eco-friendly option for a countertop. Pieces are fused together in horizontal or parquet patterns to make a countertop with color variation and interest. It does have to be stained for the final shade and will darken over time. Bamboo countertops are susceptible to warping, cuts, stains, and heat marks but if you accept this as patina, it brings warmth to your design.
Is Laminate a Dated Look?
A popular look in the 1980’s and ’90s, laminate is not expensive and comes in a wide range of styles. Technological advances mean laminate has improved greatly and is back on trend as a budget friendly choice. It is made by layering resin-filled fabric or paper onto wood composite and forming countertop pieces which can be fused together. Laminate is a great option for a second property or guest bathroom as it is cost effective but not the most durable surface. Heat, water, and scratch marks can all affect it, so try to get a textured surface to hide them.
Which Countertop Brings Warmth to a Design?
Butcher Block is made from various wood pieces, from maple to teak, which are joined together, adding warmth and character to any kitchen design. It is quite easy to install and repair and is the only countertop that you can cut and slice on. If left unsealed and treated with beeswax or mineral oil, it is perfect as a food prep surface. Wood can warp with humidity so this might not be the best choice for a bathroom or directly around a sink, but you could insert a slab within another countertop material or at the end of an island as a food prep or dining space. Also, butcher block is not heatproof, so it requires protection from hot pots or styling tools.
Is There an Exceptionally Durable Natural Stone?
Granite is a popular, classic choice for a natural stone countertop that is stylish and very durable. It comes in many colors and unique pattern variations and can be cut in a range of edge styles to suit your kitchen or bath design. Chips need professional repair and granite needs regular sealing, but it is heat, stain, and cut resistant so perfect for heavily used areas, particularly as it does not need harsh cleaning. Granite is still an expensive option, but it has recently come down slightly in price to make it more affordable for a high-end design.