New Kitchen Counter Materials
Add interest with exciting new counters
Exciting new granite patterns
The most common countertops are still tile and laminate. Durable and reasonably priced, they provide an attractive, easy to maintain counter surface for many home owners. Another popular countertop is one of the many solid surface materials. But for homeowners who want something new, interesting, and more upscale, the following countertops are gaining favor:
- Granite no longer just the basic brown, rose, or black anymore. Other granites are being found that are amazing colors and patterns. Granite is as expensive as ever and still needs to be sealed to protect it, but if the basic neutrals were a turn off, check out the new materials being mined from quarries around the world. Lighter granites with interesting patterns are more user friendly than the elegant, black granite that shows every drip and fingerprint, too.
- Engineered quartz material such as Zodiac, Silestone, Cambria, Caesarstone, and many others are competing head to head with granites. They come in every color in the rainbow, are durable and virtually maintenance free according to their manufacturers. Unlike granites, they're nonporous and don't stain. They are food safe, so food prep directly on the surface isn't the no-no it is on other countertops.
- Concrete is also extremely attractive. It is poured in place and very heavy,
but the range of shapes is limited only by your imagination. It can be created
with or without an integral sink as well as stained to match your color palette.
Like granite, it stains, so be prepared to seal it every six months.
- Wood countertops are gaining popularity, especially hardwoods like walnut,
cherry, and maple. Hardwoods are luxurious and add considerable character to
a kitchen. Combined with granite or an engineered stone, you can have beautiful counters where they
perform best. Using one of the new sealants prevents water damage even
next to the sink. Hot pans can still discolor your wood counters though so next to the stove isn't an ideal placement.
- Acrylic resin (e.g. Lumicor) counters can be shaped or molded to suit your
application and are available in translucent colors with all kinds of interesting
materials embedded. Lighting can be installed under the counter for a particularly intriguing
look. This very cool material may seem best suited to contemporary, modern, or
even some retro type kitchens, but with a little ingenuity it adds an a classy, modern
punch when incorporated into any room.
- Sustainable materials such as linoleum and bamboo are gaining favor, too. No, you don't want to cut
on it, but most of us don't want to work directly on our counters anyway. Linoleum
is soft, warm, and comes in a range of luscious colors. If you do your floors
in one color or several, you could carry the material to the counters for a
unifying effect. Years ago, linoleum counters were common and usually finished
with a metal band. You could do the same thing now to update a vintage bungalow, or use a wood edge for a more modern effect. Either way, linoleum is a cost effective, sustainable material that can be used on counters throughout the house. Bamboo can be used the
same way hardwoods are. Just make sure you seal it to prevent water damage.
- Speaking of sustainable materials, it's beginning to occur to many homeowners
that our planet is no longer a reservoir of infinite resources. New
materials such as terrazzo counters are being made from recycled materials. Bottle glass, shell, metal, and stone chips are incorporated in a concrete or resin matrix, then sanded completely smooth. They are as durable and beautiful as other engineered stone counters. Good for the planet, but pricey, these counters are often custom designed and
molded to user specifications.
Multiple levels are the way to go if you are designing for the future. Universal
design and accessibility are considerations many homeowners are weighing these
days. One way to ensure your kitchen works for the longterm is to design for ease
of use regardless of individual capability. Different levels accommodate both standing or sitting users. It's great for resale value too.
Do you need help with laying those spiffy new counters? If so, find a reliable, qualified professional kitchen contractor at Next Step Remodeling