Granite, Laminate, Formica or Corian?
A countertop is the focal point of your kitchen or bathroom. It is the place where activities such as cooking, cleaning and even socializing take place. It is the center of the two busiest and most functional rooms in the modern home. Therefore the functionality, durability and - possibly most importantly – appearance of countertops are the critical concerns. As the centerpiece of your kitchen or bathroom, a countertop must both enhance and match the style of the room.
And, with many high-quality countertops costing thousands of dollars, the purchase of these items is a serious matter requiring much consideration. The main questions you need to ask yourself before deciding on a countertop are: Do you cook or bake often? Do you prefer natural or man-made surfaces? What is your budget? What is more important to you: beauty or easy maintenance? Your answers to these questions will narrow down the huge list of options to a more manageable size.
In years passed, plastic laminates and Formica ruled the countertop kingdom. But, as tastes, technology and available budgets have changed over the years, laminates are being replaced by natural stone surfaces such granite and limestone and newer man-made surfaces such as the very adaptable Corian and the undeniable beauty of engineered stone like Zodiaq.
Then, of course, there are other considerations such as color, matt or gloss finish, texture, countertop thickness, edge treatment and many more. Certain materials like wood are not recommended for areas that are regularly wet.
It’s worth remembering that there are no reasons why you can’t combine multiple different countertop surfaces in one room. In fact, this can often be the smart choice. For example, in your kitchen you could have one granite island countertop (for natural beauty), one stainless steel countertop beside the cooktop (so that you can place hot pans directly on the surface) and one natural wood countertop (as a food preparation and bread making surface).
Countertop material prices are measured per square foot. Prices vary greatly, depending on the material. Costs start as low as $15 per square foot for some plastic laminates and up to $120 per square foot for expensive natural stone like marble. If cost is the primary factor in your choice of countertop, then it is worth considering installing your countertop yourself. Heavy stone countertops are often simply installed with a bead of silicone. The ultra-cost conscious may even decide to create their own countertop out of concrete before installing it themselves.
As with any creative endeavor, it is better to have too many options than not enough - although it can be very confusing at times. But, at the end of the day, if you know what you want and are prepared to do a little research you will get the countertop that suits your needs best.