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Published: April 29, 2010

Tip 3 Counter Top General Information

What type of counter should I consider for my kitchen?

Although there are many kinds of counter tops to consider:  Natural Granite, Engineered or Quartz Stone, Solid Surface, Plastic Laminate, Tile, Concrete, Stainless Steel or other Metals and even Wood Butcher Block tops.  I will offer some insights into each type hopefully providing you the consumer with additional information that might help you make an informed choice with which kind would be best for you and you project.  The first three I listed are still the most commonly selected for today's kitchens in our area and have similar price points.  So you will choose first the product that meets your interest and needs and then the color you are looking for and not so much on the price. There are options and different material price levels within each type that can easily make one or the other more or less than the other.  An average counter top in our area will easily cost $4,000 to $7,000 some higher some lower depending upon the size and shape of your kitchen and the materials and options you select.  This price usually includes the installation of the counter top.

Other additional costs typically include tear out and removal of the existing top;  possible drywall repair if you all ready have a full height back splash; the cost of a new sink faucet and garbage disposal and the installation of these plumbing fixtures.  A stone top will also require a plywood sub deck foundation as well.   You may also decide that you would like to do a custom tile back splash.  With these additional costs a replacement counter top project can easily cost as much as $8,000 to $12,000.  So make sure that your cabinets are not 20-30-40 years old they will not likely last the additional twenty or more years that you will want to enjoy your expensive new top.  Lets talk some about the major differences among  the top three choices below.

Natural Granite counter tops can absolutely be stunning in their beauty especially with the movement and patterns of colorful veins or/and splotches that can be found in the various stone slabs.  Granite however does require additional maintenance the stone is porous some stones more than others and the material needs to be sealed.  The fabricator typical seals it for the first time after he has made your top and you will need to  reseal the counter every six months to two years or so.  The top is sealed for sanitary reasons so food particles do not get into the stone or promote any unhealthy bacteria growth or provide possible unpleasant odors.  When you go to the slab yard to select your stone you will begin to feel like a kid in a candy store there are hundreds to choose from so many look good yet you can only choose one.  So for some it can be a bit overwhelming and can easily require more of your time during the selection process. If you like the art work that mother nature provided us so many years ago and each piece is unique and different.  You also do not mind or have the extra time for the resealing maintenance and the selection process than this may be the top for you.

Engineered Quartz Stone counter tops afford the look and beauty of a stone top they are 93% ground up quartz crystals and other mineral by products and 7% epoxy resins that bond the stone chips back together and permanently seal the counter top.  The combined stone and resin material has a greater tensile strength for bar overhangs.  The material will also with stand the heat of a hot pot or pan more easily than most other tops surfaces including natural granite.  This top will not require the resealing maintenance and will be easier to select often from just the show room sample as there is little variance from the sample to the actual product unlike that of natural stone.  This man made product usually comes with a ten year warranty one brand is now offering a lifetime  guarantee this something that mother nature does not provide with natural stone.  So if you like the look and feel of stone but if like most of us you have that very busy American lifestyle with little time for maintenance or extra time to select the perfect natural stone for you then this type of top may be the best choice for you. There are about a dozen or more major brands of this material to choose from most are made similar to another who has the color and look you like the best is the way to make your final selection.

Solid Surface counter tops most are usually 100% acrylic plastic some are not and are a bit more easily scratched.   The most common or well known brand is Corian and they have more than 150 colors to choose from.  One of the nicest things about a solid surface counter top is that you can do a solid surface sink and have seamless detail where the top and the sink bowl meet where in the stone tops typically a stainless steel under mount sink is considered and there is a small ledge that gunk can collect in and may require cleaning occasionally.  Solid surface tops are more easily repaired if ever that would be  needed than most other types of tips especially stone tops.  Solid surface tops also offer a coved back splash option at an  additional up charge that seals the seam between the counter deck and the splash essentially becoming one unit and does not require caulking that seem or joint between them.   Solid surface biggest drawback  is that the material will not tolerate a hot pot or pan from the oven or stove top.  If that is your cooking preference than select a stone top or another that will tolerate the hot pan.   There are dozens of manufactures who make this type of product to choose from and most offer a ten year warranty a few even offer a transferable warranty you can offer the buyer of your home should you sell it before the warranty is up.  Currently this product is the third most popular material with Natural Stone and Engineered Quartz Stone both equally popular enjoy the first and second most common choice among consumers in our area.

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