The 6 Best Countertops for Your Busy Kitchen
Fall is notorious as the season whenever more “stuff” migrates to the kitchen: prized leaf specimens, backpacks (and their contents), and various other papers too – mail, holiday invitations, permission forms for school, you name it, left on every available surface. With so many of us working and learning from home, this situation worsens because the kitchen countertop has morphed from its intended use as an area for food prep and dining area into the center of your home universe.
Have you found a countertop that can take on the “new normal” lifestyle?
Here are 6 top choices for busy kitchen countertops.
Quartz countertops are made of crushed stone bound together by a polymer resin. You’ll find them marketed under brand names such as Ceasarstone and Silestone.
Pros: Quartz mimics the look of natural stone but needs far less maintenance than natural stone. This nonporous material is remarkably resistant to stains and scratches. The only maintenance necessary is a regular wipe-down with mild soap and water. Quartz stands up well to encounters with serrated knives, hot pans, and abrasive pads. It comes in various combinations of resin, mineral, and colors. For different visual interest, added patterns mimic marble and granite.
Cons: Corners and edges can chip, and you’ll need a professional to make repairs – rounded edges help avoid chips.
Granite is a natural stone cut from the earth as a single piece. It is then polished and cut for a countertop.
Pros: Because it is a natural material, each slab of granite is unique – you’ll never see your granite countertop in someone else’s home. Granite that contains rare veining and colors will cost more than common types of granite. It is resistant to heat, cuts, and scratches.
Cons: You will need to re-seal granite surfaces periodically to fend off stains. Like quartz, corners and edges can chip and must be professionally repaired.
3) Soapstone, Limestone, and Marble
Soapstone, limestone, and marble are natural materials mined as one piece of stone. Their durability has made these materials a top choice for hundreds of years.
Pros: Marble and limestone are universally popular as classic countertop materials. Limestone has the look of stone without the graining or heavy veining found in marble. Limestone is also heat-resistant. Marble is the most durable of these three natural stone countertops. While soapstone countertops are not as common as those made from granite, they are superb at resisting heat damage and are also very durable. Soapstone is also stain- and bacteria-resistant and easy to clean with soap and water.
Cons: Soapstone picks up nicks, scratches, and cuts easily, and its color can change over time. Some stains on soapstone are too tough to be washed away. You can, however, repair small scratches by applying mineral oil and then sanding the affected area. Limestone and marble stain quickly, which makes it necessary to get after spills immediately. Marble can also suffer heat damage.
A laminate countertop is a semi-rigid plastic sheet made by fusing together layers of paper and resins. The visible layer is a decorative sheet where the color and pattern are added.
Pros: Laminate is an inexpensive material that’s easy to install, and it comes in a variety of styles and colors. It is stain and heat-resistant and cleans up easily with soap and water.
Cons: You can permanently damage laminate if you cut on it directly; be sure to use a cutting board.
5) Recycled Glass
This countertop ranks as a green building material because it fuses recycled glass into a countertop surface.
Pros: Recycled glass is a very contemporary look; if you want a more uniform homogenous appearance, look for one made from finely ground glass. Most recycled glass is stain-, scratch-, cut- and heat-resistant.
Cons: Some recycled glass countertop brands developed a thin crack during heat testing. Cracks, unless they chip out, do not affect the countertop’s function, but it will affect the look. If cracked or chipped, the glass may not be able to be repaired, or it may be very costly to have it repaired.
6) Butcher Block
These wood countertops are constructed using 1½” square blocks with different grain options.
Pros: Wood adds warmth and is easy to install and repair. Some butcher block finishes are better than others at resisting stains – be sure to ask for a recommendation for the most stain-resistant finish. Butcher block is incredibly durable and gentle on knife blades, making it ideal for daily food preparation.
Cons: If the butcher block scratches and nicks, you can sand out the marks, but such scratches and nicks can happen quite often.
Keeping your busy countertop clean
With heightened awareness about the Coronavirus, many homeowners are doing their utmost to keep their homes free of germs. Countertops, however, are one of the areas where germs like to congregate. Viruses can survive on surfaces for several hours or longer. Regular hand-washing will help keep surfaces clean. According to the CDC, most regular household disinfectants, such as disinfecting wipes or those with at least 70 percent alcohol, are up to the task. Just be sure the disinfecting cleaner you choose can be used safely on your countertops.
Simple soap and water can also do the trick. Cleaning surfaces daily is essential to keeping all germs at bay.
The best countertop for your busy kitchen will depend on your activities and lifestyle. When you’re considering a kitchen remodel, take a good look at the many countertop options available. Visit with a kitchen designer to help you decide on one that will work well for your family and kitchen.