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There is a great variety of countertop materials available nowadays. The choice can depend on color, pattern, texture, and decorating point, referring to a certain style of your kitchen or bathroom as well as the function the countertop is meant for and of course, expenses.
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Granite & Quartz
Solid Color-Through Surfacing Material
Plastic Laminate is the most popular countertop material. It’s inexpensive, relatively easy to install, and available in a vast array of colors and patterns. Plastic laminate resists stains, water, and mild abrasion very well, but it can be chipped or scratched by sharp knives, and it is not resistant to hot temperature. When it becomes damaged, there is no repair option available except replacement.More expensive color-through, or solid-core, laminates are similar to conventional laminate. The color of such is solid all the way through and there are no unsightly edges at the joints. In addition to solid colors, there are laminates that offer the look of stone, leather, or wood as well patterns and visual textures. They make minor scratches and spots unnoticeable. Plastic laminate comes in various grades. The cheapest won’t last long. To get your money’s worth, select the highest quality, which won’t easily chip and stays looking good longer. To keep it clean, use a mild detergent and damp sponge.
Solid Color-Through Surfacing Material is an extremely durable, easily maintained synthetic material made of polyester or acrylic. It's expensive, costing almost as much as luxurious granite or marble, and it wears long and well. The material is completely impervious to water, and you can repair any dents or abrasions that may occur with a light sanding.At first, solid-surfacing material was available only in shades of white or pastel colors, but now its palette has greatly expanded and includes faux-stone finishes. Because the color goes all the way through the thickness of the slab, it can be carved, inlaid, shaped, molded, even sandblasted to create a custom design. With a minimum amount of care, it will last 20 or more years.
Ceramic Tile is a perennial favorite. Impervious to water, it’s perfect for installation at the sink. Tile is also durable; it doesn’t scratch, burn, or stain. Together with its practical attributes, ceramic tile offers the greatest opportunity for adding color, pattern, and texture to your kitchen. There are two kinds of tile finish: unglazed and glazed. Unglazed tiles are not sealed and always come in a matte look. They are not practical for use near water unless you apply a sealant. On the other hand, glazed tiles are coated with a material that makes them impervious to water – or spills and stains. This glaze on the tile can be matte or highly polished, depending on your taste. Regrouting is required periodically. White grout shows dirt easily, but a dark-color grout can make stains unnoticeable. Tile that is well-maintained and regrouted when needed will last a lifetime.
Granite & Quartz is the most popular stone countertop material used in kitchens. First of all, because it’s very handsome. Granite comes in a variety of rich colors: shades of green, brown, gold, blue, violet, and mauve, as well as almost pure black and almost pure white. Another reason for its popularity is its endurance: granite is almost as hard as diamond. It’s practically non-porous. It means it will last long, unless it is exposed to some acidic liquids, like orange juice, for a long time, it doesn’t stain. You can cut on it, roll out dough on its surface, and then simply wipe with a damp cloth. Granite is expensive. However, instead of a slab, you can buy granite tiles, which are more affordable.
Marble is one more popular and elegant material for countertops. It’s a soft, porous stone that can be gouged and stained easily. Even water can leave a mark. If you keep it properly sealed and treat it gently it can be your right choice. Just don’t slice food on it and keep it clean and a marble countertop will serve you well for a lifetime.
Wood is unrivaled for its natural warmth and beauty. To protect wood countertops from scratches stains and water damage, apply a film of finish of varnish or lacquer or oil it periodically. A film finish seals the wood, but it can crack and get water under it, which will cause peeling. You’ll have to sand and reapply the coating every year. When stains or burns occur, they can be sanded away. Teak is an excellent selection for a wood countertop application. It’s handsome and wears well. Eastern hard rock sugar maple resists scratches, warping and uneven wearing.
Stainless Steel is widely used nowadays as a countertop material for the entire counter or just a section of it. It looks quite sophisticated and contemporary. What is practical about it is its capacity to take high heat without scorching, as well as its imperviousness to water. So it’s practical at the sink. The disadvantages of this type of the material used for countertops are as follows: it can be noisy to work on and it will show smudges. Depending on the grade of the material, it may also be vulnerable to scrapes, stains and corrosion. A satin or brushed finish can hide scratches. If you buy a quality and care for it properly, a stainless-steel countertop should remain looking good and last at least 15 years.
Selected 2009 Cost vs. Value Report Statistics - Average Nationwide Return on Investment:
Deck addition -- 80.6%
Major kitchen remodel -- 72.1%
Bathroom remodel -- 71.0%
New roof -- 60.5%
Family room addition -- 65.3%
Master suite addition -- 65.2%
Source: 2009 Cost vs. Value Report, (REALTOR® Magazine, Jan. 2010).