Countertops – choose your surface
I was at a party a while back and there was quite a turn out, Cathy, our host would have been thrilled. The crowd was a-buzz from the entertaining areas, right up the hall and through to the kitchen. I just so happened to land myself a great little spot in the kitchen with my posse of friends, near the vino and nibbles . The lights were dim, the atmosphere was alive and we were chatting away about all sorts of things.
My design hat is ALWAYS on. While pouring my first glass I noticed Cathys countertop and knew straight away that this was something unique. Something you don’t see in most houses. It was made of polished concrete. It was a deep brown color with specs of sparkle – the artist who made it had a great time with his lovely creation. This led me to a discussion with some of the other party goers and then onto an investigation of sorts – what ARE our countertop options these days? Oh there’s plenty. Heres a list of just a few:
Laminate, Engineered stone, Granite, Wood, Glass, Concrete, Tile, Corian, Marble, Soapstone, Honed granite, Marble, Quartz, Stainless Steel, Travertine, Lava stone, Recycled, the list goes on…
Quite a selection right? and this is just the initial list. For some of these the finished look is quite obvious the name either speaks clearly to us or we’ve seen enough examples of it to know what it is. Others listed may draw our attention in particular Engineered stone, Glass, Soapstone, Honed granite, Concrete and Recycled. You may or may not know what these are but have you seen an example? Lets take a look.
Engineered stone: An eco-friendly choice. It’s a composite material made of crushed stone bound together by an adhesive, most commonly polymer resin or cement. It’s easy to care for since it’s durable, beautiful, hygienic and resists heat well. Products on the market in this category include Caesarstone and Silestone among others. These resist stains from liquids like wine and coffee.
Glass: Glass can accommodate under-surface lighting for a striking visual effect. The light can be used both as a decorative effect to enhance the natural depth and color of the glass as well as for practical means by providing more light in the kitchen. A glass countertop can enhance a small space to make it appear larger, is moderately heat-resistant and is recyclable. It doesn’t require sealing though can be scratched. Cleans best with window cleaner.
Soapstone: Soapstone is a natural quarried stone. It’s a metamorphic rock called soapstone because of the soft, or soapy, feel of its surface, which is due to the presence of talc in the stone. It doesn’t stain. Soapstone is dense and non-porous. It darkens when liquid pools on its surface, but lightens when the liquid evaporates or is cleaned off. It can stand up to acidic materials and is heat-resistant and doesn’t require a sealer.
Honed Granite: With honed granite, the polishing process ends before buffing to create a matte or low-gloss sheen that lacks the highly reflective, mirror-like look of traditional granite. The softer honed finish is particularly popular among homeowners wanting an aged or Rustic look. Requires frequent sealing.
Concrete: Available in custom gray, white, brown, orange, blue and purple. Due to different brands of pigments, stains and aggregate colors, concrete countertops will always be unique. One of the biggest benefits of purchasing a concrete countertop is the strength of the countertop. Concrete countertops are not stain resistant because they are made of a porous material and will need sealing every few years. Acidic liquids, spilled on the countertop surface should be wiped away immediately to reduce damage. Concrete is heat-resistant although heat may damage the layer of sealant. Concrete countertops can be custom poured to any shape and design.
Paperstone is a unique composite material of compressed 100% post-consumer recycled paper, PetroFree phenolic resin and natural pigments. It looks and feels warm to the touch and has a smooth, soft patina. Due to it’s density, Paperstone is impervious to moisture and won’t support bacteria growth. Seal with wax to maintain lustre.
Recycled glass counter tops are non-porous, resistant to heat and burns and made of recycled glass, destined for landfill. The glass is combined with other materials, and is made as thick and as sturdy as required.
IceStone!!! Depending on the color, IceStone is 68%-75% recycled glass, 15-20% white Portland cement and small percentages of pigments and proprietary ingredients.The glass used is 100% recycled. The surface is semi-porous due to its cement content and requires regular application of a penetrating sealer.
Lava Stone: Lava stone is a natural volcanic rock that is quarried, cut into slabs, topped with an enamel glaze, and fired at a very high heat. It is resistant to heat, cold, and temperature fluctuations. Extremely durable. The firing process creates an exceptionally hard surface that can withstand corrosive chemicals and UV exposure (no fading!). Nonporous. The material is impervious to water, won’t harbor bacteria, and is stain resistant. Appropriate for indoor and outdoor applications. Available in a range of colors.
I hope you enjoyed exploring your countertop options with me. Choosing well is important so the more informed you are the better off you’ll be. There is so much to this topic that I’ve decided to continue blogging on it. Next time I’ll compare prices as not only do we want to know what’s out there, we need to know if it will fit into our budget for the long and short-term.