As a Montana Interior Designer in Big Sky, I get involved in discussions and decisions on countertops. Both in new construction and in remodels where we are trying to upgrade a home. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and one persons likes may not match another persons. My bottom line is if you love it then it is right! There are a number of choices and materials to choose from and things to consider. Hopefully, this article helps enlighten you on some things to consider when deciding on countertops, whether for your kitchen, bathroom or wherever else.
-Granite Countertops are what the majority of people want in their homes. They are beautiful and Granite is unique. It is a mined slab of natural earth material where no two slabs are alike. Because they are natural material, they are imperfect and some people are concerned that one countertop in a room may not match another countertop exactly. Some people love that slabs show character and some are bothered by it. Costs have dropped recently and granite is more reasonable than in the past. Chances are you will have to have seams depending on the size of countertop. The person that installs can minimize the seams but they are still there. This is due to slabs coming in somewhat uniform sizes and countertops coming in all kinds of lengths! Costs are a concern for me as a Montana Interior Designer and there are a few ways that I can help you in deciding on granite. Many times I can find remnants of an already used slab. Another cost consideration would be thickness of the slab. While the kitchen will normally be a 3″ slab a number of people are now going to 2″ slabs for bathroom and elsewhere countertops. You can also sometimes find excess inventory of certain colors or something that might have been around the yard for a while. Another cost consideration for countertops of all materials is the edge treatment. If you want a edge that is something different than comes from the mine it is going to have to be machined and normally that is going to add expense. The other consideration to consider on granite is if you want a non maintenance surface granite may not be the best for you. It needs to be periodically cleaned and sealed. There is one recent consideration on granite. There are slabs coming more and more from countries such as China that are lesser grade. They are much cheaper but can discolor and are not always as durable. I would ask where the slab has come from and discuss the origin with the supplier. As a Montana Interior Designer, I talk to as many suppliers as I can because they all have different materials, slabs and you never know when you might be able to save a client money!
-Quartz is manmade and is actually more expensive than granite right now. I say manmade, it is actually crushed quartz particles that is then formed with the help of rosin into a solid material. Very durable and has a look and feel of stone. There is no maintenance for quartz. At this point and time it is more expensive than granite. Some people are bothered that it is manufactured but if you want a countertop that you can place and not have to worry about quartz is it. I have used quartz countertops being a Montana Interior Designer and have no issues with using them in a home. In fact, in rentals, it is a very good choice. In theory it is stainless and incredibly durable. Quartz can be effected by sunlight over a period of time so if you have an area that gets noticeably more sunlight you would need to consider that. Because quartz is manufactured versus real stone if there are seams they will be much less noticeable. Quartz is made to look like stone and is much more uniform in color, texture and pattern. If that is important to you consider quartz.
-Quartzite is not to be mistaken for quartz. They are different materials. Quartzite is actually sandstone that has been put under pressure and heat. Choices of colors are more limited in Quartzite, usually, more whites and grays. Quartzite will have more streaking and may have colored streaks depending on materials present in the naturally occurring process. Quartzite, unlike quartz, requires maintenance since it is a stone. You need to seal and reseal to keep material from penetrating the stone. Costs are comparable to quartz.
Other Materials for Countertops
I like to mix things up as a Montana Interior Designer since I can be doing rustic, modern rustic, cabin, ski chalet or any of another styles. There are a couple of materials that I like to use as countertops on more of an accent basis mixed in with some of the materials talked about above. I will just name them alphabetically and not necessarily in order of preference because so much depends on the style and the design.
-Concrete is a great accent piece for islands and smaller areas. It is manmade so you have to seal it a couple times a year and it will stain. Most people view concrete as something that develops character and you can use different color mortars to accent your design. You can do a very light color all the way to black. It is a change of pace that is more of an accent than a long counter. Islands are perfect for concrete.
-Stainless Steel is also a good accent piece, although some will use it for a whole counter. Nothing wrong with either. It is in the personal taste category. Stainless will scratch easily and you either mark that down as character or you can get burnished stainless steel that you will be able to buff out some of the scratches. Stainless is good for a modern look and more of a commercial kitchen look where scratches would not matter anyway. Easy to clean and isn’t going to stain.
-Wood would be the other material I would like to mention that I have used as a Montana Interior Designer. We will use butcher block in limited areas to accent a kitchen. I love the look of butcher block mixed in with a darker colored countertop. This is something you have to seal and clean more than other materials but people that like to cook, love butcher blocks.
Cleaning of Countertops
Just a thought on cleaning of countertops. Over the years in my job as a Montana Interior Designer I have been taught a few things. Any of the natural earth made materials, the best way of cleaning them is with hydrogen peroxide and rock salt. This sanitizes all the little cracks and crevices without damaging the material of your countertop. On the manmade surfaces you can use more normal sanitary cleaners. I would not use bleach on any surface that you will be preparing food.
I hope you have found this article to be helpful. I know I have left out some surfaces so if you love a surface that I did not mention please feel free to drop me a note or comment. If you liked the information you might also check out the rest of our blog for more articles and please feel free to check out our Portfolio section to see some of our latest projects. You can also check us out on Pinterest, Houzz or Facebook and by all means if you have a project in Montana where you need a Montana Interior Decorator give us a shout for a free consultation.
Photo Credit: Victor Hanacek www.victorhanacek.com