Asheville Interior Design Blog
Countertop Choices can be Overwhelming
Richard: Dear Debbie, choose the green one. Just kidding! I know what you mean about so many choices, and of course everyone has a different opinion about counter top materials. But there is no one ideal choice for everyone. Each has its pros and cons. And make sure you’re being quoted installed prices like our estimates.
Jean: So true! Just when you think you have a handle on the latest fashion, something else comes along. And that doesn’t necessarily mean older choices are “out.” For example, in upscale urban areas—especially in contemporary settings—laminates are often preferred. And if you like no seams and lots of color choices, there are solid surfaces like Corian, Avonite and Gibraltor. The downside of these is that they are not as heat resistant and they can stain or scratch.
Richard: Well, you can sand out those blemishes on a solid surface. But you mentioned laminates, and I have seen some nice use of laminates lately. I think alternative materials have inspired companies like Formica and Wilsonart with some amazing pattern and color choices. But they may not be your first choice if you want an under mounted sink or if seams offend you. Laminates run from about $32 to $83 per square foot.
Jean: Don’t forget some of the most traditional materials. Wood and tile are valid options. Both have an earthy appeal and you can be creative with the edges. Plank, edge-grained, and butcher block surfaces offer a great casual look and simple maintenance can keep them from staining. And if you have the budget, choose something special—black walnut, for example, is magnificent! Wood can range from $60 to $150 per square foot.
Richard: Of course, everyone’s talking about granite and marble. These are both “in” at the moment, but they too have their pros and cons, though I think it’s fair to say most owners like them. Granite is probably the most popular for higher-end homes and the one the Realtors® are always recommending. This mined product is extremely strong and durable with a vast variety of colors and styles. Honed or polished is a personal decision. This might be too contemporary for a classic kitchen and you’re supposed to reseal once a year. It will show seams, and installation can be expensive. Granite installed is approximately $76-100/ square foot. Marble is not for perfectionists but naturally ages beautifully if you don’t mind a few stains. It’s probably the most classic and timeless of all. Normally, sealing twice a year is all that’s required. Approximately $76-100/square foot.
Jean: My turn! Debbie, you might also consider soapstone. It’s a wonderful alternative to the norm. It withstands heat and staining with very low maintenance except for an occasional oiling. For many of us who are not familiar with this as a countertop, the fact is it has been used in labs for ages and is nonporous. And of course there is the downside…soapstone will darken over time and can feel somewhat chalky. It’s approximately $85/square foot.
Richard: The most confusing are the engineered quartz stones like Caesarstone, Silestone, Okite, Zodiaq and the newest, Cambria. …the latter looking the most like granite. These are overall the most reliable and cost $80-100 per square foot. And then there’s contemporary glass, expensive metals, neutral limestone’s, and even concrete.
Jean: Have we helped any or are you more confused than ever? As we often conclude, the choice depends on the application, budget, and your personal taste. It’s the one conclusion Richard and I can always agree on!. As painful as that is to admit!