The kitchen countertop is one of the most important features to consider when planning a kitchen remodel. While most homeowners choose to replace their countertops as a part of an overall kitchen remodel, this is not a requirement, and new countertops can be installed on existing cabinets. Choosing the right material, color and design for your countertop can be tricky, and that is why we will review the different kitchen countertop options available as well as explain how countertops are installed. Our goal is to assist you in choosing the best countertop material for your renovation.
The cost of countertops can range widely depending on your selected material, square footage of area needing countertop, and the type of installation needed for that material. In Los Angeles, the average cost of a countertop slabs and installation ranges anywhere between $10,000-$20,000, depending on the material and type of fabrication needed. When looking to install a new kitchen countertop, it is important to get as much information as possible regarding the material and type of installation associated with it. The best way to choose your countertop color is to match it with the kitchen floor and cabinet color to keep a consistent and cohesive look in your kitchen. While many construction companies offer kitchen countertop installation services, not all offer all types of installation, and therefore, it is important to verify this prior to selecting a company to redo your countertops. It is vital to have your countertops properly installed to allow a backsplash installation to follow.
In this stage, our crew comes in to measure the area where the countertop will be installed. This step is done through “templating” in which the installer measures the surface area but placing different templates that allow for accurate measurement.
In this stage, our crew comes in to measure the area where the countertop will be installed. This step is done through “templating” in which the installer measures the surface area but placing different templates that allow for accurate measurement. The next step is to start working on your selected countertop material AKA fabrication. It is recommended for you or your kitchen contractor to make sure that your selected countertop slabs and sink are delivered to the fabricator so that there is minimum down time between measurements and start of fabrication.
The countertop slab has been fabricated and is now ready to be installed. The fabricator will install the countertop slab and sink together. This is done by gluing the pieces of slab onto the plywood that sits on top of the cabinets. The sink goes in first and is placed in its proper place. Once completed, the countertop slab follows and is placed on top of it. Once the sink and countertop slabs are in place, the fabricator will drill holes in the sink area to accommodate a faucet, air gap, soap dispenser, etc.
It is recommended to allow the glue 24 hours to harden before scheduling any other type of work.
Ceramic Tile is durable, easy to clean, and is considerably less expensive than natural stone, quartz, or solid-surface countertops. Ceramic tile is an excellent choice for backsplashes, islands, eat-at counters, peninsulas, wet bars, etc. It is important to use the right tiles specified for the appropriate use on floors or countertops. For example, never use wall tile on a counter: It is too thin and will easily crack.
Porcelain slabs are another form of a tile material although very different than ceramic tiles. Most porcelain tile slabs are oversized slabs that look like granite, marble, wood, linen or just about any other natural material you could want, with none of their maintenance issues or usage restrictions. Like competitive quartz and solid surface materials, porcelain slab tops are nonporous, so they are a safe and healthy option for food preparation. Unlike those two materials, however, porcelain can be installed outside and is both heat and frost-tolerant for homes across the country.
The most common natural stones used to make countertops include granite, marble, soapstone, and slate. Below is a detailed look at each material:
Solid-surface material, with a few well known brands such as Avonite, Corian, and Swanstone, is a man-made material consisting of a blend of acrylic particles and resins that are pressed into sheets and other shapes. Solid-surface countertops offer low maintenance and a wide variety of color and pattern choices. They have been in existence for nearly 50 years and although once regarded as premium, luxury countertops, solid-surface material is now considered mid-tier. It is still, however, an excellent choice for mid-range kitchens.
Solid-surface countertops are highly stain- and scratch-resistant and completely renewable and repairable. Scratches and burns can be sanded out, and deep gouges can be filled. Seams are fused together to create undetectable joints which make solid surface materials great for large or long sections of countertops and oversized island tops. You can also get solid-surface sinks in colors to match or contrast the countertop.
Some of the advantages of solid-surface countertops include stain resistance, virtually invisible seams, easily sanded out damages, and availability in many colors and patterns, allowing integration of sink and countertop units.
Some of the disadvantages of solid-surface countertops include the material being moderately expensive and vulnerable to damage from hot pans.
The countertop material known as “Quartz” is an engineered stone product that contains as much as 90 percent quartz particles and about 10 percent of other minerals such as acrylic or epoxy binder. Together, these materials are shaped into slabs and blended with resins. Corian quartz, Formica solid-surfacing, and Silestone are a few of the quartz composites now available. Quartz is the best countertop you can get for your money nowadays and is cheaper than granite or quartz.
Sold by companies such as MSI, Raphael Stone, Cambria, and Silestone, quartz was created as a more adaptable and better performing alternative to granite and marble. It is available in a larger range of colors than granite, and it has a nonporous surface that resists both scratching and staining. Some types are convincing copies of natural marble, with similar veining. Unlike natural stone, engineered quartz requires no annual sealing.
Some of the advantages of a quartz countertop are in its extremely durable and low maintenance qualities. It comes in a wide array of colors and patterns, the slabs are uniform with no imperfections, no sealing is required, it is stain resistant and is impervious to heat and acid, and it offers a more convincing and natural appearance than solid surface materials. It is also the hardest wearing and easiest to maintain kitchen countertop.
Some of the disadvantages of a quartz countertop are that it is expensive and a very heavy material to move around.
For a contemporary and industrial look for your kitchen, stainless steel is the way to go. Stainless steel countertops are heat resistant and durable. Given the fact that they are constructed to your specifications, you can have a seamless countertop.
Some of the advantages of stainless steel countertops are that they are impervious to heat damage, they are an excellent choice for modern style kitchens, they are the easiest to clean of all countertop materials, they are a premium countertop and add value to your home.
Some of the disadvantages of stainless-steel countertops are that they are noisy when working on them, they are expensive to fabricate, they cannot be used as a cutting surface, and they can be easily scratched.
If you have countertops in unusual shapes, or if you want a totally unique kitchen, concrete may be a good choice for your countertops. These countertops are an extremely popular choice for people interested in a truly custom countertop.
Today’s fabricators offer pre-cast counters that are made in a workshop and delivered fully cured and finished to your home. These are not the same kind of concrete slabs used in sidewalks, but rather, are highly polished slabs that may even be textured or acid-stained to produce colors.
Pre-cast concrete counters are typically 1½ inch thick and available in slabs up to 10 foot long. A variety of colors are achieved by adding pigments to the concrete during mixing. Once cured, the slabs are honed and sealed to prevent staining. Cracking is always a concern with concrete, and fabricators often use wire mesh, metal rebar, or fiberglass or stainless-steel fibers to strengthen the counter.
Some of the advantages of concrete countertops are in its scratch and heat resistance qualities, in its decorative colors and textures (it can be color tinted), and a look that is sophisticated and unusual.
Some of the disadvantages of concrete countertops are that it is expensive due to the custom work, it may crack over time, it is porous and therefore needs sealing, and its appearance may seem too “industrial” for homeowners.
Often referred to by its trademark, Formica-is a surprisingly durable material that can survive many years in the toughest kitchens, which is surprising when you consider that plastic laminate is made primarily of kraft paper mixed with resins. They are plastic-coated synthetics with a smooth surface that is easy to clean. Another plastic-laminate option is called post-formed counters. Available at certain lumberyards and home centers, ready-to-install post-formed laminate counters have the front edge, countertop surface and backsplash all fabricated and formed into one seamless slab. It comes in literally hundreds of colors and patterns and in various textures. Laminates are especially popular in retro designs, particularly mid-century modern kitchens.
Some of the advantages of plastic laminate countertops are that they are extremely easy to maintain, there are thousand of options available, and they are the most affordable material to replace countertops.
Some of the disadvantages of plastic laminate countertops are that they offer a low resale value, the seams are always visible, they are not heat resistant, and the surfaces can be scratched and chipped and the damage is almost impossible to repair.
Wood countertops offer a beautiful warm look and are available in a wide range of colors and finishes. Hardwoods such as maple and oak which are an extremely dense and blond hardwood. They are the types most often used as countertop woods.
There are three ways that wood countertops are fabricated: edge grain, end grain, and wide plank.
Edge-grain counters consist of long, thick strips of wood that are glued together with the edge grain facing upwards.
End-grain counters (a.k.a. butcher blocks) are constructed of relatively short, square sticks of wood that are joined together with the tough end grain facing up. These counters are usually 4 to 12 inches thick.
Wide-plank counters are made by edge-gluing wide boards together. This is the most beautiful and traditional style of wood counter, but it is also the type that is most susceptible to cracking and warping if it is not meticulously maintained.
Some of the advantages of wood countertops are that they are relatively easy to clean, they are long lasting when they are properly cared for, they can be sanded and resealed, and they offer a charming country look.
Some of the disadvantages of wood countertops are that they are fairly expensive countertop material, they will show knife marks, they can be damaged by water and stains over time, bacteria can be a problem if not properly maintained, and wood is subject to cracking and must be oiled and sealed frequently.
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