Buying new countertops for your home can be overwhelming. There are several material options to choose from on the market, and an extensive selection of colors and patterns.
The first decision you should make is what material is best for you. Here are some quick reference tips on a few materials commonly used in the islands:
Solid Surface is a polyester and acrylic material. The widely known maker of solid surfacing is Corian, but several manufactures have developed their versions over the years with competitive pricing. Solid surface is considered seamless, and both the backsplashes and sinks can be integrated.
However, the material is not indestructible. It can be scratched by sharp knives or burned by hot pots and pans. On the positive side, the material can be repaired and cleaning is a snap because there are no cracks to trap dirt or food.
Granite is a hard natural stone that has a beautiful one-of-a-kind look. There are several patterns and varieties from which to choose. This material is extremely strong and holds up well to heat and scratches.
But granite is heavy and will need a well-made cabinet box to support its weight. Maintenance is required in sealing the material; however, there are some sealant products available that need only be applied every 15 years. You won’t have to lose sleep worrying that you may stain your top from a glass of red wine or marinara sauce as these mishaps will not permanently discolor your countertop if it properly sealed.
Marble is a natural stone material like granite, but softer and not good for everyday use. It is recognizable by its distinctive veining and luminescence tones. Marble is a soft and absorbent stone that is not recommended in a kitchen for everyday use. But it makes a glamorous addition to a bathroom vanity or shower.
Engineered Stone is a synthetic material made of quartz chips and tinted color resin. This material has the beauty of natural stone without the high maintenance and fuss of sealing.
Engineered stone is an investment in that it can be pricey, but it won’t scratch or stain. You have to look at the longevity of the material and their accumulated maintenance costs in order to compare value over time.
Tile is a durable choice that is a less expensive option than stone. There are numerous shapes, sizes and colors available. The uneven surface of tile and tile grout can be an issue if you prefer perfectly flat surfaces. Yet tile holds up to well to heat and maintenance and repairs are manageable.
Design tip: you can get the look of granite and save money by using 12”x 12” granite tiles. Use 1/32”or 1/16” grout spacers to give the illusion that it is a solid slab. Finish the raw ends with complementary edge treatment.
Laminate is a paper and resin blended material that has a particle board or plywood base. There are endless color and pattern options. (Check out the fun new granite colors available in the Formica 180 FX series.) This material has been a commonly used material in kitchens for decades.
Laminate is cost effective and is easily replaceable when kitchen trends change. It is not recommend in areas that have a lot of moisture, such as bathrooms because the glue used in the manufacturing weakens. The smooth surface is easy to clean, but is not repairable if scratched, chipped or burned. Laminate is light weight and easy to install and is available in different grades.
By Jill Brown and Jan Ekleberry (Designer Sales) Kauai Lumber/HPM 808-332-7376