Kitchen Countertops 101: Learn About Material Durability
Posted on: February 24, 2022
If you are looking for ways to update your kitchen, you may be considering updating your kitchen countertops. Kitchen countertops come in a variety of materials, including concrete, solid surface, laminate, and more. Each material has its own advantages and disadvantages depending on durability, cost, aesthetics, maintenance requirements, and other factors. For example:
Concrete is an extremely durable material that will last the homeowner's life. However, it is challenging to maintain aesthetically due to stains that can easily penetrate into the porous surface. This article will discuss the different kitchen countertop materials, their durability, and what to consider before making a purchase.
Concrete is one of the most durable options for kitchen countertops. Though concrete can easily be stained with grease or other products that are dropped during cooking, these stains are only superficial and do not compromise the structure of the material. Concrete will last for many years without issue as it is extremely resistant to chipping damage due to its hardness.
However, it must be sealed regularly with a protective coating so that humidity does not penetrate into the rock aggregate under the top layer of stone resin. The process of sealing concrete countertops is very important upon installation and every 4-6 months after initial protection has been applied. Some homeowners choose to seal their concrete countertops themselves, while others prefer hiring a professional.
Concrete countertops may also be etched or polished, allowing homeowners to give their concrete a smooth matte finish that is pleasing to the eye and easy to maintain. While this method eliminates some of the stains associated with cooking activities, it can only be applied by professionals and does not protect the underlying rock aggregate from staining in any way. The polishing process also wears away at the top layer of stone resin material over time, causing wear and tear on the surface much more quickly than when it has been simply sealed.
Granite is a popular option for kitchen countertops due to its durability and aesthetic appeal. However, it is important to note that the durability of granite varies depending on the type of stone used in construction. Granites are often classified as either granitic or mafic. Granitic stones feature large grains of quartz, feldspar, and other minerals. At the same time, mafic granites contain larger crystals of pyroxene or amphibole, which are both formed from magma cooling slowly at great depths beneath the Earth's surface.
Mafic granites, such as gabbro and basalt, tend to be more susceptible to scratching than granitic types such as diorite and syenite. Ideally, homeowners should purchase thicker slabs of mafic granite, as they are less likely to scratch. However, if a thin slab is the only option available to homeowners, then it should be sealed regularly, and extra caution should be used during cooking to avoid damage from items such as knives that might scratch the rock. Granitic stones tend to be more durable and can last for many years before requiring thorough cleaning or resurfacing.
However, even granitic stones will eventually need maintenance over time due to wear and tear caused by sharp objects such as knives or other utensils that might damage the stone surface over time. Some homeowners choose to resurface their countertops by having the granite surface polished, potentially eliminating the need for cleaning in the future. However, this process is expensive, and not all types of granite are suitable for polishing.
Tile countertops are extremely durable due to their thickness. Though most tile is not made with anti-bacterial materials, it does not need them due to its durability that can stand up to daily wear and tear over many years without requiring heavy maintenance or protection against scratches or other damage.
This material also requires little attention in terms of aesthetics because tiles come in a variety of colors and patterns that allow homeowners some flexibility when choosing kitchen countertop materials. Tile countertops can be laid directly on top of cabinets or on top of another solid material such as plywood. Tile is also very easy to clean and maintain, requiring only regular scouring with a mixture of warm water and gentle soap.
Quartz countertops are produced by combining mineral elements to create an engineered quartz stone composite. These composite materials are then molded into the desired shape before being infused with quartz crystals to give them strength. Quartz countertops are extremely durable due to their chemical composition, which makes them resistant to staining and scratching for many years without extra protection against damage. They do not require sealing but do require regular cleaning to maintain their shine over several decades. It is important to note that quartz countertop colors may vary slightly depending on where they were quarried, and manufacturers may not reproduce those exact colors.
Epoxy countertops are composed of a resin-based material that is infused with color pigments. These countertops are extremely durable, though they may require extra sealing to avoid damage from liquids or other stains. Epoxy countertops are resistant to scratches and do not require regular cleaning in order to maintain their appearance over many years.
Soapstone countertops are composed of a stone that is naturally rich in talc, which lends itself to be easily shaped into countertop materials. Soapstone countertops are exceptionally durable and do not require sealing to resist damage from liquids or other stains. They are not susceptible to scratching but may be damaged if they are dropped or banged against another object.
Quartzite countertops are often composed of quartz and feldspar, which gives them a high resistance to staining and scratching. As with other natural materials, quartzite countertops may be susceptible to damage if dropped or struck against another object; however, they do not require sealing, and cleaning regularly will keep these countertops looking like new for many years.
How to Choose Between Materials
There is no single countertop material that has been proven to be completely indestructible. It's important for homeowners to consider their cooking habits and how often they entertain guests. If you tend to cook a lot at home and entertain frequently, you should consider granite countertops, which are extremely hard and resistant to staining or scratching.
On the other hand, if you don't use your kitchen much or need a surface that's easy to clean, tile countertops might be more suitable for you because they're composed of thick materials and require little maintenance over time.
If aesthetics are important in selecting your kitchen countertop materials, then quartz may also be a good option for you; however, it's generally more expensive than other materials such as tile.
It's important to remember that no matter which material you select, it will need cleaning and maintenance to keep your countertops looking great for many years. This includes regular scouring with a mixture of warm water and gentle soap or dishwashing liquid, depending on the material's resistance to liquids and staining.
Additionally, certain materials such as granite and quartz may require sealing to prevent damage from food stains or other types of liquid damage over time.
Your choice of kitchen countertop materials should ultimately depend on your cooking habits, how often you entertain guests, aesthetics preferences, desired durability, frequency of cleaning requirements, and budget limitations. Make sure you thoroughly research any type of stone before making your final decision, so you're happy with the final product.