COUNTERTOPS

You probably already have a good idea what product you want to use for your kitchen countertop.  The difficulty comes in the large range of color and pattern available for each of the products.



When planning or remodeling a kitchen, the countertops need special consideration.  They need to be water, stain and heat resistant as well as scratch and chip resistant.  Your counters are going to be around for a long time so they need to blend well with your decor and be fairly neutral so that they don't tie you down in terms of future redecorating choices.   Each product has its advantages and disadvantages.  Granite tops the list in terms of popularity and comes in both tile and slab form. 



Here are a few surfaces to consider:



QUARTZ SOLID SURFACE
(Man Made)

Man made surfaces, such as CesarStone above, are imbedded with quartz and other elements to mimic a natural stone look.  Similar in cost to granite these materials are completely non-porous.  Their surfaces are harder to stain, don't need to be sealed, and as such are more hygenic than many surfaces.


The look is so similar to granite it is often difficult to tell them apart.






GRANITE
Granite is hard to beat for a perfect kitchen countertop surface.  One of the hardest surfaces available it will resist scratching and chipping and is impervious to heat - and in terms of sheer beauty and variety it has no equal - there is depth, motion, color and sheen. 
Granite is available in tile form and as a slab. 


Picking out your granite slab for the kitchen can be quite an adventure.  A visit to a stone yard will reveal more variety than you thought possible.  Some varieties are more speckled in nature and others have motion - with large patterns of veins and color going through them. 
You should take samples of the other elements you will be using in your kitchen with you, such as
woods, paint and fabric, to help you narrow your search. 
Simple classic black granite is a popular choice.
This island has a combination of wood, granite and marble at various stations.  Marble is the perfect choice for a pastry counter, but is not recommended for the abuse it can receive as a kitchen countertop.  Marble is a softer stone, and more porous.  It can stain, scratch and break easily and is not heat friendly.  It makes a wonderful choice as a backsplash and as countertops and flooring in other areas of the home.


WOOD


Butcher block is another countertop choice - more economical than granite, but more susceptible to cuts, stains and germs (never ever use it for raw poultry preparation) and requiring more maintenance.


CERAMIC TILE
Ceramic tile has always been a popular choice. 


It is economical, has a wide color and pattern variety, and when the grout is properly sealed, is easy care. 


It is prone to chipping/breaking so extra care should be taken. 
The grout can stain and get dirty over the years


CONCRETE
A fairly new product for kitchen countertops is concrete.  There are many application choices, even the ability to imbed items. 
The finished product is sealed and polished and the concrete can be tinted. 
The materials may appear cheaper, but combined with the labor intensive installation, it can actually end up being more expensive than granite.


STAINLESS STEEL


A staple of the restaurant industry, this hard-wearing, easy to clean surface is become more popular in residential kitchens




Popular in contemporary kitchens,
but lends itself to vintage just as easily.




THE BACKSPLASH
The backsplash is one of the few areas in a kitchen were you can get really creative, and if you thought the choices for countertops were intimidating - the choices for your backsplash will astound you.


TRAVERTINE

A popular choice, and one that pairs beautifully with granite, is travertine.  Travertine actually has quite a wide range of color.  It is formed underwater which produces air bubbles or holes throughout.  These can be filled or left exposed.  The tile can be tumbled for a rustic look, or filled and honed, or polished, for a more refined look. 
There are moldings and liners available for framing and borders.  Stone mosaics and listeles can be added,


as well as metallic, glass or marble accents,
in a variety of shapes and sizes.
Etched or carved reliefs are available for creating a focal point.
Travertine blends beautifully with other stone - here with a marble mosaic.


Sealing the stone both protects it and brings out the richness of its natural color


Because this is made by mother nature and not manufactured, there is a variety of color within the same color field.  Make sure you have a good stone craftsman to install, as stone is more difficult than tile.  Thicknesses can vary and lines aren't always completely straight.


I love this basketweave mosaic
The subway shaped tiles on this backsplash are installed so closely together that they look seamless
Etched and patterned travertine add more possibilities.  Way too many possibilities for just one backsplash!


CERAMIC TILE MAKES A COMEBACK

Just look at these beautiful tile applications.  Ceramic tile has come a long way since your grandmother or mother's kitchen.  Just look at the texture and color in these backsplashes.
I love the simplicity of this backsplash above
Subway tile - one of my favorite classic shapes






THE NOT SO COMMON CHOICES:


BRICK

BRICK SHAPED STONE


PEBBLES - well, maybe for a rustic cabin....


Cultured stone (man made)


POPULAR AND BEAUTIFUL GLASS TILE


Mosaic
Glass subway tile
Or, how about backpainted glass!


METAL - A NEW CHOICE
Stainless steel tile - very contemporary
Pressed tin - very old fashioned
Painted pressed tin - vintage and shabby
Quilted steel - Elegant!


ALL THE MARBLES
Marble is extremely versatile.  It can go with old world and traditional or be completely contemporary.
Carrera marble with insets


Solid slab marble backsplash


Marble mosaic and subway tile




Emperador Dark marble mosaic with granite


GRANITE BACKSPLASH
Not only for countertops - granite backsplashes create seamless design










What material would you choose?   I love how simple or creative a backsplash can be and how versatile each material is, lending itself to many design styles. 


Leave a comment, I would love to hear from you.


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