• Katie Lange

What Countertop Material is Right For You?

Replacing countertops on existing cabinets can be trans-formative, both visually and functionally. When our clients come in for an estimate, they typically want the rundown of the popular countertop materials. Some common questions we hear are: "Is Granite high maintenance?" - "Which countertop material is the most durable?" - "Do I have to have a seam in my countertop" - or simply "Which countertop material is the best?" Not surprisingly, it's not an easy question to answer, but we will be discussing the benefits and disadvantages of the most popular countertop materials on the market today - all of which we offer to our clients.



Quartz

Popular Brands: Cambria, Zodiaq, Silestone, Caesarstone, MSI

Quartz is our current best-selling countertop material. Many of our clients know that they want it when they walk in the door. Made from a high percentage of ground Quartz and small amounts of fillers and colorants, Quartz combines the beauty of Natural Stone with the durability of a man-made material. The material can have greater overhangs without support, is highly resistant to scratches or staining, and is non-porous. High shine finishes are most common, but most brands offer Matte finishes for a more contemporary style. Quartz patterns can mimic natural materials like Marble, Granite, Soapstone, or Concrete - or can be vibrantly colored with a modern appeal. Slab sizes are quite large, limiting the need for seams. When seams are unavoidable, they are typically less noticeable than Granite or Marble - due to how uniform the slabs are. Most Quartz colors are more expensive than Granite/Corian. There are many style and color options available, but they are not one-of-a-kind. You might visit a neighbor's house and find that you have the exact same countertop.

Quartz Pro's:

  • Low Maintenance (non-porous, hygienic, stain resistant, no yearly sealing)

  • Beautiful (stunning color options for all style preferences, large uniform slabs)

  • Durable (safe unsupported overhangs, chip-resistant, manufacturer warranties)

Quartz Con's:

  • $$$ Expensive (higher average price than Granite/Corian)

  • Not for Outdoor Use (with full sun exposure, the colors will fade)

  • Uniform (some people prefer a more unique/natural look)


Granite

Granite is natural stone mined from mountains into slabs. Because of the natural qualities of stone, you can expect there to be irregularities in the color, texture, and size of the slabs. Our clients who love natural stone appreciate the unique appearance and feeling of the material, and perceive those qualities as benefits and not disadvantages. Lighter colors tend to be more porous and fragile, and are prone to stains and rough textures. Some materials come in slab sizes comparable to Quartz, but others run small - increasing the likelihood of requiring seams. When there are seams, they tend to be rougher and more noticeable than Quartz. You can get the stone polished (shiny), leathered (matte textured), or matte - depending on the color. Granite pricing is on a spectrum, and if you shop smart you can find stunning pieces available in the lowest price group.

Granite Pro's:

  • Beautiful (stunning appearance that is difficult to copy, unique)

  • Relatively Durable (scratch resistant, relatively heat resistant, some colors are stain resistant)

  • $$ Mid-Range Pricing (lots of options available in the lowest price group)

Granite Con's:

  • Higher Maintenance (requires yearly sealing to maintain stain resistance)

  • Inconsistent (thickness, color, texture of material varies)

  • More Fragile than Quartz (more prone to chips, cracks, staining)



Corian

DuPont Corian is the industry leader in acrylic solid surfaces. It's used heavily in commercial applications due to its flexibility in manufacturing and its hygienic properties. It's non-porous, stain resistant, essentially seamless (seams are fused during fabrication), repairable, and thermoformable. When the material is heated, it becomes flexible and fuse-able - so we can create seamless rolled cove back-splashes, fully integrated sinks, or creative shaped works of art. The material is built-up on plywood, and can have relatively large overhangs without support. Corian will get fine scratches, which are removed by cleaning with an abrasive cleaner. It naturally has a matte finish, but can be polished to create a slightly higher sheen. Doing so makes the small scratches more prominent, so is not advised for high-traffic areas. Corian ranges in price, usually starting a little lower than Granite - but the most beautiful patterns are more expensive.

Corian Pro's:

  • Hygienic (non-porous, hygienic, stain resistant, virtually seamless)

  • Repairable (small scratches are buffed out with abrasives, cracks can be fused)

  • $$ Mid-Range Pricing (greatly varies depending on color chosen)

Corian Con's:

  • Scratches (soft material will scratch)

  • Not for Outdoor Use (with full sun exposure, the colors will fade)

  • Dull Sheen (some people prefer high sheen)


Custom Wood/Butcher Block Countertops

There's a huge spread in quality in the wood countertop world. Some companies sell mass produced "butcher block" tops made with scrap pieces of wood that are very inexpensive. We'll be focusing on high end custom made wood countertops - like those made by companies such as Craft-Art (one of the lines we represent). High end wood countertops are custom made with hand-selected woods using full-length boards and exquisite workmanship. Many brands offer exotic wood species (Wenge, Teak, Canary-wood, etc.), as well as common domestic wood species (Oak, Maple, Cherry, Walnut, etc). They're often available in multiple construction methods - plank, edge grain, and end grain (classic checkerboard style). Craft-Art offers a food-safe Waterlox finish, which helps prevent water damage. All wood countertops will scratch, and will need to be sanded and re-oiled regularly to maintain its natural beauty. They are technically allowed to be installed with sink cutouts, and near many range's - but using them in a high-traffic area will result in a rustic countertop with dents, scratches, watermarks, etc. These custom wood tops are very expensive (more expensive than Quartz) - and are ideal for a homeowner who is in love with natural wood, and is not bothered by a few scratches/stains.

Custom Wood Top Pro's:

  • Beautiful (stunning high-quality natural wood with tons of edge options)

  • Repairable (small scratches/stains can be sanded out)

  • Warm (soft material can cozy up a space)

Custom Wood Top Con's:

  • $$$$ Expensive (more expensive than most other solid surfaces)

  • Scratches (soft material will scratch)

  • Requires Regular Maintenance (oiled regularly or sanded and refinished)


There's the run-down on the most popular countertop materials in our market. There are more products out there, and more continue to be developed to meet an increasing need for variety. Comment below which countertop suits your needs best, or let us know what you think about your current countertop! In the market for a new countertop in Tallahassee, Florida and the surrounding areas? Give us a call at Tallahassee Kitchen Center (850) 561-1122 to schedule an appointment today!

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