As real estate agents we see lots of different countertop materials. Some are pretty sweet and some are…. not. There’s the ever popular granite, man-made composites, laminates, concrete, wood, and more. The biggest shift we’ve seen is in two areas, laminates and green materials.
Each material has its pluses and minuses. In this article we’ll combine our personal experience with that of some kitchen specialists to, hopefully, give you a better sense of the various kitchen countertop materials.
Laminate… an old standby.
Today’s laminate countertops are nothing like those of the 60’s and 70’s. Instead of avocado green finishes we have tricked out surfaces that can truly mimic granite and other popular appearances.
Laminate counters have several benefits including being affordable and stain resistant. One the con side they can be damaged by sharp knives or hot pans and are often perceived as being cheaper and less desirable by home buyers. Our pros tell us to look for counters made from thicker materials as they hold up better. Cost varies from $22-$55 sq./ft.
Solid Surface Materials
There are a number of solid surface materials available. Corian, Zodiaq and Staron are probably the best known. They are engineered to look like stone, glass and other materials.
On the plus side solid surface materials have:
· Through and through colors.
· Colors do not fade with age.
· Architectural looking surfaces.
· Cuts and scratches can be easily fixed. Watch out for stains from things like cherry and blueberry juice… they can penetrate the surface.
Prices are generally in the $80-$190/sq.ft. DuPont has a nifty calculator you can try here.
Granite is still the king or queen of countertop materials. There is simply something special about a product that comes from the earth. Granite’s popularity is:
· Its elegant and natural look.
· The multitude of colors and designs.
· The eye catching veins and crystals.
· Its durability if properly sealed.
On the flip side of the coin, granite has to be sealed property and resealed if exposed to things like lemon juice and garlic juice. Plus, you don’t want to wipe them down with vinegar. Often the most expensive option but prices have come down.
Prices are all over the place on granite.
Engineered stone countertops are formed from quartz and a binding agent. The most popular brands are Caesarstone, Silesstone and Cambria. Engineered materials are like because:
· They often look like real stone.
· Very stain resistant
· Do not need to be resealed.
· Lots of color and style options.
Many think engineered countertops are less expensive than granite… that’ not necessary true. We see costs in the $100-$200/sq.ft. on these products.
Ceramic tile is another of the tried and true counter top surfaces. Lots of options here and it holds up well. The pluses are generally price and variety while cracking of tiles and keeping the grout clean is a negative for some people. We strongly recommend you don’t use white grout… it won’t stay that way.
Costs start in the $20/sq.ft. and can go over $100/sq.ft. for some pricy tiles.
There is something special about butcher block countertops… Ikea sells a lot of them. They are natural, and a great surface for food prep. Some say you have to be careful of bacteria, but that’s the case for all food prep surfaces. The biggest downside is you have to keep them well maintained to avoid moisture and stain damage.
Prices vary by the type and thickness of wood. Some people find old buildings and repurpose some of the wood. Most likely you’ll be looking at $50+/sq.ft.
We see a fair number of concrete countertops these days. They are especially popular with mid-century modern homes and some of the modern style flips we’ve been seeing. It is certainly a versatile material, and tough as concrete.
The downside of the product is not too many people know how to set the forms and produce good looking counters… it is a work of art. They are very heavy and sometimes require additional supports in the base cabinets. They also need to be sealed properly or they will stain.
Pricing varies by contractor. Make sure and see the persons work and get a few recommendations.
We are not talking the avocado green mentioned earlier, this is the environmentally type of green. This is a fairly new addition to the market and we have personally seen much of it. The names we hear bantered about are EcoTop and one called Fuez that’s made in Portland, OR. It is worth taking a look at Fuez’s website… they are doing some pretty cool things. I am guessing shipping could make their product a bit expensive though.
We hope this info has helped explain some of the differences in countertop materials. There are a lot of them. One thing we do want to end with is this… although granite is the most popular, it is not necessary the best one. Different homes and their location can and do influence what is best from a resale standpoint. If you want our opinion, give us a call and we’ll be happy to talk about it. 602-234-5777.
Best to you,
Gene Urban & Ron Urban
The Urban Team at Realty Executives
Connecting people to the perfect place for over 20 years.