How to choose the right countertops

Designing your kitchen and choosing the counters is so much fun these days. The selection of materials we have available to us here in Ottawa as well as the colours makes it exciting! All this choice though can be a little daunting. Maintenance is different for each type of counter, as are the longevity and durability; there’s a lot to take into consideration. This article will hopefully bring the fun back to building your brand new kitchen, by helping you find the right countertops for your home.  

CHOOSING THE RIGHT COLOUR

When it comes to counters, whether it’s the bathroom or the kitchen, you want to choose a color that will fit in, no matter how many times you paint or redecorate over the years. It’s also a good idea to match the undertones of the counter to your cabinetry. If you have cherry wood cabinets, for example, it’s a good idea to stay away from blue or green counters, which will cause your cabinets to appear bright red or even pink. 

FINISHING THE EDGE

Square edges are standard for most materials, but decorative edges like bevel, radius, bullnose, and ogee are available. These edges are usually a bit more expensive but can be a beautiful  way to customize a kitchen. Keep in mind that the availability of edges can vary based on the materials, it’s more important to choose your counter based on the material rather than the edge available. 

GRANITE

Once seen as a luxury item for high-end kitchens, granite is more common these days and by far, one of the most popular choices for natural stone. Granite can be vibrant, coming in rich shades of blue, black and deep red, it can also feel airy and open when you choose a lighter shade. 

There are a few different finishes of granite available. You usually see granite polished to a glossy sheen, but a honed finish is available as well, which is less shiny and more matte. You should also take a look at leathered granite, which is a bit more textured, creating a rustic, casual look. 

After the granite is cut, it’s polished and treated with a sealer that permeates the stone, making it resistant to stains. The sealer usually lasts 5-10 years depending on how well you maintain it. Using a stone cleaner, rather than an abrasive cleaner will make a big difference.

MARBLE
If you love to bake from scratch, then marble will be an excellent choice from you. This stone is regarded as an ideal work surface for making cookies or fresh pasta. Marble is also beautiful and still considered high-end, but there are a few downsides. 

You definitely need a cutting board, these counters can scratch easy. Marble is also soft and porous, so it won’t be as stain resistant as other stones. Marble can also fade if placed in direct sunlight, so if you’re lucky to have a lot of windows or skylights, it’s worth considering another option for your counters. Be sure to talk to your craftsman about maintaining your marble counters.

OTHER OPTIONS

  • SOAPSTONE: The colour variety isn’t as extensive for soapstone, you’re limited to a greenish-black or a lighter greenish-grey. One of the biggest reason’s it’s not recommended is that soapstone is porus which can create maintenance issues.
  • CONCRETE: Using concrete as a countertop, especially in your kitchen or bathroom is a relatively new idea still but their beauty and customization make it a serious contender among countertops. It’s important to know, however, that extreme temperature changes can cause concrete to warp, and spills or a wet towel left on too long may etch the surface. So they have the potential to be beautiful counters, but they’re very risky
  • WOOD: Butcher block/wood counters are a lovely way to warm up a kitchen. They add a beautiful, natural look, and work well with many colour schemes. Water damage is very possible though so they require regular maintenance with oiling.
  • LAMINATE: These are the most affordable countertops on the market, and are available in a range of colors and designs. Laminate counters have actually come a long way over the years and can look just like marble or granite. However they do not fare as well as natural stone when it comes to hot temperatures or cutting.  

These options are less expensive than others, but be warned, if you love cooking from scratch or do a lot of regular food prep, you may find more value with natural stone options.