One would think that something as basic as kitchen countertops would be an easy decision. After all, countertops are relatively mundane. They are flat surfaces used for food preparation, serving, and sometimes eating.  Any one from your countertop supplier that is flat and food safe should be fine, right?

The thing is, many factors come into play when designing kitchen countertops. Top of mind for most people is the cost. Kitchen countertops can cost anywhere from $5 to $200 per square foot, depending on the material. Looks are also important, as kitchen countertops are visually prominent. Picking out an unattractive countertop can ruin the look of you whole kitchen. Picking out a beautiful one that does not fit your personality or style can be equally disastrous.

Maintenance is also a big issue for many homeowners. Most people would not like to handle their kitchen countertops with kid gloves or put a lot of time and effort into keeping them in good condition.

Generally, you want to start by understanding how you use the space. If you are an aspiring chef, then you want kitchen countertops that can stand a lot of use and abuse. On the other hand, if you barely cook and only need something to hold your coffeepot and toaster, you will not need anything very durable. This will give you a pretty good idea of the material you need for your countertops.

You also must consider your personal sense of style, which will determine the final design of your kitchen. Your kitchen countertops must reflect this, not only in terms of material, but also in terms of shape, edge profile, finish, and seams.

All of this might seem a lot to process, but there are shortcuts for homeowners just wanting to get a handle on the issue of their countertops. Here is a quick guide to designing kitchen countertops.

Know your material

You have quite a lot of options when it comes to materials, and each of them has pros and cons. The most popular ones today are engineered quartz, granite, and marble. These represent major classifications in countertop materials.

Engineered quartz is a manmade stone made up of quartz minerals, resins, and pigments. More than 50 companies manufacture quartz stones for residential use, but among the most popular ones are Silestone, Caesarstone, and Cambria. Together they offer hundreds of colors, styles, edges, and finishes for countertops, and many models look very much like natural stones. They are also very durable and non-porous. It is not heat resistant.

Granite is a natural stone, and available in hundreds of vibrant colors and patterns. It is an intrusive igneous rock, which means it formed slowly from magma over millions of years under great pressure. It is very durable but slightly porous. Most granite countertops require sealing after installation to prevent staining. It is heat resistant.

Marble is a metamorphic rock, formed from a recrystallization of limestone or dolomite. The most common color is white with feathery or distinct veins, although it is also available in other colors such as pink, blue, and black, depending on its composition. Marble is not as durable as quartz or granite, but it weathers well, developing a delicate patina many people find beautiful. It is also porous like granite, so it requires sealing. It also reacts to even weak acids such as wine, fruit juices, and white vinegar. Marble is also heat resistant. 

The choice is easy for some people. Some prefer a natural stone, so granite or marble is a good choice. Others are fine with an engineered product if it will not scratch or etch, so quartz is the top option. However, it is seldom as clear-cut as that. Quartz can discolor when subjected to heat or even direct sunlight. Marble is relatively easy to scratch, and etching is a real problem. Granite might stain. There are solutions for all these vulnerabilities, so the question is which ones you are willing to manage.

Consider mixing materials

No one says that you must choose one material and stick with it. If you have different needs, you might be able to match them up with certain sections of the countertops. For example, if you do some heavy cooking, you can have granite or quartz countertops around the cook top and sink. If also bake pastries, you can have a marble countertop on another part of the kitchen, or perhaps on the island.

You can also choose different materials for the backsplash and countertops. You use granite tiles for the backsplash and quartz on the countertops, or vice versa, for instance. Many people like the feel of marble while eating, so another option is to put marble in countertops you use for dining. Marble also makes a fantastic backsplash, as it is very attractive, and it is relatively safe from staining and etching as it is in a vertical position.

Choose the details

Once you have chosen the materials for your countertops, you can move on to other things. This includes the choice of sink, edge treatment, and finish. In most cases, homeowners choose a simple edge and glossy finish to save money. Countertop suppliers often offer these free of charge.

However, if you want to give your countertops a bit of flair, you can choose more complex edge treatments such as a mitered edge or double ogee. You can ask the advice of your countertop specialist about the best edge for your kitchen design.

A polished finish is popular with homeowners because it is attractive and easy to clean. That said, you do have other options.

The next most popular finish is matte, which has little to no reflective property. A matte finish is ideal for white kitchens that receiver a lot of light, as it will cut down on the glare. It is also a good finish for kitchens with strong colors, as it will not affect the colors of the countertops. Other finishes include leathered and brushed, which are certainly interesting, but might prove challenging in the maintenance department.

Conclusion

This is just a quick guide to designing kitchen countertops. You might think that it poses more questions than it answers in your mind, but they should help you narrow down your choices. A reliable countertop company will walk you through the whole selection process and explain the pros and cons of each option much more clearly.

Keystone Granite & Tile can help you go through your options and make recommendations based on your preferences. We service the areas of Columbus, Ohio, Delaware cities, Lancaster and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

We have showrooms in Lancaster and Horsham, Pennsylvania as well as New Castle, Delaware and Columbus, Ohio. We offer natural stones for your consideration. We will walk you through each granite and marble slab to explain how each can benefit you in your kitchen or bathroom remodel. We also carry the top brands of quartz countertops in the market, including Cambria, Caesarstone, Silestone, and MSI. They all come with manufacturer warranties.

Once you have chosen your countertops, we will provide free professional design consultation and quotes, so you know exactly where you are before committing. We also have a quick turnaround, so you will get your products on time and on budget.

We are experts at fabricating and installing engineered stone and granite countertops, so you can be confident that you will get the very best in product and service quality. Give us a call or send us an inquiry through our website to set the ball rolling!