slhl SPOT LIGHT
Here’s what you need to know before selecting your kitchen countertop material.
By Jamie Siebrase
Photography courtesy of Cambria.
Whether you’re building a new kitchen or remodeling the one you’ve got, choosing a countertop is a big – and expensive – decision. National Kitchen & Bath designer Ashleigh Schroeder weighs in on the pros and cons of fi e popular surface materials for your home’s busiest space.
Granite is popular for a reason: You’d be hard pressed to cut, burn or scratch it, and polished and matte finishes are typically stain resistant, too, when properly sealed. While annual upkeep is a downside for some homeowners, Schroeder says, “Don’t let this be the thing that deters you.” Spray-on sealers are available, and some fabricators offer a 10-year seal. On a budget? Schroeder recommends category “A” colors. “With granite categories,” she says, “It’s not about quality.” Pricing is based on whether a rock specimen is readily available in nature; rare colors and veining cost more, and exotic slabs might be fragile, with naturally occurring fissu es that could rupture during installation.
Rivaling granite as today’s top high-end countertop, quartz offers
consumers a lot of bang for their buck. The manmade substance mimics the stunning look of natural stone and requires minimal maintenance. “It’s easy to clean, and it won’t cut, stain or scratch,” says Schroeder, noting that, technically, homeowners can chop directly on quartz counters. (Schroeder recommends a cutting board.) “There aren’t really any cons to quartz,” she continues, lauding the material as design-friendly, too, because it’s available in a range of colors and patterns that jive with most schemes. Quartz companies, Schroeder adds, are skilled at replicating the white marble look that’s trending. But, she adds, “If you want that big, sweeping look of natural granite, you’ll need to go with granite.”
There’s no denying that designer darlings such as Carrara and Calacatta are aesthetically pleasing, with the elegant, gray-toned veining modern consumers covet. “Marble is fine for the bathroom,” Schroeder says, adding, “But it’s not a good idea in the kitchen.” The expensive material is soft, leaving it vulnerable to stains, etches, and chips – the
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