Your kitchen is the heart of the home and how it performs and how it looks are the most important factors to most families.  The countertop material you choose will be based on your budget, your style preference and how durable it is for your lifestyle. When considering countertop materials do your research ahead of time. While some are more beautiful than others, some have to be maintained to keep their beauty and durability. Read on to see how to choose the perfect countertop for your family and lifestyle.

  • Assess your family and lifestyle: For busy families on the go the wear and tear of everyday life can take a beating on countertop surfaces. If your family only uses the kitchen occasionally higher end granite may be perfect.  While if you are constantly cooking, kids are using the countertop for science projects, and you don’t want to keep up with maintenance a plastic laminate low cost countertop may be a better choice.
  • Durability & Price: When choosing a countertop you should consider the durability before the price.  The reason being, just because you can afford it, doesn’t mean it will hold up in your home. Here are tips for durability:

o   Plastic Laminate: Durable for moderate wear, comes in a multitude of colors, low end in price, can chip at the edges and shouldn’t be cut directly on.

o   Solid Surface: Man made material with color throughout, scratches easily but can be buffed or polished out by professional. Mid range price and has a wide range of colors.

o   Butcher Block: Wood product, best used for islands away from water sources/sinks. Medium durability – can absorb stains because wood is porous. Color is chosen by different wood stains, moderate to high in price.

o   Tile: Durable if taken care of properly. Porcelain tiles can chip, crack or break if items are dropped on the counter.  Grouting can also chip and discolor. Price is based on how expensive the individual tiles are. Can get expensive with hand painted and imported tile.

o   Granite: Very durable because it is stone. Since it’s porous will need to be sealed periodically. Granite is in the high price bracket.

o   Concrete: Very durable although it is possible to crack. It can be molded into shapes and stained different colors.  It too, should be sealed and is in the med range price bracket.

  • Heat resistance: One of the considerations when choosing a countertop material is the heat resistance when you are cooking.  You shouldn’t put hot pans directly on countertops.  Using a trivet between the pan and the countertop surface is a good idea.  Natural stone materials and concrete can endure heat better than plastic laminate that can leave a scorch mark. Ceramic tile countertops can take heat, but may crack due to rapid temperature changes.  To be certain, do not place heated pans on countertops, stainless steel is one of the few countertops that can endure heat.

Choosing a kitchen countertop should be considered thoroughly. Lifestyle, budget and durability are the main determining factors. Use these tips to help guide you and then check with local countertop suppliers and get their opinion on the different materials.  New materials and countertop varieties emerge on the market every day.  You never know, the countertop for your family is probably waiting for you to discover it!

Freshome reader’s did you do research before you chose your countertop? Do you own a countertop that you absolutely love? We’d love to have your input.