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As homeowners, we demand a lot from our countertops: they must be beautiful yet durable and cost-efficient, yet stylish. For many people, cost is perhaps the major determining factor in choosing countertop material. Lifestyle runs a close second. For example, families with children (who, as we all know are very hard on countertops), will prefer a material that is durable, critter-proof and stain-resistant; if you consider yourself a bit of a gourmet cook, then you would want a material that is hard-working and easy to clean and maintain, while those who do a lot of entertaining need a countertop that is not only durable, convenient and hard-working, but stylish as well.


Today, there are so many options, from granite to wood to glass to laminates. Even so, choosing your new countertops doesn't have to be difficult. Naturally, when choosing a countertop, your budgetary constraints are important, but the material it is made of should be your first, and most important consideration. After all, it doesn’t matter how much it cost if it isn’t the right material for your needs.

Natural Stone
Granite
Granite is classic, enduring and suggests a special element of luxury. The advantages of granite are many—it doesn't chip easily, it's heat and stain-resistant, and requires less maintenance than other natural stone materials and offers a depth of design that's difficult to match with other materials. Granite is quarried worldwide. The region and geological conditions that create it are revealed in nature’s wild creations of colors and patterns throughout the stone.


Each slab of granite is unique, with random and inconsistent patterns that enhance its charm. Granite, composed of quartz and feldspar, is graded upon a host of variables including density, strength, water absorption and acid resistance. It is resistant to scratches, abrasions and most chemicals.


However, there are some disadvantages. If you do damage your granite countertop, it's very difficult to repair. Small cracks or chips may require resin injection and polishing. It's also one of the most expensive options. And, even though it's considered relatively low maintenance, it will need to be sealed once a year to prevent it from absorbing stains and odors. Although it is resistant to most chemicals, granite can be vulnerable to some acids. Pitting is common with granite and most polished igneous rocks. Fissures also occur naturally in stone adding to its character.

Marble
Marble is another upscale, popular choice that adds a sophisticated touch. Marble, like any crystallized carbonate rock, is softer and more susceptible to chemical damage, scratches, abrasions and stains by oils or other liquids. Since marble is less stain resistant and more porous than granite, it needs to be sealed more often than granite—generally twice a year. And like granite, marble is very resistant to heat, but can still crack due to a localized, strong heat source.
Of course there are other natural stone options, such as slate, limestone and soapstone. Depending upon the look that you want for your countertops, you may want to investigate these options as well.

Quartz, Solid Surfaces and Laminates continued...

 

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One of the most critical elements of interior decorating in kitchens and baths, is the countertops. If you're building a new home or renovating a kitchen or bath, you have more countertop choices than ever before. Some materials, like natural stone, have become more affordable. The natural look is extremely popular, but so are the bright, bold colors and interesting patterns possible with innovative products like Quartz and solid surface.
Countertops play a starring role in your kitchen or bath design, helping set the style and tone for the entire design scheme of each room.
Countertop Comparisons
Countertops are the first thing people notice about your kitchen, but with so many choices now available, which one is right for your home?