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      Products

      / Countertops

      A Tough, Super-Hard Surface for Countertops

      Kithcen-Work-Surface-WithQuartz-Countertop

      Courtesy of Cambria

      The superman of stone, quartz surfacing provides a nearly indestructible material, ideal for homeowners who want a beautiful countertop that they might occasionally spill wine on. Providing the look of natural stone with a mettle that laughs in the face of coffee, lemon juice, and high-maintenance care, its non-porous nature protects against more than just stains; it's also extremely hygienic, making it a food-safe choice.

      Though quartz surfacing is sometimes referred to as "engineered" quartz, don't be fooled into thinking that you'll end up with a synthetic countertop. Expect pure natural quartz (generally upwards of 90 percent) mixed with epoxy resin binders. The care-free surface doesn't require sealants. Boasting the look of natural stone, quartz surfacing has a consistent color; its color should be very close to what you saw in the showroom.

      Quick tip: Quartz surfacing is available in colors not found in nature, as the crushed stone is generally mixed with pigment. Take advantage, and choose a color that dazzles while still looking like stone.

      Pros

      • Does not require sealants

      • Scratch-resistant with diamond-like hardness, you can cut on quartz (excessive force can damage it, however)

      • Consistent color

      • Its non-porous nature makes it virtually stain-free

      • Can be worked into a decorative edge


      Cons

      • Though it can briefly tolerate moderate temperatures for a brief time, you'll want to use a hot pad or trivet when placing a hot pan on it

      • Integrated sinks are not available, as with solid surfacing


      Maintenance

      Though it's important to always follow your manufacturer's specific instructions, quartz surfacing producer Cambria recommends washing with warm water and a pH neutral, non-abrasive cleaner.


      Cost

      Similar to natural stone, depending on distribution in your area. Expect to pay $45-$125 per square foot.

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      Solid yet Flexible, with a Variety of Colors and Finishes

      Solid Surface Countertop

      Those aiming for a picture-perfect kitchen should certainly investigate solid surfacing. Made of solid synthetic sheets formed by mixing a mineral compound with polyester and/or acrylic resins, the countertop is smooth and uniform throughout; you can get the look of stone without the seams or potential color variations. Solid surfacing's flexibility and formability also offers the opportunity to create untraditional countertop countours, such as an island shaped like an artist's pallet.


      Pros

      • Because it's solid (the pattern or color runs throughout), chips, dents and scratches can be repaired easily

      • Comes in a variety of colors and finishes ranging from gloss to matte; it can look and feel like stone

      • Flexible enough to form decorative shapes and an integral sink

      • Can be molded into a single seamless piece; if seams are necessary, they're inconspicuous and non-porous, preventing the growth of bacteria

      • A high-gloss countertop can be buffed back to its original luster


      Cons

      • May crack as it cools down after a hot item has been on it

      • Will stain; however, because it's nonporous (that is, nothing soaks too far into it), spots can be scrubbed out

      • Could become discolored if a heavy object falls on it

      • You'll need to use a cutting board, though scratches can be sanded out


      Maintenance

      According to the DuPont Corian Web site, most dirt can be removed with soapy water or an ammonia-based cleaner. You can disinfect the surface with a solution of diluted household bleach (one part water/one part bleach).


      Cost

      About $40-$90 per square foot.

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      Impact Resistant Laminate Comes in Hundreds of Colors

      Laminate-Countertop-With-Food-On-Top

      Courtesy of Wilsonart

      The most common kitchen countertop, laminate is a synthetic material made up of several layers: multiple sheets of kraft paper (like that used in grocery bags), a decorative paper and a melamine plastic coating. Though economical, laminate doesn't have the lasting power of stone; however, manufacturers like Wilsonart offer upgraded, high-wear surfaces with increased lifespan. A slightly more expensive alternative with no dark edges is solid-color laminate, which is made of a colored plastic throughout.

      Quick tip: Working with a tight budget that won't allow for an expensive stone surface? Cover a small area of your kitchen, like an island, with your desired counter material, and use a complementary laminate as the main perimeter surface.


      Pros

      • Produced in hundreds of colors and patterns and a variety of finishes. Certain designs replicate the look of granite, solid surface, engineered stone and hardwood, among others, providing an in-demand look at an undemanding price

      • Easy upkeep

      • Impact resistant

      • A coved design, where the laminate eliminates the countertop's back edge by curving slightly up the wall, makes for easy cleanup

      • Cost savings, due to reduced labor and more inexpensive material compared to other surfaces


      Cons

      • Layers make it difficult to repair chips

      • Hot items and water seeping into seams may cause layers to break apart

      • Kraft paper leaves a dark line at the edges, unless it runs wall to wall or is trimmed with a decorative material such as wood or stainless steel

      • You'll need to use cutting boards

      • You can't clean it with abrasives


      Maintenance

      According to Wilsonart, a damp cloth and mild soap should be adequate for most spills. For more resistant stains, create a paste from baking soda and a mild household cleaner, and give a brisk 15-20 strokes to the area using a nylon bristle brush. If these methods don't work, a cotton ball saturated with undiluted household bleach can be rubbed on the stain for up to two minutes, though Wilsonart warns that the surface must be thoroughly rinsed with water and dried, and prolonged exposure to bleach will cause discoloration. Always follow your manufacturer's specific instructions.


      Cost
      Expect to pay about $10-$45 per square foot.

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      A Great Choice for a Convenient, Built-In Food Prep Area

      Wood-Countertop-With-Bowl

      Designed by Kitchens by Stephanie, Grand Rapids, MI.

      The most common wood countertop you know as butcher block, those thick hardwood maple surfaces that every knife-wielding chef dreams about. Butcher blocks generally vary in thickness between 1? and 6 inches, and are made of stacked and glued hard maple pieces; the exposed end grain is the cutting surface. Other woods such as cherry, teak and walnut can be used, though they're generally chosen more for their decorative effect or used on a hutch.

      Quick tip: Considering a butcher block island? Hang a pot rack overhead to make food prep even easier-chop those veggies and put them right in the pot!


      Pros

      • Won't dull knife blades

      • Provides a convenient, built-in chopping/food prep area

      • After heavy usage, in many cases knife marks can be removed by sanding and re-oiling

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      Cons

      • Requires sealants

      • Should be periodically re-oiled

      • Shows knife marks

      • Prone to water damage so it shouldn't be placed near the sink without several coats of sealant


      Maintenance

      According to butcher block great John Boos, it's important to periodically apply a non-toxic mineral oil appropriate for kitchen use with a rag. Never use harsh detergents to clean, and follow your manufacturer's guidelines.


      Cost

      About $40-$150 per square foot.

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      Get the Professional Look with Stainless Steel

      Kitchen Space with Stainless Steel Countertop

      Courtesy of Elkay

      Get that professional restaurant-kitchen look with this alloy steel that contains a dash of chromium to make it rust-resistant. Stainless steel is typically attached to plywood to provide strength and deaden its sound.

      It's generally a wise choice for homeowners who crave a professional look, or for fans of neutral surfaces who find beige boring. While considering stainless steel a "neutral" may seem like a surprising choice, but the metallic hue blends well with most any color. The surface is also the choice of restaurants for a reason: Stainless steel is nonporous (which limits the growth of bacteria), doesn't chip or scratch and requires minimal maintenance.

      Note: Though stainless steel shows scratches and fingerprints, new non-directional finishes limits their visibility.

      Quick tip: Working with a small space? Stainless steel's reflective qualities multiply the effect of natural and artificial light, opening it up.


      Pros

      • Can handle hot pots

      • Won't stain

      • Easy to wipe clean

      • Smooth and cool to the touch

      • Flexible enough to make an integral sink


      Cons

      • Shows scratches and dulls knives

      • Shows fingerprints, so it might not be the best choice if you have young children

      • Can dent and be noisy if not attached to a strong base

      • Difficult and costly fabrication


      Maintenance

      Stainless steel is used in busy restaurants for a reason; a quick wipe with warm water and soap should do the trick. Be sure to avoid abrasive pads, as they'll scratch the surface.


      Cost
      About $85-$200 per square foot.

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      Scratch and Heat Resistant, Can Be Cast to your Specifications

      Modern Kitchen with Concrete Countertop

      Made entirely of natural materials, this hardened mixture of water, cement, sand, stone and pigment isn't just for your basement floor anymore. It can make quite a statement up in the kitchen, and homeowners are taking note, as evidenced by its quick rise in popularity. The counters can be pre-cast to fit a mold or cast on site.

      Concrete must be sealed properly to resist stains and water damage. However, many fans of concrete argue that there's beauty in the way the an unsealed surface ages, like the aged charm of a well-used butcher block.

      Quick tip: For an added dose of personality, embed vintage tiles, shells or other object in the countertop. Finding concrete to be out of your price range? Investigate concrete tiles; Sonoma Cast Stone offers 25 ?" x 24" sections in 48 designer colors that work well for projects with limited time and budget.

      Pros

      • Can be worked into different shapes, such as integral sinks and decorative edge treatments

      • Custom details like integral drain boards can be incorporated

      • Resists scratches and heat

      • Comes in a variety of colors (some manufacturers even allow you to create a custom color) and textures

      • Custom cast to your exact specifications

      • Much stronger than any other natural surface


      Cons

      • Must be sealed properly to resist stain

      • Though sealing protects the concrete, waxing is required to protect the sealer; most manufacturers recommend applying wax to your product every one to three months, which will help to maintain its sheen and repel liquids

      • Cutting on it will leave marks

      • Quick temperature changes can cause curling or warping to newly installed slabs


      Maintenance
      Though your specific manufacturer's instructions reign supreme, concrete countertop manufacturer Sonoma Cast Stone recommends cleaning with a neutral pH soap, and being careful to avoid abrasive cleaners. Promptly rinse all spills from surface. Wax every one to three months and reseal every one to two years, based on your manufacturer's instructions.


      Cost
      About $80 to $150 per square foot.

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      Hand-Painted Designs Can Add Variety to Tile Countertops

      Close-Up-Of-CounterTop-Tiles

      Courtesy of Ann Sacks

      Hardy types of tile?—?ceramic, porcelain and quarry?—?can serve as a countertop surface. They may feature raised, recessed or painted designs. Unglazed tiles (which generally have a matte finish) must be sealed; glazed tiles are impervious to water. For a customized look at a reasonable cost, combine hand-painted, vintage or imported tiles with inexpensive, monochromatic tiles.


      Ceramic tiles
      are made from pressed clays with a matte finish or a glaze of metallic oxides and ceramic stains. Glazed ceramic tiles are the most common type of tile used for kitchen countertops


      Porcelain tiles,
      also made from clay, are baked at a higher temperature, which makes them thicker. The color also goes all the way through the tile, rather than just covering the surface.


      Quarry tile
      is an umbrella classification for tile made out of a clay mixture, such as shale. Terra cotta tile, which retain clay's reddish orange to brown hues and require a sealant, fall in this category.


      Grout

      The spaces between the tiles are filled in by grout, ideally an epoxy grout to help resist stains. Grout comes in almost as many colors as paint. Choose one similar in color to the countertop tile for a more unified look. White is classic, but remember: Lighter colors aren't as effective at hiding dirt. Also, grout should be sealed to prevent bacteria from setting up camp between your tiles.


      Pros

      • You can put hot pots on tile

      • Resists moisture

      • You can use special hand-painted designs


      Cons

      • The grout may stain

      • The tile surface won't be smooth enough for cutting or rolling dough


      Maintenance

      The safest cleaning method will depend heavily on the type of tile you've used, so be sure to consult your manufacturer's instructions. For glazed ceramic, tile manufacturer American Olean recommends cleaning with a damp cloth and non oil-based household cleaner, and cautions against using ammonia, which can discolor grout.


      Cost
      About $10-$100 per square foot, depending on how decorative and unique a look you want.

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      Paper-Based Countertops Provide a Durable-as-Stone Surface

      Stack-of-Paper-Countertops

      Courtesy of Richlite

      Say sayonara to stone. Paper-based countertops provide a durable-as-stone and heat and stain-resistant surface that's more than just a unique countertop alternative. Used in commercial kitchens for years, paper composite countertops are available in a range of colors, including sage, slate black and nutmeg.


      Cost

      $65-$75 per square foot

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      Stone is a Popular and Durable Choice for Countertops

      Stone-Countertop-And-Sink

      Courtesy of Green Mountain Soapstone

      It's hard to beat the beauty of natural stone, and it shows. Granite countertops consistently top the "most wanted" list, due in part to their durability and rich composition. But it's certainly not the only stone on the block. Other natural stones commonly used for kitchen counters include marble, limestone, slate and soapstone.

      Insist on seeing the stone slabs selected for your kitchen before they arrive (typically you'll have a chance to do this at the fabricator's workshop). If they were prepared from different lots, the color of the stone you saw in the showroom may not exactly match the stone set aside for you. Make sure you are comfortable with any differences.

      Also, know that you can choose from a variety of finishes. Common ones include polished (for a high-gloss surface), honed (smooth with more of a matte look), flamed (a blow-torch creates a textured surface) and tumbled (the stone itself is tumbled, resulting in rounded edges appropriate for old world or farmhouse kitchens; matte, but not as smooth as honed).

      As you investigate your natural stone options, consider functionality first, then this: do you want a stone that will look brand new 10 years from now, or one that will take on the patina of age? Let your answer help guide your choice.

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      Granite
      Granite is the most durable, and is chip and scratch resistant. You can cut, roll dough, and place hot pots directly on granite. Because stone is porous, each stone requires special sealants. But granite absorbs the least and only requires resealing about once a year.


      Marble
      Because it's smooth and cool to the touch, marble is the traditional favorite for rolling dough and making pastries. However, it lacks the durability of granite and requires sealants to be applied more frequently to prevent stains.


      Limestone
      Limestone is not the best choice for messy-or frequent-cooks. It offers a unique weathered look but also stains easily due to its more porous nature, so spills must be addressed immediately. But don't write it off too quickly: Jerusalem stone, a generic term for stone primarily quarried from areas around the Holy Land, is a dolomite-limestone that resembles marble but is hardier than both it and limestone.


      Slate
      Used for centuries to create stylish weather resistant roofs, slate's natural beauty and strength are finding their way into the kitchen. Befitting of a roofing material, slate is durable, hard and fireproof. Luckily, it's beautiful, too, making it a prime choice for homeowners seeking a countertop that will make a statement. Its low absorption rate keeps stains at bay, though you may want to seal regularly to add a further dose of protection.


      Soapstone
      Often referred to as "the original stone countertop," early settlers in New England relied on the durable material for their own countertops. Far from a high-maintenance top, soapstone's inert nature means acids won't etch the material, and stains can be rubbed out. Mineral oil treatment will bring out a darker, richer color. Make a powerful statement by combining with a soapstone sink.


      Maintenance

      Stone is a natural product, and cleaning is fairly simple, though be sure to follow specific instructions for your stone type. Monticello Granite, a national countertop company, recommends that stone surfaces be cleaned with a few drops of a neutral cleaner, stone soap or mild liquid dishwashing detergent. Always avoid products containing abrasives, lemon, vinegar or other acids, as well as scouring pads.


      Cost
      About $70-$100 per square foot; top-of-the-line slabs can run upward of $300 per square foot.

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      A Quick Overview of Countertop Material Options

      Selection-of-Various-Countertop--Options

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      Explore our quick overview of counter options, then click on the heading to find out more about each type.

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      Should I cut on it?

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      Yes

      Yes

      No

      No

      Should I roll dough on it?

      Yes

      Yes

      No

      No

      Should I place a hot pot on it?

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      Yes

      No

      No

      No

      Is it virtually stain-proof?

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      No

      Yes

      Yes

      No

      Main advantage?

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      Durable

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      Durable

      Durable and can form integral sink

      Low cost

      Main disadvantage?

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      Expensive and requires sealing

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      Expensive

      Not good for hot pots and pans

      Layers make it harder to repair when chipped

      Expect to pay per sq. ft.

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      $70-$100

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      $45-$125

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      $40-$90

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      $10-$45

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      Should I cut on it?

      Yes

      No

      No

      No

      Should I roll dough on it?

      No

      No

      No

      Yes

      Should I place a hot pot on it?

      No

      Yes

      Yes

      Yes

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      Is it virtually stain-proof?

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      No

      No

      Yes, but grout is not

      Yes

      Main advantage?

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      Good for cutting and chopping

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      Textured look, easily shaped, custom colors

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      Artistic look

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      Clean look and can form integral sink

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      Main disadvantage?

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      Requires sealing and shouldn't be near sink

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      Requires sealing

      Not a smooth surface; grout can discolor

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      Shows scratches and fingerprints

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      Expect to pay per sq. ft.

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      $40-$150

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      $80-$150

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      $10-$100

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      $85-$200

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      Should I cut on it?

      Yes

      No

      Yes

      Should I roll
      dough on it?

      Yes

      Yes

      Yes

      Should I place a hot pot on it?

      Yes

      Yes

      Yes

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      Is it virtually stain-proof?

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      Yes

      Yes

      Yes

      Main advantage?

      Available in many (and custom) colors

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      Hygenic; available
      in limitless colors and shapes

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      Durable and sustainable

      Main disadvantage?

      Expensive and is harder to repair because
      of single slab

      Will crack if heavy objects drop on it; hard to repair

      More common in commercial kitchens

      Expect to pay per
      sq. ft.

      $210 & up

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      $60-$300

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      $65-$75

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