Beyond Granite: New Looks for Countertops
By Barbara Pronin
For most of the past decade, at least, according to The Marble Institute, more than 75 percent of homeowners remodeling their kitchens have chosen granite for their counter tops.
Given granite’s durability, longevity and good looks, that’s not surprising. But at $60 to $100 per square foot installed, it is expensive - and extraordinarily heavy, often requiring reinforcement of base cabinets.
If you are considering a remodel, the National Kitchen and Bath Association suggests considering one of these non-granite counter top solutions:
Carrara marble – Marble is softer than granite, and more apt to scratch. But it develops a warm and lovely patina over time that appeals to many people.
Wood – Wood counter tops are enjoying a popularity surge because of its warmth, style and durability. Butcher block is the most common type, but slabs can be crafted from a variety of woods. Maintenance requires only a little oil now and then to prevent drying.
Soapstone - A smooth, matte natural stone that comes in a hues ranging from soft grey to charcoal, sopastone is one of the only natural surfaces that is not affected by acids – so spilled coffee or orange juice won’t leave a stain. It is also heat resistant and requires no special cleaners are needed, but mineral oils can be used to enhance the stone’s natural beauty.
Engineered quartz – These engineered countertops are created by mixing 95 percent ground natural quartz with 5 percent polymer resins. The result is a super-hard, low-maintenance, natural looking countertop that’s available in a wide range of colors. It is scratch and heat resistant, though you may not want to set a hot frying pan on it.
Stainless steel – Complementing many of today’s appliances, stainless steel is stain- and heat-resistant but it can be scratched or dented.