Comparing Popular Kitchen Counter Top Materials
Chesterfield homeowners have access to a variety of luxurious materials that are trending as popular kitchen counter tops for their homes. Two local experts share their insights about what’s available.
Crystal Downs, Henry Plumbing Kitchen & Bath Gallery
Crystal Downs, a kitchen and bath designer with Henry Plumbing Kitchen & Bath Gallery at 17217 Chesterfield Airport Road, says that the most popular type they install currently is the quartz kitchen counter top.
“Quartz is an engineered product, completely maintenance free, and is stain, scratch and heat resistant,” Downs says.
“It also comes in a variety of colors and since quite a few manufacturers are making it, some offer contemporary looks and some offer traditional looks, so there’s a lot of selection. Quartz has the same thickness and installation process as granite.”
Granite still has its place in the market; it’s among three natural stones – also including quartzite and marble – with which her firm works.
“Granite offers such beautiful veining which can’t be mimicked by any man made product,” Downs says. “Also, granite will give you the highest sheen of all the solid surface materials. It’s easy to maintain with care, but it has to be sealed.”
Quartzite is the easiest kitchen counter top material to own with the least amount of maintenance and comes in some nice whites, which are hard to find in granite.
“The only negative with quartzite is that it’s prone to etching, so many people opt for a matte finish when they get it rather than polished, so you don’t see the etching,” she says.
Her firm still installs a lot of marble.
“It can be troublesome in a kitchen because it definitely is prone to etching and staining though some still use it, because it’s really beautiful,” Downs says. “There’s no look like a natural marble, especially a Carrara marble or Calacatta marble; more people these days use it in the bathroom.”
A mix of wood in the kitchen is becoming popular for counter tops, such as butcher block.
“It really adds a warm look you don’t get using all stone,” Downs says.
“It does need some maintenance, and it needs to be sealed so you don’t have an issue with bacteria, but it’s very functional.”
Even glass is on the horizon for kitchen counter tops.
“But you want go with glass at least one inch thick and tempered,” Downs says. “Actually, glass is one of the most hygienic materials you can use as a counter top, and the colors you can choose are endless. But glass can be very pricey, so consider that in your choice.”
Downs recommends that consumers should always do their homework in finding what best suits them individually and work with someone who can make the selection process easier and has a background in knowing the advantages of many materials.
Nathan Aubuchon, Aphrodite Granite & Marble
Nathan Aubuchon, sales manager with Aphrodite Granite & Marble at 17516 Chesterfield Airport Road, says that granite is still the most popular and widely used material for natural stone counter tops because it offers uniqueness, durability and a price that most can afford.
“Due to its abundance and availability found around the world, granite tends to be the most affordable of the natural stone materials used for counter tops,” Aubuchon says. “Granite offers countless different color options and patterns from very busy to fairly uniform, depending on the mineral distribution where the stone is mined.”
The durability of granite is almost unmatched by any other natural stone. Being an igneous rock formed deep within the earth’s crust, granite is very dense, which gives it its strength and resistance to high temperatures.
“No need to worry about scratching or hot pots and pans with granite counter tops,” Aubuchon says.
Marble is the most fashionable look for counter top selections and is usually a first choice for designers in new construction applications. Although marble can be found in many different colors, the white and gray calcium based species are typically the most desirable.
“Carrera marble, Danby marbles and Calcutta marbles seem to be leading the industry in popularity when it comes to marble counter tops,” Aubuchon says. “Although the look is very desirable, marble does have a few downsides. Because marble is composed mostly of calcite (a crystalline form of calcium carbonate), it is more prone to acidic etching than a natural stone like granite or quartzite would be.” Marble also tends to be softer than most other stones used for counter tops and can be scratched if not maintained properly.
“Still, most of these unfavorable qualities are accepted and regarded as natural patina by the user who falls in love with the look of natural marble,” he says.
The newest material hitting the Midwest market and rising very quickly in popularity for counter top use is a natural stone called quartzite, Aubuchon says. Quartzite is a beautiful natural stone that gives the consumer the best of both worlds.
“Quartzite has all of the durability qualities of granite but also offers the very open non-busy look of a marble,” he says. Quartzite can be found in many different color variations from dark to light whites to beiges. “Although quartzites are a more expensive option because of their rarity and rather recent introduction to the market, they are consistently increasing in popularity.”
About 10 years ago, a man-made product called “quartz” came into the marketplace.
“This product grew very quickly in popularity due to its maintenance free qualities,” he explains. “Because this man-made resin-based material is nonporous, it is considered virtually maintenance-free. Quartz counter tops are still a top selection for consumers today looking for a more uniform and exact color or pattern. Designers and consumers going for a sleeker modern or contemporary look tend to gravitate toward this product. Quartz is very durable and scratch resistant.”