Wow! Just about anything goes for countertops today…even PAPER! (More on that later)
Still, the most popular for cost and good looks is the laminate countertop, according to Consumer Digest. Formica has even brought back some 50’s retro styles. Laminates are easy to care for besides being more affordable and come in an array of colors and designs to choose from.
Of course, if you have the wallet to go with the price, there is granite, sandstone, marble, slate, soapstone, Silestone, Corian, and even cement.
Most of these need to be sealed every couple of years so there’s a little extra care. Granites can get fairly busy and dark in color so you need to see a good size slab, not a chip, to get an overall look of the veining.
You can also cut the price down by combining the use of the natural stones with a laminate border.
Metals are becoming more popular also.
There is stainless steel, which gives a more commercial feel and can lend to a more cold feel to the space but a warmer alternative metal is embossed copper. Copper is considered one of the best antibacterial food preparation surfaces. Stainless steel can also be softened with a wood outer trim.
Solid glass counters are available in assorted colors and styles.
Glass is non-porous and easy to clean, making it one of the most hygienic work surfaces available. Also, the unique texture completely obscures scratches and dust. Of course there are still glass mosaic tiles and ceramic tiles to choose from.
Recent studies have shown wood kills bacteria. If using wood for a cutting surface, it should be left raw and unstained, and sealed with mineral oil. For less strenuous use and little food contact , such as in a pantry or decorative island, the wood can be stained and sealed with urethane. Raw wood counters should be sanded and oiled every few years.
Paper (shetka stone) is manufactured from pre- and post-consumer waste paper.
They also use other 100 percent recycled materials including plant and cloth fibers, even old jeans. It’s a natural for countertops in sandy, pinkish or greenish colors and it’s also used in doors, counter tops, soap dishes, benches and molding.
Concrete has picked up in popularity over the last few years.
Both modern and rustic, concrete works well with most architectural styles. In fact, if you want a natural look but don’t care for the polished hue of granite, concrete is a great alternative. True concrete tops have meshing and metal in them and are installed after they are fabricated. Kitchen islands look great in concrete.
Design Tip: You can change the look of concrete by dyeing it or by using porcelain or glass tiles around the edges.
Maintenance: Wax concrete every six months and seal it annually. Wine, lemon juice and ketchup can stain, so clean up spills immediately.