Countertops: The Granite Alternatives

With its bold veining, endless colors and durability, granite has been the star of kitchens for the past 10- 15 years. Though it does its job well and continues to look great for years to come, granite countertops have decreased in popularity with the rise of alternative options. From natural soapstone to high-tech laminate countertops, there are new materials available for every kitchen that strays away from the been-there-done-that granite option. Let’s take a peek at a few alternatives that still provide the durability, function and beauty we all love to see in a kitchen countertop.

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Quartzite

Quartzite is a natural stone produced when sandstone is pressure-cooked in the earth’s crust. The end result is a beautiful stone with a wide variety of streaks, patterns and rich colors. Some varieties, like Taj Mahal and Mother of Pearl, offer a similar look to traditional marble without as much maintenance and upkeep.

Quartzite can withstand heat, but not for an extended time, so make sure to use trivets for prolonged exposure. Though slightly more durable than granite, some quartzite does still require sealing once or twice a year for stain resistance so make sure to check with your stone fabricator on the details, as it varies by type. The beauty of quartzite is all its variations: vein-cut styles look more contemporary and sleek, while cross-cut styles have a more organic feel. Depending on the fabrication, expect your quartzite countertops to start from $80 per square foot and up.

Soapstone

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Used in laboratories due to its resistance to stains, bacteria and chemicals, there’s no wonder soapstone is becoming an increasingly popular choice for homeowners looking for a durable, natural countertop. Always a dark charcoal or almost black color, its non-porous, honed surface can both hide and repel dark stains while still remaining slightly soft to the touch. Soapstone is a great choice for those who love to cook and households with little sticky fingers, as it’s unaffected by heat and easy to wipe clean. Keep in mind that like any natural stone, soapstone can chip and scratch. It also darkens over time, but sanding can easily return it to a lighter shade. Starting at $80-100 per square foot, soapstone is a slightly more expensive choice over granite, but it comes with a lifetime of durability.

Quartz Composite

Also known as “engineered quartz,” quartz composite is a material comprised of crushed quartz and polymer binders that are tinted and compressed under high pressure. The end result is a surface that is non-porous and resistant to stains, scratches and heat. Even better, a simple wipe with warm water and soap is all you’ll need to worry about in regards to maintenance. Because it is a manufactured material, quartz composite is consistent with color and patterns. This durable countertop material does come at a price—around $90-110 per square foot installed.

Laminate

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High-pressure molded plastic countertops—who would have thought that these would be a durable and long-lasting alternative to granite? Laminate countertops are a blend of acrylic or polyester resins, powdered fillers and pigments. This unique mix allows for easy buffing of scratches and marks and its surface keeps stains away. The beauty of laminate countertops is their unique ability to be molded into unusual shapes and sizes, which works especially well in sleek, state-of-the-art contemporary kitchens. Because this material is plastic, it is sensitive to prolonged heat exposure, so make sure to use trivets and cutting boards to extend the longevity of the countertop. These high-tech countertops start at around $50 per square foot installed.

What granite alternatives have you used in your kitchen?

 

***Guest Blog by Kerrie Kelly. Interior designer Kerrie Kelly is an expert on countertop materials in the kitchen and writes about her knowledge for The Home Depot. If you are interested in researching many of the materials Kerrie discusses in her article, you can visit Home Depot’s countertops page online.

 

Selecting a Countertop: Pros and Cons of 6 Popular Styles

With almost all of my clients, the toughest part of designing a kitchen is choosing the countertop. As manufacturing technology grows, so do the number of choices—each with its own set of pros and cons.

The decision really comes down to how you live and work in your own kitchen. Let’s cut to the chase with our top six countertop choices—in order of my own preference.

Quartz: Also called engineered or manufactured stone, this is the surface I install in the most homes—and the reasons are simple. It’s available in so many patterns and colors, is very simple to clean, and is more resistant to heat, scratches and stains than almost any other surface. It requires no sealing or treating over time. Best of all, my clients are always surprised that it’s no more expensive than granite.

Photo Credit: Kerrie Kelly Design Studio

Photo Credit: Kerrie Kelly Design Studio

Dekton: This is the new super surface brought to you by modern technology. Its ultra-compact surface means it’s non-porous, and extremely resistant to heat and drastic changes in temperature—not to mention scratches, chips and stains. For durability, you can’t do better. Colors and patterns are catching up with other options on the market. You will pay a bit more per square foot, but you will not regret it.

Dekton Countertop

Natural Stone: Though this category includes marble, lime and soapstone, we’re really talking about granite here. Its natural beauty is simply undeniable, which makes it the other big favorite among my clients. As it has proven in nature since the beginning of time, it’s very durable and heat resistant. Because it’s porous, it just needs to be sealed when it’s installed (and will need some resealing over the years), but the effort there adds real stain resistance to the list of its benefits—not to mention real value to the home that will never go out of style.

Stainless: I often envy the simplicity of stainless steel when we install it. So clean and simple, its industrial-grade durability is completely antibacterial, and stain and heat resistant. Even scratches really blend in over time. Surprisingly, installation takes this one to the higher end of the cost scale, but it’s also very flexible in terms of design. It brings a cool edge to a more traditional kitchen and can even soften the edge of an ultra contemporary style.

Stainless Countertop

Wood: Wood is pretty straightforward in terms of pros and cons. It’s very budget friendly, and most of my clients who choose it do so knowing that its imperfections only add to its beauty, over time. Scratches and burns can even become part of the charm. However, if you treat it with oil a few times a year, it’s a very durable and practical choice, too. Remember, it’s available in many grains and stains, and you don’t necessarily need butcher block thickness to get the same great look.

Laminate: Laminate countertops can’t be beat if budget is the primary factor. Available in a wide array of colors and patterns, you can go with bold, bright, primary colors or choose a finish that replicates stone and wood. It’s made with a sheet of resin laid over particle board and is resistant, though not impervious to heat, stains and scratches. It is easy to clean and easy to repair.

What’s on your wish list for that new kitchen countertop?

** Kerrie Kelly is a guest blogger from The Home Depot.  Kerrie Kelly draws from her experience of consistently designing amazing kitchens to provide tips for The Home Depot and Kerrie Kelly Design Labs, to help you make the right kitchen choices.  To view a big selection of countertops that Kerrie talks about in this article, visit The Home Depot.

Homeowner Cleaning & Care Tips

We believe in aging gracefully, but when it comes to your home, we want you to keep it looking new.

Here’s a quick reference guide to cleaning your home’s surfaces.

Homeowner Cleaning & Care Tips :: M/I Homes - Care for your hardwood flooring, granite countertops, stainless steel, vinyl flooring, carpeting & laminate countertops

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