Main Line Kitchen Design
Call us at 610-500-4071

IMG 0443

With many countertops on-the-market we thought shedding a little light on the topic would be helpful

Soapstone Countertop

Soapstone Countertop

.

Here is a comprehensive list of the most common types of countertops used in kitchens, the advantages and disadvantages of each, and approximate pricing.

.

Laminate – Sometimes referred to by the brand name Formica, plastic laminate countertops are actually made by several different companies. Formica and Wilsonart are the most popular brands. The popularity of laminate countertops in the past was due to it’s substantialy lower cost than solid surface countertops like granite, quartz, and Corian. However the price for laminate tops has gone up over time while the cost of many solid surface tops has gone down. Nowadays, laminate tops rarely make financial sense.

.

There is one exception – If you have a galley type kitchen, straight premade laminate tops called blanks are much less expensive than custom tops. They can look very similar to solid surface tops and cost a fraction of the price. L-shaped or U-shaped tops are more sensibly done in an inexpensive granite if you are trying to stay on a budget.

855 Meadowcroft_ScottFrederick_1 - Copy

Granite Countertop

.

Granite – Granite is a natural stone and is very hard to scratch or chip. It does not etch (lose it’s shine from exposure to acidic liquids like lemon juice) and especially with the less expensive colors does not stain easily. Granite should be sealed yearly, an easy process that takes about 20 minutes. Now that most granite comes from third world countries, it can be the least expensive of the solid surface tops.

.

There is no limit to how much exotic granite patterns can cost. Level 1 colors start at around $43/sq ft in our area. The more expensive colors are higher priced not because they are “better”, they are simply less common, or more fragile and so harder to fabricate or mine.

.

Marble – Recently marble has become a popular stone to use for kitchen countertops. But be careful and make sure you understand it’s limitations. Marble looks beautiful, but is very soft. A dinner plate dragged across a top can scratch it. It also stains easily and so should be sealed often. The biggest complaint about polished marble tops is that they etch. Etching is when acids like lemon juice, cleaners, or even ketchup remove the shine from the top. If you decide on a marble top then treat it gently and expect it to have a worn and used look over time. Many feel this is still beautiful, and as long as this natural look is something that appeals to you, there will be no surprises. Marble prices start at around the price of level 5 granite so approximately $85/sq ft.

.

Quartzite – Quartzite is a natural stone that can look like a marble but has more of the properties of granite. It is very hard, and like granite is difficult to scratch, chip, or stain. However some quartzite tops can etch (lose their shine) when expose to acids. Ask you sales person or better yet test a sample of your quartzite with lemon juice to see if the color you are considering etches easily. Quartzite prices start at around the price of a level 5 or 6 granite.

.

4 Michaels Way_ScottFrederick_7

Quartzite Countertop

.

Serpentine – Serpentine is a striking and veiny  natural stone sometimes used for countertops. While it can be quite beautiful, it will also scratch, chip, stain, and etch easily. Choose it understanding this. It is also not inexpensive and prices start around the cost of the more expensive stones.

.

Quartz – Quartz countertops, also called engineered stone, are man-made tops composed of pieces of quartz, glass, and a bonding resin that glues everything together. The resin is a not stone and melts at 440 degrees Fahrenheit. So don’t treat quartz tops like other stone tops, they can be burned. Since quarts tops are artificial they have some advantages. They never need to be sealed, can’t be stained, and are almost as hard as granite. They are also somewhat flexible and don’t need the exacting installation requirements that real stone does because they are less likely to crack. There are many quartz manufacturers such as Zodiaq, Avanza, Silestone, Cambria, Ceasarstone, and Hanstone. All engineered quartz tops use the same patented manufacturing process so the differences from one line to another are purely aesthetic. Quartz pricing starts at about $70/sq ft with the most popular colors costing much more. The exception is the Cambria  line where all the colors are the same price. Presently Main Line Kitchen Design sells Cambria for $80/sq ft.

.

“Green Tops” – Beware of the over priced “green” and “recycled” tops. The construction of these tops vary with the majority being quartz tops with some recycled glass or paper added to their resin mix. Other type tops include, 100% paper tops, Bamboo tops, recycled glass tops, and new ones pop up every day.  The companies making these tops are smaller and less reliable than larger manufacturers and many of the claims to be green are dubious upon close inspection. Most reputable fabricators steer clear of these products even though consumers ask about them constantly because they find the tops through Google searches.

.

Concrete and resin tops – These tops will be more expensive than either concrete or quartz but have unusual finishes and unlike concrete are not porous. These tops usually start at at least $100/ sq ft.

.

SueBrown2

Concrete Countertop

.

Concrete – Concrete countertops have some beautiful acid washed finishes. They  also start at the cost of the more expensive stone tops and the need to be sealed to be sanitary. Usually bees wax is used as the sealer.

.

Acrylics – Corian, Wilsonart Gibralter, Formica, Meganite, HiMax, and other brands make 100% acrylic countertops. The difference in brand is only aesthetic, but the bigger name brands definitely have nicer and more dramatic patterns. Be careful with hot pots. The melting temperature for acrylic is just over the temperature of boiling water so things taken out of the oven or off the stove cannot be placed on the countertop EVER! Pricing for acrylic tops will range between $60 /sq foot and $100 /sq ft depending on the color.

.

Glass – Solid glass countertops can be as dramatic as they are expensive. $200 /sq ft is not an uncommon cost for a glass top. Modern and Contemporary kitchens are usually the style that compliments a glass top.

.

IMG_0443

Granite Island and Quartz Perimeter

.

Solid Wood or Butcher block – Butcher block and single piece wood tops can be beautiful. They start at around $80 /sq ft. Particularly striking solid slices of old growth timber can cost twice as much as butcher block tops. Wood tops come polyurethaned or sealed with oil. Tung oil is a common sealant. If you plan on cutting or chopping on your top then use the oil sealant. Wood tops scratch and burn easily.

.

Stainless Steel Countertops – Custom stainless steel countertops are most often used in restaurant settings. While they can be used in residential applications, finding an installer that will fabricate custom residential stainless steel tops can be a challenge. Tops start at over $100 per square foot. Outdoor kitchens frequently have stainless steel tops although most are pre-made tops incorporated into the design.

.

Tile Countertops – Ceramic, Porcelain, or granite tile countertops have lost popularity because the costs to build and install the tile no longer makes these tops less expensive than lower level solid surface tops. If you are making a tile top yourself the materials will be inexpensive but be prepared for a lot of work. If you are hiring an installer then you may be spending the same or more for what most people consider a less desirable top.

.

Soapstone – Soapstone may seem familiar to you since it is typically used for high school or college chemistry class countertops. Soapstone can’t be damaged by anything hot found in a kitchen. It also is not porous and so can’t be stained. Soapstone colors range from dark black to grey/black with white or green veining. Soapstone turns grey over time. However, it’s original finish will return when treated with mineral oil. Soapstone is also soft and scratches and nicks easily, but scratches are minimized when it is refreshed with oil. Soapstone top prices start at level 5 or 6 prices and go up from there.

.

IMG_1638

Soapstone Countertop

.

There are positives and negatives about any type of countertop. So don’t be afraid to ask your designer or stone supplier questions to make sure you are getting the right top for you.

.

Hoping your countertop selection makes you as happy as our cabinets will ….and of course…

Bon Appetit!

Paul

11 Comments

  1. pmcalary, July 3, 2019 at 12:51 pm:

    Modern frameless cabinets are available in laminate, foils, Acrylic, Parapan, metal, and many other finishes. In general in the US this is a more expensive and less durable way to make cabinetry. However there is no problem having cabinets supporting any countertops as long as the kitchen is design properly.
    Laminates are very durable finish wise. It is the hinges and the tracks being attached to particle board or plywood instead of solid wood that makes frameless cabinetry more easily irreparably damaged.

  2. Christa French, July 3, 2019 at 9:44 am:

    This is great info; however, it’s the only place I can find anything about laminates and am curious about your opinion of laminate cabinets. I travel to Europe quite a bit and they have top quality laminate cabinets, as well as some that seem to be made of pcv or not sure. By quite stylish and modern, especially as I prefer the euro slab style and in white. Do you have any thoughts on this or any companies you can recommend? I’m not sure if these are strong enough to hold a quarts countertop either. Lost my first home in 34 years after 8 months buying it, because a woman in one of the condos caught the building on fire smoking in bed. So, now I’m having to replace my kitchen (and entire condo) when never wanted to in teh first place. So thank you for your info.

  3. pmcalary, February 10, 2019 at 8:41 am:

    All Quartz countertops should be of similar quality just different colors. MSI is one of the least expensive lines. I don’t love the less expensive MSI colors and the more expensive MSI colors will be close in price to other Quartz lines like Silestone and Cambria. So if you are selecting a more expensive MSI color you might like other similar priced colors from other lines more. Quartz should not permanently stain whether it is honed or polished since it is not porous and doesn’t need sealing. Matte and Honed finishes do show water marks and temporary stains instantly due to the finish. After you clean up and the top dries stains should disappear, but even fingerprints show up instantly.

  4. wnova, February 9, 2019 at 10:26 pm:

    Your blogs are so informative, thank you!
    Do you have any perspective on the quality of quartz countertops by the Q brand by MSI?
    And what about matte/honed quartz vs. polished for stains and durability? Does a honed finish stain more on a light color?
    Thank you!

  5. paul mcalary, January 7, 2018 at 8:32 am:

    The two surfaces don’t go together very well, especially if you are getting traditional cabinetry. Quartz and Stainless steel would look better together but only in transitional or contemporary styled kitchens. So door style should be either a shaker or other simple recessed panel door style or a slab contemporary style door.

    Of course many kitchen designers like eclectic styling combining contemporary and traditional looks. This is what combining granite and stainless steel tops would fall under. I’m not a fan of eclectic. Trendy movements like that tend to look ridiculous a short time after they fall out of favor.

  6. NH, January 7, 2018 at 12:37 am:

    What are your thoughts on doing a granite island and stainless steel perimeter?

  7. NH, January 7, 2018 at 12:36 am:

    Would are your thoughts on doing a granite island and stainless steel perimeter?

  8. pmcalary, July 18, 2016 at 10:09 am:

    Any type stone will not be a problem temperature wise. Even Man made stone. Marble will have all the issues that come with it still i.e. it scratches, stains, and etches very easily. So make sure that is something you are OK with.

  9. DJ, July 18, 2016 at 10:02 am:

    Great information. Can marble be used in a cabin that will be unheated during the winter and get to below zero for extended periods?

  10. pmcalary, June 14, 2016 at 10:19 am:

    Hi Andre,
    Yes we are all not immune to miss types as your comment shows. Any direction as to where the errors are would be helpful.

  11. Andre, June 14, 2016 at 8:41 am:

    Hi Paul, Thank you for the narrative. There are at least 3 spelling, grammar errors. You info is worthy of the corrections.

Leave a comment


*

  Reviews for Main Line Kitchen Design

58 customer reviews

Average rating:5

 
  Very pleased with...
Happy with the design choices we were given. Lauren was...
by Melissa C on 04/09/2020
  Friendly,...
Main Line Kitchen Design did a great job for us! We were...
by Sean and Jamie R on 04/06/2020
  Excellent...
I worked with Ed at Main Line Kitchens to design our...
by Jenn M on 12/16/2019
More Verified Reviews

Wordpress Development and PA SEO by IntuitSolutions