January 21st, 2009
It is very important that you place lots of thought when choosing the surface material for your counter top. This is because the counter top has to undergo lots of punishment over time. Today, there are many materials with both beauty and practicality embedded in them.
Butcher block counter tops are made from hardwoods like maple, red oak and teak and are easy to install and repair. These counter tops get scratched, burned and stained easily and can be sanded and resealed when required. Butcher block has to be treated with mineral oil or beeswax regularly but is not suggested over dishwashers or near a sink as its wood is sensitive to humidity fluctuations.
Concrete can be tinted any color and include stone chips with varying qualities as they can be custom formed using local fabricators. As concrete cuts and chips easily, it has to be sealed. Though topical sealers can resist stains, they are prone to damage from hot pots. Comparatively, concrete counter tops are expensive too.
Ceramic tile counter tops are found in many colors, styles and patterns which can be easily installed by adept do-it-yourselfers. These glazed tiles are resistant to stains, burns and scratches, while repair to these counter tops is easy and cheap. It is possible to tint grouts to match or contrast tiles; however joints may trap crumbs and soak up stains. This is why it is difficult to clean it, even if the grout is sealed. Moreover, tiles get scratched by sharp objects and may chip if hit hard.
Natural stones like granite and marble are popular counter top materials that resist all forms of physical abuse, nicks, scratches and scorching of hot pans. Of the two, granite is the tougher material while marble is softer and more prone to staining and etching from the acid in cleaners and foods. This is why they both have to be sealed with a protective sealer periodically.
Quartz resembles granite, but is more uniform in appearance. It is a combination of pigments, stone chips and resins and is resistant to heat, abrasion, stains and does not need any sealing. However it cannot withstand impacts.
Looking at all these counter top materials, it is left to you to choose the best material for your counter top, based on your budget, other kitchen appliances and the amount of wear and tear it goes through.
An article from Toronto Home Improvement
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