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Countertops: Alternative Materials

Choosing New Countertops for Your Home: Part 2

   “So many countertops …” is what most people think when presented with all the options in countertop colors, styles and materials available today. But, if you ask yourself a few questions about how you’re going to use your new countertops, and the level of maintenance you prefer to keep up, you can easily narrow down a huge list to just a few options!

In part 2 of this blog, we’ll review some alternative material options in countertops: wood, soapstone, stainless steel, glass, and concrete. (If you didn’t read part 1, here’s the link).


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Wood Countertops

Wood can be budget-friendly, depending on what you’re looking for. This easily accessible product runs the gamut of colors and patterns. A simple maple top will be much less expensive than Brazilian Zebrawood.

Pros & Cons:

— Shabby chic: These countertops pair well with almost anything, and can give you that quaint farmhouse look.

— Chef’s pros and cons: With wood, you can safely cut and prepare food right on your countertop; it will show cuts from knives and is easily damaged by spills. Wood, however, can be refinished to extend its life.

— Woah, water: You need to be careful installing wood around sinks; it isn’t recommended for bathroom countertops.

— Green: Most wood tops are recyclable.

— Seal it up: Wood needs tender care to stay looking beautiful. If you are an avid cook, you will need to make sure that it is sealed properly, and often, to resist bacteria and mold.

— Bad for bakers: Wood is not heat resistant.


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Soapstone Countertops

Beautiful natural soapstone offers a smooth matte finish in lighter colors. Soapstone is soft, subtle and beautiful, but with all those great features come a few considerations.

Pros & Cons:

— A softy: Soapstone countertops are softer than most other countertop materials, so it will succumb to cracks, dents, and chips.

— Give it a rub: Soapstone is tougher than marble, though. Because it is non-porous, oils, stains, and scratches buff out pretty well.

— Lots of character: Soapstone is a great choice if you want your countertops to “age” and “develop character” through use. You can treat the surface with mineral oil to create a natural patina.

— Green: Soapstone is more eco-friendly than other mined natural stones.

— Take care of it, it takes care of you: With regular maintenance, soapstone should last you about 20 years.

Photo courtesy of Soapstones.com


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Stainless Steel Countertops

Modern and shiny, stainless steel is highly desirable in urban designs. You see stainless steel in commercial kitchens for one reason – hygiene.

Pros & Cons:

— A chef’s favorite: Stainless steel countertops are durable, easy to clean, and safe for food preparation.

— Can’t keep up appearances: Stainless steel will scratch and dent; once dented, it’s incredibly difficult to repair.

— Noisy: Stainless steel is quite loud when being used, even for everyday cooking. If you have little ones and stainless counters, you might want to hide the mixing spoons!

— There are options: Stainless is available in brushed, polished, and hammered finishes.

Image courtesy of Wayfair.com



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Glass Countertops

If you’re trying to be eco-friendly, then recycled glass is a great option for you. Not all glass countertops are made of recycled materials, however.

Pros & Cons:

— Modern and sleek: Glass has a gorgeous clean look that fits with a variety of interior design styles. Glass countertops can be an amazing fashion statement and accent well with other types of countertops. If you’re thinking about glass, consider a floating countertop, or put lights underneath to create a stunning visual.

— Fits many budgets: Glass countertops will range in price depending on how they’re made, such as being frosted or colored in some way.

— Smudgy: The downside to owning glass countertops is the cleaning, especially if you have small children.

— Watch out: Once glass is chipped or cracked, it can’t be fixed; typically, you have to replace the entire slab.

— Low use: Glass usually works best in spaces like powder rooms or guest bathrooms that won’t be utilized as much as your main living areas.

— Pricey to put in: Glass does incur a higher installation cost.

Image courtesy of Pinterest.com


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Concrete Countertops

Concrete countertops have become all the rage, partly due to their eco-friendly nature and availability of the product.

Pros & Cons:

— Individualize it: If you want to create a one-of-a-kind look that really stands out, concrete is customizable and similar to stone countertops.

— Ultra-modern: Concrete countertops lend themselves to contemporary, modern, or industrial styles best.

— Installation costs: Concrete countertops are not as budget-friendly as other options, mostly because of the skill (and mess) involved to install them.

— Baker’s delight: Concrete is heat resistant, and will stand up well with typical use.

— High maintenance: Concrete needs to be treated and sealed fairly often – like marble. Even after sealing, there is still a chance that concrete will absorb oils and liquids, so these countertops need to be cleaned often.

— Cracking up: As the concrete settles, it’s not unusual for it to develop tiny hairline fractures.

— The summary: Concrete, while a cool idea, isn’t truly practical for most applications.

Image courtesy of ProRemodeler.com



Final Thoughts

When you are starting a home remodeling project that involves new countertops, it’s a good idea to begin with the color and style that fits your life best, and design the rest of the room based on that.

Make a list of what your practical needs are, like how you will use the countertops in your application, and how much maintenance you’re willing to put in, and that will help you determine what materials will work for your family.

Weigh all of your countertop options with the help of an expert. To learn more, you can call 734-669-4000 to speak with a designer, or drop us an email at info@dm-remodel.com.

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Shannon Janeczek

Shannon is the Marketing Manager for DreamMaker Bath & Kitchen Ann Arbor. If you'd like to contact us with a guest blog post, or a remodeling story, just email her at marketing@dm-remodel.com.

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