The other day I had a client ask me…what can I do in my house other than granite? There are a wide variety of products available today besides granite for use in kitchens and other rooms of your house. They range in price and durability so make sure to ask lots of questions when selecting your tops.
We are all familiar with laminate countertops, in fact, most of us probably grew up with them. Laminates have come a long way from my childhood. Companies like Formica are pushing the limits on what they do with laminate including edges that mimic granite and patterns that replicate the look of metals, stones and even concrete. They can vary greatly in price, but I can guarantee that you’ll be surprised by what you see.
Solid surfaces, like Corian have also made leaps and bounds from the uniform patterns they offered in its infancy. Corian’s Burled Beach and Witch Hazel to name a few, offer movement and patterns that swirl through the slabs offering a more unique look to solid surfaces. These products can be stain, unlike granite, but a light sanding can remove these and leave the product looking like new. While prices vary depending on the line, they still remain at the lower end of the price scale.
Tile, another option can be inexpensive depending on the tile chosen, however most people do not want to deal with the cleaning of grout lines and this remains a less popular product, however, if you are going for a southwestern or retro look (we probably all remember the tiled countertops in our grandparents bathrooms), tile can still be a great option.
I am personally a big fan of wood countertops, but they do have their pluses and minuses. Wood can scratch, doesn’t react well with water and can be very susceptible to stains and bacteria…but nothing can warm up a space like wood countertops. We carry a line by Grothouse Lumber out of Pennsylvania, and they offer a wide variety of species, thicknesses and edges. They also offer a Durata finish which is a marine grade finish that will protect your tops from the damages of water and help minimize bacteria. You will still need to use trivets and I would recommend a cutting board if you want to maintain the pristine look, otherwise go with a food safe wood top and cut away. Periotic oiling of the food safe wood tops will prolong the life and keep them looking good. Prices can go from reasonable (maple or oak tops) to very expensive for looks like Mahogany or Tiger wood.
Quartz is the biggest star in countertops today, outselling granite in our design center. It offers the ability to put hot items directly on the surface, can be cut on and is the best product for preventing the spread of bacteria. Unlike granite, quartz does not even have to be sealed. Quartz, which used to only offer consistent patterns, now offers options that have swirls like marble and lots of variation. They are higher in price than low tier granite but these will be the last countertops you ever install.
Newer products are always emerging in the market. Recycled glass products like Vetrazzo and Geos are making a strong foothold in the countertop market. With vibrant color options they are a great alternative to granite. They can withstand heat and bacteria (although I still use a hot pad under really hot items…guess I’m a little old school) and some, like Vetrazzo’s Bretagne Blue are a mix of brilliant turquoise glass, oyster shells and white, Georgia marble are a show stopper in any space.
Don’t be afraid to step outside your comfort zone by using something other than the same old granite. Visit your local countertop fabricator and ask about the wide array of products available today and create a one of kind space in your own home.