The Right Kitchen Countertop: What Do You Use It For?
Your choice of kitchen countertop should be made not only for style, but also for the kind of cook you are. Here’s a comparative analysis of different countertops.
I like to think that I’m a pretty decent cook. Although I don’t make up my own recipes generally, I’m pretty good at following them, and the results are usually good, and sometimes even delicious!
I don’t have the benefit of a large kitchen right now, but if I did, I would like to have the best material for what I use it for. So I asked myself: if I could have the kitchen of my dreams, what kind of countertop should I get?
Which led me to compare the different kinds of countertops available, and to try to find the best one for the use I make of it. In my case, this would be cooking small meals several times a week, and larger feasts a few times a year when I host parties.
You can read my conclusions below.
Granite counter tops: best all-rounder
Granite counter tops are possibly the best all-around choice you can make for a busy kitchen. It’s affordable (about $3 per square foot), heat, scratch and stain resistant, resistant to moisture and mold, and, of course, beautiful and varied in color.
I like granite because it’s a common yet valuable material. It’s a sought-after countertop style that adds value to your home and gives it a sense of strength and permanence. And when it comes to cooking, it resists direct heat, doesn’t absorb moisture, doesn’t stain easily (I love making raspberry pies!) and resists light abrasion and scratches.
Although I wouldn’t recommend cutting directly on the countertop (always use a cutting board, whatever your countertop material is), granite is actually the hardest countertop material found in the industry, so it’s very forgiving if you just need to quickly chop a few garlic cloves. And the styles and colors available really make it an interesting choice. Granite comes in every shade, from a white speckle to deep dark starry night.
And maintenance is easy: a sealant applied at installation protects the stone, and you can clean it with a mild soap and water.
Butchers block countertops: rustic charm
If you use wood cutting boards, how about imagining your entire countertop being made out of the same material?
Butchers block countertops have many benefits: wood tends to be a bit cheaper than stone, it’s easier to cut and shape to your needs, and it has a beautiful retro charm that fits farmhouse and rustic styles. After all, if you lived on a farm, it was harder to come up with natural stone than it was to come up with wood. It’s a very warm material that feels comfortable and welcoming.
When it comes to kitchen use, however, you need to keep a few things in mind: wood is softer than stone and won’t handle cutting marks, heat or abrasion very well. You will need to put heat pads under hot pots, and always use a cutting board when using a sharp knife. The advantage if something happens, though? You can always sand the mark away and re-oil the area.
Butchers block wouldn’t be my first choice, but it might work if you’re not doing a lot of cooking and just need a countertop to hold your take-out.
Marble: affordable luxury
When I hear “marble”, I usually understand “expensive”. But Carrara marble, a softer, greyer and more porous kind of marble, is actually very affordable.
Marble is a beautiful stone that has been used in construction for, literally, millennia. And as far as using it in the kitchen goes, it’s actually a fairly popular and stylish choice. It’s just a little more maintenance-heavy than other types of stone countertop. Marble brings a sense of elegance and permanence to a kitchen. Its light color brightens up a space, too. Marble also tends to age beautifully, as years give it a nice patina that actually gives it more value.
However, granite does have some weaknesses, the biggest being its susceptibility to staining and etching. Anything acidic (like fruit juices, for example) will react with the stone, etching it in and marking it with color. You can avoid the worst by sealing the stone properly, and by cleaning up any messes quickly. It’s also not the hardest stone, and unlike granite, will mark more easily if you use a sharp knife with any amount of force directly on its surface.
Marble is cool if you are a careful cook who uses cutting boards and keeps cleaning rags close by. They’re also excellent baking surfaces, taking nicely to flour and reducing the chance of your dough sticking. But its level of maintenance should make you think more carefully about using it.
Conclusion: granite for me
Although each countertop type has benefits and drawbacks, the kind of cook I am tells me I would do best with granite. I’m messy, don’t like to clean constantly and am a little bit lazy with cutting boards.
What about you? What would seem the best countertop type for what you do in the kitchen? Let us know in the comments!