Counter tops is likely to be a very powerful factor of kitchen design. Hear us out: Not solely do you work together with them daily, however they’re one of many first issues an individual notices after they stroll into the area, making them a key focus. “The countertop can also be one of many few steady supplies within the kitchen, so it goes a good distance towards tying the room collectively,” says Carrie Schulz, head of design at Block Renovation, a service that streamlines the planning, designing and constructing course of for owners.
On the Good Housekeeping Institute, we have been testing counter tops for a protracted, very long time. In truth, manner again in 1908, primarily based on experiences within the Experiment Station (a precursor to the Good Housekeeping Institute), our early specialists persuaded a builder to put in its kitchen counters at a cushty top of 36 inches, establishing a typical nonetheless used at this time.
For this report, our specialists pulled collectively a listing of the six greatest counter tops accessible now, primarily based on our newest assessments, in addition to insights from designers, installers and different professionals within the discipline. There are numerous different choices to select from — glass, concrete and chrome steel, to call a number of — however the course of is daunting sufficient with out these area of interest supplies inflicting extra second guessing.
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Apart from being integral to kitchen design, counter tops aren’t the sorts of stuff you swap out steadily. Select properly, they usually’ll serve you properly for so long as you reside in in your house.
A favourite of our specialists, this engineered stone is called after its principal ingredient, quartz, which is held collectively by polymer resins. The result’s an exceptionally sturdy, low-maintenance materials that is accessible in a variety of colours and patterns, together with those who resemble pure stone. Invented in Italy in 1977, quartz has emerged as a high countertop selection solely within the final decade or so. “We have had it put in within the Good Housekeeping Institute Labs for 15 years now, with no indicators of carrying,” says Rachel Rothman, government technical director on the GH Institute. New quartz counter tops from Cosentino and Caesarstone received 2022 Good Housekeeping Dwelling Renovation awards, the previous for inside use and the latter for outside purposes. One caveat: Though quartz is extraordinarily hard-wearing, its edges and corners can chip, so watch out with heavy pots and pans; selecting a rounded edge may also assist scale back the possibility of chipping.
- Big selection of colours and patterns
- No sealing required
- Sq. edges are liable to chipping
- Highest-grade traces are dear
- Price: $60 to $230 per sq. foot, put in. (Notice that the large worth vary is because of the totally different accessible grades, from low to mid to prime quality.)
- Use and care: Among the best issues about quartz is that it does not have to be sealed. However you continue to must wipe spills promptly and do an occasional deep-clean with a nonabrasive cleaner; Carolyn Forté, government director of the Dwelling Care & Cleansing Lab, likes Gentle Scrub Gel with Bleach Cleaner.
Although its prevalence has waned some because the granite heyday of the Nineties and 2010s, this pure stone stays widespread, particularly in traditional-style properties. It is available in an array of colours, from blue pearl to Vyara gold, and its sample will be flecked, speckled or veined. As with every pure stone, uniqueness is an enormous a part of the attract, since no two slabs are the identical. “In our assessments, granite has fended off knife cuts, scratches and warmth, making for a extremely sturdy work floor,” says Alec Scherma, check engineer on the Good Housekeeping Institute. Sealed granite can also be stain-resistant. However as with quartz, edges and corners can chip, so it is value contemplating a rounded edge in case your kitchen will get quite a lot of use.
- Extraordinarily sturdy
- Pure magnificence
- Is available in a wealthy array of colours
- Not as widespread as prior to now
- Wants sealing to be stain-resistant
- Price: $50 to $130 per sq. foot, put in.
- Use and care: Wipe counters with a nonabrasive sponge or material dipped in heat water and delicate dishwashing liquid. Yearly, apply a spray-on sealant, following the producer’s directions. After permitting the sealant ample time to dry, buff the counter with a dry material.
This basic constructing materials is synonymous with luxurious, and it stays in trend at this time, thanks partly to the enduring recognition of all-white kitchens. It’s also possible to discover marble slabs in different colours, together with fascinating greens, reds and blues. Marble’s largest differentiator is its unimaginable veining, which might deliver mesmerizing sample play to the kitchen. Then again, marble is a smooth, porous materials, that means it stains and scratches simply. Some individuals are OK with this and consider the blemishes as a patina. However if you’d like your pure-white marble counter tops to remain that manner, you may have to be extraordinarily fastidious.
- Conveys enduring luxurious
- Deep veining and sample play
- Makes for a wonderful baking station
- Vulnerable to staining and scratching
- Very costly
- Price: $70 to $130 per sq. foot, put in.
- Use and care: As a result of marble stains simply, treating it not less than yearly with a food-grade penetrating sealer will present some measure of safety. (When a drop of water soaks in, it’s time to reseal.) Marble additionally chips and scratches simply, so remember to use trivets below heavy pots and pans.
Developed by Formica, ornamental laminate was first used as a tabletop floor in eating places, cafes and nightclubs of the Nineteen Thirties. Then, it took off in kitchens within the Fifties with the rise of graphic patterns. It is nonetheless in vogue at this time, particularly with owners who’re going for a retro, mid-century fashionable look. The largest upside to laminate is its low value. Laminate can also be glorious at resisting stains, affect and warmth. Take note it clearly appears like an artificial materials (most variations have a coloured high layer over a darkish base, which exhibits on the edges). It additionally has seams, which will be ugly and are additionally a supply of potential water penetration, particularly if set up is not excellent.
- Wonderful worth
- Retro enchantment
- Resists stains, affect and warmth
- Appears to be like artificial, even pure patterns
- Seams can result in water penetration
- Price: $40 to $80 per sq. foot, put in.
- Use and care: Although laminate will usually fend off stains, it scratches simply, so at all times use a reducing board whereas working within the kitchen. Self-cleaning waxes made for vehicles can heighten the shine on uninteresting laminate counter tops.
One other timeless materials, wooden has been used as a piece floor in kitchens for hundreds of years. It turned a go-to countertop materials within the Seventies with the emergence of butcher block, a chopping-friendly floor made from bonded-together strips of maple or one other hardwood. These days, you may also see wooden counter tops made from less-familiar species, like teak and mahogany.
- Pure heat and wonder
- Wonderful floor for chopping and meal prep
- Can final indefinitely if correctly maintained
- Month-to-month remedies required
- Dings simply
- Price: $30 to $170 per sq. foot, put in.
- Use and care: Handled butcher block can final for many years. To forestall cracking, apply a month-to-month coating of food-grade mineral oil, like GH Seal Star Furnishings Clinic Wooden Chopping Board Oil. Let it penetrate in a single day, then buff with a material.
This materials is a relative newcomer to the countertop class, however we’re together with it on this roundup as a result of it is quick changing into a favourite of designers and owners alike. Produced from positive, dense clay and fired at a excessive temperature, porcelain is nonporous and exceptionally laborious, making it sturdy and simple to take care of. It is available in large-format tiles and panels, permitting for counter tops with a clear, up to date look and minimal seams or grout traces. Crossville porcelain tile panels by Laminam have been named a winner in Good Housekeeping’s 2022 Dwelling Renovation Awards on the energy of these attributes.
- Extraordinarily hard-wearing
- Stylish “newcomer” enchantment
- Vulnerable to chipping and cracking
- On the dear facet
- Price: $70 to $130 per sq. foot, put in.
- Use and care: The glaze on porcelain counter tops means they don’t have to be sealed. For every day upkeep and cleansing, use sizzling water and a gentle dish cleaning soap utilized with a smooth material. Regardless of its energy, some porcelain is liable to cracking and chipping, particularly ultracompact panels, so watch out to not drop heavy objects on it.
How we select the perfect counter tops
Our specialists deploy a spread of Lab assessments to measure countertop efficiency. To evaluate stain resistance, they slather cussed components, corresponding to wine, mustard and chocolate, onto countertop samples, allow them to dry after which take away them with paper towels and all-purpose cleaner.
Our specialists use an abrasion machine to find out every materials’s capacity to fend off scratches; high merchandise can stand up to a whole bunch of passes with a fine-grit sandpaper wheel with none indicators of misery. An affect machine is used to find out a countertop’s capacity to resist dents and dings, like these from a falling cast-iron pan. Over the many years, we have additionally put in numerous counter tops in our labs and the properties of our specialists, which permits us to evaluate efficiency, longevity and upkeep in real-world situations.
Along with complete testing, our specialists hold tabs on the countertop market by attending commerce exhibits and business occasions, together with Surfaces and the Kitchen and Tub Trade Present. We additionally examine in frequently with the design neighborhood, in addition to contractors, fabricators and installers, to remain forward of design traits and points associated to the provision chain and labor market.
What to think about when selecting counter tops in your dwelling
It is pure to concentrate on appears when selecting a brand new kitchen countertop, however there are different elements to think about too. Schulz talks in regards to the three-legged stool of aesthetics, performance and price when zeroing in on the proper countertop materials. “You need to ensure the countertop will match into your funds earlier than you fall in love with it,” she says. “How the fabric wears and the way laborious you may should work to maintain it trying new are additionally key to the choice course of.”
Listed below are extra knowledgeable insights into these three key elements:
✔️ Aesthetics: Our specialists say it is best to disregard traits and select the sample and colour that you just love essentially the most. However in the event you assume you is likely to be promoting your house quickly, it pays to remain near present design traits. Gentle, impartial hues with minimal sample play proceed to curry favor, which has helped drive curiosity to quartz. “A whole lot of owners nonetheless need to hold it easy and clear,” Schulz says. For these seeking to make extra of a press release with their counter tops, supplies with dramatic veining, together with marble and different pure stones, are a well-liked selection.
For those who go the dramatic route, it is essential to work carefully together with your installer on the position and positioning of adjoining slabs in order that veining traces up. “If you find yourself with a sample mismatch, it should drive you loopy daily,” Schulz says.
Do not forget in regards to the backsplash, because it’s one other robust visible factor within the kitchen. Whereas subway tile and different contrasting surfaces nonetheless have their place, many owners at the moment are selecting to make use of the identical materials from the countertop up the backsplash, creating a way of continuity and cohesion.
✔️ Care and upkeep: Take into consideration the porosity of the countertop and the end. A nonporous materials with a refined end is unlikely to soak up something, making it stain-resistant. Honed finishes, wherein the floor has been floor down to offer the countertop a softer, matte really feel, require a bit extra care, however you is likely to be keen to place up with that for the softer really feel and discount in glare. A porous materials like marble with a honed end would require near-obsessive repairs (common sealings all year long, lightning-fast cleanup of spills, therapy of etch marks with a particular poultice, and many others.) to maintain the floor trying new. Backside line: Do you need to fuss over your counter tops or hold upkeep primarily to a every day wipe down?
✔️ Price: Most owners spend about $3,000 on the set up of recent counter tops, in keeping with Angi, the house providers market. However the price ticket can go as excessive as $8,000 (and even increased for imported supplies, like calacatta marble from Italy or a Van Gogh granite from Brazil) and as little as $400 for entry-level laminate. After all, the precise value relies on the scale of the countertop, so it’s good to have a look at square-footage costs. It is best to anticipate to spend round $40 per sq. foot for reasonably priced supplies, like entry-level laminate and butcher block, and $150 or extra per sq. foot for a uncommon pure stone or top-quality quartz. That does not embody edge remedies, which add one other $5 per linear foot for the standard sq. edge, all the way in which as much as $60 per linear foot for an S-shaped ogee, which provides ornamental aptitude and in addition reduces the danger of chipping.
The place are the perfect locations to buy kitchen counter tops?
For those who’re working with an architect or a designer on a full kitchen transform, they may help information you thru the buying course of. However in the event you’re managing the venture by yourself, you may must do your personal analysis. Needless to say the lead time on countertop deliveries will be a number of months, particularly amid ongoing provide chain challenges.
Listed below are three locations to get a soar on the method:
✔️ Dwelling facilities: Huge-box retailers like The Dwelling Depot and Lowe’s have turn into dependable one-stop outlets for countertop installations, providing a spread of supplies, in addition to free design session and paid set up providers. The draw back of this method is you may have to select from the handful of producers the house middle carries, and you may see solely samples of the fabric, versus entire slabs.
✔️ Kitchen and bathtub showrooms: Working with a showroom will get you a extra skilled gross sales employees, a lot of whom are more likely to be licensed designers. Showrooms have a tendency to hold a curated listing of premium manufacturers, so that you’ll virtually definitely have the ability to select from top-grade supplies. For instance, showrooms will possible carry first-grade quartz, along with commercial-grade quartz and second-choice quartz, so you may have the richest hues and smoothest end. However the countertop may cost a little $100 or extra per sq. foot, versus the $30-to-$50-per-square-foot quartz you will discover at dwelling facilities.
✔️ Stone yards: For those who’re available in the market for a pure stone countertop, shopping for immediately out of your native stone yard lets you select the precise slab you need, slightly than basing the choice on six-inch samples. It additionally eliminates the middleman, resulting in probably higher costs. It can save you much more by selecting from so-called “remnants,” leftover items from bigger slabs that may fill a small countertop space. For instance, a marble remnant may very well be preferrred for a baking station within the kitchen.
Why belief Good Housekeeping?
Dan DiClerico has lined the countertop marketplace for greater than twenty years. His reporting has taken him inside factories, kitchen and bathtub showrooms, and fabricator outlets. Plus, he is an everyday at commerce exhibits, the place he meets with main producers to grasp the most recent improvements and design traits. In his position because the director of the Dwelling Enchancment & Out of doors Lab on the Good Housekeeping Institute, Dan oversees countertop testing, working carefully with our staff of engineers and product specialists. He additionally manages any client surveys designed to seize owners’ experiences with the set up and upkeep of countertop supplies.
Having written hundreds of product evaluations and how-to articles on all points of dwelling possession, from routine upkeep to main renovations, Dan (he/him) brings greater than 20 years of business expertise to his position because the director of the Dwelling Enchancment & Out of doors Lab on the Good Housekeeping Institute. A one-time roofer and a serial remodeler, Dan can usually be discovered conserving home at his restored Brooklyn brownstone, the place he lives along with his spouse and children.
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