Counter Materials You Might Not Know About

May 26, 2013 | Chaya Kurtz

A post and beam kitchen with a purple counter top. Photo: Vermont Timber Works via Wikimedia Commons. Shopping for new counter tops is an exciting part of a kitchen remodel. Since the counter tops occupy so much space and plays such a vital role in your kitchen, of course the decision about which new counter tops to buy will be a tough one. You'll also need to consider the return on investment of a new counter top if you're remodeling to raise your property's value. Is it worth investing in granite or marble counter tops just for resale value? While some of the following counter top materials are not cheaper than granite, they are unique and attractive, which could set your house apart from the others when you sell.

Soapstone: Soapstone looks a little like granite, but has a distinctive matte texture and fewer mica sparkles than granite. A hard surface that can be purchased as slabs or tiles, it is highly resistant to heat and stains. Soapstone is also non-porous and requires very little maintenance. Its distinctive look is perfect for modern, farmhouse, or industrial-style kitchens. Solid soapstone sinks are particularly attractive. Natural soapstone is gray, while oiled soapstone is closer to black.

Copper: Copper counter tops are for those with stylish and adventurous kitchen design schemes. Copper's natural patterns and colors look a bit like the coloration of exotic snakes. Covered with lacquer and epoxy, copper counter tops are as shiny as granite. The fun thing about copper is that it comes in sheets, which you can use to cover existing counter tops with, or a substrate.

Tile: Tile isn't exactly revolutionary as a counter top material, but too many homeowners rule it out, usually because they don't want stained grout. However, there are two easy ways to prevent grout stains: The first is to use a dark colored grout, like a gray or brown grout, so that stains are not as obvious. The second is to seal the tile and grout well, and to periodically reseal it. The result? Attractive tile counter tops at an affordable price.

Zinc: Zinc counter tops have that shiny metal soda fountain look. Zinc comes in sheets, which are applied to a substrate. If you are designing a retro-looking kitchen, you can install classic soda fountain edges to your counters. Decorative edging is one of the great design incentives of zinc counter tops. In addition to retro-style kitchens, zinc complements industrial-chic decor.

Recycled glass: Recycled glass surfaces have that granite look, without the environmental impact of granite. Durable, easy to maintain, and heat and scratch-resistant, they come in every color of the rainbow, and almost every combination of colors. Recycled glass counter top manufacturers have been quickly carving out a niche for themselves in the counter top market, so even though this material is on the cutting edge, you have a choice of sources.

Concrete: Concrete counter tops are heavy, and often have to poured on site. However, if your cabinets and house can bear the load of a concrete counter top, you can benefit from a stone-like counter top at a smaller price. Concrete can be finished to a shine, and must be sealed properly. The result is a modern and durable counter top that could put your house ahead of the rest.

Laminate: Don't forget laminate! Laminate counter top materials have come a long way since the Formica of our youth. Available in almost every color you could imagine, laminates can be long-wearing surfaces that offer a good return on investment. While the cheapest laminate counters don't have that look of luxury, there have been significant developments in laminate surface technology. A good laminate surface could serve you well.

End-grain wood butcher block: End-grain wood butcher block counter tops require maintenance and sealing, but the look is incomparable. Combine wood types for a traditional checkerboard pattern. Or use one type of wood for a solid surface look. The colors and edge designs are highly customizable.

Remember: Granite slab counter tops are nice, but there is a whole range of counter top material options out there. Dare to be different, and reap the rewards! Consult a remodeling professional to choose the best material for your kitchen.

Updated October 3, 2018.

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