“How to Choose a Countertop Part One”

When planning for a kitchen or bathroom renovation, your countertop color and material are one of the most important decisions you’ll have to make.  As the average person only experiences a major remodel once or twice in their lifetime, it can be difficult to figure out which stone works best for you.  In this four-part blog series, we’ll discuss the differences between natural stone and manmade stone and the most popular categories within each group.  Focusing on first on natural stones, there are four common reasons this might be the choice for you!

  1. Do you want a colorful or unique pattern?

Most manmade stones are made to imitate marble as it’s the most popular stone people want to recreate without all the maintenance issues.  While there are granite and quartzite imitations, I haven’t come across one that strikes me as much as a stunning natural slab.  If you want colors, texture and unique movement across your countertop, you’ll probably find yourself drawn towards the natural slabs.    

  1. Are your counters a main feature in your design?

You’ll want to have a good feel for your new design before finalizing your countertop as a featured counter should have a pattern you love!  Are you doing a full height counter matching backsplash? A large island with an overhang, a waterfall edge, or a thick mitered edge? A deluxe vanity in a large master bath? A surround for your soaking bathtub?  The walls for your shower?  An entertainment bar for your basement? A highlight stone around a fireplace?  If any of these popular stone locations make it into your design, you might consider a natural stone to make these areas really pop!

3. Will you be able to handle your counter’s upkeep?

All natural stone requires some degree of upkeep depending on which stone you choose.   Most people instantly think of the hassles of marble when they think natural stone which is extremely stainable and scratchable, but the upkeep on most natural stones is very minimal.  You’ll want to seal them every few years to keep the protective layer that is applied during or before the initial installation process.  They are also porous which means they can stain if a spill is left too long.  The darker the stone, the less you have to worry about this. I generally tell my clients to follow common countertop protective measures even for the strongest stones.  Use hot plates, don’t let spills sit for hours, and avoid cutting with a sharp knife directly on your counter.  Your specific material will determine how closely you need to adhere to these rules.  

4. Are you ready for the price tag on a higher end natural stone?

When I ask clients if they’d like a manmade or natural stone, the first thing they normally ask me is the cost difference between the two.  The common misconception is that granite is cheaper than quartz.  While your average builder’s grade colors like “uba tuba” are cheap, a natural stone with a really unique, vibrant pattern will generally cost more than even a high-end manmade stone.  While it’s worth the investment, you’ll have to decide how much of your construction budget you’re willing to invest in your countertop. Have your contractor price out a few stones that appeal to you to get a feel for what they cost.  Most fabricators group stones in price levels so you can easily keep track of costs as you’re picking.  

traditional-kitchen-design

While there are many more reasons you might go with a natural stone, answering “yes” to most of these questions means you’ll probably end up picking one of the popular natural stones.  Though you can find good manmade imitations of natural stone, a printed pattern just isn’t the same as the natural patterns found in nature.  A higher end natural stone will give your new kitchen or bathroom a “wow” factor both in pattern and texture that your everyday quartz can’t replicate.  Stayed tuned for part two where we’ll discuss the various types of natural stone currently on the market.  If you’re debating which countertop is best for you, don’t hesitate to reach out to a Mayflower Construction design consultant.  We’ll help you navigate through the many choices to find your perfect counter!  

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