Natural products the rage for countertops
By: Susan Jones
| Posted: Saturday, Sep 28, 2013 06:00 am
One of the most exciting decorating trends is taking place in the way designers are treating that most utilitarian of objects – the kitchen countertop.
Laminates are still popular because of their clean look and relatively affordable prices, but other materials such as glass, wood and concrete are making a smooth entrance into the kitchen. Stone countertops, especially ones covered with granite slabs or quartz are providing the cook with a timeless, natural look that’s as easy to wipe down as any other material available.
“Our most popular countertops are still laminates but the demand for granite is rising because they are one-of-a-kind tops,” said Ed Holzapfel, part owner of Custom Countertops.
Quartz counters that combine the shiny rock crystals with differently coloured resins are available. Marble is another possibility, although most kitchen experts advise against the use of this stone on counters, because it is too soft.
Granite is a porous stone and it needs to be sealed, a process that is usually repeated by the homeowner every few years. Once the granite is sealed, it can be washed as you would wash any other counter. Granite is also resistant to heat or cracking.
“Its beauty is in its incredible veining. That’s the whole point of having rock as a countertop. It also has different finishes and can have a matte finish or a shiny finish,” said Sue Zoltai, a designer at Towne and Countree Kitchens.
Granite slabs are usually 30 millimetres thick (1-1/4 inches) and with that thickness, will usually weigh in at about 18 pounds per square foot. Granite can be used in older renovated kitchens, as long as the cabinets and flooring are level.
“As long as it’s level, it will support the weight. But a big piece takes four or more guys to move it,” said Holzapfel.
Quartz counters are not as porous as granite. Usually the quartz is mixed with a coloured resin and the rock is scratch resistant. Ironically, it is often made to look like granite and it comes in a wide range of colours.
Glass countertops are another newly-popular alternative that’s being used in kitchens because the material offers so many exciting opportunities for incorporating light into the design.
“You can put lighting underneath and use it throughout the kitchen in the backsplash, in mosaic tiles and in the countertop itself,” Zoltai said.
Several glass options are available: pressed, molten glass that comes from Italy; and recycled glass bits that have been ground to the size of an eraser tip and mixed with mortar or glue.
Locally made glass counters are available in Edmonton from Panache Ceramics and Tile.
Glass is not mined in the same way that stone is quarried, so it’s environmentally friendly. And like all glass, it can come in a range of jewel-like colours.
Wooden butcher-block style countertops are fashionable again, especially for use on kitchen islands, because they are so functional. The beauty of this style of counter is that you can cut your meat and bread on it, just as you would on a wood cutting board. When the wood gets too cut up, you simply sand it off until it looks like new.
Finally, concrete counters are available too. A quick check of the Custom Engraved Concrete website shows the Edmonton firm offers counters that may be engraved with a variety of designs or coloured with interesting patterns.
Once beautiful counters made of rock, concrete, glass or wood are in place, they are meant to last a lifetime.
“They cost a lot of money so you have to prepared to live with them. They aren’t the kind of counters that you change on a whim every time you change your décor,” said Holzapfel. “But they are also one-of-a-kind counters.”