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All About Kitchen Counter Tops
By Sherise Henry
When it comes to identifying the heart of the home, the kitchen stands out as the place most family members gather and frequent. This is why the design and function of the room is so important to home managers. Whether you’re a busy mom or a cooking enthusiast, the kitchen serves as a room to make the entire family happy and healthy. One major feature of this all-important room is the kitchen countertop.
We asked an Acadiana fabricator for a breakdown on some of the things that go into making the best choice in this often contemplated home decision.
What’s Hot in Countertops
“People want cleanliness – and cleanliness is most important in the kitchen, the heart of the home. Color contributes significantly to a kitchen’s look and feel. For that reason highly requested counter tops are usually white marbles, white quartzite and light colored engineered stone. Neutral colors are always pretty popular,” says Darren Stutes of Dale Stutes Stoneworks in Duson, La. Some home guides also suggest that when choosing a color you should consider your cabinetry and walls to match a color that will blend or bring out desired tones. Better Homes and Gardens suggest that persons who cook more frequently need more counter space than those who do not. Another thing to consider is varying the height of your countertops for kids who help in meal preparation.
Surface Costs: How Much Will My Countertops Cost Me?
When it comes to figuring out what creating a new kitchen look will cost you, Stutes says you may be surprised at how affordable granite can be. He says although you’re not going to get million dollar elegance on a hunting camp budget there are options to fit varying budgets. “When it comes to a budget, the cheapest counter tops will be plastic laminate. On the high end, exotic granite or marble can be very pricey,” Stutes explains. Home and Gardening Television warns that while it may be tempting to choose a countertop on looks alone, a materials’ durability, maintenance and, of course, cost are all key in making your decision. Danette Danyow has worked with Dale Stutes Stoneworks on countless projects and gives this advice. “Unlike laminate, which bumps, scratches and chips, stone is durable. Prices vary based on design and even how the homeowner wants the edge finished. Be sure you are hiring a reputable and dependable fabricator,” Danyow advises. She says when it comes to stone there’s a choice in every price range “Stone can vary in cost from as little as $8 a square foot to exotic stone that could be $100 a square foot.”
What to Know Before I Choose
Darren Stutes says there are three things every homeowner should do before making plans to remodel.
First, he says always know what you can afford, be sure to make your budget and do your research. “Custom designs and edges can cost more, custom sinks and the cutouts requires to fit them can increase costs,” explains Stutes. Second, he says think of the functionality of the stone and how the room is being used- you may need a different stone for a kitchen, bathroom or laundry room. And third on Stutes list is to always remember to think out the design thoroughly.
One of the design choices in the kitchen is whether or not to get a kitchen backsplash that matches your countertops. Katina Cantrell is a decorator at Ronnie’s Flooring Center in New Iberia she helps hundreds of homeowners coordinate the process. “People prefer back splashes when decorating their kitchen. Feature walls can be used behind the stone, which usually features a frame,” says Cantrell. A backsplash in a kitchen is featured on the wall behind the stove and can reach from behind the stovetop to just below or even above the hood. As for materials to choose from, there are always a number of choices to consider. “You can do metals, a huge trend is subway tiles, and another thing people use, which is pretty timeless, is travertine, a type of stone. Anytime you get into natural stone, it’s more of a luxury,” explains Cantrell. The decorator says you can go with subway tile or porcelain on the lower end or glass or marble on the higher end of the list.
Durability Does It
When asked if there is a countertop that ranks high in durability Stutes answered a resounding yes. “Granite and quartzite are known for durability. On the Mohs’ Scale- a scale of a material’s durability- Granite ranks at about 6 to 6.5, Quartzite hits a 7. The scale peaks at 10. Engineered stone is durable, too, but has its limitations,” explains Stutes. He went on to explain the difference between natural and engineered stone. “Natural stone is found around the world and quarried from the earth. Types of natural stone include granite, marble, limestone, travertine, slate, quartzite, sandstone and onyx. All natural stone needs to be sealed to prevent staining. Special cleaner should be used on natural stone counter tops. This is very important. Within the types of stone are stones that are more porous-like marble- and could be damaged more easily than granite,” he explains. “Engineered stone is made from crushed stone that is pressed into composite material- like plywood. Engineered stone requires no special cleaners or sealer; typically these countertops are scratch resistant and nearly stain proof. This type of counter top will harbor fewer bacteria, too, since it’s non-porous. Cons though, include slab sizes and it’s not entirely rated for very, very hot temperatures.”
Rolling Up Your Sleeves
So you’ve picked the countertop with the right look, cost and functions for your kitchen, now who do you get to do the work. Stutes says be prepared to have the following issues addressed. “First ask for client references. You’ll want to talk to homeowners and see the work. Choose contractors and fabricators that come well recommended. Their reliability and quality of work are also of equal importance. Next, look for someone who has experience. You’ll want to make sure they communicate with you during the process.”
Because the kitchen is a vital part of the home, knowing in advance how long you will be displaced from this room can save you some despair. We asked Stutes for his estimate. “A remodel is based on many factors. Right now, due to so many people in Lafayette and Baton Rouge needing repairs after the August flood, it’s taking longer than usual to get cabinets, which delays the installation of countertops. A renovation could take a few weeks. Custom work (where a contractor might build the cabinets from scratch) could take a month or more, but more basic work could be done in two weeks.”
Creative decisions, budget considerations and careful planning are all key ingredients in creating your dream kitchen so prep ahead some decisions may need to marinate.