Kitchen countertops need to be strong, heat-resistant, and durable. Granite is a polished rock that is cut from a quarry and is then transported, and fitted into your kitchen. There are various grades, and no two pieces, are the same.
Granite fans enjoy the beauty of the natural rock formations, and patterns, that were formed during the process of heating, and cooling. This is a natural, and beautiful surface, for kitchens, and very strong, and popular. However, there is often debate – lively and contrary – as to what is better, quartz or granite?
There are other materials which are also being used, these days, too.
1. Laminate Or Melamine (Formica)
Kitchen countertops can be made from a number of different materials. `Plastic is clearly not a good option – as it can melt. Instead harder, plastic polymers are used to make thin sheets that are layered over a chip board – this is melamine or laminate.
These surfaces are easy to clean and can withstand heat, however, if there is an area that is chipped off, the whole counter can swell, and rot.
In a home with rising damp, it is possible that water can climb up, your kitchen cupboards, and, in the worst case scenario, your kitchen counters, can swell. Despite the risk of water damage, this is a very popular surface – over 80% of European homes have laminate.
2. Tempered Glass, Ceramic, and Concrete
Modern trends are changing, and kitchen counters are being made of many different materials. Glass is specially made that has a very high heat resistance – like Pyrex cookware – and can be used as a surface. It can also be back painted, to match your color scheme.
It is quite a pricey option, though, and there is always a risk of cracking – especially if there is a temperature difference – from cold to hot. This is called tempered glass.
Ceramics can withstand very high heats – aluminum, for example, starts to melt at 660C while ceramics can withstand heat up to 2000C. Concrete is even trending as a countertop – and can be polished, however, it can crack, and chip.
One of the biggest rivals and a choice that is growing more popular is quartz. This is not a totally natural product – it is made of 95% naturally ground quartz and 5% polymer resins. It is a very similar surface to granite but it is less porous – it is easy to clean, and does not need to be sealed, or resealed, every year like granite does. It can be used for backsplashes and comes in a large range of colors.
It is not totally heat resistant, and you do need to use trivets, to protect a quartz counter. They are super hygienic counter tops and are 99% bacteria free surfaces. (*when cleaned.) A patina can develop on granite – oils stains can leach into the stone, and discolor it if it has not been sealed.
Granite kitchen tops are very popular, and strong but there are a few rivals, that are growing in popularity, on the market. What counter are you going to get? Well, it’s a good idea to check the cost, first, and make a decision from there.
Professional kitchen designers will help you choose the surface that is going to work best for your needs. Quartz is also a popular choice for people concerned about the environment – the carbon footprint is lower, as there is no mining of rock needed, and transportation, in the same way, that granite is extracted.