Countertop Types: What Will Work Best For You

kitchen.jpgPhoto: Prestige Marble & Granite

Marble? Granite? Quartz? Natural stone or engineered? What does it all mean? Anyone who has built a home or done a kitchen remodel knows the number of different material options can be overwhelming. And it’s an important decision. Experts estimate you should plan on spending 10 to 15 percent of your kitchen budget on your countertops. Here are some thoughts on different types of materials so you can choose what’s right for you and your home. All prices mentioned are general estimates.

Granite

Granite is the number one countertop material for a reason. It’s beauty and durability make it a wonderful choice for almost any kitchen. It’s very nature makes it resistant to water and heat. That being said it is slightly porous. Most granites don’t need to be sealed, though it never hurts and will help block stains and liquids from eventually seeping into the stone. Granite’s inherent strength will also help protect it from scratches and etching. Because granite is a natural material there will be variation from slab to slab. While many people love the uniqueness this ensures, it can make matching up slabs difficult.

Expect to spend between $40 and $200 per foot installed.

Granite comes in a variety of natural stone colors and can be finished multiple ways.15-gorgeous-granite-countertops-title-e1503856458744.jpgPhoto: Home Epiphany

Marble

The demand for marble has certainly increased in the past few years. While a lot of marbles have gray veining running throughout, if you’re looking for a bright, more pure white slab, marble is definitely for you. It gives a high end, classic feeling to any space. Marble is more porous than granite and does require sealing; this means it does stain more easily than granite and some other natural stones. It’s also a softer stone, meaning it more readily scratches and nicks. While some marbles like Calacatta and Carrara are decidedly more expensive, there are plenty of options with a price point comparable to granite.

Expect to spend between $50 and $200 per foot installed.

The gray veining warms up this marble slab , which lends a polished feeling to this rustic kitchen.Advantages Of Marble CountertopsPhoto: Improvenet

Quartz

Quartz countertops are growing in popularity thanks to their many good qualities, and due to the fact they don’t have many of the weaknesses of natural stone. Quartz is a manufactured product and is also referred to as engineered stone. The manufacturing process for Quartz allows for an almost unlimited range of colors and can be finished in a luxurious way other solid surface materials aren’t. Quartz is just as durable as stone but more forgiving, so it won’t chip or scratch easily. It’s also nonporous, so it resists staining and will not harbor bacteria or viruses. Quartz doesn’t have many downsides, though it isn’t as heat resistant as natural stone.  It may be considered on the more expensive side, though it’s pricing is competitive with many natural stones.

Expect to spend between $50 and $200 per foot installed.

If you’re wanting a nontraditional countertop color, quartz might be just what your looking for.
quartzPhoto: HouseTrends

Soapstone

Soapstone is a natural material that has been used as countertops for literally hundreds of years. Today people love soapstone for its warm, rustic charm. Soapstone ranges from light to dark gray; the darkest slabs are almost black. Soapstone actually contains a certain amount of talc, which accounts for its milky look and somewhat powdery feel. This also accounts for the softness of the stone, but doesn’t mean it can’t stand up to daily kitchen use. Soapstone is nonporous so it is stain and acid resistant, though it does darken over time. It is recommended you treat soapstone with mineral oil to help achieve a more even look and deepen the color. It’s softness does make it slightly vulnerable to scratching, the mineral oil will help disguise these. Soapstone is extremely heat and bacteria resistant, making it a wonderful choice for any kitchen.

Expect to spend between $75 and $150 per square foot installed.

Soapstone is perfect for warming up what would otherwise be an all white kitchen. It also creates a sense of depth and additional dimension in this large space.decorpad.jpgPhoto: DecorPad

Limestone

Limestone is a beautiful choice, but not always practical for a busy kitchen. Limestone is an extremely versatile stone, available in a variety of colors and textures. Only the harder, denser varieties should be installed in the kitchen. Your fabricator should be able to help you choose the appropriate slab for your needs, should you choose limestone. Limestone is a calcium-based rock and by its very nature reacts with acidic substances in a manner that can create etching. It’s extremely porous and should be sealed regularly to help minimize staining, as it will soak up liquids quickly. Due to its softness, limestone also scratches and chips more easily than other natural stones. You also need to protect your limestone countertops from heat as it does have the ability to burn.

Expect to spend $50 to $100 per square foot installed.

Limestone looks great in almost any setting, though it requires a lot of maintenance. Many homeowners who want limestone choose to use it in a bathroom as opposed to the kitchen.
f89819d6fbab1e723c2ae503f35ae8af.jpgPhoto: Traditional Home

Whatever countertop material you ultimately choose,  Prestige Marble & Granite is here to help you with a vast selection of unique, exotic and rare natural stones from around the world. Our knowledgeable staff will guide you through selection, layout, design and installation. We welcome homeowners, designers, and contractors to browse our showroom any time!

 

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Designing Your Outdoor Kitchen

outdooPhoto: Imagine Backyard

The first kitchen was really just a fire outside. And ever since cooking was brought indoors, people have been finding numerous reasons to take it back outside. The summer heat has always been a big factor in wanting outdoor kitchen space, especially here in the South. Before air conditioning, summer kitchens made the hottest, most humid months slightly more bearable for southerners everywhere. Keeping away smoke and lingering food smells have also always been popular reasons for wanting to cook outside. Today, the desire to entertain and create a fun space for your family and friends has pushed the outdoor kitchen to the next level.

American actress Jane Wyman with her portable bbq in press photos in the early 1950s.janewymanPhoto: Tumblr

Outdoor kitchens today are so much more than a grill and some patio furniture. Today’s outdoor kitchens extend the living space of your home and are considered a great investment in your property.  The average outdoor kitchen costs between 12,000 and 15,000 dollars. While you definitely don’t have to spend that much, you can easily spend way more. The options are almost limitless. Understandably, it’s easy to become overwhelmed. But no worries, we’ve got a few tips to help out, regardless of your budget.

kitchen-in-backyard-e1503366589243.jpgPhoto: Slodive
Determine How You want to Use Your Kitchen

Be honest with yourself. How much space do you have? Are you going to use this outdoor kitchen for serious entertaining or will you be grilling outside occasionally? Will your kitchen be covered, even partially? These questions are important as the list of  possible amenities is long. And when designing your outdoor space you should keep in mind that certain appliances require greater levels of protection from the elements than others. And depending on your budget and plans for usage, it’s important to prioritize what appliances you choose. Some of the most popular outdoor kitchen appliances include grills/smokers, refrigerators/freezers, ice makers, and sinks.

A pergola is a great option for a smaller outdoor kitchen.  It helps define the space and allows for maximum airflow while still providing shade and protection from the harshness of the elements. If you have a green thumb a pergola is a great place to both grow and hang plants on.pergPhoto: Backyard Unlimited
Heaters, a fireplace, curtains and fans make this huge outdoor kitchen space an amazing year-round entertaining space.Beautiful-modern-porch-has-it-allPhoto: Decoist
Layout & Design

When choosing the site for your outdoor kitchen you need to think about how you’re going to hook up the utilities. You will probably want to run electricity and/or gas, and even water out to your space. Designing an outdoor kitchen isn’t that different from designing an indoor kitchen.

You’ll notice that the designs that incorporate the sink and refrigerator all do so in a way that creates the ubiquitous “kitchen triangle”. This is a design principle that says the most efficient kitchen layout is one where the cooktop, sink, and refrigerator form a triangle shape, with no leg of the triangle being longer than 10 feet.
layoutsPhoto: Pinterest

A functional outdoor kitchen should consist of four key areas or zones. First, the hot zone, where you’ll put your grill, smoker, pizza oven, etc. Conversely, the cold zone, where your refrigerator, freezer, beverage centers, etc. will be. Ideally, these zones won’t be right next to each other. Having hot and cold elements next to each other will force those appliances to work harder to function properly, wasting energy and potentially shortening their lifespans. The wet zone is where the sinks, ice-makers, kegerators, dishwashers, etc. are in the space. This is the area that really upgrades an outdoor entertaining area into a fully functioning kitchen. Lastly, you will want prep space. Prep space is not only the counters where you prepare food, but also cabinets and storage options.

This kitchen clearly lays out the four different zones. You can see that the separation between hot, cold, and wet zones naturally creates the “kitchen triangle.”ou.jpgPhoto: Pinterest
Choosing the Proper Materials

There are certainly a few different factors to consider when deciding what materials to use for your outdoor kitchen. Durability has to be considered equally to the style that matches your home and design aesthetic. Natural stone is a great choice for your outdoor kitchen countertops. While not really an issue here in Tennessee, it’s important to note that some stones don’t hold up to the possible expansion that can come with freezing/thawing as well as others. If you live somewhere with more extreme conditions you should always check with your fabricator that the stone you choose will work outside.

This design seamlessly incorporates granite, wood, brick, and stainless steel.presoutPhoto: Prestige M & G

There are other factors to consider when choosing which stone to use. Granite is an extremely popular choice thanks to its overall durability. Granite easily stands up to both regular use and weather. It doesn’t stain, nor does it absorb odors. With granite it’s recommended that you choose mid-range to lighter colors, as darker stones will hold heat and can become hot to the touch under sun.

This granite is absolutely beautiful outside. It blends wonderfully with the landscaping, nearby pool/fountain, and stainless steel appliances. It’s light color ensures it won’t absorb too much heat, nor will it fade in the sun.granite-countertop-outdoor-1Photo: MGSI

Soapstone is another durable option. Although your color options are limited to shades of gray and black, soapstone is stain, heat, and bacteria resistant. Soapstone does scratch more easily than other types of stone, those scratches are fairly easy to repair though.

If you want a darker countertop, soapstone is a great option. It doesn’t hold heat the same way granite does and is still polished and durable.soapstonePhoto: Urban Kitchen Design

Marble is always a beautiful option but is considerably softer than other stones. While it will last a long time, weather will eventually cause noticeable wear. For this reason it isn’t recommended that you use polished marble outside. There are other stone options you can discuss with your fabricator. Concrete and tile are also sometimes used as outdoor countertops.

While planning for hot and cold zones is important, in some smaller spaces your options might be limited. Here, a two-drawer, outdoor refrigerator maximizes space for cold food and drink storage. The brick used in this design is a great insulator between the cold refrigerator and hot grill. The large soapstone countertops are a great choice for a rooftop kitchen with minimal protection from the elements.
small.jpgPhoto: Kalamazoo Gourmet

Whatever outdoor kitchen you can dream up,  Prestige Marble & Granite is here to help you with a vast selection of unique, exotic and rare natural stones from around the world. Our knowledgeable staff will guide you through selection, layout, design and installation. We welcome homeowners, designers, and contractors to browse our showroom any time!