Ahh, The Kitchen…
For many Families, the Kitchen is the hub of the home: it’s where we hang the A+ papers; where we make Thanksgiving dinner; where we sing and dance when we think no one’s watching (no? just me?).
Collectively, we spend a ton of time in our kitchens and as such, we want to enjoy our time in it.
While changing the colour of your walls might be as easy as a stop to the hardware store and a few hours with a roller, choosing your counter tops is a bit more time and labour intensive. ESPECIALLY when it comes to choosing what material to use. Historically, granite has been the countertop of choice in mid-range to high-end homes for nearly three decades.
To give credit where credit is due, there are still some beautiful and unique granite finishes to choose from, but since it has become a more common feature in homes, homeowners who want to make a more unique statement are opting for something a little different. In recent years, Quartz has risen quickly in popularity, as has the versatile option: concrete.
“But what are the differences?
Is any one really better than the others?
What are the pros and cons?”
…Let’s take a look at some of the options:
Concrete is mixed and cast from cement and aggregate. Rather than cutting out holes for sinks and other built-ins, the form or mold is built to accommodate them.
It’s important to note that not all concrete has to be gray.
Contrary to popular belief, there are many options for concrete like coloured concrete or embellishments like coloured glass or seashells.
The concrete can be colored when it is mixed or after it has cured, allowing for an unlimited palette of color and pattern. It can be created in standard sizes, shapes and colors, but its ability to be shaped into any form, colored to most any color and decorated with textured edges and embedded objects makes it a favorite with contemporary designers. Concrete countertop finishes can range from earthy to sleek and modern, and anything in between. If ‘original’ and ‘unique’ are two of your favorite words, then a concrete countertop might be your choice for a kitchen (or bathroom or bar area!). It’s durable, long lasting and, can improve your home’s resale value since it is considered to be a premium surface. Concrete can also last for decades, and in addition, it can incorporate recycled industrial waste such as fly ash from coal furnaces and slag from iron production. On the other hand, the manufacturing process for concrete uses a lot of energy as well.
All these upsides…surely there must be a downside?
Well…unfortunately, there are a few things. If you have the resources available, concrete *can be a more cost effective option, but without said resources, concrete can be as much as $150 per square foot, making at about the same price as granite and quartz, and repairs for a ‘do-it-yourselfer’ can be tricky. It is more heat resistant than Quartz, but hot items can damage the sealant. It’s also important to note that regular sealing is required about every 6 months, and monthly waxing is encouraged to keep the condition.
Granite is quarried from the ground and cut into slabs for countertops. It is composed mainly of quartz and feldspar with a mixture of other minerals. The natural variations in the colors and design of granite make it a very attractive choice that always demonstrates individuality, but it tends to be dark, and that defines your decorating choices for as long as you keep these countertops.
Because it is a natural stone, No two pieces of granite are alike.
Which is a good thing if you are looking for uniqueness, but this also means it needs to be maintained regularly as it is a porous material. It is recommended that granite be sealed on a regular schedule to keep it protected. However, many people quickly forget those recommendations. Furthermore, Unless you live near a granite quarry, your granite countertops must be shipped from their place of origin to your home. This may be thousands of miles. Granite is practically indestructible and will last a long time…but it is not a renewable resource.
Quartz countertops are a low-maintenance option, perfect for any busy kitchen. They are created from natural quartz crystals (strongest natural mineral found on earth…no biggie) that are glued using a resin and then formed into appropriate shapes and slabs. Although quartz does not have the amount heat resistance that granite and concrete does, it is extremely durable and easy to maintain: quartz is non-porous, stain resistant, and easy to clean. Designers also like the fact that you can choose a color for your quartz countertop and know what you are getting, which is not the case with granite.
The composition of Quartz is slightly different in that it is not 100 percent natural. Instead, countertops are manufactured using 95 percent ground natural quartz and 5 percent polymer resins. Since quartz is engineered, it can be more environmentally-friendly than granite if you use regionally manufactured stone and local fabricators. This cuts down on the distance the material needs to be transported. It can, however, be pricey depending on the options you choose and the uniqueness of granite and concrete remains appealing to many.
Any one of these three options can be a great choice for a countertop.
The price ranges are similar, and they each come with their own set of positive and negative properties.
Granite and Concrete countertops will require more maintenance than Quartz, but all three are extremely durable. Concrete will always be the clear winner in versatility of shape and design, but the natural beauty of Granite has stood the test of time, and will certainly remain a favorite for many for years to come.
All the countertop types have their pros and cons and can be judged on the merits of physicality, affordability, strength, material type, and resistance.
At the end of the day, it’s about what option suits your needs best in the most popular room in the house.