Alternate Countertops

Alternate Countertops

Besides Granite, there are many other popular kitchen surfaces

Granite countertops have long been the ‘go-to’ for kitchens of the mid to higher end. It’s a status of popularity that seems to withstand years of changing trends. Perhaps that’s because not everyone can afford it, and like the expensive car it’s become a status symbol, a passive aggressive method of flaunting wealth.

You could say the joke’s on them. There are countertop options that look and feel just like granite but are priced at a fraction of the cost. In fact, there is a variety of alternate materials that provide a wealth of styles to choose from. You’re not bound to the literally heavy weight and cost of granite, you can expand your horizons – and your savings! Let’s see what else is out there, shall we?

MARBLE
Inherent to mountainous regions and transformed from limestone by intense pressure and high temperatures below the earth’s surface, marble is the crystalline structure altered by the introduction of other minerals. It was this process that produced those wonderfully colorful and intricate designs. It is considered superior even to granite. Its striking appearance and (and easy maintenance) make polished marble a common and popular countertop that ranges between &125 – $225 per square foot.

QUARTZ
Polished to appear similar to granite, quartz (a naturally hard mineral) countertops are manmade and engineered by combining a great majority of ground quartz with resin materials. When the quartz is coarsely ground, it will appear flecked, finely ground results in a smoother appearance. Since it is quite abundant, the second most in the earth’s crust, it is really quite affordable. Hard and durable, non-porous quartz countertops do not require sealing. A wonderful and colorful option, it runs only $60 to $100 per square foot.

CORIAN
Also known as “solid surface”, Corian is essentially a plastic material – a combination of acrylic, copolymer, and alumina fiber. It is available in an array of textures and colors. It is not as durable as its stone counterparts and may not be entirely scratch or burn resistant. Their surface is reasonably solid, however, and scratches may be buffed out with a bit of effort. An attractive cost-efficient option, Corian runs only $42 to $65 per square foot.

SOAPSTONE
Quite heat resistant, gray soapstone is all-natural and, like granite, is quarried. Its smooth surface is very durable. Available in dark colors only, their hues actually darken with age, developing a burnished patina. It can be really quite beautiful and reasonably priced at $70 to $120 per square foot.

WOOD
Constructed from pieces of hardwood that have been laminated together, wood certainly lends a warm presence to the kitchen. It requires maintenance in the form of oiling which maintains rich luster and prevents cracking. An attractive choice in any one of dozens of types such as walnut, maple and cherry, wood tops are also attractively priced as low as $30 per square foot. For the highest quality wood expect to pay as much as $200 per square foot.

CONCRETE
Composed of a general purpose mortar mix, color is often added to concrete countertops to avoid a drab and generic appearance, making them each uniquely hued. They are sealed to become non-porous, and look quite industrial. Adding glass, shells or other elements may endow the appearance of terrazzo or mosaic. Modern finishing techniques result in a durable, smooth and glossy surface that will run you around $65 to $135 per square foot.

GLASS
Glass countertops can be beautiful, presenting a luminous illusion of depth. They also attract fingerprints. Thankfully they are easy to clean. Though resilient, they can be scratched. It’s a choice made when style is the priority, nut best suited for a busy kitchen. Of course there are many types of glass, most of them allegedly shatter-proof. Recycled glass will run about $50 to $80 per square foot. Otherwise you’re looking at $75 to $105 per square foot.

PAPERSTONE
Fully recycled, Paperstone (or “paper composite”) is the only choice for Green advocates. Fortified with petroleum-free resins, it is environmentally friendly, waterproof and available in a variety of textures. It’s resistant to staining and nicks and is lighter than natural stone. It requires a sealant, and you may find paperstone for around $40 – $112 per square foot.

STAINLESS STEEL
Used for decades, steel countertops remain sleekly modern. Obviously of wide use in the industrial sector, serious home chefs like to employ them as well. It is made of a metal alloy with chromium content around 10%. It is 100% recyclable, extremely durable and a bit of an expense at $67 – $96 per square foot.

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