Marble? Quartz? Glass? How to choose a countertop material
Christina Poletto, For The Journal NewsPublished 1:19 p.m. ET May 30, 2017 | Updated 2:27 p.m. ET May 30, 2017
Selecting the right countertop for your kitchen can be an extremely difficult and expensive decision.
Currently, there are about a dozen different materials that are all technically suitable for a cooking environment, from marble to quartz, granite to glass, tile, and even butcher block and concrete.
With so many options, how do you know what is right for your home?
And, if you’re considering selling your property in the future, which material might appeal most to potential buyers?
We asked Amy Nowak-Palmerini, principal of Roam Design in Congers (roamdesignllc.com), to steer us toward the countertops that are best for families, avid chefs and bakers, and various budgets, too.
Marble: Pretty, but not always practical
Homeowners seeking a high-end look and feel to their kitchen might gravitate toward the gray-veined look of calacatta and carrara marble, but it may not be the most ideal selection.
Because marble is naturally porous, it requires regular sealing and, what’s more, staining can be a real problem. “Although a beautiful natural stone, marble is not the most practical of countertop surfaces,” says Nowak-Palmerini.
“It stains and retains odors very easily, so is not a great choice for a surface that needs to stand up to things like red wine, colorful foods like beets and red meats, as well as pungent things like garlic and onions.”
That’s not to say marble can’t be used in the kitchen at all.
According to Nowak-Palmerini, it’s a wonderful surface for an in-home baking station. “Serious bakers prefer marble countertops for kneading dough since the marble naturally keeps dough from sticking to the surface. In fact, we’ve seen homeowners really interested in baking insist on using marble counters, at least for one surface in their kitchens.”
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What about quartz?
“What many people don’t realize about quartz countertops is that they are actually manufactured materials,” says Nowak-Palmerini.
“Quartz is an extremely strong mineral, and it is extracted from its natural state and manufactured into slabs by mixing crushed quartz with an adhesive, and sometimes color additives. Because quartz is manufactured, it is generally more expensive than most granites and marbles, which are cut from the earth in large blocks and then sliced into slabs.”
The upside? Quartz is extremely easy to take care of and doesn’t require sealing like natural stone countertops.
Also, because of its non-porous nature, it’s resistant to stains, scratches and heat and is available in an array of patterns and hues to fit any kitchen color scheme.
What’s so great about granite?
Affordability and availability still make granite an attractive choice for kitchens.
“Granite remains a very popular countertop option due to its variety in price point, color and wide availability,” says Nowak-Palmerini. It’s also a dependable work surface, and the sheen of polished granite give kitchens a high-end look without breaking the bank.
To keep it looking its best, granite requires a sealing treatment that can be done every year. For those looking for the strength and durability of granite without all the shine, honed granite is an option worth exploring. It carries a softer, matte look but is equally resistant to scratching and heat.
ROI: Granite countertops continue to give homeowners the most for their investment, but that doesn’t mean you have to stick with just one material.
“We are seeing a strong movement by homeowners to have two and sometimes three different countertop materials in their kitchens,” says Nowak-Palmerini.
For example, we recently completed a kitchen renovation project where the homeowner selected a granite countertop as the main surface, and a coordinating quartz countertop for the beverage center,” she says.
Nowak-Palmerini suggests that more unconventional countertop materials, such as wood butcher block, recycled glass, stainless steel, soapstone and concrete, are often considered by clients looking to create a distinct look in their kitchens.
“In the end, though, homeowners tend to return to the timelessness, familiarity and relative affordability of granite and marble for their kitchen countertop selections,” says Nowak-Palmerini.
She continues: “As far as return on investment, the natural stones like granite and marble offer homeowners better value and longevity. The premium price of quartz and the more specialty countertops will not often be appreciated by potential buyers.”