All About Countertops for Kitchen and Bath Design
April 29, 2022
There are many decisions to make when creating a custom kitchen or bathroom design, including layout, materials, color scheme, and storage needs. First, consider what you like about your existing bath or kitchen and, most importantly, what you want to change. Then assess what you want and need from your home remodel, including how your family will use the space.
The real fun happens after you have identified your preferred layout and storage needs — when you select styles and materials to bring your design vision to life. In addition to cabinets and floor tiles, countertops are one of the main materials influencing your room’s style and functionality. There are many countertop materials to choose from, so it helps to educate yourself and work with a trusted kitchen and bathroom design professional who can walk you through the best options.
Criteria for Choosing Countertops
When choosing a countertop material for your kitchen design or bathroom remodel, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Just because you love your neighbor’s new kitchen design with granite countertops does not mean it fits your needs. Before you start examining the top countertop materials, let’s first explore the criteria that will help you find the perfect choice for your home remodel.
What Are Your Functional Requirements?
Technology for producing countertop materials has advanced to where you can always find alternatives that fit your design aesthetic. Before you decide on a material and color scheme, it helps to examine your home and lifestyle.
Are you a young, busy family where kids sit at the island doing homework and crafts? Do you cook daily, host holiday gatherings, or entertain frequently? What type of cooking do you enjoy, and is home baking part of your regular kitchen activities? For a bathroom design, is this a busy main bathroom, a kids’ bathroom remodel, or a less frequently used guest bathroom? Countertop choices will be influenced by who uses the space, how it is used, and how often.
What Is Your Budget for a Countertop?
The saying “you get what you pay for” applies to kitchen and bathroom design, especially for materials like cabinets and countertops that cover your room’s surfaces. Countertops come in a wide range of price points, so examine your total budget and decide how much of your available funds you can spend on the countertop.
If your budget is more limited, work with your kitchen and bathroom design expert to identify alternative materials that most closely match your style and functionality requirements within your budget range. Alternatively, consider choosing a more expensive countertop material for a section of your kitchen design. For example, go for a high-end wood, granite, or marble countertop for the kitchen island, but choose a less expensive option for the perimeter.
You could also compromise on another budget expenditure, like downgrading your cabinet or flooring choice in favor of a pricier countertop. If this is your dream kitchen design or bathroom remodel, then go for it and pair your luxury countertop with the cabinets and fixtures you always wanted. It pays to work with a trusted kitchen and bath design firm knowledgeable of all the product choices that can help you pick the perfect ones for your home.
What Is Your Home Design Style?
Your room’s color scheme, textures, and finishes play a big role in defining your design aesthetic, and countertops are a key part of this. The countertop is one of the most used surfaces in any kitchen or bath design, and it is also one of the most visible.
This dominant surface can transform your home style by accenting white cabinetry with a dark surface or adding warmth with wood. It can create an eye-catching focal point with a dramatic waterfall countertop or add layers of texture with leathered granite.
The edge you select for your countertop also influences your home’s style. If you don’t know your flat from your ogee, don’t worry! Your home design professional can talk you through these options and help you find the perfect one to complement your contemporary design or top off your traditional space.
7 Top Countertop Materials
There are many amazing countertop materials on the market that fulfill the design and practical needs of a busy home. Here are a few of the top choices.
Granite countertops have long topped the list for classic luxury in both kitchen and bathroom design. It is a natural material, meaning that every piece of granite is unique. It comes in various colors, from pale white to jet black, green, and more. Each piece has a unique tone and pattern, so it helps to pick out the exact slab of granite you want to use yourself. Prepare yourself for this step by researching the colors and considering which ones fit your interior design vibe. Also, consider the finish you prefer and have a good idea of how much you can spend before shopping for your piece of granite.
Granite also tops the list for durability and can withstand high heat. It is a tough surface (second only to diamonds!) that resists chips and scratches. Be sure to use a cutting board on a granite countertop, as this superstar surface can dull your knives if you cut directly onto it. If you invest in a countertop for your forever home, then granite is a worthwhile investment that never goes out of style.
Marble is another classic surface that epitomizes luxury. It comes with a high price tag, but if a marble countertop fits your budget, it will transform any kitchen remodel or bathroom design. Like granite, marble is a natural material, so each piece is one-of-a-kind. Although marble surfaces conjure up images of cool white with gray veining, it comes in different colors like deep green and black.
If you love marble, but your budget is more limited, consider installing one section of marble countertop in a kitchen design. Marble is ideal for baking since it stays cool, so use it to create a baking zone paired with customized kitchen cabinet storage for baking supplies.
Marble is a durable surface that is heat resistant but not to the same degree as other high-end surfaces like granite and quartz. The best approach with a marble countertop is to take precautions when setting hot items down. Likewise, marble is susceptible to damage from acid, so avoid preparing acidic foods on marble. Since it is a porous material, marble countertops should be re-sealed regularly.
It’s easy to see why quartz is a top choice for kitchen and bathroom design countertops. This engineered surface made of quartz and resin creates a highly durable, nonporous, and hygienic workspace. Quartz countertops are also scratch-resistant and can withstand moderately high heat, though scorching items can damage them. As a rule of thumb, it is better to err on the safe side and use trivets when placing hot items on any countertop surface. Quartz is waterproof and resists stains, so it is ideal for kitchen or bathroom designs.
It can very closely imitate natural materials like granite and marble but likewise can be customized to fit a wide range of styles and color schemes. If you love the look of natural stone but prefer a guaranteed consistent look, then quartz may be the perfect solution for your kitchen remodel or bathroom design. When you select a piece of quartz in a showroom, you can be guaranteed that the quartz installed in your home will look pretty much the same. Quartz is a luxury product, so be prepared to allocate enough budget to get a top-quality countertop that will last for years.
Wood countertops are increasing in popularity for kitchen designs, particularly on an island to create a tabletop for dining or a butcherblock for food preparation. If you are not prepared to commit to all wood countertops, consider a small section like this stunning island bar.
Wood surfaces immediately warm up any space and work especially well against white kitchen cabinets. They also pair perfectly with today’s popular blue, black, or green cabinetry. While wood countertops conjure up images of cottage or farmhouse kitchen design, they also complement a wide range of design aesthetics, including traditional, contemporary, or rustic. It’s all down to what style of wood and finish you choose and your cabinetry and accessories.
If you are looking for a low-maintenance surface, wood may not be your top choice. Wood requires regular maintenance and specialized cleaning if you want to avoid changing the look of the surface. If, however, you are happy to let it age and view the inevitable dings and scratches as part of its charm, then wood could be an ideal choice for your home.
If you are looking for a mid-range product that is highly durable and easy to maintain, consider solid surface countertops. This blend of acrylic and resin creates a material that can be formed into any shape in various colors and patterns. It can imitate luxury natural materials but lacks the unique quality and high-end appearance of natural stone and quartz. Solid surface creates a homogenous surface that is nearly nonporous and can be sanded to remove scratches.
Laminate countertops are among the most affordable options on the market. Today’s plastic laminates use advanced technology, making them more stylish than those you may remember. They come in a wide range of colors and patterns but cannot come close to the high-end look of natural stone or quartz countertops. Laminate is not as hard-wearing as these more expensive surfaces, as it is prone to heat damage and scratching.
If you want to veer off the beaten path when selecting a countertop material, several other options might fit your style and functionality needs:
- Terrazzo is a truly unique surface that has been around for centuries. It is made up of resin with pigment added and chips of other materials like stone or glass. This is one of the eco-friendlier choices since it uses recycled materials. You can stick with chips in the same color palette or inject some color into your space like this unique kitchen design.
- Concrete pairs beautifully with modern kitchen or bathroom designs and industrial or rustic styles. It is expensive to install but results in a one-of-a-kind surface that is heat and scratch-resistant.
- Soapstone is another natural material that offers a smooth surface in gray tones with unique vein patterns. It is hard-wearing but can be more prone to scratches than other stone countertops.
Beyond Kitchen and Bath Design
Outdoor Kitchen Design
Outdoor dining and entertaining are part of life for most Gainesville, Florida, homes, so a stylish and functional outdoor kitchen design is essential. When choosing a countertop for an outdoor kitchen, you must consider extra wear and tear from dust, weather, sunshine, and insects.
Like granite, high-end natural stone is moisture resistant, highly durable, and UV resistant, making it ideal for meeting the extra demands of outdoor kitchens. Quartz was long confined to indoor use, but innovation from Caesarstone has brought quartz to outdoor kitchen designs [CM5] with a resin finish that is weather and UV resistant.
Laundry and Utility Rooms
Kitchen and bathroom designs are not the only spaces in a home that benefit from countertops. Any room that utilizes cabinetry and needs a workspace requires countertops. A purpose-built laundry room, utility room, or mudroom could form part of a busy home’s layout. These spaces require a durable surface that is moisture resistant, easy to maintain, and heat resistant. Think about how you plan to use the space and find a material that fits your needs.
Choose HKB for Your Dream Kitchen and Bath Design
There is an ideal countertop material for every home, style, and budget. Visit our kitchen and bathroom design gallery for inspiration, or stop by our Gainesville, FL showroom to browse countertop materials in person. Our experienced team is ready to help you find the perfect countertop for your home design!