What You Need to Know About Home Surface Materials

October 22, 2021

What You Need to Know About Home Surface Materials

October 22, 2021

Quartz or granite? Marble or solid surface? Selecting materials for kitchen and bathroom surfaces can be confusing. There are many materials from which to choose. Some can look almost identical to others. Yet they all have different qualities that will suit different functional and aesthetic demands.

When choosing home surfaces during your next remodel, whether it’s kitchen countertops or bathroom worktops, it’s important to be familiar with the different material qualities prior to installation. In this article, we explore what you need to know when it comes to some of the most common surface materials.

Butcher Block

Burcher Block

Butcher block is a heavy-duty surface made from assembled wooden slabs. It’s the only permanent surface that can be used directly as a chopping board, with a little sanding quickly removing blemishes and scratches. For some home chefs, the pleasantly worn look is a desired aesthetic and matches with country-style kitchen décor themes.

If you’re prone to forgetting to use a chopping board, the soft wooden surface will be kind to your knives. Butcher block is susceptible to moisture damage. It’s, therefore, a good idea to oil the surface regularly to minimize swelling. When it comes to cleaning, simply wipe with soap and water.

Laminate

Laminate Countertop

Laminate is a man-made material featuring layers of paper covered with a protective melamine resin top layer. Just underneath this resin, is a decorative print layer that is available in different styles, some of which even mimic natural stone like granite and marble. This makes it an affordable alternative to more expensive materials.

The protective resin seal means laminate is very easy to keep clean. Simple cleaning with soap and water is all that's normally required. However, laminate is susceptible to damage, especially from knives, accidents, and abrasive cleaning materials. As repairs are difficult to make, serious damage will require a complete replacement.

Quartz

Quartz Countertop

A Quartz countertop – also known as engineered stone – is a relatively new home surface option. While quartz countertops are a manufactured surface, the core property is quartz, a highly durable, hard, and strong natural material.

The combination of quartz with different resins and pigments means quartz countertops are available in a wide variety of styles and colors. Its non-porous surface ensures it remains stain resistant, easy to clean, and impervious to bacteria. However, it can sustain heat damage from extra hot pots or hair tools, so it’s wise to be cautious.

Tile

Tile Countertop

Tile has long been a popular surface option for kitchens and bathrooms. We typically picture tile forming a backsplash or floor, but it can also look tremendous as a countertop. With so many different shapes, sizes, colors, patterns, and materials from which to choose, tile offers hundreds of creative design options.

Tile is also one of the more affordable surfacing options. It’s heat resistant and it’s very easy to replace chipped or discolored tiles. That said, one of the biggest drawbacks of using tiling in the sometimes wet conditions of a kitchen or bathroom is the porous nature of the grout. Regular sealing is required but this doesn’t always prevent stains and bacteria buildup.

Granite

Granite Countertop

Granite is a natural stone material without any added ingredients. This natural beauty is why it’s such a popular choice among homeowners throughout the United States. Often installed as a solid piece of quarried stone, granite countertops usually have few seams, providing an expansive look that’s also very easy to keep clean.

Granite is extremely strong and resistant to scratches. It can also take a lot of heat, meaning you can safely put hot equipment directly onto the surface. One drawback is that granite is porous and so it’s important it is thoroughly sealed so as to prevent stains.

Marble

Marble Countertop

Marble is another highly popular choice when it comes to kitchen and bathroom surfaces. With its natural grains, solid appearance, and timeless appeal, marble brings the beauty and elegant strength of nature right into the heart of the home. Marble countertops make a bold and luxurious statement and for this reason, they are at the higher end of the price scale.

An intriguing quality of marble is that it maintains a low temperature. It always feels cold. This makes it ideal for baking. As stones go, marble is one of the softer ones, making it more vulnerable than granite to nicks and cracks. Also, avoid exposure to acidic foods like lemons as over time this can remove the polish or sealant that’s so important to prevent stains.  

Stainless Steel

Stainless Steel

Stainless steel is used in restaurant kitchens throughout the world. It’s also a great surface option for the home kitchen. Stainless steel is durable and non-porous, making it highly resistant to water, heat, stains, and just about anything else. This is why it has widespread use in commercial and industrial environments. It’s very easy to wipe clean.

Unfortunately, stainless steel does dent and scratch relatively easily. Denting can be minimized with the correct installation techniques used by experienced professionals. Stainless steel countertops can be noisy as well when placing objects onto the surface, and for some people, the industrial look can be a little too cold and clinical.

Solid Surface

Solid Surface Countertop

Solid Surface (also known as Corian) is the perfect mid-range countertop material for homeowners seeking a middle way when it comes to surface types. It’s a man-made synthetic material usually made from a combination of acrylic, polyester resins, and stone pigments.

It can closely mimic naturally occurring materials such as stone, granite, and marble, making it a more affordable alternative. While not as strong as natural materials, it’s less susceptible to cracking from heavy impacts. However, it is easier to scratch and is not as heat resistant. But it’s very easy to maintain and clean.

With so many surface materials to choose from, it’s important to get professional advice and guidance before an extensive kitchen or bathroom remodel.

Your Design-Build Remodeling Team in Lafayette, Indiana

Riverside Construction, founded in 2008, is the go-to professional design-build team that has earned the respect and confidence of discerning homeowners in the Lafayette and West Lafayette areas.

With an award-winning team of highly skilled and experienced professionals in a range of fields, we excel at listening to client ideas and then translating those dreams into reality. We can help you decide on a direction, provide guidance, and be with you every step of the way to ensure your dream home is achieved.

Whether you’re transforming a kitchen, updating a bathroom, or adding an extension, let us guide your decision-making and partner with you to achieve the results you envision.

Contact us now to schedule an initial conversation. We’ll be happy to answer your questions, listen to your ideas, soothe your worries, and work with you to finalize your plans.

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