Not Your Average Countertop
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Most of us love and admire beautiful granite, handsome butcher’s block, timeless marble, or maybe prefer the low-maintenance of quartz… but what are some other options that aren’t as well known? Below are some of my new, favourite alternatives to the more traditional countertops being used today. What started off as a harmless Pinterest binge turned into a few-hour long search into new ideas. I’d never even heard of some of these materials that are being used as countertops in a home! After learning some new, intriguing things, I now find myself even more excited to re-model our kitchen.
1. Porcelain: $60-100/sq. ft.
Although it is growing in popularity in the US, Porcelain countertops have been used in Europe for quite some time. Personally, I am in love with the idea and look. I spend a lot of time in the kitchen, and although I love the look of marble, it isn’t a realistic option for me because I want something that is durable and easy to maintain. Luckily for me, maybe porcelain is the way to go! Glazing pigments can be added during production to create an appearance similar to natural stone, such as marble, but many other colours are also available. Porcelain is extremely durable, non-porous, heat-resistant, doesn’t require sealing and won’t discolour. It can be installed over existing countertops and can even be recycled! Clean-ups on the waterproof surface are easy, but if you do use harsh chemicals they likely won’t cause problems. It can chip and crack, but will take more force and weight than natural stone, and is 30% stronger than granite!
2. Lava Stone: $250-350/sq. ft.
Lava stone is a natural, ancient, volcanic rock that’s quarried, cut into slabs, glazed with enamel and fired at a very high heat. Clearly a very luxurious and expensive option, lava stone comes in a gorgeous array of colours and its cost exceeds even high-end marble. It can be used indoors or outdoors, is UV stable (so it won’t fade), is non-porous and impervious to water, so bacteria and stains don’t stand a chance. Lava stone withstands corrosive chemicals and is as heat-resistant as you can get. This extravagant option is incredibly durable and can last 50 years, so make sure you love the colour as it can’t be refinished and it sure is costly!
3. Recycled Glass: $50-125/sq. ft.
Recycled glass countertops are such a unique option. No two are alike and can add a striking pop of colour to a room. Although I’m not sure my fiancé would be into it, I sure would love to have an island with a countertop like the clear, turquoise one pictured below. And wouldn’t a mosaic pattern be a one-of-a-kind addition to a guest bathroom?! Such beautiful creations that are environmentally friendly, heat and stain resistant, durable and strong and non-porous. They’re easy to clean and maintain, but be careful with acidic foods or cleaning products!
4. Copper: $100-175/sq. ft.
If you want a kitchen that stands out, copper countertops will do just that! They are easy to clean, naturally antimicrobial and may resist bacteria better than stainless steel. Keep in mind copper is a soft metal, so they can be dinged up and scratched easily. This fascinating look can change over time with use if not sealed, adding to the distressed look, which you may love or hate. If sealed properly they will keep longer, and can be treated with beeswax or butcher’s wax to keep them looking sharp.
5. Soapstone: $70-120/sq. ft.
Soapstone is a natural quarried stone with a hard surface but softer feel. It doesn’t stain, is non-porous, not effected by acidic materials and is heat and bacteria resistant. Because of its resilience, soapstone can be used outdoors, around a fireplace and as flooring as well. It comes in limited colours and can scratch and nick easily, but you should be able to buff it out with sandpaper and some mineral oil. Soapstone is beautiful to begin with, and then overtime it darkens naturally! You can use mineral oil to speed up this process if you like.
6. Recycled Paper: $40-80/sq. ft.
Check out paperstoneproducts.net for some cost-effective and environmentally friendly options! Created from recycled paper and a non-petroleum based resin, it’s durable and easy to install. Don’t let the word “paper” fool you-this material was popular to use in skateboard parks due to it’s durability! Once the materials are heated and compressed, it takes on the appearance similar to stone. Recycled paper countertops are non-porous, and also used as tabletops, cabinets, sinks, backsplashes and even as framing for fireplaces. They’re non-toxic, easy to clean and can be used outdoors, as well.
7. Concrete: $70-140/sq. ft. (Possibly cheaper if you DIY)
This look can be a lot more elegant than some people think, and can be a more cost-effective option if you DIY. Check out concretecountertopsolutions.com and take a look at their products that you can order yourself. You can even buy their moulds and ready-to-use mix (just add water). Concrete countertops are strong, durable and not easily chipped. They need to be sealed regularly though, as they are susceptible to staining.
HD Laminate: $20-60/sq. ft.
Although laminate isn’t a new or unique choice, I had to add it in as an option to consider. I can’t say I jump for joy over it, but it has come a long way! After being bashed for so many years, laminate is making a bit of a comeback. Companies like Formica and Wilsonart offer a high-resolution laminate with true-to-scale granite patterns. They even offer free samples you can order off their website. And you really can’t deny it’s not a tempting solution for saving some cash! Maybe you could save up a bit and switch it out for something more desirable in the future, if that’s your wish. Laminate is easy to clean and maintain, is non-porous and comes in a vast array of colours and patterns. Just remember it’s not heat resistant, so keep those hot pans away!
So many gorgeous ideas out there, but I’d have to say porcelain and recycled glass are my two new favourites. What are yours?!
Check out the link below to do a short, fun quiz and see what countertop is right for your dream home!
By: Elle O’Neill