Countertops play a critical role in the success of any kitchen or bath project. They must accentuate cabinetry, withstand daily use and reflect your family’s personal style. Whether you are remodeling or in the midst of new construction, here is a rundown of the latest trends and time-honored surfaces sure to stand up to your most stringent demands.
Soapstone counters have risen in popularity as an alternative to granite. Photo courtesy of Durado Soapstone of Texas.
Natural Stone For many home remodels and new construction, natural stone counters are the way to go. Stone surfaces are durable and add sophistication to kitchens and baths of any style. “People continue to upgrade their homes with stone so that resale value improves,” says Ashley Larrick, owner of Austin-based Dorado Soapstone of Texas. Stone countertops can run anywhere from $40 to $300 per square foot, although many home centers now offer prefabricated granite counters for a few hundred dollars.
Granite has long been the choice for high-end kitchen kitchens and upgrades. Available in a myriad of colors and patterns, granite coordinates with just about every interior. It is durable and scratch- and bacteria-resistant. And sealed granite stands up to food preparation and spills.
For some homeowners, however, upgrading to stone means choosing one that won’t be found in a typical builder-style kitchen, such as soapstone, slate or onyx.
Soapstone is known for its rich grey or black color. Unlike granite, soapstone is nonporous and doesn’t need to be sealed. However, it is slightly easier to scratch than granite. An occasional application of mineral oil will help the stone gain a dark grey or black patina and blend in minor scuffs brought on by daily wear and tear.
Slate is available in a variety of dark colors, including gray, black, deep purple, red and turquoise. It has a soft touch, elegant appeal and low absorption rate (lower than granite, in fact). Regular sealing will help maintain this stone’s beauty, and deep scratches can usually be buffed out with steel wool if necessary.
Onyx is one of the most trendy, and luxurious, materials in countertop and backsplash applications today. Considered a semi-precious stone, onyx has a wide color range and translucent appearance, which make it great for backlit applications. Its soft makeup makes it susceptible to scratches and stains, so it needs to be sealed regularly to maintain its lustrous appearance.