Whether it’s for a kitchen or a bathroom, the right countertop should combine decorative and practical elements to enhance the overall décor and functionality of the room. In this buying guide we’ll provide an overview of the most popular countertop materials along with tips on budgeting and installation to help steer you through your selection process.
Important Factors to Consider Before Purchasing a New CountertopBefore you purchase new countertops, consider these factors first:
Where the Countertop Will Be UsedBe sure to consider the function first. Bathroom countertops are very different from kitchen countertops when you consider their functionality. For example, you don’t necessarily need a countertop that’s heat-resistant in the bathroom, but that would be beneficial for the kitchen where hot pots and pans are always used.
Household BudgetIt’s also important to set a budget. Not only do countertops vary in price depending on material, the length of your countertop also has an effect on the overall price. When creating a budget, be sure to consider both durability and decorative style. It may be better to increase your budget to cover the cost of a longer lasting material if you plan on staying in your home for a while.
Type of SinkYour countertop will also act as an anchor for your sink, so be sure to consider what type of sink you want before choosing a countertop. Will your sink be undermounted, integral, apron-front or drop-in style? Whichever style you choose, you’ll need to make sure the countertop can fit seamlessly around the sink.
Your StyleDon’t forget to think about style when you’re shopping for countertops. The material and finished style you choose can either complement the existing décor or change the entire aesthetic of the room.
Types of CountertopsThere are a wide range of materials available for countertops, including natural, eco-friendly and synthetic options. Here are the most popular types of countertops:
Granite countertops are extremely popular, and for good reason: granite is very durable and resistant to stains, heat, bacteria and scratches. To keep it clean, a granite countertop just needs to be wiped down with a soft cloth and warm water. However, granite does need to be properly sealed and maintained in order to ensure its longevity.
Like granite countertops, marble countertops are made from natural stone and are long-lasting, durable, heat-resistant and easy to clean with warm water and soap. The veined finish of marble creates a uniquely elegant look, and marble is generally less expensive than other natural stone countertop options.
Quartz countertops are another attractive natural stone option. Like granite, quartz kitchen countertops are heat, water and bacteria-resistant. They are also low-maintenance (simply wipe down with warm water and a soft cloth) and do not require sealing, unlike granite countertops.
Laminate countertops are a versatile option and are available in a wide range of colours, textures and patterns. The design features a plastic laminate sheeting glued to plywood or particle board. Laminate countertops are less expensive than stone, easy to clean, and still quite resistant to scratches, water and stains. Laminate is less durable and not heat-resistant, however, which might make it a better choice for the bathroom rather than the kitchen.
Butcher Block or Wood Countertops
Wood countertops, also known as butcher block countertops, have a beautiful aesthetic and bring a warm ambience to a room. A wood countertop is ideal for meal prep because you can cut and chop directly on its surface, unlike other types of countertops. Wood countertops are also relatively easy to maintain but they do need regular re-oiling and should never be installed next to a sink or dishwasher.
Should You Hire a Professional to Install a Countertop or DIY?Countertops can be installed by professional contractors or you can do-it-yourself. Which option is best for you? We’ve outlined the pros and cons of each route below.
Professional Contractor Benefits:
- Can help save time on the overall project
- Contractors have the expertise required, including knowledge about local codes and regulations
- Professionals are less likely to break or damage countertops during the installation process, which is ideal for expensive or fragile countertop materials
- Can be expensive
- The timeline for completion of the project is not up to you
- Save money on labour costs
- Learn a new skill or develop your existing home repair skills
- Gives you full control over the entire project
- You might make mistakes, which could cost more in the long run
- Without dedicated time to devote to the project it could take much longer than if you hired a professional
- The planning and construction process can be stressful
The Installation ProcessUnderstanding the installation process up front will help keep you stay safe and remove much of the guess work from your project. Below is a rough outline of the steps needed to install a countertop. Always be sure to consult with a professional at any point if you’re unsure of what to do.
- Measure the area first to ensure your countertop fits correctly.
- Test fit and position the countertop.
- If there is a gap between the wall and countertop, scribe the countertop by using a carpenter’s pencil to draw a line along the countertop that matches the contour of your wall.
- Cut the countertop along the pencil line with a jigsaw.
- Position the cut countertop on top of your cabinetry and fasten it in place, making sure that the screws don’t come through the countertop surface.
- Apply caulking along the joint between the wall and the countertop to finish.
The right countertop can enhance your space and improve the functionality of your room. From bathroom vanity tops to white quartz countertops, there are a wide variety of different types of countertops available. Whether you hire a professional or do it yourself, having a working knowledge of the process makes the entire project go much more smoothly since you know what to expect. Ready to start shopping? Visit your local Home store for in-stock and special order countertop options.