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When Selecting A Counter Top Material
On several occasions my Seller Clients have asked me how important is it to have solid surface counters in the home, if preparing to sell the property? This is an important question as most property owners, and those seeking to buy property, consider the beauty of counters to be at the top of their ‘want list’.
While it is certainly possible to sell a home that does not have up-graded counters throughout, the final decision can often be reached based upon the Sellers desired selling price, or need to compete with other homes listed for sale. When considering this up-grade it might serve you well to consult a local Realtor who can supply you with comparable sales in your neighborhood. This information should include details about counter tops, flooring and lighting up-dates and up-grades.
If you are considering counter top up-grades do shop around, ask the retailer about the many different selections they have and what the main differences are in the material selections. A good to great retailer will spend time with you in order to assist you in making the right decision for whatever your goals are. As for the many materials available, following is a brief overview of the main selections often found in your local market.
Granite is a natural stone and each slab has a one of a kind unique beauty and individual pattern. While creating an elegant, beautiful presence and visual focus, granite can be one of the most expensive selections to make. This material is extremely strong and durable, highly resistant to heat and scratches. However, granite must be sealed as it is a porous stone and absorbs fluids which can cause stains and bacteria. When shopping for this stone ask your supplier if the stone is pre-treated before they install, and how long the seal last before needing additional sealing. This stone is often recommended for kitchens, but less likely recommended for the bath area.
Another natural stone, marble offers spectacular beauty. While often used around a fireplace, in office areas and bathrooms, due to being very heat resistant, suppliers rarely recommend for the kitchen. Kitchen use is not recommended due to the very porous nature of marble and the likelihood of staining. Also, it is not sturdy enough to prevent sharp knives from scratching or heavy pots from chipping the surface or corners. If you love the beautiful look of marble consider installing it in locations other than your kitchen. When treated with proper care, this natural stone can offer longevity.
Although a newer material selection to granite and marble, quartz has found a loyal following. Both attractive and durable there is a much wider range of colors then found in granite and marble. This material is as durable as granite and concrete and is more forgiving. It is also less likely to chip or crack and since it is non-porous it resists staining better than granite, marble and concrete. The look is considered to be more contemporary than traditional granite, marble or slate and it is available in many more styles and colors. However, unlike granite which is cut to size, quartz is often installed in pieces which can leave noticeable seams. It is not as heat resistant as natural stone so caution should be used before placing hot pans directly on the bare surface. Lastly, this product is often priced near, the same, or higher than natural stone.
Concrete counter tops feature striking good looks, along with some other benefits. This material stands up to the heat of your cooktop, as well as hot pots and pans. It is extremely hard and resists chipping and scratching. With proper sealing the product will not stain or harbor bacteria and often looks like natural stone. When using acid staining which produces a mottled look of granite or slate, concrete offers a variety of colors to match flooring or cabinets. Ceramic, glass or stone tiles can be embedded to create an attractive border or edge. Also, the surface can be etched to form a pattern. With so many possibilities, this material gives way to a new countertop selection not often thought of.
Ceramic tile is made from natural clay and is baked to remove excess moisture. It is available in a wide range of colors and designs that can be mixed and matched to any kitchen. Ceramic tile is a very affordable, easy to install and very low maintenance selection. It is water proof and able to withstand high temperatures. Be aware that ceramic tile can crack or chip if heavy objects are dropped on it. Although it does not stain, the grout does stain so using a darker grout color and sealing the grout helps to deter problems over the long haul. Often selected by a DIY homeowner, this material continues to be an accepted alternative to expensive natural stone or engineered quartz products.
Written by Linda Stewart, Broker-Owner