Tips for Choosing the Right Countertop

There are many more options for countertops than laminate. Here are some tips on how to choose a countertop that's right for you.

stainless steel is good choice for galley kitchen

The reflective qualities of stainless steel make it a good choice for a small galley kitchen. The countertop extends up the wall and around the window.

When choosing material for a kitchen countertop we usually think of laminate -- or stone, if the budget allows. Architects Ernesto Santalla and Andreas Charalambous of Forma Design in Washington, D.C., think a bit outside the box in their quest for countertop materials that are functional and durable but also unusual.

When selecting countertop material, the two men first look at the home's overall decorating scheme. This helps them choose a finish appropriate to the rest of the decor. Many of their clients are willing to consider less common countertop materials such as stainless steel, concrete, zinc and copper.

concrete countertop can have variety of looks

A variety of looks can be attained with a concrete countertop, depending on the color pigment and amount of aggregate added to the mix.

Stainless steel is a hardworking surface that's as easy to maintain as it is beautiful. Its reflective qualities make it an especially good choice for a small kitchen, reflecting both natural and artificial light and making a small space feel larger. A stainless-steel surface reflects the colors of the room as well. It can also extend up the wall and act as a backsplash, and can even be used to cover an entire wall. This functional material gives a space a clean and elegant look.

Concrete is another durable material that can be a great option for a countertop. Many different looks are available, depending on the amount of aggregate and the color pigment added to the mixture. Once sealed, concrete provides a perfect work surface.

synthetic slate creates thick countertops

Synthetic slate is smooth, unlike its natural counterpart, and its light weight makes it suitable for creating thick countertops.

Zinc, another countertop option, looks similar to stainless steel but stains and dents easily, unlike stainless steel. Zinc is favored by those who welcome the look of materials aged by everyday use.

Manmade versions of natural materials are another countertop option, and they often exhibit desirable qualities not found in the original material. Synthetic slate, for example, is perfectly smooth, unlike natural slate, which has ridges. It's also very lightweight.

A copper countertop lends a warm glow to any kitchen. A very pliable material, copper can be bent to create an interesting countertop edge -- for example, a bullnose -- that would be very expensive and time-consuming to make out of stone.

copper makes an unusual countertop choice

Warm, glowing copper makes an unusual countertop choice. Its pliability makes it a good choice for design details that would be very expensive to create in stone.

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