Part 1: Our Guide to Countertops
December 13, 2017 | The MORE Team
Please enjoy Part 1 of the M.O.R.E. Team's Guide to Countertops. Choosing a countertop material can be overwhelming due to the wide array of options available now. In our first post, we provide some pros and cons of granite, butcher blockand  quartz


Granite

Granite is considered by many to be the crème de la crème of the countertop world.
 

  • Granite is a timeless natural stone that is formed out of compressed molten rock, including quartz; it is generally a 7 on the Moh's scale of hardness
  • There are a wide range of colors and each slab is unique (which may make it difficult to match in larger areas and seams may be necessary) 
  • Extremely durable; impervious to stains, heat, water, and scratching when sealed correctly and as needed , since the stone underneath is porous
  • Sealers can last 10 years; granite is considered low maintenance
  • Very expensive, but becoming cheaper as it becomes more popular
  • The multi-colored finish of many slabs hides stains well

Summary
Overall, granite is a very durable and highly sought after countertop material. It is tough enough to dull knives that are used directly on it. Coloring and availability are limited to what nature provides, but there are still many options. It can fit in with a variety of aesthetic styles. It is on the pricey side, but many consider it an investment.



Butcher Block/Wood

What is  butcher block, anyway? Butcher block is made by fusing together pieces of wood. Some people opt for entire kitchens with butcher block countertops, but many choose it for only a specific area, such as the island. There are a few kinds of ways to fuse the wood together.




  • Butcher block countertops can be made from a variety of wood types (maple, oak, walnut, cherry, bamboo, etc.)
  • Naturally antibacterial
  • Depending on the finish, you can cut directly on it and have a large, versatile work surface
  • For a work surface finish, a food-safe mineral oil treatment is needed, as opposed to synthetic
  • Standing water and food items left on the countertops can create stains; using knives can leave marks
  • A little more maintenance than other types; they needed to be cleaned daily with use and re-oiled once a month
  • Stains and blemishes can be scrubbed out with vinegar and other products. In order to get rid of stubborn stains or cuts in the block, the countertops can be sanded and re-treated
  • May change color depending on the treatment used
  • Pretty affordable. Can be more expensive if purchased through certain stores, such as high-end cabinet/countertop stores. However if you're handy, you can make your own. If you have a woodworking acquaintance, you may be able get them to make them for you!

Summary
Butcher block countertops go well with any style of kitchen and add warmth/character to any space. Their main appeal, beyond looks, is that they can be very functional. These make great island countertops, which keeps water away from them and treatment maintenance down. This kind of material would be great for people who like to use their kitchen and would rather lightly maintain a countertop than wash different cutting boards on a regular basis. It would also help a cold or bland space feel more homey. 


Engineered Stone (A.K.A. Quartz)

Engineered stone, known to many as quartz countertops, are generally 90-94% quartz combined with resins, pigments, etc. for both functional and aesthetic purposes.



  • More uniform color than natural stone, but can have a similar look 
  • Easier to match and obtain large slabs
  • Generally harder than granite due to it being engineered; less likely to crack since it's less brittle
  • Does not need to be sealed
  • Quartz is non-porous, meaning less prone to germs, stains, and maintenance
  • Engineered stone offers consistent and clean styles, but it's less unique than granite
  • Quartz is less durable outdoors; it can fade or discolor from long-term sun exposure
  • Expensive. Low-end granite is cheaper per square foot than quartz, but can jump in price more easily. Both are becoming less expensive as popularity grows

Summary
Quartz is the primary competitor of granite and some claim it is much better. The imperfections are engineered out of it, so it is extremely durable. It doesn't need to be resealed like granite does.  Large slabs are easier to obtain and matching is a non-issue. When choosing between the two, it comes down to personal preference. Some prefer granite because it is a more natural stone and each piece is unique. Some prefer the clean, uniform look that quartz offers. However, modern quartz is much better than its predecessors at resembling natural stones such as marble and granite, if that is the look you prefer. 





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