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Kitchen Design and Countertops

Kitchen and bathroom renovations are usually a good percentage of anyone’s renovation budget. Bringing cabinets and countertops together in an aesthetic that is pleasing and one that also meets the needs of your daily lifestyle can be tricky. Over the years, as we have worked with homebuyers with the selections for their custom kitchens and baths, and buyers often have questions on the pros and cons of certain countertop materials. With the kitchen being the heart of the home, the appearance of the counter surface is usually the first thing to draw attention, but this should not be the sole factor when making a decision to purchase. Consider durability, price, ease of maintenance and availability when making a choice.

Laminates: At the low end of the price range for countertops, this material has been used by many since the 1950’s. It is available in many colors and is easy to install, making it an exceptional choice for a do-it-your-selfer. Laminates are created by layering pieces of plywood with plastic so care must be taken when handling to avoid chipping. Melting or burning is another downside to laminates if too much heat is applied. As so many durable and attractive countertops become available, today’s home buyers are steering more towards more natural surfaces.

Wood: If you’re looking for a warm, organic feel, wood may be the right choice for you. Butcher block counters are readily available but maple is actually the most common type of wood used on counters. Choosing wood can be an easier choice on your budget and can sometimes reduce your costs by ½ . The downfall to wood is the upkeep. Wood nicks and stains much easier than stone and needs to be oiled and sanded to keep it looking fresh.

Concrete: Concrete countertops are really growing in popularity because of the nature of the product. If treated and installed properly, concrete is durable, resistant to heat and scratching, available in many colors, and can be custom installed with texture to integrate with unique interior design features. Concrete is porous, so prior to daily use, it must be sealed, and left to cure for up to 28 days, reducing the risk of stains setting in. This process needs to be repeated every few years.

Stainless Steel: Most often seen in commercial kitchens, stainless steel is extremely durable, scratch and bacteria resistant, and easy to maintain. It does however, dent if items are dropped on the surface and a little bit more noisy when moving dishes around while cooking. If choosing stainless, go with a thicker gauge to avoid a used and battered look.

Engineered Quartz: Quartz has many good qualities which has led to its popularity over the last few years. Available in many colors, it’s easy to incorporate into most interior designs. Quartz is noted to be as durable as most natural stone surfaces but because of its non-porous quality, it’s less susceptible to stains. The one difference that we see as a negative when comparing it to granite is that it does not handle heat and has been known to crack when exposed to extreme temperatures.

Granite: As one of the hardest counter surfaces available, granite’s scratch resistant quality has made it one of the most common countertop choices in today’s home buyer market. It is heat resistant, eliminating the need to worry about scorching the surface with hot pans or curling irons. Granite does stain and if it is not sealed prior to use, this can become a problem. As one of the most expensive choices, it is well worth the time and money it cost to seal this product.

Marble: This is one of the most desirable countertops on the market. It is elegant and timeless and as a natural stone each piece is unique to your project. Heat resistant, it makes a beautiful choice for the kitchen and bath but care must be taken to seal it properly and as often as every 6 months. Marble is highly prone to scratches, soiling, chipping, and etching where acidic juices remove polish and finishes. It would not be a good choice where a lot of cooking is occuring or in homes where spills occur frequently.

Here is an easy to read guide to countertops and the pros and cons for each material.

Paquin Design Build is a custom home builder located in Grasonville, MD. We are building homes from Anne Arundel County and Annapolis, throughout Kent Island and along the Rt. 50 Cooridor to Easton and St. Michaels. Our service also include renovations and remodeling. Visit our website for additional information at

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