​Countertops: Going Beneath the Surface for Quality Upgrades at Better Costs

If there’s one thing in the kitchen that takes a beating—it’s the countertops. They must survive countless meal preparations, messy kids, food and drink spills, and heat from hot pots and pan. It’s amazing they last as long as they do!

If it’s time to upgrade your countertops, it pays to do your homework.  Make sure you get the best bang for your buck and choose the right countertop for your lifestyle. In the end it comes down to two main things when choosing new countertops: how much money you’re willing to spend and how much maintenance you willing to do to keep them up. Take a look at these countertop materials to decide which one’s right for your kitchen:
Granite vs. Quartz – $$$
These two materials both land on the expensive end when it comes to kitchen countertops. However, their extreme durability, scratch resistance, and high-end appearance make them popular choices for kitchens despite higher costs. Plus they’re great for bustling family kitchens. But that’s where their similarities end.
When deciding between quartz and granite it comes down to maintenance. Quartz is factory engineered whereas granite is not. Home improvement experts explain that during the manufacturing process, resin binders are added to quartz to create a non-porous surface that doesn’t need to be sealed again. Granite may need a new protective coating each year to seal it.

Concrete vs. Stainless Steel- $$
If you’re going for a more modern or industrial vibe in your kitchen, then concrete or stainless steel is for you. Both cost less than natural stone and are extremely eco-friendly options. So where do these two modern materials differ? Again, it comes down to maintenance.
Stainless steel doesn’t need to be sealed and just needs a good wipe down to clean. On the other hand, concrete countertops need to be sealed properly to resist heat and stains and may need maintenance every so often. But stainless steel isn’t perfect. This shiny surface is prone to fingerprints, scratches and dents.

Most cost-effective choices – $
Butcher block
This budget-friendly material will bring warmth and function to your kitchen. You can cut directly on butcher block, so it’s like having a giant cutting board to cut fruits and vegetables. Also, it’s highly heat resistant as long as it’s sealed correctly. Butcher block can sometimes be scratched or stained, but according to home experts it’s relatively easy to repair and maintain.
Solid Surfacing
This man-made material is less well-known than the others, but it can be a good option for you if you like the look of natural stone, but don’t want to fork over the big bucks. It’s stain resistant, easy to maintain, and pretty easy to repair if nicked or scratched.

Probably the least expensive of the bunch, laminate will get you the most countertop for your money. There are many styles of laminate to choose that mimic its more expensive competitors. Consumer experts love that it is stain and heat resistant, but warn that once it’s scratched, it’s nearly impossible to repair.