Countertop Installation Day is an exciting day for any homeowner. You get to see a large part of your kitchen transform before your eyes! Long before the countertop goes in, we need to decide on what type of material to use for your countertop. We have a number of amazing local vendors who are well educated on this topic and can provide lots of great information on what options we have.
Below are some of our preferred countertop materials, along with pros and cons of each material. Currently, the most popular and durable countertop option is quartz, but we also recognize that this is not a one-material-fits-all world and many of our clients still choose other options.
Butcher-block and solid wood can be used as a cutting board directly, which makes it great for prep work and chopping. It is also softer than most solid surface countertops, which means it is easier on delicate glassware and china.
Butcher-block is not very durable. It can be marred by spills, scratches, burns, and dents over time. It also needs to be sealed regularly, and will become discolored if it is installed near a sink.
QUARTZ (Man Made)
Quartz is a very unique type of countertop. Because of its manufacturing process, it has even more color and pattern options than most solid surface countertops do. It is also more durable. Lastly, it is NSF (National Sanitation Foundation) certified as a non-porous surface, meaning it does not need to be sealed and is stain resistant. Quartz used on countertops is one of the materials moving up in popularity for kitchens.
Not heat resistant
Wide variety of pricing with “you get what you pay for” regarding durability
Marble, like many other types of stone countertops, comes in a variety of colors and patterns. It is a smooth surface, and is also heat resistant. The patina of life lived shows on marble and is one of the inherent qualities you either love or hate.
Marble is very expensive, and more porous than granite or quartz unless you are very careful about sealing it regularly and keeping spills from sitting too long. It can be damaged or stained by acidic spills even if you seal it.
Granite is more durable than some other solid surfaces (like marble), and is also resistant to stains, scratches, heat and water if it is sealed regularly. It is also fairly low maintenance compared to some other solid surface countertops. Also, granite has a great resale value and comes in different colors as well.
Granite has varying price points, and requires sealing treatment once a year (for light colored stones and every couple years for dark colors). It’s also prone to staining if spills are left too long as it is a porous material
Quartzite has many similarities in color with Marble and its actually a better alternative. Although it’s a very hard material, it is still porous and therefore requires sealing coating on top for protection. It is also UV resistant.
It is somewhat porous, expensive and requires periodic sealing.
PREPARATION IS KEY
Preparation is important to having a well-coordinated install day. Prior to the installation, the old countertop will need to be removed by your contractor. This usually happens during demolition. Removal of the old countertop is loud and messy. Installers will do their best to limit the dust and mess, however, expect some dust to remain at the end of the demolition.
Some contractors will get rid of the countertop on your behalf. Make sure you know who will be responsible for getting rid of the countertop as you do not want to be left with the heavy mess of figuring it out yourself! Countertops can sometimes be donated to places like Habitat for Humanity as well, so make sure to ask your contractor if this is something you are interested in.
We can coordinate access to the trades as required. Because it is difficult to estimate the length and circumstances for each job, some installers may not be able to give you an exact time of arrival, however, we will do our best to keep you informed.
WHAT TO EXPECT DURING INSTALLATION
Expect some noise, dust, and limited access to the space where you are getting the countertop installed. Plumbing will need to be disconnected before the time of installation. Pets and children should not have access to the work area during installation. The installers will need to use tools and techniques that can make the work area hazardous, so it is best for clients to not be present during countertop installation. Installers may also need a secondary work location with access to power (a garage often works well).
Depending on the size and configuration of your new counter tops, it is likely the pieces of material will be joined together. Great care is taken to join pieces together as closely as possible. Expect that seams may be visible. Materials with large veining will not hide a seam as well as materials that have a lot of smaller color/movement. Be prepared for seams to be located in the most advantageous areas. If you have specific requests on seam placement please let us know prior to fabrication. The best time to discuss the placement of seams is when your fabricator is on site to measure and “template” your countertops. Otherwise, in an effort to best utilize all of your countertop material, your fabricator will calculate the best places for seams and send to your designer for approval.
Seams are small but visible, and typically filled with a color-coordinated polyester adhesive or epoxy to minimize their appearance. The location and quantity of seams are determined by the fabricator according for slab sizes, sink and cooktop cutouts, project design and job site access. A typical job will have 2-3 seams. They are commonly located in the center of cutouts like sinks and cooktops, at inside corners running the depth of the counter top, and in back splashes at any height or elevation change.
CARE AND MAINTENANCE
There is always a possibility that materials may be defective or damaged in some way. Should this occur, we will consult with you to arrive at a solution.
Be prepared to do some dusting after the installation even though installers will use dust containment equipment and techniques. A plumber will need to reconnect plumbing and appliances after the installation and this may not happen right away. Sometimes it can take up to 24 hours for the fixtures to get reconnected.
Only a manufacturer makes the countertop material. Only an installer can turn it into a completed countertop, and only you can maintain your new counters. You should be familiar with and observe all counter material care and warranty information provided for you by the manufacturer.
Special thanks to the team at Urban Granite for helping us out with this blog post.
Since 2001, Urban Granite has been an Edmonton go-to for stone countertops. They are a family owned business, built on word of mouth referrals. They supply, fabricate and install the following materials: quartz, granite, marble, Dekton, porcelain, onyx, soapstone, limestone, travertine, slate and semi-precious.