How to Choose a Countertop
This Old House plumbing and heating expert Richard Trethewey helps a homeowner select a new countertop
1. Visit a showroom that has full-scale kitchens on displays. There you’ll see various countertop materials in realistic kitchen settings.
2. Laminate counters are composed of thin sheets of plastic laminate glued to a particleboard substrate.
3. Plastic laminate comes in a wide range of solid colors and patterns, including ones that resemble stone.
4. Wood counters are available in several hardwood species, including teak and maple.
5. Don’t use wood counters near sinks or other wet areas.
6. Natural stone counters are cut from granite, marble, soapstone, limestone, sandstone, and slate, to name a few.
7. Note that natural stone is porous, so it must be sealed regularly to prevent staining.
8. An alternative to natural stone is an engineered product called quartz composite. It’s extremely hard and more stain-resistant that natural stone.
9. If you’re interested in a natural stone counter, visit a stone fabrication yard and view the full-size slabs in person.
10. Marble is a popular countertop material, but because it’s calcium-based, it’s softer and less scratch-resistant than granite. Marble must also be sealed more often.
11. Marble can be factory-sealed prior to fabrication, which dramatically increases its stain resistance.
12. The marble slab is placed in an oven and warmed to open up its pores.
13. Next, liquid penetrating sealer is sprayed onto the warm surface, and then buffing wheels evenly distribute the sealer and force it deep into the surface of the marble.