Nowadays, kitchens are not only built for food preparation and dining, but also for entertaining. This is especially apparent when you consider how many kitchens have adopted an open concept floor plan, making them easily accessible from other rooms in the home. Why not make your kitchen both functional and beautiful, increasing your enjoyment of it on multiple levels? Start by examining your kitchen countertops, one of the most prominent features of any kitchen. Here are the top three most popular countertop choices amongst homeowners with big and small budgets:

1. Granite/Natural Stone: Granite is, by far, the most popular choice amongst homeowners shopping for countertops. It comes in a wide variety of colours and natural patterns to suit the style of almost any kitchen. Before it makes its way to your home, granite is typically treated with a special stain-resistant sealer that can last up to 15 years. Installed countertops should be cleaned on a regular basis using a stone cleaner to maintain an optimal finish. Granite is a beautiful addition to a home and a great choice when considering resale value, but it comes at a price. Depending on the type of granite you choose, you can expect to pay anywhere between $70 to over $250 per square foot.

2. Plastic Laminate: If you’re looking for something in a lower price bracket, but still want that aesthetic appeal, plastic laminate countertops can be an ideal choice. Laminate is a highly resilient and durable material. Like granite, laminate is available in hundreds of colours, patterns, and textures. Easy to clean and relatively inexpensive, laminate is the material most commonly used by homeowners on a budget. In recent years, laminate has also made vast improvements in scratch-resistance. Depending on pattern and colour, most laminate countertops range in price from $5 to over $20 per square foot.

3. Wood: Wood is a traditional countertop that is both aesthetically pleasing and highly functional. Despite some perceptions, wood is not a breeder of germs and bacteria. In fact, some studies have shown that wood cutting boards can be safer than plastic cutting boards. Wood countertops are produced from dense wood, such as walnut, oak, cherry, or rock maple and are often sought-after for their unique characteristics. They are one of the onlycountertop types recommended for cutting and chopping upon. However, be aware that wood countertops often require high maintenance, as they are prone to warping and cracking without proper care. With proper maintenance though, the risk of this occurring can be mitigated, if not avoided all together. In terms of price, wood countertops vary by type, but are usually on par with high quality granite countertops.

In recent years, there has been a plethora of newer countertop choices ranging from glazed concrete, quartz, and other stone choices. These newer materials are beyond the scope of this article, but would be happy to discuss some of the other options available and the pros/cons of each.

It is important to do your research when shopping for a countertop to ensure your selection is not only fitting with the style of your home, but also fitting with your lifestyle and budget.

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