Over the years we’ve experimented with many different types of countertops covering a range of materials, manufacturers and methods. The countertops that we’re using today are, for the most part, the ones that have proven themselves. We’ve rounded up a bunch of past projects and it’s a good time to share what we know and what we like about countertops. Like anything, take it with a grain of salt – this is just what experience has taught us.
Having a modern philosophy about design and construction filters down the material and method options to a select handful –and this couldn’t be truer as applied to countertops. There are a lot of fashionable, glossy products out there and there’s no lack of the term “green” being thrown around. Our advice is to skip the marketing and focus on a few key characteristics. Here’s our list of attributes for good, modern countertops:
Function: they should work well for decades; the material should have a proven track record of durability. You can always take a sample home from the showroom and spill some wine/ coffee/ baby food on it and see if it stains and how well it cleans (or doesn’t). The proof is in the pudding.
Timelessness: they should look good for decades; they shouldn’t go out of “style”. If racy phrases are used to describe the material’s abundant personality, it’s probably going to look dated in 5 to 10 years. There’s a term for this; perceived obsolescence.
Sustainability: It doesn’t matter how “green” or recycled something claims to be, if it needs to be replaced 5 years after it was installed then there’s nothing sustainable about it.
Weathering: there’s nothing wrong with materials that weather, so long as they weather in such a way that it makes them better/ more interesting/ more valuable over time. We like weathering that tells a story and provides a history and fond memories, not weathering where you are constantly fretting over spills and if your guest is going to leave a red wine ring.
Cost effectiveness: the use and look of the countertop should be proportional to the cost. A countertop that costs $750 and is replaced in 5 years is not as cost effective as a countertop that costs $3,000 and lasts for 30 years
Straight forward installation: since labor costs can often exceed the material costs, the ease of installation is a major contributor to the cost effectiveness.
With that said, here are the products that most consistently achieve these qualities on our projects:
PentalQuartz: Made from 90% crushed natural quartz the product is non porous and impervious to water. While it comes in a ton of colors, our favorites are Oasis, Mesa and Coastal Grey –each with a honed finished for a look and texture similar to poured concrete. For a lighter palette we’re big fans of the Super White and Cascade White.