Kitchen renovations are expensive. The kitchen countertop is an important feature in the kitchen and takes up a chunk of the investment. Don’t you wish there were a guide to buying a kitchen countertop before renovating your kitchen?
We understand the frustration of having to compile bits and pieces of information all over. Here we have done it for you, and also shared some insider’s tips on buying the right kitchen countertop.
Popular Kitchen Countertops in Singapore
Let us introduce 5 popular kitchen countertops that Singaporeans love.
Quartz is a premium engineered stone, made from 85-95% crushed quartz and a resin binder. The colour of a quartz countertop comes from the resin used to bind it together. Some designs are created by adding small amounts of recycled glass or even metallic flecks.
It is with these components; quartz can be created to look like natural stone. Popular brands of quartz include Silestone, Caesarstone and Aurastone.
Solid Surface Countertop
A solid surface countertop is either moulded acrylic, polyester-based, or a combination of the two. It has a stable base compared to laminated countertops, but still, it lacks the depth of real stone.
However, there is more flexibility for design as it can be moulded and curved to create an integrated structure.
Terrazzo was first created 500 years ago in Italy. This vintage material is generally composed of marble chips, glass, cement and resin.
Today, this charming material is back by popular demand as consumers are keen to bring back nostalgia with a contemporary twist.
Through high-tech and unique manufacturing processes, the modern-day terrazzo is an enhanced version of yesteryear, with higher resistance, lower maintenance, and wider design versatility.
Marble is a non-foliated metamorphic rock, which is generally composed of calcium carbonate. Once the stone is mined, it is cut, processed and polished. A sealant is used to fill the gaps of the porous cavities and to coat the surface.
Prized for its beauty and the grandeur it exudes, the usage of marble has been the centrepiece for artistic sculptures since the Renaissance. Its classic appeal has certainly stood the test of time where even today, people still revel in its splendour.
Granite is mined and cut into slabs. Due to its porous nature, a sealant is applied to the surface. Thereafter it is cured and polished.
If you are a fan of natural stone countertops, granite is a popular choice because it is less expensive and easier to maintain compared to marble.
Guide to Buying a Kitchen Countertop
Family Lifestyle Determines the Kitchen Countertop Function
The first guide to buying a kitchen countertop is to determine your needs.
When buying a kitchen countertop, the priority isn’t aesthetics. A kitchen countertop is a place where all the action takes place. Hence, the countertop’s function takes precedence.
How do you know what type of functional qualities to look for?
Industry experts have advised homeowners to reflect on the lifestyle first. Start by asking yourself these questions:
- Are you into light or heavy cooking?
- How often do you cook?
- Besides preparing food, what do you intend to use our kitchen countertop for?
- Is your countertop for the wet kitchen or dry kitchen?
- Any domestic help at home?
- Do you have young children at home?
- Will you host dinners frequently at home?
These questions will provide clues to what you need in a countertop. Next, study the pros and cons of each countertop material to see where your need fits.
Also, if you are a strong advocate of the environment, you might want to consider eco-friendly kitchen countertops such as quartz and terrazzo.
Style Integration in the Kitchen
Once you are certain about your needs, you can narrow them down to the style you want. Most countertops are available in a variety of hues, design and texture. Hence, mixing and matching your countertop to your kitchen theme is possible with just about any countertop material.
Kitchen Countertop Cleaning, Care and Maintenance
Buying a kitchen countertop is easy, but do you have the patience and time to maintain it?
Before you select the material based on looks, ask the supplier regarding the cleaning, care and maintenance needed to preserve your countertop surface.
Cleaning your countertops after every usage goes without saying. Most countertops can be cleaned with water and mild soap. Wipe up spills immediately to safe the hassle of scraping them up later.
Do you know what type of cleaning agent can or cannot be used on your countertop?
Take note that marble countertops, though premium, have an aversion to acidic cleaners. Acidic items such as lemon and vinegar will etch the surface of the marble because of the chemical reaction between the acid and calcium carbonate in marble.
Countertop Surface Care
Besides cleaning, there are additional steps to care for your surface.
For countertops that are prone to scratches, make sure to use a cutting board to slice your ingredients. However, there is another reason why you need a chopping board for your granite countertop. It is to prevent your knives from getting blunt.
Also, use heat pads to protect your countertops from direct heat from sizzling hot pots and pans. Your solid surface countertop may crack, warp or discolour when in contact with more than 160 degree Celsius.
Countertop Scheduled Maintenance
Do not confuse routine cleaning and caring with scheduled maintenance.
Porous countertops such as marble and granite require sealing over time. Depending on usage, sealing is an added measure to prevent particles and moisture from damaging and staining the surface.
Stone professionals recommend sealing your natural stone countertop every 1-5 years. Consult your supplier before you purchase your countertop.
Kitchen Countertop Cost and Budget Computation
The cost of your kitchen countertop material is the most obvious, of course. But that is not all.
When you are computing your total renovation budget, you need to factor in the following:
- Delivery cost
- Installation cost
- Additional integrated items such as kitchen sink and backsplash
- Customisation cost
There are countertop materials that are relatively affordable but have high installation costs due to workmanship complexity. While these are one-off costs, you will also need to consider recurring maintenance costs over the lifetime of your countertop.
Bonus Tip: NSF-Certified Countertops
Are you aware of hygienic countertops?
There is such a thing as an NSF-certified countertop, and Aurastone’s quartz countertop is one of them. The non-porosity of the countertop deters germs from hiding within the surface of our countertop. This means that the countertop is safe for food preparation.
During the pandemic, the medical professionals and press have repetitively highlighted the importance of hygiene. Hence, you may want to put this as a consideration when you are buying a kitchen countertop.