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Good-bye, Granite! Hello, Innovation!

Posted by on Friday, May 9th, 2014 at 3:15pm.

If your kitchen or bathroom counter tops are looking a little drab, you may be thinking of updating them to some classic granite or marble counter tops. However, do you want natural stone counter tops because they’re beautiful, or because you don’t know what else is available for you? Here is a list of a few granite-alternatives for your counter surfaces, with gorgeous results that will keep guests talking about your home for years to come.

STAINLESS STEEL

Your kitchen will look like the work space of a professional chef with stainless steel counter tops, which are custom built to fit your kitchen space. Stainless steel adds a sleek, industrial look to a space, which can easily coordinate with other appliances and color schemes within your kitchen. It’s also a reflective material that will help your kitchen or bathroom area lit and bright.

Functionally, as a counter material, stainless steel is one of the most hygienic surfaces available. It can be easily cleaned with the same food-safe cleaning materials you already use on your appliances. It also incredibly durable, able to withstand dents, stains, spills, and high temperatures, which is perfect for a busy kitchen.

However...the cost of installing a custom stainless steel counter top can be expensive, running anywhere from $65 to $130 dollars per square foot. Furthermore, though stainless steel is quite durable, if for some reason the alloy does become damaged, it will be nearly impossible to repair. This damage could also come in the form of chemical spills, which can affect the color of the counter top permanently. This makes investing in stainless steel counter tops a bit risky.

GLASS

Glass counter tops are both dazzling and environmentally friendly surfaces that are customized to your liking. When choosing to have a glass counter top in your home, you can pick between having a custom-made slate of glass, or using recycled crushed glass to form a unique mosaic pattern as the surface. Either choice allows the homeowner complete control over the shape, texture, and color of their counter top.

Glass is a non-porous surface, unlike natural stone, and so does not need to be sealed in order to prevent microbial growth or water damage. Glass counter tops are sleek and clean, requiring very little maintenance to keep them sanitary. They are also made very durably and are able to withstand high temperatures without damage.

However...glass counter tops, like stainless steel, easily show the oil residue left behind by human contact, and homeowners often feel the need to clean them regularly to prevent smudging. Aside from this, glass counter tops cannot be repaired if they are chipped or cracked, and can be expensive to replace - depending on the method of creation, glass counter tops can cost $60 to $300 per square foot.

TRAVERTINE

For all the look of natural stone with less than half the price tag, travertine is a limestone that comes in a myriad of different, earthy colors based on the impurities within the stone. The veining and holes in the stone gives it an appealing aesthetic that homeowners often compare to the rich designs of granite. It reflects light to brighten up spaces and pairs well with wooden materials.

Travertine is also a softer stone, which means that it is far easier to cut than other natural stones. If your counter area’s dimensions make it difficult to cover, travertine can be manipulated for a much cheaper price than other materials, averaging to cost about $5 to $30 per square foot. If you choose to use travertine tiles on your counter, matching colors between old and replacement tiles is a relatively easy endeavor.

However...like marble, travertine is very reactive to acid stains, and care needs to be taken to not etch the material with acid substances like juices, vinegars, and wines. It is also very porous, and even when sealed will need to be disinfected regularly to prevent water damage and permanent stains. Additionally, also like other natural stone surfaces, travertine is difficult to repair if chipped or damaged.

COPPER

Kitchens and bathrooms will shine like pennies when you use copper as your counter top material. Though not a conventional choice, copper is quickly becoming popular amongst homeowners who want a more eclectic sheen to their home. Copper comes in a multitude of different colors and shades due to the oxidation that occurs as it ages. It’s also very versatile design-wise; copper can as easily be applied to warmer, down-to-earth spaces as it can to sleek and efficient industrial areas.

Copper is also unique in that most of its alloys are naturally antimicrobial, and it is easily cleaned with lemon juice or warm water. It’s a highly functional material that can also be environmentally friendly if the copper is salvaged - the tensile strength of copper makes it easily malleable to fit the counter space required or buffed if it gets damaged.

However...copper is often recommended as a material if one wants a ‘lived-in’ look. For homeowners who want their copper counter tops to look the same from day to day, they will have to go through a regular maintenance schedule. The oxidation of copper that creates its shifting hues is impossible to avoid unless homeowners regularly polish the surface. Even then, keeping this counter completely uniform may be impossible, as certain areas will be exposed to inconsistent amounts of water and oil that will determine the patina on the copper.  Furthermore, copper is a very soft metal, and will certainly be nicked and scratched as it is used unless it is consistently sealed. It is also worth mentioning that copper is an expensive material if not salvaged, and costs around $90 to $130 per square foot.

As a homeowner, it is ultimately your choice what designs you choose for your living space. Whether you decide to choose wood, granite, glass, or copper for your countertops will depend on your tastes and budget. But never be afraid to make daring design choices - maybe your choices will inspire a whole new trend in home improvement!

For Further Reading:

http://www.hgtv.com/kitchens/our-10-favorite-kitchen-countertop-materials/pictures/index.html

http://www.bhg.com/kitchen/countertop/top-10-countertop-materials/#page=1

http://www.thekitchn.com/copper-countertops-would-you-do-it-196244

http://phoenix.luxuryhomedecor.net/granite-vs-travertine-countertops/

http://countertopinvestigator.com/stainless-countertops/

http://www.granitetransformations.com/products/recycled-glass-countertops/

http://www.apartmenttherapy.com/chooosing-kitchen-countertops-147495

http://www.houzz.com/ideabooks/1623075/list/Kitchen-Countertops-101--Choosing-a-Surface-Material

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