We’ve talked about the classic materials for counter tops up to this point; now let’s have some fun with it! Granite and laminate tops are very common and practical materials for tops today, but that doesn’t mean your options stop there. In this section we look at some of the different “non standard” materials to create a different and unique feel to your space!
Glass – Glass counter tops are custom molded using safety or heavy duty glass for all counter top surfaces. Glass counter tops are considered a luxury material and are priced accordingly. The tops have unique characteristics and are available in a wide variety of textures and colours. Edges are limited to 3 – polished, brushed and textured. The tops themselves are strong and durable, heat resistant, non porous and scratch resistent – virtually maintance free. When translucent tops are used, finishing the top surface of the cabinetry will need to be addressed. Drawbacks include price point.
Butcher Block – Butcher block countertops are comprised of laminated strips of hardwood. Typically maple or red oak, butcher block is also available in black cherry, black walnut, ash and teak among others. In terms of price point you’re looking at comparable pricing to a mid to high end granite. Butcher block counter tops add beauty and warmth to your kitchen. As wood is porous, the top needs to be sealed for hygenic and moisture purposes. An acrylic sealant can be used which is low maintenance, however it does …give the top a semi-gloss or gloss appearance. My preference for sealing is mineral oil which is rubbed into the wood, thus sealing the pores and blocking moisture penetration – this method maintains the natural beauty of the wood, however will require re-sealing from time to time.
Recycled Glass - Recycled glass counter tops are comprised of 100% recycled glass mixed with cement. Brands include IceStone. The number one benefit to using recycled glass is that its eco-friendly – the high content of recycled glass and the use of VOC free incredients contribute to this. The colours tend to have large particulates of glass fragments which may limit it’s use in terms of styling.
Tile – Various tile types (ie. porcelain or ceramic) are framed in and grouted to create a counter top. Prices start at entry level granite prices and go up from there. While the tiles themselves are durable and non-porous, the grout is porous and will stain. Although not used very often, this can get a nice solution for “country” kitchens.
Paper – Yes, I did write paper. Although relatively new in the marketplace, paper counter tops have become extremely popular. Paper counter tops are a composite using recycled paper and phenlic resins which are then pressed together under a combination of high pressure and heat. Brand names included PaperStone and RichLite. Paper counter tops are considered a luxury material and are priced accordingly. The number one advantage to using paper counter tops is the “greeness” of the material – which include material used and green manufacturing processes. This dense counter top is virtually impervious to water (I know, hard to believe since it is afterall…paper) and is an extremely hard surface making it both heat and scratch resistant. Drawbacks include it’s high price point and striations which appear in the edges upon fabrication. (still looks good to me)
No matter what the project or budget the wide range of options and alternatives from popular materials, to stone, to alternative counter tops; will allow you to pick exactly what you’ve envisioned for your space.