We have covered a wide territory talking about historical products used for counter tops in the past couple of posts. One solution I have not mentioned is laminate, commonly referred to as Formica. It continues to be an option for applications that require keeping costs down. Wilson Art and Formica are the big names competing in the world of laminates. The good news is the upgrades in the past decade or two have launched durable counter tops that mimic popular granite colors and designs.
Laminates are perfect for laundry rooms, bath counter tops, kitchens as well, if the budget is tight. Landlord's and contractors who flip houses select durable laminates often. Perhaps you are planning on adding a new kitchen or just a new counter top to a property you rent to tenants. If so, you want it to be as beautiful and indestructible as possible. Laminate is perfect for this application.
Before we jump off into unknown worlds of surfaces for the work space of your kitchen, let's cover another big market share. Man made quartz products are as beautiful as granite. They are taking over more of the market share now. People love the carefree attributes of quartz products. The positive features of the natural stone, granite, soap stone , and marble are many. Yet their are a few negative features to be considered. Granite and marble can stain or scorch because they are porous. They require sealing at least once a year. Sealing is a simple process yet we often forget how many months have passed by. If you are too busy, a year can roll around pretty quickly.
Quartz to the rescue! It is perfect. Being a combination of quartz, sand, and other elements forged together creates a strong non porous surface. Whichever brand you select: CaesarStone, Cambria, or Viatera, it is available in patterns that look like granite or completely different finishes. However, it will not stain.
Some of the best features for these man made counter surfaces include finishes that are perfect in a sleek contemporary kitchen, to simple mat or "honed" finishes, or flowing granite swirls of color. Being made by man allows another feature that is very well received. In larger applications such as a truly expansive home planning to budget a large amount of square feet for the kitchen, over sized islands are valued highly. Islands become the gathering place in most homes. Family meals and projects gravitate to this beautiful feature. A huge island is the best location for refreshments at a party. Granite, a natural stone, limits the size of slabs. To select granite for a large counter top surface on an over sized island requires two or more slabs to be seamed together. Quartz product manufacturers have solved that dilemma by having larger molds made to create one slab of bigger proportions that do not need seams in an over sized island. Many clients will combine granite on the perimeter cabinets, against the walls, with a complimentary Quartz counter top used for the island, especially if it is featured as a large focal point in the space.
One of the most adventurous kitchens I designed used a contemporary Quartz counter top. It was a city industrial loft converted into a home. All the cabinets were Stainless Steel and thus, very dramatic! The huge windows looked out over Boston's lights at night. The Caesar Stone countertop was a stunning cobalt blue with diamond like flecks of reflective glass. They added a beautiful shimmering quality in the day light. At night that gorgeous finish sparkled like diamonds and was quite the conversation piece for the homeowner. He loved to entertain and his guests felt as if some of Boston's lights cast reflections into his kitchen. That was a fun project!
Green building is common these days as we become more mindful and responsible caring for our environment. Curava recycled glass counter tops are a beautiful new product showing up recently. It is stain resistant like quartz. The non porous surface make Curava very sanitary and easy to clean. Recycled glass combined with resins result in a user and environmentally friendly hard surface that remains beautiful for many years. Glass mixed with resins creates a strong and impervious surface to utilize in kitchens and baths.
Speaking of glass applications. Floating counter tops above the main work surface in island applications made of one inch glass mounted on clear or chrome supports add sophistication to an island. The natural glow of turquoise edge of the glass is stunning. In a natural setting where the home is built around the ocean or a lake, this touch of color and special details repeats the beauty of the water the home's view embraces. Another new application in glass counters has been developed for a true speciality market. Actual jewel colored stones added to a more transparent product have been designed to allow lighting below the counter top to illuminate the slab, adding dimensions and depth unheard of previously in the industry. Very clever and exciting!
That idea opens up new possibilities for true artists that want something extraordinary . Unusual applications of recycled glass or mosaics in a section add the one of a kind look some creative types want. These counter tops can be installed with adhesive, a flat end trowel, and broken pieces of glass, pottery, and tile.Using your imagination and creativity sets your space apart as you create designs and patterns that add a focal point complimentary to your kitchen or bath design and color scheme.
Other truly unusual products that make conversation pieces of your counters are copper, zinc, and stainless steel. Zinc and copper are especially interesting. They stain, they discolor and a unique patina is the result. In fact the more liquid and solid items spilled on them cause a chemical reaction.
The results can be absolutely gorgeous and artistic. Zinc especially starts out dull and very definitely metallic. As time passes, the spills and wear result in a beautiful shimmer , even some iridescence reminding one of a soft pale " abalone shell" swirl of colors. This patina deepens the older the zinc is.
Stainless steel is just that, stainless. It has been used for decades in commercial setting such as restaurants due to its practicality. This sleek sanitary product has enjoyed a spurt of popularity recently. The application of stainless has taken two roads. High rise condominiums in major cities tend to prefer contemporary design, which this product is perfect for. Another application utilized occasionally is as an island. In fact sometimes the Stainless Tables with a lower shelf found in restaurants are sometimes purchased for use in a residence.
Wow, so many choices! It can be overwhelming. Next week we will talk about that!