Did you know that one of the pivotal spaces that prospective buyers consider when they tour your home is the kitchen? Since it is one of the spaces where most people spend a good deal of time, it is important that a buyer feels like it is a use able and pleasant space.
There are many materials you can use in your kitchen to improve the counter tops and give it added value. The options range from natural to man-made materials with many types of each in a variety of prices to choose from.
One of the most natural looking materials that you can use for a counter top is wood. Though it can require some care to keep it from getting stained, it is a very practical material for counters particularly in a food prep area. The surface can be sanded and resealed as well though it is recommended to not use it next to a stove or a sink to help keep it from damage from hot pots or water. The only real downfall to a wood or butcher block counter is that it can be expensive.
Stone is another great natural material for counters and there are a variety of types that you can choose from. Marble is a gorgeous, rich material for counters. Because it stays cool to the touch, it can be worth installing a traditional French pastry table in your kitchen, particularly if you do a lot of baking. Marble does need to be treated well; it is rather expensive, can scratch, and can stain easily if left unsealed.
Granite is another stone that is commonly used in counter tops; it is beautiful and comes in many colors. Granite is heat proof and hard but like marble needs sealing to keep it from staining. Granite does need to be carefully installed as it can crack if it's not supported evenly throughout the whole process.
Stainless steel is a good alternative for anyone looking for a very durable counter top material; it is heat resistant and easy to clean. A steel counter top can be fabricated with no seams unlike many other types of materials, making it easy to keep water seepage out of seams. It is a fairly expensive material and has a few downfalls that are negligible; a steel counter top can be dented, but most other types of materials would chip with the force that it'd take to dent a steel counter top. The other draw back to a stainless steel counter is that they will dull your knives, however, you should NEVER cut anything directly on a counter anyways unless it's a wood or butcher block counter.
A much less expensive counter top material is laminate. While laminate doesn't look nearly as rich as most of the other types of counters, it can be an inexpensive replacement for an old outdated counter which is making your kitchen unattractive to prospective buyers. Today's laminates are available in lots of colors and is easy to clean. Laminate can chip or scratch, so take care to never cut directly on the surface. Cheap laminate can be a bit of an eyesore, so make sure you choose a quality product.
Tile is a fairly inexpensive option for a new counter top that generally will give a richer look than laminate. The cost of a tile counter top will vary according to the type of tiles chosen; there are many varieties in color, shape, and tile size to choose from. Tiles are heat resistant and easy to clean but the grout needs to be sealed as it is rather porous and can stain. Tile is also susceptible to cracking and chipping, so treat it gently.
Concrete is another option that homeowners can choose for their kitchen. It's a relatively new addition to the kitchen counter top realm but can be a great option. It can be rather expensive but is heat and scratch resistant and can be cast in any shape that you might require. Concrete has a distinctly industrial feel to it and requires sealing to keep it stain free.
The last option for a man-made counter top material is engineered stone. Engineered stone is made from a resin along with a variety of other materials to give it an authentic stone look. However, engineered stone is available in a much wider range of colors than natural stone is. Engineered stone is stain resistant and easy to clean. The only real downfall for engineered stone is that of cost, but when you consider the lack of upkeep and maintenance required it's less of an issue.
You can mix and match materials for use in different areas of the kitchen to make the most of the advantages of each type. It makes sense to use one material for the main counter top area and then have a slab of marble for a pastry station and a butcher block counter for chopping and prep. Remember, the most important thing to consider when you're replacing counter tops to increase the value of your home is that you make the new space attractive and use able.