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A guide to kitchen countertops

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A guide to kitchen countertops

Changing your kitchen countertop is a fabulous way to update the look of your kitchen. While tried and true materials such as granite and laminate are still popular choices, designers are thinking outside of the box and using materials for kitchen counters that you may have never heard of or thought could be used in your kitchen.

Paper

Although paper may not intuitively seem like a great option for countertops, when treated with resin and heated, it is a durable and eco-friendly choice. In fact, paper countertops can be made from 100 per cent post-consumer recycled paper, making it one of the greenest options. This type of countertop also tends to perform similarly to solid surface counters, but is more affordable. Before being an option for domestic countertops, this technology was used for skate parks, marine and industrial applications.

Zinc

While your familiarity with zinc may be limited to sunscreen and cold lozenges, it is another great material for countertops. They have a bit of an industrial appearance and also adapt to their surroundings over time. After about a year, all the spills and finger prints merge to form a lovely blue-gray film. The drawbacks to zinc are the fact that it scratches easily and is on the expensive side. However, its unique look, easy to clean surface and antimicrobial properties draw in homeowners looking for an original material. Other interesting metal alternatives are stainless steel, copper and pewter.

Recycled glass

Another eco-friendly and attention-grabbing countertop material is recycled glass. If you are looking to add a splash of colour to your kitchen and have something completely original, this may be a great option, as no two countertops are ever alike. While these types of countertops are quite strong, there is a possibility of them breaking under the pressure of a lot of weight on a corner. These countertops are also practical in the sense that they are easy to clean and don’t highlight every little crumb or finger print.

Concrete

When you think of concrete, your mind probably isn’t automatically thinking of beautiful countertops, yet this versatile construction material can be another great option. If the typically grey colour doesn’t work for you, it is interesting to know that concrete is highly customizable in terms of colour and texture. Concrete is actually a popular DYI option, and if you decide to take on this task you could be saving a lot of money. Otherwise, concrete installed by professionals can end up costing about the same amount as granite, yet with a very different look.

Solid surface

Alison McClure from East Top Counters in Ottawa says Corian or Staron, two brands of solid surface countertops, are what she most recommends to homeowners. Compared with granite these countertops are more hygienic, have no seams and are more difficult to crack. “I think it’s less popular mostly because people aren’t aware of it, when people talk in magazines it’s all about granite,” says Alison. The drawback however, is that this material is easier to scratch than granite.

Wood

Topping of the list of materials you don’t tend to see as countertops is wood. In fact, many different types of wood can be used, ranging from reclaimed woods which are the most environmentally friendly to bamboo, maple and certain types of hardwoods. Woods add a warm, natural look to homes and are very practical in terms of food preparation. On top of that, they don’t cause a banging sound if you drop something on it and can offer natural antimicrobial benefits. One potential concern is that some wood countertops need oiling every few months, so if maintenance isn’t your thing, your options are a bit limited.

By Alyssa McMurtry 

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