Last updated on November 4, 2019
New countertops are one of the most common updates in a new home. It is almost guaranteed that the new homeowner will dislike the previous owner’s counters. Maybe they are in poor condition, look outdated, just not your style, or are impractical for your family. You want to get rid of them, but wonder what are the best kitchen countertops for families? If this is the case, then keep reading.
Families and Kitchen Countertops
Let’s be honest. Families are rough on a house. Not intentionally or maliciously. But, boy are they rough. From the I-only-left-him-alone-for-5-minutes toddler, to the gawky tween that seems to break everything they touch, to the door slamming, “You’ve ruined my life” teen, the family home really takes a beating.
The heart of the family home is the kitchen. So, the kitchen counters better be able to stand up to all the use and unintended abuse of the family. This is not the place for the beautiful, yet fragile, statement countertop.
Additionally, families are busy. Often too busy to spend time keeping counters spotless or to do the required maintenance of sealing. The actual sealing of the counters doesn’t take that much time. But, again, let’s be honest. Very few homes look like the perfect images we see of clutter-free and spotless kitchens. By the time the counters are decluttered, and have had a good cleaning, time’s up. You’re ready to relax, are busy putting out some family fire, or realize you’re five minutes late for the next thing.
The Ones We Don’t Recommend
Before I get to the countertop recommendations, there are a few materials that really just are not good choices for the family kitchen. It’s not that you can’t have them, but you should be aware of the drawbacks associated with having them.
Are your Pinterest and Instagram feeds filled with bright, white kitchens that often star a beautiful marble island countertop? Suddenly, you’re tossing around “Calacatta this” and “Calacatta that”, and are positive that your next countertops will be marble. Before you finalize that choice, make sure you know what you’re getting into.
Marble is a soft stone that is susceptible to staining, etching, and scratches. Daily life creates a patina of use on the marble. If you’re a person that wants your countertops to look just like the day they were installed, then marble isn’t a good choice for you. On the other hand, if you can accept and embrace the patina, then marble countertops are a beautiful option. While marble can be sealed to reduce, or even eliminate some of the damage, it’s still a high maintenance counter and not a good choice for busy families.
The second type of countertop that families might want to avoid are the countertops labeled “soft quartzite”. These counters are mostly dolomite, and have properties that are really closer to a marble than a quartzite, so they have the same drawbacks. Many consider the popular Fantasy Brown to be a soft quartzite. However, many quartzite countertops are harder than granite, yet have the beauty of marble. It all depends on the type of stone and the individual slab’s characteristics.
The Best Kitchen Countertops for Families
Families need countertops that are practical, durable, and low maintenance. These three countertop materials are a great choice for the family kitchen.
Quartz, also called engineered stone, is perfect for families. It is heat, scratch, and stain resistant, and does not etch. (Some of the lighter colored quartz countertops may stain, so be sure to research your choices.) It’s easy to maintain and does not require sealing. With care, such as using trivets and cutting boards, it is practically indestructible. Finally, it does not require any special cleaners, just warm soapy water.
Quartz comes in a wide range of costs, and usually falls on the higher end of the countertop price spectrum. For many, the combination of low maintenance and durability justify the price.
For those looking for something more natural, a granite kitchen countertop is the answer. Like quartz, granite is very durable and resistant to heat and scratches. For the most part, it is also stain resistant. However, granite does need to be periodically sealed.
Because granite usually has a speckled appearance, it can be a great choice for families. Sometimes, living with children can feel like living with Charlie Brown’s friend Pigpen. They just seem to generate dirt and crumbs without doing anything. Those speckles in the granite do a great job of hiding all the little crumbs that seem to always be on a counter.
Granite also comes in a pretty wide range of prices. Depending on the grade, granite can be a great economical countertop choice for the kitchen.
Solid Surface Countertops
Solid surface countertops, often called by the brand name Corian, is another engineered surface that is great for families. Like quartz, it is low maintenance and extremely durable. However, solid surface countertops differ in that they can be scratched. Luckily, they can be repaired. Scratches can be sanded out, and cracks can be mended so that the fix is practically invisible.
Solid surface counters are typically more expensive than the other types listed here. But, because it can be refinished and repaired, it can be cheaper in the long run.
Kitchen Countertop Design Advice
At first, getting new countertops can be overwhelming. It seems like there are a million choices, colors, and styles.The first step in replacing those old countertops is to decide on a material that works with your family’s lifestyle and budget. Hopefully this post has helped you to narrow down your choices.
Next, decide on a look. If you’re just replacing the counters, it can be tricky to pick a top that coordinates with the cabinets, the flooring, and your vision. Choose a countertop that complements the flooring and cabinets, since those will be the three biggest surfaces in the kitchen.
A full gut job is actually a bit easier – you get to pick and coordinate everything from the beginning. Get adventurous and try blue kitchen cabinets, add a kitchen island, or even an island with display shelves.
So, what do you think? Which countertop material do you prefer? Which could your family live with and not destroy?
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