PaperStone is made of post-consumer recycled paper, phenolic resins and natural pigments. (PaperStone Products)
Whether you are updating your current home or building a new one, picking the right countertop can really make a difference in the look and functionality of your kitchen or bathroom. However, today’s countertop options have greatly expanded, so it is important to do your homework and pick a product that fits more than just your decor.
“We always ask people how they use their kitchen, because that should be a factor in which type of countertop they choose,” said Mark Renn, marketing manager for H.J. Oldenkamp, (586) 756-0600, www.oldenkamp.com.
Renn said homeowners who either cook often or have younger children at home should consider getting a countertop that is both durable and can be cleaned up easily. If you use your kitchen more for entertaining than meal preparation, you can focus more on the look of the countertop and how it matches your style.
“Formica now has colors that imitate granite, but you get a countertop that is very low maintenance,” said Alda Opfer, a showroom manager and certified kitchen designer at the Brighton location of KSI Kitchen and Bath, (810) 229-9554, www.ksikitchens.com.
Price points range from the more affordable laminates from Formica (www.formica.com) or Wilsonart (www.wilsonart.com), to solid surface products such as Dupont’s Corian (www.dupont.com), to higher price points for quartz.
Opfer said granite countertops are still the most desired by customers, but quartz is also becoming popular. She said the big advantage of quartz is that it looks like granite, but isn’t as porous, so it is much easier to maintain. Two popular brands of quartz countertops are Cambria (www.cambriausa.com) and Dupont’s Zodiac.
She also said that there is a misperception about granite countertops being tough to keep clean.
“If you use a clean cloth to wipe up a granite counter, it will look fine, but many people use a dirty dish cloth, and that isn’t the proper way to clean it,” she said.
H.J. Oldenkamp’s Renn said the prices for some granite have come down, so it will continue to be a popular choice. He said in addition to the more common countertop choices, there are also a variety of specialty products that can be a good fit for certain applications, such as architectural bamboo, maple chop block and even concrete. There is even a “green” product, PaperStone, www.paperstoneproducts.com, that is manufactured from a sustainable composite material made from 100 percent post-consumer recycled paper, phenolic resins and natural pigments.
“A lot of people think because a product like PaperStone is made from recycled material that it would be cheaper, but it takes a lot of work to manufacture a recycled product, so that is reflected in the price.”
Along with the kitchen, many products can do double duty in the bathroom. While Corian is a popular choice for bathrooms, Opfer said several new products are being introduced by Michigan-based manufacturer Marbelite, (248) 348-1900. One is a simulated marble product that is only available for bathrooms and is about one-third the cost of Corian, while their latest offering is an engineered concrete composite material made with stone, resin and color pigments.
A great way to give a fresh new look to a kitchen or bath begins with a visit to a showroom and taking in the variety of countertop options available to choose from. But remember, the best option for you is based on three things: your lifestyle, decor and budget.
If you would like to suggest a question for this column, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. If you want to talk to Glenn Haege, call his “Handyman Show” on WJR-AM (760) at (866) ASK GLENN, (866) 275-4536, between noon and 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. The “Handyman Show” can be heard on more than 130 radio stations.