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A Closer Look at Kitchen Counter Tops (Part 3: Natural Materials from Wood, Metals, Concrete)

Closing out the breakdown of the endless possibilities for kitchen counter materials, we take a closer look at some interesting alternatives that may have some drooling for that unique and custom look.  Having seen some of these options like stainless steel and concrete myself, I know my wish list is growing!

Butcher’s block
A chef’s dream, a butcher block looks and acts like a wood cutting board.

Upside:  Easy to cut on but leaves scratches

Downside:  water and heat damage is an issue so a smaller area for butcher block may be considered; scratches and cuts will be noticeable but can be reduced by treating with mineral or linseed oil periodically and can possibly be sanded out depending on thickness.

Cost:  Expect $40-150 psf

Stainless steel
Ideal for a clean, industrial look and blends well with most any color given its neutrality.  This surface is alloy steel that contains a dash of chromium to make it rust-resistant. Stainless steel is typically attached to plywood decking to provide strength and deaden its sound.

Upside:  heat and water resistant; easy to maintain.

Downside: Scratches and cuts are not repairable so you shouldn’t cut on them. Plus, they can be noisy and dent if banged with a pot if they are not supported properly.

Copper
Like stainless steel, copper can give a polished look to your kitchen. Copper is much softer than stainless steel and can warp or dent.  Scratches are considered part of the patina, so you don’t need to worry about them. Over time, copper will change color so you’ll need to polish it or embrace the new shade.

Cost: $85-200 psf

New Trends to watch:

Glass
Tempered glass counter tops mix function and fashion and give kitchens a modern look. Consider a bar top or as a back-splash to minimize maintenance but retain the fashionable look.

Upside:  Available textured, sandblasted, etched or grooved, glass is sanitary since it’s non-porous

Downside:  Though it’s easy to clean it may be hard to keep it looking spotless and free of scratches. Glass is heat resistant and water resistant but can crack if something is dropped.

Cost: $60-300 psf

Concrete

It may sound like something out of Bedrock, but concrete is practical and versatile.  It is easy to shape to any custom layout since it is cast on site. Made entirely of natural materials, this hardened mixture of water, cement, sand, stone and pigment and gaining popularity.

Upside: Heat, scratch and crack-proof;  can be finished in any color, texture or style.

Downside:  Some types may be expensive and requires regular sealing to resist water and staining.  Newly poured counters are more sensitive to heat damage so curing time is important.

Cost: $80-150 psf

If you missed the first parts:

http://agirlcandoit.com/2010/06/15/a-closer-look-at-kitchen-counter-tops-part-1-natural-stone/

http://agirlcandoit.com/2010/06/17/a-closer-look-at-kitchen-counter-tops-part-2-solid-surface-tile-and-laminate/