Choosing countertop materials for your new kitchen or bathroom can be a fun, exhilarating, and—at times—overwhelming process. You’re probably thinking there are so many choices, so many decisions, and so many ways you could get it wrong. And you’re right, which is why we want to help.
When it comes to choosing countertop materials, avoid these three BIG mistakes.
1. Choosing your countertop material before you decide on anything else.
It’s easy to think you should start with the countertop since it’s typically the main focal point in the room (especially in kitchens), but the countertop is one of the last big decisions you should make. Here’s the ideal list you should follow when making your selections:
- Cabinets and tiles
- Fixtures and lighting
Why cabinets first? Well, designing a room is all about coordination, style, and balance. Starting the discussion around cabinets and flooring makes sense since these items will cover a large area of the room from top to bottom. You’ll find it easier to choose a countertop once you can envision those other two “big” items in the room.
Here’s another important reason you want to start with cabinets: cabinet orders often take 4-6 weeks to fulfill (and upwards of 8 weeks for custom jobs). Since countertop colors are notorious for being discontinued, pre-selecting your countertop can backfire big time. Imagine choosing a countertop and designing your whole room around it, only to discover several months later (when you’re ready to have the countertop installed) that the color has been discontinued. Yeah, it’s not a good situation to find yourself in.
2. Choosing a material based only on the way it looks and ignoring how it functions.
In essence, you want a countertop with beauty and brains, meaning that it will look gorgeous in your room and it will stand up to whatever your daily life throws at it. Notice we put the word “your” in italics. What works for one person or one family might not work for another.
For example, a high maintenance or exotic material, like marble or bamboo, might not be the best choice for a busy family of six that loves congregating in the kitchen for all meals, marathon cooking events, endless homework sessions, book clubs, school projects, and the occasional Nerf football game (despite what mom says about throwing a ball in the house).
We’re not saying you need to give up the dream of having a beautiful countertop. We’re simply suggesting you do your homework and understand how each material functions. Things to consider:
- Is it scratch resistant?
- Is it heat resistant?
- Is it porous or nonporous (nonporous materials, like quartz and solid surface, are more hygienic and easier to clean)
- How durable is it?
- If it chips or breaks, how easy is it to fix?
- And so forth.
This isn’t an exhaustive list, but you get the idea.
3. Choosing a trendy material just because it’s, well, trendy.
Unless your lifestyle and budget allow for a renovation every few years, choosing a material based on trends alone is never a good strategy. Sure, you might want your room to feel “on point” when it comes to what’s current, but there are other less expensive and permanent ways to accomplish this (think accessories, furniture, color schemes, and other accents).
Opt instead for a countertop material (and color!) that has staying power. Again, we’re not suggesting you should avoid bold, bright colors, avant-garde designs, or popular materials. But you need to understand that 20, 10, and even 5 years from now, the color, design, and/or material might feel dated if you’re choosing it based on what’s trending today.
What do you think? Are there other mistakes that you or someone you know has encountered when selecting a countertop material? Share your thoughts in the comments!