lifestyle

Selecting kitchen countertops

The kitchen countertop can easily be one of the most expensive items in the entire kitchen remodelling process. Nevertheless, many of us select a countertop material solely based on the price or the pattern design. In fact, there are more factors to consider when making a selection.

Solid Top Sdn Bhd director Lam Chin Jhoo tells EdgeProp.my that homeowners often neglect the most important part of selecting a kitchen countertop, because the wrong material could harm the health of the family.

“You prepare foods — raw or cooked, for your family on the countertop every day. Therefore, selecting a durable material which is scratch- and chip-resistant is important to avoid bacteria and germs from accumulating in the cracks, and spreading to the foods prepared on the surface, and subsequently, to your family,” says Lam.

The four most common kitchen countertop materials used in Malaysia are granite, marble, quartz and solid surface, according to Lam.

Marble and granite are both natural stone resources, whereby each slab is unique with random and inconsistent patterns. However, marble is generally stronger than granite in terms of scratch resistance.

“Let’s say, if diamond, as the strongest stone in the world, has a scratch-resistance level at 10, the granite will be at around four and marble is at six. Nevertheless, both of them are made from natural stone, so they are fairly scratch- and chip-resistant, which is suitable for everyday use in the wet or dry kitchen,” Lam explains.

Meanwhile, quartz stone is one of the most popular choices for kitchen countertops currently due to its competitive price, various choices of pattern and its similar features to natural stone. 

“Quartz stone was invented to solve the problems that granite and marble stone have — the inflexibility and low supply — while retaining the benefits of natural stone.

“Quartz stone is a manufactured stone made from a mix of approximately 95% ground natural quartz with 5% polymer resin, resulting in the endless variations in patterns, sizes and colours that are suitable for all sizes of kitchens,” he says.

On the other hand, solid surface material is the cheapest of the four as it is made from either acrylic or polyester-based materials. Its scratch-resistance level is low compared with granite, marble and quartz.

“It can be used in the dry kitchen or pantry. However, it is not suitable for wet kitchens as it not only has low scratch-resistance levels, it is also a flammable material,” says Lam.

Marble

Often used in the kitchen and dining areas, Lam notes that marble has timeless appeal especially when it comes to its appearance.

“The use of marble for kitchen countertops never goes out of style. It is still the first choice of many homes, hotels and offices because it never looks old but makes a place look elegant and grand,” he notes.

Pros       Timeless appearance, strong material, minimal care

Cons      Low supply, so more expensive               

Cost       Roughly RM4,000 for a 15-ft kitchen countertop

Maintenance     Apply wax twice a year to keep the surface shiny

Granite

Like marble, granite is a natural stone that has strong scratch-resistance. However, it is easier to quarry, therefore it is more easily available than marble, and is thus slightly cheaper.

Unlike marble, granite typically offers a variety of distinct patterns as well as more choices of colours and patterns.

Pros       Long lasting appearance, strong material, minimal care

Cons      Pattern may fade and lose its shine without waxing

Cost       Roughly RM3,400 for a 15ft kitchen countertop

Maintenance     Apply wax twice a year to keep the surface shiny

Quartz

Quartz has gained traction over the past decade after it was introduced in Malaysia as an alternative to marble, granite and solid surfaces.

Lam says the material is suitable in both wet and dry kitchens as it is highly durable, flexible in colour and shape as well as cheaper in comparison to natural stones.

Lam says that one way to check quartz stone for authenticity is to test its scratch-resistance level with a blade. “There is a cheaper quartz outside which is made from mixed stone. It has a similar appearance and weight but a much lower scratch-resistance level. The best way to check it is to try to cut it with blade to test the scratch-resistance level.”

Pros       Long lasting appearance, strong material, minimal care, highly flexible in colour, shape and pattern

Cons      The pattern may be outdated after some time

Cost       Roughly RM3,000 for a 15ft kitchen countertop

Maintenance     No special maintenance needed 

Solid surface

According to Lam, solid surfaces were created to replace marble and granite for its shape flexibility and choice of patterns. However, it is not as scratch- and chip-resistant as marble and granite.

“It is made from either acrylic or polyester-based materials, therefore it is not really suitable to be used in the wet kitchen although some people still opt for this because it is cheaper. It also has a shorter life span of about three years,” says Lam.

Pros       Highly flexible in colour, shape and pattern; low price

Cons      Short life span and flammable

Cost       Roughly RM2,700 for a 15-ft countertop

Maintenance     Keep the top dry and clean after use 

This story first appeared in the EdgeProp.my pullout on Sept 13, 2019. You can access back issues here.

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