Since the beginning of recorded history, home life has revolved around the daily conventions that bring family members together: mealtimes. Thus, at least from an architectural standpoint, the kitchen is the pivotal part that makes a house into a home — which also explains the trend toward open-layout floor plans.
Taking it just one step further, today, the hallowed ground of any kitchen is the modern countertop. That’s where ingredients become meals, stories are exchanged and the daily news is exchanged.
For all these reasons and more, the investment in a quality kitchen countertop is as well-place an investment as anyone can make. Perhaps nothing feathers the nest like a beautiful and functional kitchen countertop.
From the earliest of times, there have always been a variety of countertop options. Those options include ceramic tile, butcher-block, enamel-coated steel, stainless steel, plastic laminates, natural stone, engineered stone, solid surface, cultured marble and concrete.
Of all choices, none have the substance — or you might say, the timeless connection with mother earth — that comes with natural stone.
Installing most kitchen countertops is not really a DIY level project unless your budget is very restricted, and your skill level is pretty high. The reason is that kitchen countertops experience heavy, daily usage. Installing a kitchen backsplash, for example, is an example of a project that is more DIY friendly, since the backsplash does not experience the uneven weights and pressures plus cyclic wetting and drying common to a countertop surface.
Natural stone countertops are easily and quickly installed with professional help provided by Jubilee. Day in and day out, that’s all they do. So they are good at what they do.
Their work begins with the construction of a template to exactly match the existing wall layout. As all construction professionals know, the walls are never straight. They bow, curve and hook. Some are convex. Some are concave. Never, are they really positioned at exactly 90 degrees. Thus a template is the only way to go. And that’s not done by taping scraps of flimsy poster board together. It has to be done with stiff, corrugated laminate bonded using hot glue to create a solid, immovable bond.
A professionally-installed natural stone countertop is virtually guaranteed to increase the perceived value of your home.
Granite is the strongest of all natural stone countertops. It is beautiful and hard, scratch and stain resistant, and every slab is unique in some way.
Geologically, granite is a coarse-grained rock comprised of lighter-colored minerals including quartz, feldspars and mica, mixed with darker minerals such as hornblende. It is formed from magma slowly cooling underground.
Due to it’s porosity, granite should be sealed every year to prevent it from absorbing water, oils or stains. Granite can be finished in several ways including high gloss and now brushed finish. It’s really the gold standard for kitchen countertops.
Marble is much softer than granite, but amazingly beautiful. It is most appropriate for interior applications not in high traffic areas. Marble is exceptionally beautiful, but requires maintenance to keep it that way — glossy, stain and scratch free.
If you’ve ever sat in a high-school science lab, you’ve rested your elbows on soapstone. This stone is very soft, yet highly resistant to heat, microbes and virtually all liquids and stains. It ranges in color from gray to pale green. The gray-green versions are softer.
Limestone is made of fossils, so a countertop made of this stone is endlessly magnificent as a countertop. Special sealers can prevent stains however stains can also be removed using an oxygen bleach.
Travertine is a type of limestone (calcium carbonate) which has been dissolved by underground water flowing through limestone and then deposited by hot springs, waterfalls or the like. Colors range from white, to tan, cream-colored, and rust-colored varieties.
Sandstone is made of… you guessed it: sand. After it has accumulated due to sedimentation in a body of water or by the action of air as in sand dunes, Then it is compacted by overlying deposits of stone, etc. Eventually, the grains of sand are bonded together by silica and calcium carbonate and tinted by other minerals in the soil. Sandstone is uniquely beautiful, but it requires higher maintenance since it can be more easily stained, chipped or dissolved by the action of acidic liquids like orange juice or vinegar.
As a kitchen countertop, slate has a many amazing features. It is impervious to liquids and heat, will not stain, or scratch easily. Slate’s non-porous matrix is virtually maintenance free and costs about the same as stock granite. You can even write on it with chalk — fun at party time!
Within the last 15 years, a new countertop material has been invented called engineered stone. It’s a popular combination of quartz (one of world’s hardest minerals) bonded with a small amount of polymer resin. It offers all the benefits of scratch, stain and impact resistance with extraordinary durability.
Solid surface can be a bit more expensive than natural stone. This material is made from acrylic polymer that is not only durable and nonporous, but scratches and stains can be easily fixed — a great advantage particularly in commercial applications that see heavy use.