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One of the most important kitchen design decisions you’ll make is choosing the right countertop material for your lifestyle.

Before setting out on your search, consider the following questions: Are you looking for an easy to maintain countertop? Are beauty and style a priority? Are you concerned about scratches or stains?

Alex Reyes, owner of AC Remodeling, a renovation company in Gaithersburg, MD, says that countertops often play center stage in kitchens. They should reflect beauty and meet performance expectations.

“If you’re a young couple with small kids,” he said, “you should think about selecting a countertop that is durable and can withstand spills, scratches and heat. If you are retired and care about aesthetics, you may consider buying a maintenance-free countertop rich with luxurious colors.”

Some countertop materials accomplish both functionality and decor.

Reyes suggests consumers consider purchasing countertops with one of three surface materials: Quartz, Granite or Quartzite.

What You Should Know About Quartz

Engineered in a factory, quartz is formed by combining ground quartz with resins, polymers and pigments. Quartz is durable: It won’t stain, scratch or retain contaminants and is easily cleaned with Windex or with soap and water.

You can obtain quartz kitchen countertops in a wide range of colors and the consistent pattern of the material creates a uniform look.

Quartz or engineered stone is less porous and more mold- and mildew-resistant. It is also harder than many types of natural stone.

Larger countertop designs will require multiple slabs to ensure seams are not visible, giving the material a smooth finish.

What You Should Know About Granite

Granite is natural stone, quarried from the earth and cut into large slabs, each with a unique pattern and variation.

The material can tolerate heat and is easily cleaned with soap and water. Granite countertops come in colors ranging from earth tones to blue, green and rose—similar to colors produced in nature.

For best protection, the countertop should be sealed annually to avoid stains, prevent scratches and avert bacterial-build up.

What You Should Know About Quartzite

Also a natural stone, quartzite is metamorphic rock formed from sandstone. Quartzite countertops are often found in contemporary-style kitchens.

Quartzite countertops are durable—they are stain-resistant, heat-resistant and hard to crack or break. The material requires little maintenance and wipes clean with a damp cloth.

Countertops come in a variety of colors including white, gray, yellow, light blue and green—depending on the minerals in the stone. Streaking caused by pressure in formation and varied minerals gives the material a rich tone.

By choosing the material that’s best for your lifestyle your countertop will serve the dual purpose of functioning well for many years and being aesthetically pleasing. The materials we described—quartz, granite and Quartzite—are versatile and they produce a classic look that’s enduring.

on January 7, 2016

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