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Kitchens > Counters
The kitchen counter is the ultimate marriage between form and function, providing a beautifully crafted surface on the one hand and a utilitarian worktop on the other. The well selected set of countertops can lend both character and convenience to just about any kitchen, making the overall space conducive to experiencing all the many joys of cooking, serving, and eating.
The counters play a vital function inside of the kitchen. If you think about it, the majority of the actual work in a kitchen takes place on top of the counters. From unloading groceries and setting dishes to chopping and mixing to rolling and kneading to drying and cooling to serving and eating, the kitchen counters is where all the action takes place. Along with all the various steps of food preparation, the counters also support the small kitchen appliances, serve as table spaces, and provide temporary storage areas. Indeed, the counters, also commonly referred to as countertops or worktops, are the most versatile elements in the kitchen.

Given the amount of usage that countertops receive, they invariably take the brunt of the punishment dispensed in the kitchen. The majority of the spills from dropped plates, broken glasses, turned pots, toppled bowls, knocked over pitchers, fallen jars, and other containers of every imaginable size and shape all usually happen on the counter. Everything from hot oil to soy sauce to red wine to fatty grease to tomato sauce to melted chocolate to dark coffee ends up on the counter at one time or another and the surface has to be resilient enough to withstand all of these without staining or discoloring. Then, there is the actual physical beating that the counters have to withstand, from the banging by pots and pans to the knocking by utensils to the scratching by containers to the thumping by small appliance to the nicking by errant knives. The counters have to be durable enough to take getting beat up day in and day out without its work surface warping, chipping, cracking, or otherwise breaking down. Last, but not least, the counters have to be able to not hold on to the many different odors which are generated during the cooking process. Nobody wants to have to cook on a set of smelly counters.

Over the course of years and decades or research and refinement, the home improvement industry has brought forward a number of options for counters which provide the necessary resilience, durability, and strength that is coupled with elegance, texturing, and smoothness. From the oldest materials known to man to the latest innovations in synthetics, there are more countertop possibilities available to the homeowner today than ever before. Each, of course, has its own set of advantages and limitations.

Given the extensive use which counters receive in the process of kitchen usage as well as their importance as visual accents, understanding the available countertop options is an important component of effective kitchen design. A set of counters can cost anywhere from less than a thousand dollars to as high as $20,000, depending on a broad range of factors. To help ensure that your spending on this important kitchen element does not miss the mark, we have put together in this portion of the site a comprehensive guide to kitchen counters. We have subdivided the information into sections dealing with specific issues.

The "Materials" section examines the many different materials which are commonly used for counters. From natural stone to wood to laminates to engineered stone to concrete to solid surface to ceramic tile to metal, there are more possibilities for countertops than just about any other surface in the kitchen. Moreover, many of these material types have further sub-types, such as different kinds of stone, different species of wood, and different sorts of metal. The choice of material will have a major impact on both the initial cost and the subsequent performance of your counters. In addition, certain materials can affect indoor air quality and, by extension, have health implications which are important to understand.

The "Designs" section explores the various ways that a set of counters can be accented visually. This includes the different options as far as surface finishes and edge profiles. In addition, for certain material types, designs can be built into the actual surface of the counters, creating an entirely unique effect. From the natural textures of stone to the embedding properties of concrete to the photographic possibilities of laminates, about the only limitations as far as the appearance of your worktops are your budget and your imagination. Aside from the look and feel of the counters themselves, there is also the issue of how to incorporate the sink into the countertop. We explore the various options available, including overmount, undermount, and seamless sinks.

The "Services" section deals with the different types of professional services that you will need in the process of purchasing and installing, replacing, or refinishing kitchen counters. We address key issues as far as finding and screening potential providers, as well as receiving competitive pricing. Additionally, we identify individual brands and manufacturers which have received uniformly high praise from both experts and consumers according to our research.

The "
Costs" section provides a breakdown of the typical expenses associated with kitchen counters, including the average purchase prices for different materials, the typical installation costs, and the common expenses for refinishing an existing set. While the actual price quotes that you receive will depend in part on your geographical location, your kitchen size, and your design preferences, it still helps to have a general idea of what to expect and to be able to budget accordingly.

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