How to Choose the Right Material for Your Kitchen Remodel
As a central part of your home, the kitchen is one of the most used rooms of your home. It’s the place where you cook–or at least microwave–your meals, the first stop after a long day of work or school, and the area people gravitate towards during dinner parties to save the constant trips for drinks and snacks. As such an important part of your home, the floors and countertops of your kitchen are a crucial factor in your remodeling job. Before deciding on the material for these critical sections of your kitchen, consider the advantages that each have in terms of cost, appearance, and required maintenance and choose based on what’s most important to you.
A major decision for your kitchen remodel is what kind of countertop you want. There are over a dozen different possibilities, but three of the most common choices are laminate, granite and natural stone, and wood and bamboo.
Laminate is a very common choice for countertops, especially in multi-family dwellings. Laminate’s strongest selling point is that it’s affordable while still looking nice, and recent improvements to the material have made it more durable. One of the signature drawbacks of laminate, the obvious seams at the edges, can also be overcome with the new seamless versions. Seamless laminate mimics the appearance of granite or other stones and is a good choice for the budget-conscious or when wanting to give a uniform look to multiple dwellings.
However, laminate costs less for a reason. It can be damaged by heat and sharp knives and is difficult to repair. Water damage can also be a headache, as entire sections will have to be replaced if water penetrates the particleboard layer. Bubbling can also happen on or in the surface since it consists of multiple layers, and regular maintenance is required to keep it in pristine condition.
Granite and natural stone
Granite and natural stone are a very popular choice for new construction homes. Granite and other marbled stones are extracted from the earth, usually with minimal processing, and no slab is identical to another. They give a distinguished, high-class look while also being practical as they are resistant to heat and sharp objects. Choosing to remodel with granite or natural stone adds value to your home while also lasting many years with minimal maintenance. Because of this, the longer plan to live at your home, the greater the return on your investment!
But granite and natural stone are costly to install and can cost many times more than the same remodel using laminate. Granite specifically needs occasional sealing treatments to stay stain-resistant, and the corners and edges can chip, so choosing to have a more rounded instead of a flat edge will help.
Wood and Bamboo
Wood and bamboo give a natural, inviting look to your kitchen. Wood works great for heavy cutting, as it won’t chip or break from butcher knives. Bamboo is also an environmentally-friendly choice as it grows quickly and can be cut down and regrown with minimal resource use.
While they look nice, the high-maintenance required for wood and bamboo can be an annoyance that not every homeowner wants to endure after a remodel. They can also be easily damaged and burned and will hold stains without regular sealing treatments.
For information on more countertop types, see this article from Consumer Reports.
As with countertops, there are several varieties of flooring to choose from when remodeling your kitchen. Three of these that are often chosen by consumers are vinyl, hardwood and bamboo, and tile.
A common choice for homeowners, vinyl offers good value and affordable installation. Vinyl is softer than other floors like wood or tile as it usually comes with a layer of padding such as foam. It comes in many colors and varieties to fit any look and is easy to clean while requiring little maintenance.
Vinyl can be easily cut by sharp objects as well as when moving and rearranging furniture. It also needs to be installed carefully and precisely, as lumps can form on the surface. These “bubbles” can also appear over time when sliding heavy objects across the floor and can be difficult to remove. Vinyl also doesn’t add much to a home’s value, so shouldn’t be installed for resale purposes.
Hardwood and Bamboo
As hardwood floors continue to be popular, some customers choose to have hardwood throughout the entire house, including the kitchen. Doing this creates a uniform appearance throughout your home. Hardwood is easy to clean and maintain, and can last for many years while also adding to your home’s value. Bamboo and hardwoods are durable and can take significant abuse without being damaged.
Depending on the specific type of wood, putting in a hardwood can be expensive. These floors are also colder in the cool months of the year. Pets can damage parts of the floor over time as they have difficulties maintaining traction, and the surfaces should be treated occasionally to keep up the appearance and resistance to damage.
Tile floors are another great choice for a kitchen upgrade. With proper installation, tile is resistant to stains and spills, as they can be quickly wiped up without harming the floor. These tiles come in many colors and varieties to match your ideal design and are difficult to scratch and work well in the kitchen as they can handle high-traffic areas with ease.
However, without a radiant heating system, tile can get very cold in the winter. Since it is so hard, tile will also likely break glass cups and plates. Also, the grout between the tiles can be notoriously difficult to clean. Sealing these connections can help, but many homeowners agree that cleaning spills that do get into the cracks requires a lot of elbow grease.
For information on more flooring types see this article from Consumer Reports.
Remodel your kitchen your way
While people will swear by specific materials for their flooring and countertops, there is by no means a one-size-fits-all best option. Depending on what you’re looking for in upkeep, cost, and appearance, your ideal choice may not be the same as your neighbor’s. But no matter what you end up choosing, having your remodel completed by reliable, trustworthy professionals will go a long way towards increasing your value and making your kitchen upgrade last for several years!