Choosing new countertops means making many decisions. First, you’ll select your countertop fabricator. Next, you’ll choose the countertop material itself.
Think you’re done? Think again! The fabricator will need to know finish and edge type for your countertop, which means you’ll need to make some more decisions. Choosing the finish and edges may sound like a small thing, but these choices will have an effect on how your countertop looks and how it cleans up after each use.
Knowing the options and exploring every potential choice can help you decide for sure which one is best. Working with an experienced fabricator is also important. A good fabricator will help guide you through the many choices. You can explore pros and cons together, until you’ve made the right decision for your countertop.
The finish is the texture of the countertop’s surface. The finish impacts the appearance, the feel of the countertop and how it’s maintained.
A polished countertop is highly reflective and smooth. It’s easy to clean and shiny when the lights are on. If you’ve selected a natural stone like granite or marble, the act of polishing the countertop smooths the stone’s pores, making the surface more liquid-repellant. When freshly polished, countertops are more stain resistant and easier to clean. Over time, the pores are restored, so sealing is still necessary.
Polishing has a way of sharpening the details in the stone and making the natural colors pop. This combination of high contrast colors and superior stain resistance makes polished countertops the natural choice for many homeowners.
The matte finish, also called a honed finish, is less shiny and reflective than the polished finish. The surface of a matte countertop is softer to the touch, and the details of the stone are softer as well. The result is a more understated countertop that draws less attention to itself. Matte finishes can hide imperfections easily, so if the stone ever becomes chipped or scratched, it’s less noticeable. Matte countertops are less stain resistant and may require more regular sealing as a result.
The leathered finish, also known as a brushed finish, has a slightly rougher surface than matte countertops. Like polished counters, leathered counters have smoothed pores and slightly better stain resistance. Leathered counters are often found in outdoor kitchens, because the irregular surface and improved stain resistance makes this type of countertop very forgiving of any damage or dirt on the surface.
In addition to the finish options, you’ll also need to choose the shape of the countertop’s edge. The edge impacts the countertop’s appearance, how easy it is to clean, what it feels like when you bump up against it, and how your countertop fits in with the rest of your decor.
The sides of a straight edge countertop run perpendicular to countertop’s flat surface. The two sides meet at a sharp 90-degree angle. Straight edges have a minimalist appearance that can look good in the right kitchen, but straight edges aren’t always the best choice in homes with children. They can hurt if you run into them.
An eased edge is similar to a straight edge with one difference: the edges have been slightly rounded to make them gentler if you bump into them.
Rounded on the top and bottom, the bullnose countertop looks like a half circle when seen from the side. Bullnose countertops are less likely to hurt if you run into them, and they’re very easy to clean as well. This is a good choice if you have a house with small children.
The half bullnose has a rounded edge on top and a squared edge on bottom. Like the bullnose edge, half bullnose is easy to clean and feels easier on the body if you accidentally bump into your counters.
A beveled countertop is similar to a half bullnose countertop, but the curve is flattened at a 45-degree angle. It’s modern and geometric and looks just right in many transitional style kitchens.
If you took an S and laid it on its side, this is what an Ogee countertop edge would look like. These counters bring a little drama to the kitchen and draw a little more attention to your countertops. Ogee edges look good in traditional kitchens, but keep in mind that food can get caught in the curvy parts and if allowed to dry there, can be difficult to clean.
Making the Selection
Once you’ve seen all the choices, it’s time to make a selection. You may know right away what type of countertop is your preference, but if not, these tips can help.
See the options in-person. Visit a showroom where you can see examples of the type of countertop finish and edges that you’re considering. Touch the textures and surfaces. If possible, place the options side by side to compare them.
Consider maintenance. Remember that some surfaces are easier to clean than others. Meanwhile, some finishes require more diligent sealing than others. If you have a hard time keeping up with household maintenance, a polished surface and bullnose or half bullnose edge may be easier for you.
Bring home samples. If your fabricator has samples to bring home, take them to your kitchen where you can see them in action.