While the appearance of your new countertop is almost always the first consideration, function needs to be addressed.
The three most popular selections are granite slab, acrylic ( corian, staron, etc, and quartz.
With quartz and the acrylics you will know for sure what the final color will look like while the granite slab will have variations. Each granite slab is unique. One of the most important aspects about slab granite is the matching of seams if there is a lot of movement in the stone. You can only get two consecutive slabs. That means that if you have a u-shaped or long kitchen that only two of the three seams will match closely. The third seam is matched as close as possible by the fabricator.
Can you cut on any of them? No. Do you have to use hot pads and trivets? Yes. With all of these products reasonable care must be taken. The advantage of an acrylic is that the surface can be renewed if scratched.
Of the three, only the granite requires sealing and periodic resealing.
Don’t forget that you can mix the materials. For instance use corian for the work surfaces but select a granite with a lot of movement for drama and contrast.
When you select the product here are the steps you need to consider next.
1. Take a close look at your cabinets. It is your cabinets that set the tone for your kitchen. The surface you select should compliment the cabinets.
2. Balance. All the elements should relate to each other. A black countertop set against white top and bottom cabinet will visually divide the kitchen and your eyes will focus right on the counter. A light to white counter will add freshness to an all maple kitchen if it seems dreary.
3. Find the perfect color. High contrast adds interest and it is always good to add another element to a mix of textures. For a more serene look, stay in the same color family as the cabinets. It is advised to go lighter or darker. The bolder colors are more contemporary and can be very dramatic.
If your cabinets are light you can contrast or stay light and use a darker flooring.
Red-toned cabinets blend beautifully with the darker countertops for a dramatic look. For balance please select a lighter color floor.
The brown group from maple to walnut leaves a lot of options. Neutrals, blues, greens, rusts, and the grays all look wonderful with maple. The deeper naturals look good with alder. pine or light cherry.
The deep dark wood cabinets, all look great with a warm neutral, or a soft white.
All that being said….every room and taste is different and what looks great to you needs to be seriously considered.
When you are thinking about replacement. Remember these things. Anything touching the surface of countertop, like an appliance garage, will have to be removed. All old surfaces have to be removed and disposed of. It is the perfect time to replace your sink with the newer undermounted models. You will have hire a plumber to finish with the sink and install your faucets.
If you are getting new sinks and faucets, they have to be on site when they come to measure and template your counters. You can purchase sinks through the fabricators but you can also buy your own.
Be prepared for the possibility of wall damage with the old countertop is removed. Sometimes extra prep work needs to be done when the old backsplash is removed.
Speaking of backsplashes. You can stay conservative with a 4 – 6″ backsplash of the same material…or you can bring the material all the way up to bottom of the upper cabinets, or you can select tile for a more custom look.