As with just about every product category you'll come across when planning your remodeling project, your options abound when it comes to countertop selection. At GCI, we know the ins and outs of every surface we fabricate. From the cutting table and into your home, we'll help and walk you through every consideration of the process. We'll make sure you understand your options, and any positives and negatives in between.

Granite is widely used for countertops. It's available in a variety of shades and the slabs come with a standard polished finish. Satin and honed finishes are available at an additional costs. A polished finish results in a shiny look and often darkens the appearance of the stone, while a honed finish is soft and matte. Costs for granite depend on many variables, including color, finish and origin of the stone. Since the color of each stone is unique, it is important for you to be involved in the selection of your slab. Almost all granite is porous and must be sealed periodically. Stains and scratches are difficult to impossible to repair.

Other natural stone materials, such as marble, onyx, limestone and soapstone, are softer and more porous than granite, and therefore are more prone to staining. Some of these materials are a little more fragile and a little more high-maintenance, but their subtle beauty all but makes up for that. We recommend them for use in low-traffic areas like guest baths. All stone countertops must be sealed periodically; the frequency will depend on the stone. Again, slab selection is uniform and repairs are difficult to impossible.

Engineered Quartz stone countertops come in a wider variety of colors than natural stone countertops, are more durable and require no maintenance. However, engineered stone won't save any money over granite. The two materials cost roughly the same. Unlike natural stone, engineered stone carries a 10 year manufacturer's warranty. Slab selection is not necessary because the slabs are uniform in color, pattern and texture.

Solid surface is one of the most popular choices for remodeled kitchen countertops. The material allows for an integral sink, which makes mopping up water and cleaning a snap. Solid surface comes in countless colors and matte, satin or glossy finishes are available. It has inconspicuous seams, resists stains, and scratches can be buffed out. However, direct contact with extreme heat can scorch solid-surface countertops, though this is easily repaired. Solid surface carries a 10 to 15 year manufacturer's warranty.

Stainless Steel has become a popular kitchen material with the advent of the "gourmet kitchen" and the popularity of stainless steel appliances. This material also allows for integral sinks and splashes. Surface mount, but not under mount, sinks also can be used. The types of edge profiles available as well as certain radiuses are limited. The price of stainless steel changes constantly, so the price will need to be confirmed at placement of an order, but generally stainless steel prices similar to stone.

Bucther Block and specialty wood tops have also become very popular because wood reflects a "warm and comfy" decor. But, this product is high maintenance requiring frequent "oiling" of the wood to maintain its appearance and can be pricey depending on the wood species and variety.

Laminate is one of the least expensive countertop materials. Laminate manufacturers have come a long way in offering a very large and wide variety of colors and finishes including metallics, simulated stone and textured surfaces. However, laminates wear value and color clarity and retention are lower performers over time. Scratches and stains cannot be repaired, but this material will fit a tight budget.

Composite marble (cultured marble), which is made from marble and a polyester resin, only comes in a glossy finish and a limited number of colors. Today, a matte finish that mimics the look of solid surface is also available. While it lacks the durability of solid surface, composite marble is a good way to go if your budget is tight.

The Edges

Depending on the countertop material, decorative edges such as bullnose (rounded), bevel (angled), and ogee (S-shaped) are another way to customize a countertop. In a more traditional, more elegant setting, we'll put some detail on the front edge. We'll do a real heavy ogee to follow the theme of the moldings or other architectural dynamic in the room. When dealing with a contemporary decor, we'll put on a square edge and just knock it off a little bit, so it's very clear where the edge of the counter is. Considering the edge of the countertop is just another step in the process, helping to define your room design.

To view samples of these fine surfaces and edges, visit out residential and commercial sections, or visit our showroom today, and see them in person.

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