Countertops hold a prominent position in the kitchen and other casual dining and serving environments. Therefore they must look great and are durable enough to withstand stains, impact, and weight. The two options most homeowners consider are granite and concrete.
Concrete countertops are cheaper than granite as they are artificially cast, unlike granite, which is naturally mined. Concrete countertops are also available in a wide variety and can be easily painted. However, they’re also less heat resistant, require high maintenance, and crack over time.
In this article, you will learn the pros and cons of each option in detail alongside some general background information regarding both materials. By the end of this piece, you’ll have a clear idea of which one is the best for you.
Granite Countertops: A Brief Overview
Granite is a natural stone that features a mixture of minerals, mainly feldspar and quartz. This gives it a varied appearance as opposed to a homogenous one. The natural stone appears sleek enough to fit in a modern luxe kitchen because of the pattern variety. As a result, granite has become an interior design staple for nature-enthusiast and sleek modernists alike.
Aside from its aesthetic appeal, the naturally dark rock can also bear significant weight, is mostly inert and hence withstands weather changes, and can be polished to perfection. As a result, it is used in exterior decoration for large scale projects and has been used for construction for a long time. Let’s look at the rock’s usability in countertops.
Pros of Granite Countertops
As mentioned earlier, granite is a favorite among many designers who want to add a natural and sublime touch to a living space. Here are the advantages of granite countertops for your kitchen.
Granite Is Natural
Inviting nature into your living space can help relieve stress and signify refinement of taste. However, being one with the elements doesn’t always mean installing a vertical garden on your wall.
Natural stones are a great way to balance the artificial contents of one’s interior with something more organic. That said, the process of producing granite countertops is far from an environment-friendly one. If you’re interested in appearances, however, you should prefer granite over concrete.
Countertop Chinks Are Easier To Repair
Just like bright clothes are easy to stain, plain countertops are easy to spot chinks in. Granite has a peppered appearance where a chink can get lost among many natural details on the surface.
Think of it as the Where’s Waldo puzzle: unless you’re specifically looking for waldo, you will not find him because of the overall picture’s busy look. Since granite looks busy, your guests will not notice flaws, but you might be quite aware of the chinks since you know where they are. Even so, you can quickly repair tiny chinks at home on a granite countertop with epoxy.
Granite Resists Heat
Another reason granite is ideal for countertops is that it resists heat. The fact that you’ll be handling hot pots, pans, plates, and trays all the time in the kitchen means you might want to avoid options like laminate countertops.
While both granite and concrete can resist heat, granite is superior to the alternative in handling the heat. That said, you should only factor this in for the occasional placing of hot pans directly on the counter by accident. Otherwise, you should always use trivets to maintain the counter top’s sealant integrity.
Granite Countertops Are Low Maintenance
Finally, granite countertops do not require a lot of effort to maintain. One of the biggest time consumers in the kitchen is cleaning countertops. But since granite has a busy look with a dark shade, you will not likely have to obsessively clean your countertop every day as long as you wipe away stains in time.
Cons of Granite Countertops
Just like with any design choice, there are certain drawbacks to having granite countertops. In this section, we explore these disadvantages so you can make an informed decision.
You Can’t Shop the Exact Look
Whether you fell in love with a countertop in a magazine advertisement or saw one at your friend’s house, you will not get the exact thing upon ordering. That is because the patterns on granite are decided by nature. Even when you shop online and directly from a catalog, you’re not guaranteed the exact same look. The overall aesthetic, however, is close enough.
Limited Visual Options
Another issue with granite is that it offers a small variety of patterns and color choices. As a natural process, the rock-formation does not prioritize a variety of appearances. Though the rock has slight variations in each iteration, it all looks like to some degree. This can be advantageous for the indecisive as the decision is pretty much made for them, but those who prefer endless options to shop from will not be satisfied with granite countertops.
Even though granite is durable and can withstand weight and heat, it is advisable to reseal it periodically for longevity. Applying a sealant once a year isn’t exactly a drawback but is at least worth mentioning as a potential responsibility you should be willing to take on before committing to a granite countertop.
Concrete: A Brief Overview
Concrete is a durable construction material cast from cement and aggregate. It is polished to be smooth to the touch despite having a porous nature. Since it is used to build skyscrapers and bridges, it only makes sense for it to be used in sturdy countertops.
But durability isn’t its only virtue. The fact that its manufacturing process is more artificial than granite means there are more aesthetic possibilities. But before you decide to commit to concrete, let’s explore its pros and cons.
Pros of Concrete Countertops
Here are some of the advantages of getting a concrete countertop for your kitchen.
Since the stone doesn’t need to be directly mined from the ground, it is abundant and can be manufactured at a relatively lower cost. As a result, the overall price of concrete countertops is significantly lower than granite counters. On average, a concrete countertop costs only two-thirds of its granite equivalent, like getting over 30% in discount.
Higher Color Variety
While concrete comes out homogenous with only one look, you can paint it to look any way you want. Furthermore, you can incorporate glass, beads, and seashells in the casting process to elevate the countertop’s aesthetic. This also means that when you order the countertop from a lookbook or a catalog, you’re likely to get the exact same look, unlike with granite.
It Doesn’t Scratch Easily
Concrete is quite strong, and its everyday use in construction proves as much. What that means for your kitchen counter is that if a knife slips or a pot is dragged across, there won’t be scratches on the surface. While this is a comparative advantage, it certainly doesn’t mean you won’t have to care about the surface altogether.
Available in a Variety of Sizes and Shapes
Again, this is an advantage because concrete is artificially manufactured. Using the right molds, it can be cast in pretty much any shape or size you desire, giving you more options and control over the final look of your kitchen.
Cons of Concrete Countertops
With the benefits covered, let’s look at the drawbacks of concrete countertops.
Not As Heat Resistant
While with granite, you should be aware of not placing hot pans on the surface repeatedly; you cannot put them directly on the concrete countertop even once without damaging the sealant. The risk of damaged sealant is greeted with concrete as it is porous, and bacteria can easily grow in the pores.
Since concrete is porous, it is easy for bacteria and mold to take hold. Therefore, you have to make sure the surface remains sealed, and any breach in the seal’s integrity is fixed promptly. Even so, the counter cracks over time.
Concrete countertops are ample for those with a small budget and a desire for variety. However, if you opt for concrete, you should be prepared to take proper care of it. On the other hand, granite might cost a lot upfront but will last longer.