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Buying Guide for Kitchen Countertops

Revamping an old kitchen or building a new one from the ground up requires thought, planning and organizing. The purchase of kitchen cabinets may require at least 40 percent of the budget earmarked for the kitchen area, but don't forget that the cabinets will need a countertop. The countertop is the surface area most visible to anyone in the kitchen. Take a good look at countertops, the various materials used to create them, and what you plan to do with them before you buy.

You've probably already decided on cabinets and you know what style your home is or is going to be, so don't skimp on the countertops. Don't make a snap decision. Take the time to learn the types of countertops available. Find out the pros and cons before you open your wallet

What's Available?

Cambria Natural Quartz
Cambria is a natural, quartz surfacing product that has a variety of uses in your home or business such as countertops, floor tile, vanities, fireplace surrounds, wet bars, showers, etc. Cambria is pure, natural quartz, one of the hardest and most common minerals on Earth. It has the natural look and feel of granite, but features superior performance because of its strength and durability. It is nonporous and will not absorb food and liquids like granite does. And best of all it is maintenance free.

How does Cambria compare to granite?

Cambria is 93% quartz, a natural stone. Quartz is the extremely hard mineral that gives Cambria its strength. Granite is only about 40% to 60% quartz, along with other softer minerals and impurities. With Cambria, you get the look and feel of granite, but receive greater strength and the benefit of it being nonporous and maintenance free. Just was it with warm water, and use a mild soap if desired. Cambria is stain resistant and never needs sealing or reconditioning. Granite is a porous stone and needs to be sealed regulary with chemical treatment. It can absorb liquids and food, risking potential staining and bacterial growth within the countertop.

Other Stones

Limestone speaks to sumtuous surroundings, and like granite, limestone comes at a high price. The problem with using limestone as a kitchen countertop is that it easily scratches and requires careful sealing periodically.

Soapstone comes in one color: gray. The gray of soapstone takes on a desirable dark patina over time, but the color limitations leaves it wanting in the countertop department. A good choice for restoring 200 year old homes, soapstone simply does not have the offerings of other minerals in the stone family to make it a top choice for most buyers. As a soft stone it scratches quite easily and stains. It must be treated with mineral oil intermittently.

Marble, a softer stone than granite, is heat resistant, but trying to remove stains is nearly impossible. As the other members of the family stone, it needs regular coats of sealer to maintain its beauty.

Families today are not only looking for beautiful homes, they also want products that last. Cambria surfaces are durable, stronger than granite, and nonporous, making it safe as stainless steel for food preparations.

Plastic Laminate

A very inexpensive way to go, plastic laminate has come a long way. There are lots of new styles that emulate stones without the bother or price. A wide color palette gives you plenty of choices, Pierce Laminated Products has 40 colors available in our stock color program. Cleaning up a surface covered in plastic laminate requires little more than a damp soapy cloth


Don't forget the edges! Talk to the designer about various options for the different surface materials. You may be able to choose from rounded and bullnose or beveled or waterfall edges. Most of the stone surfaces can be shaped to your specifications.

As your shopping around, keep in mind these important aspects of countertops: durability, resistance to staining, ability to handle hot cookware, ease in cleaning and maintaining, and of course pleasing to the eye. You don't have to choose all one variety of surface material - a combination of several may be more functional. The key is to get the most functionality for the money spent and be happy with the end result by being an informerd consumer.

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