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So the current quote i have for the kitchen countertop is Solid Surface…while doing my due diligence…i realised that if i went to a third party contractor, just a very tiny top up…i can upgrade to granite.  The problem with granite is that they come in dark colours…and we are looking for a light colour for the countertop so that i can have a nice dark wood laminate for the kitchen cabinets.

This has just opened up a whole can of worms….!!  Now…I am wondering if I should upgrade yet again to a quartz like Caeserstone!  So off i went to do some research…text below is not mine…it is from the website Houzz (http://www.houzz.com/ideabooks/7779702/list/Your-Guide-to-15-Popular-Kitchen-Countertop-Materials ).  I am just pasting it here, so it is easy to refer.

Granite Kitchen Counters

There are plenty of reasons granite is so popular — this natural stone has plenty of character, with unique grains, colors and customizable finishes. When properly sealed, it’s one of the most durable options out there. While it can cost as low as $50 per square foot installed, prices can go up quickly with more exotic slabs and difficult installations.

Pros & Cons of Granite

Cost Variables

Paying for more than you use. Many suppliers will charge you for the whole slab, regardless of how much you use. To reduce waste and save money, work with your designer and a supplier to select a slab early and work that slab into your design.

Avoid dyed slabs. Occasionally granite, most frequently Absolute Black, is dyed to enhance its hue. Seek out Absolute Black from India, rather than from China, where dyeing is more common.

Befriend your supplier and fabricator. This is the most important tip of all. Let their knowledge and experience guide you, and don’t be afraid to ask questions about the stone, including its durability and anything that might impact your costs.

A few more pointers about working with your supplier and fabricator:

  • Shopping for stone counters early in your kitchen-remodel process can ensure optimization not only of your slab and money, but of the design potential of your slice of stone. A particularly lovely portion of your slab can be featured, or joints can be coordinated to reduce their appearance.
  • Similarly, ask to view the template process, where the fabricator lays out the countertop sections. You can ensure that your favorite part isn’t omitted in the sink cutout and is instead featured in the center of the island.
  • When you find a slab you love, secure the purchase, because that slab is one of a kind.

Engineered Quartz Kitchen Counters (eg: Caeserstone/Silestone)
The basics: Engineered quartz is a man-made product formed from roughly 90 to 95 percent ground quartz and 5 to 10 percent resins and pigments. Commonly found brands include CaesarstoneSilestoneZodiaqCambriaTechnistoneHanStone and Q. Several manufacturers have upward of 40 options, like colors from bright red to earthy linen and patterns from crocodile to concrete.

Pros: Engineered quartz has many bragging rights. Thanks to the quartz content, it’s tough like granite, and the resin makes the material malleable and impact resistant. Both materials offer stout durability. Engineered quartz is also nonporous, making it resistant to stains and scratches. And this material has a leg up on natural stone when it comes to large installations: Because it can flex, engineered quartz can be fabricated in larger pieces and with fewer joints.

Cons: The resin content isn’t heat tolerant, so keep your trivets nearby.

Special considerations: Honed finishes, especially dark colors, show more fingerprints.

Maintenance: The surface requires no sealants or waxes (either initially or for ongoing upkeep). Routine cleanup is a breeze with soap and water.

Marble Kitchen Counters

Marble has an unrivaled, classic look that always seems to be in style. For lovers of white kitchens in particular, marble offers more variety than almost any other material. Marble is known more for the patina it develops with use than for its durability. It’s a softer stone than granite, and can scratch and stain easily; the cost typically ranges from $70 to $100 per square foot installed.

Whether marble countertops conjure images of luxe elegance or handsome timeworn French kitchens, this classic surface occupies a design territory all its own. With a soft feel, a warmth that’s inimitable and unmistakable, a durability that keeps it in place for decades and a wide range of color choices, marble countertops might be the right choice for your kitchen.

The basics: Marble is a natural stone composed of calcium carbonate; it’s in the same stone family as limestone and travertine. Color variations occur in marble due to mineral impurities in the stone. Slabs, rather than tiles, are typically used for countertops, where the dramatic veining can be displayed.

Advantages: This is a classic and timeless choice for a kitchen. It can perform for decades while maintaining its elegance. For those whose heart is set on a white, natural stone counter, few other options are available with the breadth of choices that marble offers. You can also opt for marble’s drama in any of its myriad other colors. Experienced bakers know that marble’s naturally cool temperature makes for great pastry making.

Disadvantages: This surface will either keep you busy or cause you to embrace its timeless patina. It’s softer and more porous than granite, meaning it scratches and stains easily. Acidic foods cause surface etching (though the appearance of the etching can be lessened with a honed finish).

Maintenance: There are more don’ts than dos when it comes to maintenance, where use of even mild detergents can dull your marble’s finish. Routine care is best limited to a soft cloth and warm water or cleaners made specifically for marble. You’ll want to seal your marble every year or two with an impregnating water-based sealer made for marble.

Special considerations: Opt for a honed surface to help hide any etching from acidic foods. And if you want to use your marble for working pastry or other foods, seek out nontoxic sealants.

Solid-Surface Kitchen Counters

Is it stone, wood or plastic? This miracle material has the ability to emulate just about any look without the same damage risk or maintenance. Prices range from $50 to $100 per square foot, depending on the manufacturer.

Solid-surface countertops are the stuff of George Jetson, in which high-tech plastics can be heat sculpted into any imagined shape. These modern surfaces take on many appearances, including stone, yet shed the shortcomings of their counterparts with a nonporous surface that doesn’t age or develop a patina. Is this cutting-edge countertop right for your kitchen.

The basics: Solid-surface counters are a blend of acrylic or polyester resins, powdered fillers and pigments, cast into slabs. There are many manufacturers of these synthetic counters, including Dupont CorianLG Hi-MacsWilsonartFormicaDuratStaron and LivingStone.

Advantages: Solid surface is durable and nonporous, making it resistant to stains, mildew and bacteria. Its unique composition makes buffing out scratches a breeze and provides the appearance of a seamless installation, including for integral backsplashes. This product outshines its competitors with an ability to be thermoformed into unusual shapes and configurations.

Disadvantages: Its resin-based composition makes this counter material sensitive to heat and vulnerable to scratches. As with many countertops, keep your trivets and cutting boards handy.

Maintenance: Soapy water will suffice for everyday spiffing up of this easy-to-clean surface. However, it’s essential to dry the surface completely after cleaning or spills, as wet counters can lead to a dull or uneven, blotchy finish.

Special considerations: Acrylic solid surface is more pliable, whereas its polyester-based counterparts claim a deeper coloration. Dark colors will show more fingerprints.