Archive for September, 2016

Countertops 101: A Breakdown Of What’s What In Surfacing

What is the right countertop material for your kitchen?


When designing your dream kitchen, or remodeling your current one, there are no shortage of tough decisions to make and with one decision impacting another, it can all seem quite overwhelming. Many find it easiest to first focus on countertops. Unfortunately, that raises even more questions! Specifically, what material and design do you want? What’s the right countertop material for your lifestyle? Do you need an easy to maintain, stain resistant surface? Or is style most important to you? For most people, the primary question comes down to which material is going to strike the best balance between beauty, style and maintenance.
Luckily, there’s a vast range of options available that address durability and maintenance, and all importantly, the style factor. However, with so many materials ranging from natural stone, quartz composites, stained concrete and even natural wood available, in practically any color, pattern or texture you could want, making the right choice can be tricky. And you might want to incorporate two materials into that space. Here’s the basic 101 on deciphering what’s what in surfaces.
Here’s a quick look at some of the top countertop materials available today to help you choose the right options for your kitchen.

granite kitchen countertop


While it now has more competition than in the past, granite is still a top choice among homeowners. Granite countertops offer both a high-end look and durability. With granite being a natural material, it has variation in color and pattern which adds to its appeal. Granite is comparable in cost to manufactured quartz, but does require more care and a regular sealing routine.


With quartz being a manmade product it is practically maintenance free and far tougher than natural marble or soapstone. It has a pre-sealed, non-porous surface, making it stain, scratch, heat and impact resistant. It’s also available in a wide range of colors and patterns, giving perennial top choice granite a run for its money in recent years.

quartz countertop

concrete countertops

A thick concrete countertop can be the focal point of a modern kitchen design. Concrete is highly customizable with many stain and texture options available. It can also stand high heat very well and is scratch and stain resistant if sealed properly. Concrete on its own can feel overly cold or architectural, so it’s often mixed with other materials and accents like glass, tile and marble to create a soft, one of a kind look.


A butcher block style countertop can create a warm, cottage style look and when properly sealed is highly heat resistant and ideal for food prep. While you may have one vision of this style countertop, there are many species of wood, including teak, acacia, cherry and American walnut, that can be used for this purpose. It is also common for wood countertops to be mixed with other surfaces like natural or engineered stone to bring in the cozy element of natural wood while still providing a variety of prep surfaces.

wood countertop

marble countertop

Marble has timeless appeal, providing an elegant and sophisticated feel. Available in a polished or honed finish, it is many people’s choice for a high end look. Marble is highly porous so staining can be a problem without regular sealing and care. If you go for marble, expect it to weather with time. It will also stain, but lasts forever. Think of the great marble facades in Europe. If you love those,  then you’ll love this as a countertop.


Soapstone is a non-porous natural stone that doesn’t require regular sealing, making it highly stain and bacteria resistant. Soapstone is more specific in its color variations, available in a range of gray tones from light to dark with subtle veining. It is a soft, natural material and is more prone to a variation of light and dark spots, as well as scratching. That said, it’s often a farmhouse favorite.

soapstone countertop and sink

stainless steel countertop

Stainless steel countertops are a popular choice for homeowners looking for that commercial kitchen look. Stainless steel provides a modern, industrial feel that coordinates with any color. It is also one of the easiest countertop materials to clean as well as the most hygienic being impervious to heat and bacteria.


Ultra-compact surfaces are composed of raw materials that include marble, quartz, porcelain and glass. This countertop option is extremely durable and can be used both indoors and outdoors without the risk of fading. Ultra-compact products are available in many colors and looks, including that of other materials such as marble, wood and concrete.

ultra-compact countertops

Original post created by Marqet Group 

Outdoor Kitchens: Maximizing your Outdoor Living Space

According to the Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association (HPBA), more than 75% of all U.S. households include an outdoor grill or smoker. Outdoor cooking has been a popular pastime in the U.S. ever since Weber introduced their now classic kettle charcoal grill. Today, more and more families are expanding on that trend by creating true outdoor living areas as part of their home with fully functional outdoor kitchens. The idea of the kitchen being the heart of the home is now expanding to the outdoors. As a result, grill, cabinet and accessories manufacturers are offering more products and add-ons than ever, within a wide range of budgets and styles. 

Depending on where you live you may be thinking about designing an outdoor kitchen for the summer months, or perhaps for year round use. You can now customize your outdoor living space to meet your personal interests and extend the look and feel of your indoor decor to the outdoors by incorporating a variety of styles and design elements such as tile, granite, concrete or stone.

Here are some key areas to consider when planning your outdoor kitchen.

One of the most important questions is what kind of cooking appliance(s) do you want? If, like most people, you’re interested in using your outdoor kitchen consistently for entertaining you’ll want to include many of the features of an indoor kitchen so meals can come together seamlessly. Consider appliances that can handle a number of different cooking styles by including options such as side burners, built-in griddles, smokers and even an outdoor pizza oven! Duel-hybrid grills have the convenience of gas grilling and the ability for smoking or charcoal cooking on the other side. To get the most enjoyment out of your outdoor kitchen give yourself the ability to cook in a variety of ways.

Really think of your outdoor kitchen the same as you indoor, because the less running back and forth you have to do, the more you’ll enjoy your new space.

A bar or beverage center is crucial to any outdoor entertaining space. This could include a section of your outdoor countertop to make drinks or a full bar with seating. Nearly every appliance that’s available indoors is now available outdoors: wine coolers, outdoor kegerators, ice makers, undercounter refrigerators and freezers…and even a dishwasher (introduced from ASKO last year). And don’t forget the sink, which is great for both dinner prep and drinks.

A true outdoor living space will include more than just the cooking area. You want it be a communal area for gathering and mingling. Comfortable outdoor furniture, side tables and a dining area help create this extended living area. For chilly nights, a fire pit or heating element is ideal, while a misting system to cool everyone off during hot, humid days will keep guests coming back. The longer you can extend the season, the more value this investment will have. Don’t forget entertainment options such as outdoor televisions for watching the game or movie night…and an audio system for music throughout the day and evening.

As outdoor kitchens become more elaborate and the need for storage space increases, many homeowners are adding higher quality stainless steel exterior cabinets. Stainless steel is ideal for outdoor applications as it resists weather, rot and insects. Further, they are now available in multiple door, drawer and pullout combinations. Viking now makes outdoor cabinetry that is proprietary to their line of outdoor grills, and Danver makes cabinets that sized for their grills and outdoor appliances. They have also recently released a line of stainless outdoor cabinets with a powder-coated finish that closely approximates wood grain.

Original post created by Marqet Group