This post was revised and edited on Nov. 26, 2019.
The crowning jewel of any kitchen is the countertops. If you’ve been to your local home center to investigate countertop choices, you know there are literally dozens of options, from built-up products to solid surfaces, tile and more. At explore, we want to give you options, but not so many it becomes paralyzing, so we’ve narrowed our offerings down to just four companies.
When Explore Granite was just an idea, I’d intended to focus solely on countertops. After investigation, stone countertops came out head and shoulders above the other materials. There are over a dozen different types of stone used for countertops, but at Explore, we’ve chosen to focus on four distinct products.
- Marble from Marble Systems
- Quartz from Spectrum Quartz
- Granite from Sensa Granite
- Dekton and Silestone stone based composites from Consentino
While there are many other attractive and durable countertops, from butcher-block to concrete to laminate, we felt stone and manufactured stone products represented the single greatest value we could present to our customers in the Northern Virginia region.
When choosing countertops, there are a lot of considerations. It’s a big investment and we want to be sure you find exactly the right countertop for you.
First, you’ll want to explore durability
I’ve said this before, but your kitchen countertop is basically a glorified kitchen workbench. Just like the work surface in your garage or shop, it needs to survive heat, grease, and tool usage. The last thing you want is to invest thousands in a beautiful new countertop to find it scratched beyond repair.
Durability and stone are so nearly synonymous as to become a cliche’. “Etched in stone” is our way of saying a decision, or way of doing things is well established and not likely to go away any time soon. This reputation is well earned, as some of the world’s oldest architecture is carved out of literal granite, marble, and quartz.
- Explore granite stone countertops are highly resistant to stains from spills. Coupled with granite gold sealers, our countertops can stand up to the most rigorous abuse.
- All of our stones are highly impact and scratch resistant as well, unlike laminate, wood, and even concrete.
- Heat resistance is another big factor in selecting countertop material and when it comes to surviving hot pots and pans, nothing beats natural stone and quartz-based composites.
Next, you’ll want to explore style trends
We know that styles change like the weather, but natural stone has been used as a building material for millennia. From home center kitchen displays to home improvement television, to the latest architectural and design magazines, stone countertops rank above nearly every other choice when it comes to style. We think you’ll find that among the hundreds of stone patterns Explore offers, you’ll have a tough time narrowing it down to just one choice.
One of the great things about natural stone is just that, as a natural product every single piece is unique. While our suppliers do offer multiple pieces in similar colors and patterns, no two stones are exactly alike. Composite stone is similar since the main ingredient is natural stone. Between our four manufacturers, we literally offer over a thousand different colors and patterns.
- Start with your color palette. You’ll want to consider not only your kitchen but the surrounding areas in your home as well, especially with an open floor plan.
- Next, consider the feel you want to evoke. Large, dark granite slabs give a formal feel, while some of our colorful quartz options are more playful and whimsical.
- Finally, you’ll want to consider the edge style you prefer. Most of our products can be finished with a variety of edges, while Dekton is only available with a square, or mitered edge.
Budget should be your next consideration to explore
Cost can often feel like a barrier in home improvement. Here is what we suggest, work your plan from your first priority down, and spend accordingly. Countertops are often one of the most important elements in kitchen design and many of our customers start here. We have a range of options, and as with any product, there are often special deals to be had for the budget-conscious.
Start with your overall budget for the project, then work your way down from the most expensive, and critical to you and the way you use your home, to the things you are willing to compromise on to save money. If you’re having trouble deciding, don’t hesitate to reach out, we know our product lines well and will help you find options that will fit within your means.
- Cosentino is our Cadillac brand, with a lifetime warranty, and the widest variety of colors and patterns.
- Next is granite. Here you get the beauty of a “live” stone cut from the earth’s mantel.
- Finally, marble, with some of the most dramatic, high contrast patterns. Marble is among the most economical of the countertop products we offer.
Finally, you’ll want to explore the ecology of your countertop choice
While it’s true, whichever countertop you choose, your impact is small, our choice trends today, will affect the countertop options of the future. While we recognize the high cost in energy of natural stone sourcing, Explore has worked to find wholesale partners who responsibly source their countertop materials, and we’ll continue to do so in the future. We’re not claiming our countertops will save the planet, but it’s a sure bet you won’t be finding Explore Granite countertops in your neighborhood landfill in the near future.
- By buying straight from the wholesaler, we skip the “middleman” of buying from a home center or design showroom. This saves on the energy required in additional stages of shipping, and storage.
- Our manufacturers all abide by international regulations in the sourcing of their products, ensuring industry best practices.
- Both Quartz and Dekton are made with crushed stone, which lessens the impact on the environment, over large slab sourcing.
We understand there are a number of factors to consider when it comes to stone countertops, but the bottom line is only you can decide what’s best for you and your upcoming project.
Contact us today with any countertop related questions you may have or if you’re ready to visit our showroom.