Kitchen Remodeling - Choosing Materials by Nazim Nice
Kitchen Remodeling - Choosing Materials by Nazim Nice
The kitchen has evolved from the standard oak cabinets and Formica countertops to a modern
showplace with commercial grade appliances and exotic stone countertops. The days of the extreme
'over-the-top' kitchen remodel may be gone, but that still doesn't change the fact that the kitchen is
one of the hardest working rooms in the house. Choosing durable yet attractive finishes is still
extremely important, but it shouldn't break the bank. Here are some tips on choosing materials for
your kitchen, including how to get a high end look without spending a ton of money.
Choosing the Right Countertops
There are many countertop materials to choose from, many people simply just don't know where to
start. There is also a sizable price range even within one material (such as stone). For an affordable
option consider plastic laminates such as Formica. There are some sophisticated patterns and colors
available today that when paired with a tile backsplash and well selected paint colors can look very
good together. There are also new edge details that eliminate seams that can get damaged.
For middle-of-the road budgets look into solid surface materials such as Corian. These materials
have evolved well beyond the basic white, and are now available in patterns that look more like
stone. A big benefit of solid surface countertops is the ability to have a seamless integrated sink
fabricated into the countertop. So wiping water into the sink and cleaning up is quicker.
Another newer countertop option is Quartz. Quartz countertops turn a natural material, quartz, into
slabs that appear almost like natural stone. One of the many benefits of these countertops is that
they do not absorb liquids spilled on them.
Natural stone counters are also a common choice and a visit to your local stone yard will show you
that there are literally hundreds to select from. To help you find a suitable stone more quickly, ask
for help looking for stone only within a certain price range and color range. When you find a stone
you like try to take a sample home and see how it holds up to spilled wine, ketchup, mustard and
oils. Beware of stones with a lot of fillers. Fillers are a sign of lower quality stone and can get
damaged more easily and even fall out.
Other new choices are countertops made with glass, paper, and concrete. Many of these are fine for
kitchen use, but some will not be durable enough over time. If you are using a material that is not
time tested inspect an installation that has been in use for some time..
How to Choose Cabinet Materials
One tip when choosing cabinets is to look at the interior door style in your house (the doors to each
room, such as a bedroom). Often times choosing a coordinating cabinet door style to match the
interior doors within your house is an easy and safe way to ensure that the new kitchen design looks
good. Of course, you can deviate this. Consider choosing a different material for an island and
maybe a more elaborate doors style. Don't make the mistake of selecting an overly fancy door style
unless your house warrants it. You don't want your friends to come into your kitchen and say, "wow,
look at your fancy cabinets!" You want them to say, "wow, look at your amazing kitchen!" You want
them to notice everything. If you have kids and pets, consider choosing a stained wood cabinet
rather than a painted cabinet. Generally they will end up looking better for longer, and they are
easier to touch up when they get nicked. If you are consider a faux or decorative finish, keep in mind
that when you are looking at a sample painted on one door, you'll generally want it to look less
distressed than you think it should look rather than over distressed. When you install all the kitchen
doors, it can look very 'over done' if you go too heavy handed on faux or decorative finishes.
How to Select Flooring
Often the first thing I consider for flooring choices are the same materials on the floor of adjacent
spaces. If there are hardwoods in nearby rooms, a good solution can be to extend the wood into the
kitchen. This is especially true in a smaller room, where continuing the same flooring material will
usually make a space look larger. If you do not want wood floors in the kitchen, then choose a tile
that is a similar color value to the adjacent wood floor, so the transition is not harsh and it does not
separate the space. A resilient material like cork can be an excellent choice for the kitchen as it is
slightly soft underfoot and is more forgiving if you drop a dish on it. Natural materials like
Marmoleum are also great and a good 'green' choice.
How to Select Backsplash Materials
For some reason the backsplash is often the hardest material choice for people to decide upon. But
the backsplash is one area that can have a big visual impact and help tie the design together. If
you're having trouble choosing a material for the backsplash, look to the other surfaces in the
kitchen for inspiration. In a more contemporary kitchen, choosing a stainless steel backsplash that
matches your stainless steel appliances can be a wise decision. For a less expensive choice, consider
plastic laminates that look like stainless steel that can even be installed by a do-it-yourselfer (but
resist the temptation to use these on countertops because many are not rated for horizontal surface
use). Glass tile can be another good choice to tie together different color materials. There are so
many different glass tiles available today it can be challenging to choose one. A safe place to start is
by choosing a glass tile that pulls colors from your countertop. Other material you may consider are
sheets of glass, plastic laminate, stone tile, ceramic tile, or even wood (painted or sealed, of
While choosing materials for the kitchen can be difficult, take it step by step and you'll get there.
Start with the countertop and cabinet finish. Once you have those chosen, select a material for your
floor. Then choose your backsplash and wall and ceiling paint colors. This process will help you get
everything chosen more quickly, so you can get through the construction a little sooner, and then to
enjoying your new kitchen.