I’ve been involved in researching kitchen countertops for a while, but here are some so unique and interesting I’m drawn back, over and over again, for another look.
A soapstone countertop in colour combinations of green, black and grey appears natural and uncomplicated. Durable enough to be used for sinks—this highly water-resistant stone has a smooth and waxy feel.
Enduring and almost indestructible, soapstone has chemical properties that prevent both hot-pot scorching and liquid-spill stains. Countertop-quality soapstone comes from Brazil, Finland, Japan, and the north-eastern United States.
A soapstone countertop typically darkens with time—acquiring a “patina”. This may be an advantage or a disadvantage to you. Note that soapstone requires maintenance (polishing with oil). Using a cutting board is recommended as this surface does not handle knife scratches and nicks as well as other types of stone.
Reclaimed Wood Countertops
The idea of repurposing materials from a completely different structure intrigues me! Reclaimed wood from salvaged urban trees, local barns, and other structures create unique, statement-making kitchen countertops that have their own unique character.
The barn board used on early Ontario barns was old growth pine and hemlock trees. To repurpose this weathered wood and restore structural integrity, a coating is applied to fill in grooves, cracks and nail holes. Then the wood is engineered into layers to provide the durability required for a functional wood countertop.
Always a conversation-starter, sustainable bamboo adds visual appeal in a minimalist, Asian style to the kitchen. Bamboo is considered more durable than red oak.
Its woven (or stranded) form, with bamboo fibers compressed under intense pressure, provides an even stronger surface and a nontraditional, even exotic look.
Also used for sinks, bamboo is water resistant; however, it isn’t heat resistant, so hot pots and pans will scorch it. An oil coating must also be applied periodically to a bamboo countertop.
Concrete countertops can look like wood, stone or brick, by using various stains, pigments, aggregates and coatings. Finishes that look like veined marble or variegated plaster or terrazzo are available. Since each slab is hand cast to precisely fit the required dimensions, no two countertops are identical.
Concrete countertops are resistant to stains wine, oil or tomato sauce stains, but beware artificial orange colouring! Concrete resists cracking and chipping, but any chips, cracks or air bubbles can be repaired. Cutting board use is strongly recommended.
Companies specializing in concrete can help you find your own unique concrete kitchen countertop. If you are interested in eco friendly countertops, companies such as Greening Homes can help.
By Zoë Waller
So these are my picks. What are your favourite unique kitchen countertops?