Hello, readers! Welcome back to the Stonehouse Countertops’ blog. We’re pleased you’ve chosen Stonehouse Countertops for your informational needs! You’ll find everything pertinent about the maintenance of various custom countertop materials on this blog. In fact, we recently published an entire series on caring for various stone materials. If you’re interested in keeping your countertops looking pristine for decades to come, we recommend checking out our series! We also provide comprehensive deep dives into various aspects of the design and installation process. Our goal is to equip you with the information you need to commission the perfect countertops for your space. Our last article detailed various ways you can save money in the custom countertop process. If you’re currently in the search for the perfect material and installer, we recommend giving our last article a quick read! 

Even when countertops are taken care of according to standard practices, each material has its average lifespan. Eventually, regardless of maintenance, countertops will begin to show signs of wear and tear. Sometimes these defects are minor and can be repaired with a minimal amount of effort. However, other times these defects inhibit the ability of our countertops to serve their main purpose. It can be hard to know when it’s time to throw out the old countertops and shell out what can be a sizable chunk of change on new ones. Different types of material age in different ways and require more work to replace. In this article, we’ll discuss different forms of wear and tear, as well as other signs which can signal it’s time to invest in new countertops. 

Stains

Stains are the bane of most countertops. Only select materials—such as quartz or other types of engineered stone—are highly resistant to staining. Most materials, depending on their porosity and permeability, will absorb liquids and therefore retain stains. Solid-surface materials are susceptible to the odd stain. This can usually be taken care of with an abrasive cleanser and a bit of elbow grease; although, some stains may even require sanding with fine grit paper. Slate is stain-resistant, even without sealing (but does acquire scratches somewhat easily). Popular option and household staple granite is not stain-resistant and requires regular sealing. Surface stains on soapstone require scrubbing, but aren’t too stubborn to be worked out. Natural materials such as marble and travertine are some of the most susceptible to staining and, thus, require frequent cleaning and sealing. Laminate countertops can be stain-resistant, however when they are stained, their stains can be extremely difficult to remove. 

If daily life or lack of maintenance has tarnished the surface of your countertops, we recommend you try a few at-home remedies or reach out to a professional before committing to a full replacement. As stated, a few of the materials mentioned above need only a good scrubbing or sanding to be good as new. If you’re dealing with heavily stained laminate, marble, or travertine, you might want to start saving for that replacement. 

Burns

A hot pan placed momentarily onto a countertop surface—or an accidental spill of boiling-hot water—will affect different materials differently. Soapstone, granite, and quartz all outperform their competitors when it comes to heat-resistance. In fact, soapstone is often used to line wood-burning stoves due to its even heat distribution. However, if you have wooden countertops, a few seconds’ exposure to the blistering underside of a cast iron skillet can result in some serious burns. Similarly, laminate countertops can not only burn, but also bubble when exposed to high temperatures. You could even burn a hole through a laminate countertop! 

Removing a burn from a countertop surface can be incredibly difficult. For wood burns, there are brand name cleaners made specifically for the purpose of lifting superficial damage. As well, you might be able to lessen the appearance with a good amount of sanding. Laminate countertops, on the other hand, will require cutting out and replacing the section with the burn. At which point, you might decide it’s just easier to replace the entire set. 

Delamination

Delamination is an issue specific to laminate countertops. Laminate countertops are constructed primarily of plastic applied to multiple layers of kraft paper or particleboard. With time and wear, the top layer of plastic can become unsealed and begin to peel. Delaminated countertops are unattractive and can bring an entire kitchen down by proximity. Delamination occurs as a result of exposure to moisture and heat, therefore excessive staining and burns can begin the process. The only way to repair a delaminated laminate countertops is to readhere the top layer of laminate to the surface underneath. This fix may not work or may only be temporary. Therefore, the best option is to replace your countertops. Stone materials, while potentially pricey and susceptible to other defects, will never delaminate. 

Cracks and Fissures

Cracks and fissures in the surface of your countertops are perhaps the most glaringly obvious sign it’s time to replace your countertops. Laminate countertops are the most susceptible to cracking, especially after many years of use. It is quite rare for natural stone materials to crack once installed. In these cases, there may have been a fine, internal fissure present in the material since its extraction from the quarry. Engineered stones, like quartz and silestone, are the only options which preclude the presence of such hairline fractures. Since a crack is an integral issue in the structure of your countertops, the only option is to replace them. As well, cracks and thin fissures pose a health risk to you and your family. The open gap allows for dirt to collect and bacteria to hide in your countertops. Better to be safe than sorry, we say! 

Pitting

Pitting, unlike some of the other defects we’ve discussed previously, is not caused by user error or lack of maintenance. Pitting is another aspect of natural stone materials and is characterized by small holes in the surface of the stone. Granite, as it is composed of numerous individual grains of minerals, is susceptible to pitting. Pitting isn’t a problem for most homeowners, however some prefer to fill in these holes with epoxy which matches the color of their countertops. We recommend reaching out to a professional for assistance in filling in these pits. Though this could be a DIY project, you may run into problems with particularly shallow pits or in getting the epoxy to adhere. You don’t, however, need to replace your countertops because of pits (unless you really can’t stand them). 

Outdated Look

An outdated kitchen can be a valid reason to invest in new countertops. Following the latest trend in interior design is altogether different from bringing your kitchen back from the 1980s. Countertops are a huge deciding factor in the overall appearance of your countertops. Therefore, a change of countertops can vastly improve your kitchen’s look. This is especially true if you have laminate countertops. Improvements in laminate countertop technology means that the laminate countertops available today are much more durable and design-forward. 

Increase Resale Value

Similar to the last point, updated countertops can vastly improve the look and feel of your kitchen. This, in turn, can vastly increase the resale value of your home. According to RealtorMag.org in 2014, replacing only the countertops in a home added nearly $16,000 to the resale value. And, homeowners recouped at least eighty-two-point-seven percent of their original investment. The numbers don’t lie. As well, a nicer kitchen can lessen the amount of time your house spends on the market. Kitchen decor and functionality are at the top of most homebuyers’ checklists. Therefore, if you’re looking for a way to increase the value of your home or sell your home faster, invest in new countertops. 

Keep in Mind

If you do decide to invest in new countertops, there are a few considerations you should keep in mind before and during the process. If you’re swapping lightweight laminate countertops for considerable heavier stone countertops, be sure your cabinets are adequately constructed to bear the added weight. As well, once installed, stone countertops can be difficult to remove without damaging. Therefore, if you plan to renovate your cabinets as well, this should be done before your countertops are installed. Similarly, you should consider the added investment of new backsplash. In addition to aesthetic reasons, most backsplashes are anchored to countertops and will need to be removed when the countertops are replaced. In the same vein, in-laid lighting, sink fixtures, and faucet configurations may need to be changed/replaced. Keep all of these additional costs in mind when determining your new countertop budget. 

Our objective is for you to have the countertops of your dreams. If, after reading this article, you’re certain you’re in need of new countertops—check out of last article on how to save money in the custom countertop installation process! In that article, we go in-depth on how to save thousands while maintaining a high quality of craftsmanship and design. As always, we here at Stonehouse Countertops are happy to help! Equipped with information, you’re now able to make the choice best suited to you and your needs. At Stonehouse Countertops, we are willing and able to work with you to your specifications. We offer a wide range of different materials and always have someone on hand to answer your questions! Don’t hesitate to reach out for consultation or for help forming a plan. We want to ensure your vision becomes a reality! Check back into our blog for more information on custom countertops and material maintenance. Until next time, thanks for reading!