Countertops and cabinets


For years, granite reigned supreme as the top choice for countertops. While granite has its place, quartz is in many respects superior.

As its name tells you, a quartz countertop is primarily made of quartz. The quartz is ground up, combined with resins, polymers, and coloring to create an engineered material free of pits and other imperfections.

In contrast to granite, quartz is not at all porous and contains no trace amounts of radioactivity (radon). It is also easier to clean, does not require initial or regular sealing and is less likely to stain. From an environmental standpoint, quartz is made from a commonly found material, while granite has to be quarried.

Importantly, you can find quartz in muted tones and patterns that complement a modern look. Conversely, granite is almost always busy. Leading brands include Caesarstone® and Cambria®ColorQuartz® is a less expensive alternative made in China.

Tips: Don’t get something too thin because it may look cheap. A thickness of at least 3 centimeters (1 3⁄16″) is suggested. Also, a minimum radius (edge) of one-eighth of an inch is prudent.

Anything less will give you a sharp edge that may contribute to accidents and chip easily. At the same time, the more rounded the edge, the less modern it will look.

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Slab and Shaker cabinets will look the most modern. Painted cabinets have a nice clean look. Keep in mind, however, that matching paint when taking care of scratches and dings can be very challenging. Going with unpainted cabinets in kitchens and children’s bathrooms may be advisable.

Tip: If you plan to install a cabinet over your older washing machine, make sure it will allow for current, taller machines.