They’re always there for you. Your keys call them home at the end of a long day. The kids (accidentally) share their juice with them. Despite your best efforts, the cats call them a playground. Well, no more! It’s time you paid more attention to the unsung heroes of your home, your countertops. Show your appreciation and reinvest in the most useful spaces your home has. Birmingham’s local builders and dealers agree that three materials stand out in the construction and remodeling of the best contemporary countertops.

The quintessential mineral countertop at the top of everyone’s mind is granite, and for good reason. Granite is a handsome, natural choice that’s widely available in a variety of finishes. Across a spectrum of whites, pinks and beyond, granite is unmistakable in the look of its signature granular texture. Hence the name, from the Latin “granum,” or “a grain.”1 A glossy finish in kitchens and bathrooms is the most popular granite application in new construction and remodels. While it can be scratch and heat resistant, chips will happen when granite is well loved in a home. Regular upkeep and a faithful six-month polish can keep it looking its best. All that said, granite’s best feature is that its pricing is flexible. Options are available for entry-level through high-end price ranges. In a sea, or rather, a quarry full of options, you’re sure to find granite coloration, finish, and price that are perfect for your home.

Is there a geologist in the house? Unless your interest is really roused by rocks, you may not know that within granite there’s another countertop option that’s popular among homeowners. At anywhere between 20 to 60 percent, quartz constitutes over half the mass in many granite structures.2 These remarkably connected materials share many properties. Specifically, like granite, quartz is both scratch and heat resistant and available in a variety of colors. Quartz comes out on top in a few additional categories, however. Cleanup is even easier with quartz, it needs no sealing and some of its countertop products are even hygienic. It’s also more resistant to impact than granite, which as we’ve mentioned is prone to chipping.

While those extra bonuses are great, the material is not without its unique drawbacks. Strong sunlight may discolor quartz, so it’s important to carefully plan its implementation in your project. And, of course, the extra strength and convenience come at a premium. There is a range of prices in the category, similar to that of granite, but entry-level quartz products tend to be slightly more expensive.

Finally, an innovative new material is catching the eyes of builders and clients alike. Dekton® is an ultra-compact surface made up of nature’s best and strongest materials. Like older mineral countertop options, Dekton is a durable composite that resists scratches and heat. Unlike those more traditional avenues, though, Dekton’s forward-thinking design acts as a defense against ultraviolet light, abrasions, stains, and extremes of cold. As such, it’s ideal for use not just in indoor countertops, but also in outdoor settings, and even in walls and flooring. Much like quartz, all of Dekton’s benefits come with a larger price tag. While incorporating Dekton may represent a greater total project cost, discerning homeowners will no doubt see the benefit of spending more to strengthen the surfaces we all take for granted every day.

Regardless of your choice, there’s an outstanding new countertop out there with your name on it! The Greater Birmingham Association of Homebuilders is your guide to finding a professional who can make your new kitchen, bathroom or any space a reality.