How to choose the best countertop for a Malaysian kitchen

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Marble (left) and quartz are extremely durable and beautiful, although they come with high price tags. (Pinterest pics)

What are the most important factors in a kitchen countertop? Yes, it needs to last. Yes, it needs to look good. But perhaps most crucially, it needs to be able to withstand the Malaysian cooking challenges of kunyit (turmeric) paste, ghee, and dark soy sauce.

This is why your choice of countertop is very important. Selecting the right material means taking a look at how you use your kitchen. Do you frequently use a pestle and mortar to pound your sambal? Or would you put hot woks directly on your counter?

Once you know what you are dealing with, you can narrow down your list from these popular countertop materials for your kitchen.

1. Marble

Alongside other natural stone materials, marble is popular for its durability in the face of regular wear and tear. This classic material is also heat resistant and available in a variety of textures and tones.

That said, marble is also the most expensive, and must be sealed at installation and then periodically resealed over time, as its porous nature can lead to issues.

2. Quartz

As a cultured stone, quartz combines minerals, resins, and colours to create the vibrant texture of natural stone. It has a wide variety of grains, textures and hues, including more uniform tones.

Unlike stone, this mixed medium does not require sealing or regular maintenance, and it stands up to scratches, stains, and heat. Quartz has a similarly high price tag, though, and sharp corners may require professional care if damaged.

3. Granite

Granite, too, is resistant to knives and heat but, like quartz, is prone to damage to its edges that may require professional care.

This popular material boasts textures and patterns unique to each slab, with polished and matte options that will further improve stain resistance. More unique colours will generally cost more, and, like stone, granite must be resealed over time.

Solid-surface countertops are prone to scratches and scorches, though these can be repaired. (Recommend.my pic)

4. Solid surface

Solid-surface countertops mimic the textures and colours of stone, glass, or concrete materials. Yet they require less maintenance over time, helping to reduce costs.

Solid surfaces maintain the resistance of stone to heat and water damage, but are much simpler to clean and will not show wear as quickly.

5. Concrete

With its natural look and many potential tints or sculpts, concrete is adept at bringing the elements of your kitchen together, especially alongside other natural materials like wood or stone.

It is highly resistant to heat and stains, which makes the regular sealing and maintenance worth the trouble.

Note, however, that concrete is heavy, which means extra care in design and installation. It can also be easily damaged by highly acidic liquids.

6. Tile

As a countertop material, ceramic tiles are especially homeowner-friendly. Not only do they drastically reduce costs, they open up the possibility of a do-it-yourself approach.

The diverse sizes, shapes, colours and textures make any look or design possible, although the tiles themselves can be fairly easily damaged.

Concrete countertops are incredibly durable, while tiles are especially homeowner-friendly. (Pinterest pics)
Concrete countertops are incredibly durable, while tiles are especially homeowner-friendly. (Pinterest pics)

Despite the fact that grout requires routine cleaning to prevent mildew and stain damage, tiles are resistant to damage from water, heat, scratches, and stains.

7. Wood

Of the many natural materials available, wood stands out for the warmth it adds to any kitchen space. It also stands up well to regular wear and tear from cutting and chopping, with any defects showing as a charming patina.

In particular, butcher block – the most common variety – makes a wonderful base for a prep area, although crafted slabs can also be used.

As a material, though, wood requires regular maintenance and food-friendly sealing as it can be damaged by water, heat, stains, and common acids or chemicals.

8. Laminate

With changing technology, laminate has become popular as its available textures and colours have expanded.

With its ability to mimic other materials, laminate entails particleboard or plywood encased in a thin layer of plastic resin. This makes it the most inexpensive countertop material, one that is both durable and relatively easy to maintain.

The one on the left is actual wood, while the other is merely mimicking it. (Pinterest pics)

You will, nevertheless, need to take care as there is no way to repair damage from hot pans or deep scratches and cracks. Furthermore, only drop-in sinks can be used with laminate due to its construction.

9. Stainless steel

There’s a reason why restaurants use stainless steel: this material is virtually indestructible and can handle the frenzied activity of any commercial kitchen.

It is also easy to clean, since spills will not penetrate the surface (and lead to bacteria). However, after a while, this shiny surface will get dull and scratched – though you should say this adds character – and it only comes in one colour.

Ultimately, there is a material out there best suited to you and your household; it’s merely a matter of considering the options to identify the best for your home.

This article originally appeared on Recommend.my – Malaysia’s #1 Home Improvement Services Platform, offering a safer and more convenient way to hire the best home improvement and home maintenance professionals. From flooring to interior design to air-conditioner servicing, get access to thousands of the best local contractors and professionals at your fingertips.