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How to Choose the Best Materials for Your Remodel

How to Choose the Best Materials for Your Remodel

Just imagine you’ve found your perfect renovation contractor and signed a design agreement. You’re ready to begin turning “love that” into “want that” and then HAVE THAT! with your design selections.

“All that time on Pinterest and Instagram will finally pay off,” you think. You’re staring the design experience with a solid idea of what you want for tons of things.

Except…when it comes to materials, you realize that your instinct stops short of how something looks.

For example, if you know you love marble countertops and dream of them in your kitchen, is it just the look you’re after or are you ready for the maintenance and care that your selection requires?

With all the manufacturing variety out there, the “look” of a selection is only part of what your designer will guide you through.

And yes, you WILL want the guidance, because many concerns are those you won’t know how to answer on your own. You won’t even know to ask! And you don’t have to—that’s the point of working with an interior designer or remodeling firm.

In short, weigh each material selection on these scales and the right choice will be clear…

  1. Style
  2. Durability
  3. Maintenance
  4. Investment

Here are the top selections where materials matter—and what you should know about each!



Whether in the bathroom or the kitchen, countertops represent FAR more than a pretty slab. Here’s what to know about their variety and maintenance…



Granite is a natural material where no two slabs will ever be alike. It’s available in a huge range of colors, and the seal you choose can add another touch of personalization.

You do want to be sure to seal granite, because although it’s one of the most heat-resistant surfaces, direct heat from the oven or stovetop can damage it.

Granite is also one of the least absorbent materials, making it naturally stain-resistant.



Quartz is manufactured, meaning it can be crafted in a far greater array of colors. The “tolerance” of the product is tighter, too, meaning quartz colors are much more consistent slab-to-slab.

Quartz has a lower gloss level than granite, meaning its finish is also more consistent. It will NEVER have pitting or fissures.

These countertop slabs are made from crushed quartz mixed with pigment and resin. The tradeoff is that the material is more prone to heat damage—or even damage from harsh cleaners. It’s not porous, which makes it resistant to staining (both a good and a bad thing), and so quartz counters generally are not sealed.

This makes using a trivet on quarts countertops that much more important!!



Quartzite is another natural material, meaning its slabs are also unique. It can be found in many colors on spectrums from cool to warm and light to dark.

Quartzite is also the MOST heat-resistant surface, so depending how you cook (and where you set things straight out of the oven), this surface might have huge lifestyle benefits…

The process to cut quartzite (being such a hard stone) requires such enormous pressure that sometimes, small fissures are created…a good seal is recommended for that reason!!



Marble is another natural stone. Formed over millions of years, no two slabs will ever be alike!

Though marble is best known for its white color, it can also be found in rich blues, browns, grays and blacks. (Do be aware, though, that dark countertops show EVERYTHING.)

Marble is another heat-resistant countertop, but direct heat from the oven or stovetop can definitely cause harm. A sealer will penetrate marble and protect it well, especially if reapplied every six months.

You can see this information AND more on countertops in this beautiful countertops comparison

Everything You Need to Know About Countertops


Cabinet Hardware

Most of us see the color of cabinet hardware before we think about what metal it is. With all the metal types and finishes available, though, it’s important to know about these principal types of cabinet hardware material!



This shiny, golden material is sealed with a lacquer coating. This means it DOESN’T tarnish…but the lacquer WILL dull over time.



Unlacquered brass will naturally change color as it ages. This is oxidation that changes the original rosy color over time. You can always polish it back to its original shine, though!



Once brass oxidates, the new sheen is called “patina.” Antique brass comes with a pre-patina look. It’s chemically aged and then sealed to keep its look forever, and it NEVER needs polishing.



Bronze is a color you can instantly picture. The material itself is corrosion resistant, so no tarnish! One negative, though: because bronze is more porous than other materials, it can develop tiny shrinkage cavities over its lifetime.



Stainless steel had its day, and it was yesterday! Though it’s phasing out of design for cabinet hardware and even appliances now, it still provides LOADS of “looks” to go for if you like the shiny metal look. Stainless steel does require polishing, though, and it’s also the most expensive cabinet hardware material.



Nickel looks clean and modern if you get it with a brushed finish. It also comes in multiple polished finish options.

While nickel’s color is a little like sterling (but a little warmer than chrome).

Nickel does also require maintenance to avoid tarnish if it doesn’t come lacquer-sealed…

Check out these recent “finds” in cabinet hardware for some mixed-material inspirations, too…


Cabinet Wood

Just looking at all the WOOD selections, not to mention the number of finishes, cabinet materials are a HUGE selection to-do.

Here are some things to consider when selecting your cabinetry materials…

The best options include:

  • Alder
  • Cherry
  • Maple
  • Quarter-Sawn Oak
  • Rift Oak
  • Rustic Oak
  • Walnut




Maple and oak tend to withstand wear and tear (including knocking cabinets with pots and pans as you put things way).



To enjoy the natural beauty of knots, splits and other “character” in cabinetry, woods like cherry, maple, or ESPECIALLY oak are great selections.


Painting the cabinets?

If you’re committed to the idea of painting your cabinets, maple is often best. Its fine grain takes well to different paints and stains.



For the elevated look in your kitchen or bathroom, cherry and walnut come in light and creamy tones that are exceptional for transitional and contemporary living. Dark walnut can also look particularly classy, depending on the rest of your design…



Finding the perfect sink means selecting the right material for your needs and lifestyle.

It’s not just about how stain resistant a surface is to protect it from the dirty dishes you let sit overnight…it’s also about how sound absorbent a material is while you cook!!

Have you considered the ease of cleaning certain materials along with the beautiful and stylish look you’re after?

Here are some of the most popular sink materials and the benefits they’re known for…

  • Cast iron: durable, stain resistant, sound absorbent and easy-to-clean
  • Concrete: durable, sound absorbent, hard water resistant
  • Copper: durable, easy-to-clean and antimicrobial
  • Fireclay: scratch resistant, stain resistant, sound absorbent and anti-microbial
  • Granite: SUPER durable, scratch resistant, sound absorbent and easy-to-clean
  • Quartz: scratch and stain resistant, sound absorbent, dent resistant and easy-to-clean
  • Stainless steel: durable, stain resistant, antimicrobial and easy-to-clean


There’s more to consider in your remodel…

Like, how about the metal for your faucets? (Hint: you can scroll up and read the benefits of cabinet hardware metal types, and much of the same will be true for faucets.)

Or how about flooring?!

There are SO many selections to make…add material into the mix of what “looks right” or fits your budget, and before you know it, your head is SWIMMING.

That’s why we accompany our clients on selections visits to see manufacturers and showrooms. We stand by them (literally) when they touch and feel selections and consider what really fits their needs.

We LOVE talking to them about the characteristics of material selections, too!!

Please follow us on social to see the hashtags we devote to each project we do…there, we talk about the selections and materials of each renovation journey and all the other decisions made along the way…

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