Kitchen and bathroom countertops: what material is right for me?
February 13, 2017
Whether building new or remodeling your home, choosing the right countertops for your project can be tricky. Kitchen and bathroom counter tops are available in a wide variety of materials that vary widely in price, style, quality and durability. So how do you make the right choice?
Let’s consider the types of modern countertop materials available today, along with their pros and cons.
Laminate countertops are a perennial favorite for many kitchens and baths because they are affordable and available in the widest possible range of colors and patterns. Often called plastic laminate because the surfaces are plastic, laminate countertops contain a hard particle board core with layers of durable plastic bonded over the top of it.
- Modern Laminate countertops are made with higher quality and durability than ever before.
- They remain the most affordable type of countertops available
- Laminates come in the widest variety of colors, patterns and textures
- The laminate surface is solid and without pores, making it easy to clean and sanitize
- Laminate countertops can be more easily scratched than other surfaces
- They are also not heat resistant and can be damaged with hot pans or appliances
- If the laminate surface gets scratched it is very difficult to repair
- While laminate countertops come in many attractive colors and patterns, they can’t duplicate the natural beauty of surfaces such as granite, marble or wood.
Granite countertops are some of the most elegant and richest kitchen countertops available in a wide range of prices from moderate to expensive. Their classic elegance exudes distinction, and matched with outstanding durability, may be the last countertops your home will ever need.
Granite is a natural stone, quarried from large igneous deposits comprising many different minerals that give each countertop slab a unique appearance. Its strength and durability are unmatched, though granite countertops do require some care and maintenance. Improvements in sealers, lasting 7-10 years, make maintenance less cumbersome than in the past. And a variety of choices in finishes —polished, honed, leathered, and caressed—highlight the natural beauty of granite.
- Among the most beautiful of countertop materials
- Accentuate the good looks of quality kitchen cabinets
- Natural stone for those who want an ecofriendly countertop
- Excellent strength and durability with proper care
- Resistant to scratches and damage from heat
- Good stain resistance and easy to clean when sealed correctly
- Improper sealing or failure to reseal when needed can lead to staining of this porous stone
- Poorly sealed granite may harbor bacteria
- Limited variety of colors and patterns
- Corners may chip or break if a heavy object falls on them
- More expensive than other countertop choices
One of the toughest countertop materials available, quartz will deliver decades of durable service while maintaining its beauty. Because quartz countertops can be enhanced with colorant to produce nearly any hue you can imagine, they are available in a wide variety of colors while offering the look and feel of natural stone.
Quartz countertops differ from granite and marble in one significant way: quartz is an engineered product while the other two are solid stone. The quartz is ground into small particles and then mixed with a polyester resin binder to hold it together. The result is an attractive, extremely strong slab that is similar in appearance to marble.
- Excellent options for color, pattern, texture and finish (limited patterns)
- Extremely durable
- Quartz doesn’t need to be sealed while natural stone does
- Quartz is non-porous, so resistant to staining and bacteria
- Easy to clean
- Resistant to scratches
- Doesn’t chip as easily as granite, marble or tile
- Not as resistant to heat as natural stone or tile
- Doesn’t have the natural look of stone
- Direct sunlight over time can cause fading, warping or cracking
Marble is a beautiful material for a countertop and is one of the most classically elegant. While their popularity tends to rise and fall over time, marble countertops remain one of the classic choices where premium quality is desired.
Marble is a metamorphic rock that contains a high concentration of calcite or dolomite which give it rich color and veining. Marble varies in the size of the grains and the amount of veining, so stone quarried from different parts of the world have a unique appearance. Polished marble is not recommended for kitchens because of scratching. A honed finish with a quality sealer is more suited for kitchens.
- Unsurpassed beauty
- Every marble countertop is one of a kind
- A rich spectrum of colors and veining
- Several finishes are available to provide just the look and feel you want
- Fits well with most kitchen and bath cabinet styles, from classic to modern
- Offers outstanding durability when properly cared for
- Excellent resistance to heat
- Marble is porous and will stain unless properly sealed and regularly cleaned
- High maintenance- must be resealed as often as once per year
- Scratches more easily than granite
- Can be chipped or cracked by heavy items
- Will etch if exposed to acidic materials such as tomato juice
- More expensive than other countertop choices
Tile countertops are produced using ceramic, glass or porcelain. Tile is one of the most versatile materials because it comes in a nearly endless variety of styles, sizes, shapes and colors.
Tile has been used as a building material for thousands of years. Ceramic tile is the most popular because it is affordable and comes in the greatest array of style options. Porcelain tile is a wonderful choice for countertops and backsplashes because it is easy to clean and resistant to moisture. Glass tiles are also easy to clean and offer exciting options when installed over LED lighting.
- Tile offers unlimited opportunities to create a kitchen or bathroom countertop that is tailor-made for your home
- Tile is versatile enough to go with any kitchen style, from traditional to retro to contemporary
- Easy to clean
- Very durable
- Cost-effective material
- Grout must be sealed on a regular basis to keep that porous material from harboring bacteria and becoming stained
- Installation is labor-intensive and can be expensive
Besides the materials listed above, kitchen and bathroom countertops are available in a variety of other materials, including butcher block and other wood, concrete, recycled glass, zinc, copper, stainless steel, solid synthetics, resins, porcelain, lava, soapstone, or limestone.
At Osburn Cabinets & Design, we can not only help you design the perfect cabinets for your kitchen or bath, we can also assist in choosing the countertops to match. To schedule a no-obligation appointment with one of our design experts, just give us a call at 970-242-6899.