Top Countertop Materials
Although laminates tend to be less expensive, natural stone countertops such as granite, marble, onyx, quartz and concrete are considered to be more durable adding a more sophisticated touch to the design.
When faced with so many choices in countertop materials, you may want to take a few moments to consider the pros and cons of some of the products that are available today. Remember, a bathroom vanity countertop is exposed to different abrasive chemicals than a kitchen countertop. Outdoor countertops are also exposed to the elements and Mother Nature can be tough on your choice of material.
Concrete counters are an excellent alternative to many of today’s contemporary choices in countertop design. The concrete can be poured in place resulting in unlimited designs and configurations. Glass, marble, stone, sea shells, coins or whatever your imagination allows can be embedded into a concrete countertop.
Watch a video on polishing concrete with the WerkMaster Scarab
Pros: Unique and customizable; solid, ergonomic look; heat and scratch resistant; can be color-tinted; looks exotic and unusual; new treatments eliminate cracking; additives reduce porosity; new finishes are more decorative; low maintenance; can be sealed with ULTRAguard or ULTRAseal. Concrete countertops can be polished using a the WerkMaster Scarab.
Cons: Mid to high range on cost due to custom work; cracking is possible; can look somewhat industrial; porous but can be sealed.
Granite is considered the countertop material that defines elegance and beauty in a home. The natural beauty of the stone contributes to the allure and refinement of even the most modest kitchen or bathroom.
Pros: Elegant and substantial; readily available; comes in a range of almost 3000 colors; has a high value to home buyers; almost maintenance free; very durable; heat tolerant; can be sealed with ULTRAseal; can be repaired using the Scarab.
Cons: Expensive, but becoming more affordable; absorbs stains if not sealed; requires regular sealing maintenance; can crack if stressed or improperly installed; costly to repair.
Marble countertops define luxury in a home. One of the best qualities of marble is the variety of color and veining. Laminate and solid surface countertops all attempt to reproduce the natural beauty of marble with mixed results. Because of its extremely high price tag, marble is not often seen as a whole kitchen countertops.
Pros: Beautiful, luxurious and permanent; waterproof; heatproof; wide range of colors and choices; high value to home buyers; can be sealed with ULTRAguard or ULTRAseal; can be repaired using the Scarab.
Cons: Very expensive; porous; stains easily unless professionally sealed; scratches easily; expensive to repair; needs regular sealing.
If you want the marble look but not the marble price, a viable and cost-effective avenue is the cultured marble countertop. Cultured marble counters are made of crushed marble and a manufactured thermoplastic resin, poured into pre-cast molds to suit your project. Unlike natural marble, the resins in cultured marble lend non-porosity to the material. Cultured marble countertops are available in a gloss or flat finish.
Pros: Benefits of marble look at lower cost; more stain resistant than natural marble; wide range of colors and choices; high value to home buyers; can be sealed with ULTRAguard or ULTRAseal; can be repaired using the Scarab.
Cons: Expensive; porous; stains easily unless professionally sealed; can scratch easily; expensive to repair; needs regular sealing.
Engineered stone is composed of 93% crushed quartz particles. The quartz is combined with polymer resins and pigments and then compacted under intense vibration, vacuum, and pressure into dense, non-porous slabs. It is available in a larger range of colors than granite. Some brands on the market include LG Viatera®, Cambria Quartz, Caesarstone© and Silestone®.
Pros: Looks smooth, clean and elegant; nonporous surface; resists scratches; resistant to stain and acid; easy to care for; can be repaired using the Scarab.
Cons: Still relatively expensive; difficult to repair.
Solid surface countertops are made of plastic polymers that lack the brilliance and reflectivity of natural stone and are softer than engineered or natural stone counters. The countertops are custom-made to your specifications by companies such as Avonite®, Corian®, and Swanstone®.
Pros: Non-Porous; stain resistant; never need sealing; hundreds of colors and patterns; seamless; anti-bacterial.
Cons: Vulnerable to hot pans which can damage the surface; can be moderately expensive; difficult to repair.
Ceramic tile is durable and easy to clean. Add to that, inexpensive, and you’ve got a really good choice of countertops for the average home. Because it’s installed a section at a time, it can be done by most resourceful homeowners.
Pros: Heatproof – takes hot pans; scratch resistant; long lasting; easy to clean; wide range of colors, multiple choices of textures and designs.
Cons: counter surface is uneven; tiles can easily chip or crack; grout lines become stained; grout needs to be sealed frequently; custom-designed tiles are very expensive.
Wood or Butcher Block
Wood countertops offer a beautiful warm look and are available in a wide range of colors and finishes. Hardwoods such as maple and oak are most often used as countertop woods. Butcher block counters are very popular and are often inset into many kitchen countertops.
Pros: easy to clean; smooth; can be sanded and resealed as needed; can be repaired using the Scarab.
Cons: can be damaged by water and stains over time; scratches must be oiled or sealed according to manufacturer’s instructions.
For a really contemporary and industrial look for your kitchen, stainless steel is a good choice. Stainless steel countertops are heat resistant and durable. Because they’re constructed to your specifications, you can have a seamless countertop.
Pros: Stylish; heat resistant; low maintenance.
Cons: Expensive; noisy; may dent; fabrication is expensive; you can’t cut on it.
Laminate counters bear trademarks such as Formica®, Nevamar®, and Wilsonart®. They’re made of plastic-coated synthetics with a smooth surface that’s easy to clean. The pieces are cut to size and finished on the ends.
Pros: Easy to install; wide range of colors; readily available; easy to maintain; durable; inexpensive.
Cons: Scratches and chips are almost impossible to repair; seams show; end finishing and front edge choices can be pricey.