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Not sure what type of countertop to choose for your kitchen or bath? Read more to learn about the pros and cons of the different countertop materials we offer.
- Granite countertops hold their value and their beauty for a very long time
- It stands up well to splashes, knife nicks, heat and other wear and tear
- Granite's beautiful mottling and the host of colors and patterns found in nature make each piece one of a kind
- Granite's natural surface has an almost luminous look
- Granite improves the value to your home and in many cases improves the sellability of your home
- With proper cleaning it is very sanitary
- Because granite is naturally formed by heat, pressure, and time, it will tolerate the heat of a pan
- Granite is easy to clean
- Each slab of granite is different, so it may not be a good choice if you prefer a completely uniform look
- Granite can be expensive and the installations are labor-intensive
- Granite can be permanently stained
- Granite can crack when hit by a hard, sharp object like a meat cleaver
Countries of Origin:
Natural granite slabs are imported from countries all over the world. The United States imports most of their granite from Italy, India, China, and Brazil.
- Lead times for new granite counters, from time of template to time of installation, are between 2 and 4 weeks
Solid surface is manufactured by mixing acrylic or polyester resin with powdered bauxite filler and pigments. Cured material is then cut in sheets or shapes. Solid surface fabricators buy full sheets and cut and glue the parts together to build a custom countertop. Solid surface countertops can have integrated undermounted sinks bonded into the countertop during fabrication.
Solid surface countertops are durable, easy to clean
- They are extremely water and stain resistant
- Solid surface countertops have been around for nearly 50 years and are still a true mainstay of the modern kitchen designs
- Solid surface countertops have low maintenance costs: scratches and burns are easily sanded out
- Solid surface materials have extensive color and pattern options
- Because you're not trying for the look of a natural material, you can experiment with vibrant hues and fun patterns
- Installation is seamless: there are no cracks to trap dirt and debris
- Solid surface counters can be costly, easily approaching the price of natural stone
- Solid surfacing can have an artificial look and feel
- Counters made from solid surface materials do not stand up to hot pans or sharp knives as well as counters made from natural stone
Solid Surface was first introduced by Dupont in 1964 under the name of Corian. Other manufacturers have also introduced their brands as well. These brands include: CMMA Solid Surface, Avonite, Meganite, Wilsonart, Formica, Mystera, Karadon, Swanstone and others.
- Lead times to fabricate solid surface countertops, from time of template to time of installation, are between 1 and 3 weeks
Quartz surfacing (also called engineered quartz or engineered stone) is made from resin and quartz chips tinted with color.
Quartz surfacing is a great compromise between the beauty of natural stone and the easy care and vibrant hues and patterns of solid surface materials
- Quartz surfacing has the same advantages as solid surfacing with regard to maintenance and care
- Because it is an engineered product, Quartz countertops are available in a far greater range of colors and patterns than natural stone
Quartz material doesn't have the natural variegation of granite, so it may be evident that it's an engineered product
- Quartz surfacing is relatively pricey, although its durability can make it a worthwhile investment
The top quartz surfaces manufacturers include: Silestone, Caesarstone, Cambria, Difiniti Quartz, Hanstone and Dupont Zodiaq.
- Lead times to fabricate quartz surface countertops, from time of template to time of installation, are between 2 and 4 weeks
Laminate materials are made from paper blended with resins and fused to particle board. Laminate tops have been a kitchen mainstay for decades. After years of being vilified, with improved manufacturing techniques laminate countertops are surging back in popularity.
- High definition patterns on the market can mimic stone, butcher block and other pricier surfaces
- The leading manufacturers include attractive edge profiles
- Laminate tops are relatively low maintenance and easy to clean
- Laminate is one of the most affordable countertop materials, so it's a good choice if your budget is tight
- Although a fairly tough material, laminate may not be as resistant to scratching, burns and, in some cases, staining as other types of countertops
- Laminate tops are difficult to repair if they become damaged
- With wear and moisture exposure, the layers of laminate can peel
Formica and Wilsonart are the big names in laminate manufacturing. Other names include Pionite, Bevella, and Nevamar.
- Lead times to fabricate laminate countertops, from time of template to time of installation, are between 1 and 2 weeks
Tile comes in endless ranges of styles and materials. To create an ornately designed countertop you may consider using ceramic or glass tiles, or a combination of both. Granite tiles can provide a sleek and polished look. Travertine tiles may help achieve a more natural style. Your choices are without limits.
- Tile countertops are fairly easy to clean
Tile countertops are heat-resistant
- Some tile countertops can be easy on the budget
- If you are on a budget, there may be less style options available to you
- Granite, marble, or travertine tiles can be high priced
- Despite tile's ability to withstand heat, certain materials such as glass or ceramic can easily be chipped or cracked if exposed to enough force
- Though tile surfaces are easy to clean, the grout can be difficult to clean
- The grout lines of tile countertops may need additional attention as time passes, cleaning, regrouting, and resealing on a regular basis will be necessary in order to maintain a fresh, clean appearance
There are all kinds of options of wood countertops, including butcher block, salvaged wood, exotic species, and many different stains and sealers.
Wood countertops are cozy, informal and offer a warm, approachable feel
- As long as wood counters are religiously maintained, they are perfectly sanitary for food prep
- Solid surface materials have extensive color and pattern options
- Wood countertops may not be the absolute best kitchen countertop choice because they are porous
- Not ideal for food preparation since the best surfaces for food preperation are non-porous
- Wood countertops scratch
- Wood countertops can be more expensive than other top material choices
- Wood countertops are high-maintenance and must be either sealed or oiled on a fairly regular basis
Industry leaders include John Boos, Grothouse, Williamsburg, and IKEA.
- Lead times to fabricate wooden countertops, from time of template to time of installation, are between 4 and 8 weeks
Stainless Steel Countertops
Stainless steel countertops not only look sharp and appealing, they're also very resilient
- They're water resistant, which means that since the surface is non-porous, no water can enter into the material itself, eliminating the risk of any long-term water stains or rust
- Since water can't build up in stainless steel tops, there is little chance for mold, bacteria, or other germs to build up, making it a very hygienic cooking surface
- Stainless steel tops are heat resistant, which means that you can place hot pots and pans on it without much risk of damage
- Stainless steel allows inventive and flexible kitchen designs
- Stainless steel counters most certainly will acquire scratches and dents over time
- Stainless steel is far from smudge-proof, especially if you have children with wandering hands
- You'll need to clean up fingerprints immediately to avoid long-term problems
- Stainless steel countertops can be more expensive than other top material choices
- Stainless steel is not impossible to stain
- With stainless steel you have to avoid using harsh chemicals because they will stain the metal
- Stainless steel countertops are not cheap to install and require installation by a professional
Industry leaders include Elkay, PMI, and Danver.
- Lead times to fabricate stainless steel counter tops, from time of template to time of installation, are between 4 and 8 weeks
Soapstone is beautifully colored and offers rich, deep colors for countertops. Typically, new soapstone counters start off a light gray in color, then darken with age. In order to hasten the darkening process, frequent application of mineral oil may be required.
- Soapstone countertops have a smooth, soapy touch as they are made of mineral talc, quartz, and other minerals
- Soapstone is very tough material: chemicals and cleaners won't cause it to deteriorate
- Soapstone is softer yet less porous than granite giving your kitchen a softer, homier feel while still remaining extremly durable
- Soapstone is heat resistant
- Soapstone countertops are high maintenance
- They require to be be wiped down with mineral oil regularly for the first year after they are installed (and less frequently after that)
- Soapstone scratches rather easily
- Most scratches can be rubbed out, or sanded down which is fairly time consuming.
- There is a possibility that imperfections in the stone could cause soapstone to crack over time, in which case you'll need to replace the whole countertop
- The grit and grain of this particular stone can be very hard on dishware and glasses
- Soapstone countertops are expensive
Countries of Origin:
Soapstone is mined around the world. Most soapstone imported into the U.S. used for countertops originates from Nordic countries and from Brazil. There are essentially two grades of soapstone: artistic soapstone, which is soft and is used for carvings, and architectural soapstone, which is dense, hard and virtually impervious to staining, which is used for counters.
- Lead times for new soapstone counters, from time of template to time of installation, are between 2 and 4 weeks
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