Countertop Material Ideas

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                                       Natural Stone Countertops

There are more and more choices for countertop materials these days. The only hard part is wading through all the choices. I am a granite person myself, but there are some very good manufactured solid surfaces out there. Let us just go through some of the types of countertop materials individually for some strengths and weaknesses to find the best choice for your countertops.

Granite is the most popular counter top material these days for good reason. Granite is strong, scratch resistant, heat resistant, stain resistant, and a washable type of countertop. The only drawbacks are the price, and the fact that you have to seal it now and again. Granite is usually cheaper than the engineered solid surfaces, but more than tile or laminate. Some exotic granites get very expensive.

Granite is my favorite type of countertop surface because of the high variability in pattern. When you see granite you know right away it is a natural substance. That is not to say that some of the engineered solid surface counter tops are not very good, and beautiful.

Some other natural stone choices are Marble, Soap Stone, Slate, and Wood. I consider these surfaces some of the nicest looking, but very soft and should be used in an accent situation like an island, and not the whole kitchen.


                                    Engineered Solid Surface Countertops

Engineered Solid Surface countertop materials are made by quite a few different companies with different manufacturing techniques. Basically there are two types of manufactured solid surface countertop materials, one called quartz that mixes rock dust or chunks with a polymer, and one that is mostly acrylic or/and polyester. I can not talk about the many differences in products please do some research.

Quartz manufactured solid surface countertop materials are basically the same as granite with maybe less heat resistance, less absorbency, and you don't have to seal it ever. In my kitchen remodeling business quartz is the most popular counter top choice because of the consistency and the no maintenance factor.  The choices in design are vast, with many colors and patterns to fit any design. Some of the companies that manufacture Quartz are: Caesar stone, Zodiac, Silestone, Hanstone, Cambria, and LG Viatera.

The non quartz surfaces are not quite as tough and can scratch, are not as heat resistant, but are very repairable. These manufactured solid surface countertops are usually made of acrylic, polyester, or both. Some of the companies that manufacture these solid surfaces are: Dupont Corian, Avonite, Wilson art.

If you're looking for an environmental option there are mixes of recycled paper, recycled glass, recycled concrete, and mishmashes of different materials. EcoTop and PaperStone make a recycled paper counter top, IceStone and Vetrazzo are recycled glass based and Squak Mountain Stone is a mixture. These materials can be tough, but not as heat resistant in some cases.

Concrete counter tops can be cast into unique designs, shapes, and colors. Concrete of course is a strong material, but can stain. The few concrete counter tops that I have dealt with were quite thick causing havoc with faucet installation. 

Stainless steel countertops are the countertop of choice as a material in commercial applications because they last, and are very cleanable. I would say that in residential situations stainless steel counter tops would only work in certain modern designs. Stainless is also expensive. Oh yea I forgot they are also stain resistant.

Laminate The lowly laminate, the resale killer. Laminate actually is very cost effective, tough, and cleanable. There are new 3d laminates that look very nice. Laminate really is a fine choice of countertop material for those on a budget. Some laminate companies: Formica , Wilsonart HD

Good old tile counter tops are out of style because nobody likes cleaning grout joints. A good budget improver can be to use granite tile with tight grout joints over solid surfaces, as much as  a quarter of the price. There are a lot of tile options out there, I am certainly not against tile counter tops. Tile is pretty tough but can chip, and is stain resistant aside from the grout joints. There are special epoxy, and other additives that  increase grouts stain resistance.

The best way to get counter top material ideas is to visit local dealers and get some samples to compare with your cabinet colors, flooring, back splash, and cabinet finish.