The options for countertops have grown exponentially in recent years with the help of technology and creativity. There is so much more than the laminate and granite of years past, including quartz, concrete, wood, solid surface, stainless steel, or even a combination, as well as, many more. Each option has its own benefits, as well as, its own disadvantages. The trick is finding the right option to suit the needs of the client and the design style. One option may work for one space, while another may not. In some cases, the client may want multiple countertop materials and the challenge is combining them in a way that looks purposeful and cohesive.
As with many other things in the design world, the options seem endless. The key is to steadily narrow down the options that are available. The easiest way to start is by looking at the budget for the project. This could narrow down the possibilities fairly quickly if the countertop budget is low. If the budget is larger then maybe the lower end options are ruled out. The next thing to consider is durability. How much is the space used? Does the countertop need to be durable? Lastly, the look of the countertops and how they will relate to the overall design of the space.
Laminate countertops are one of the most cost effective options because they are made of layers of plastic that have been bonded to particle board. This allows them to be made in a variety of colors and patterns. They are also more easily installed. The downside is that they are less durable and will have to be replaced more frequently. Granite is a natural stone, which means that it is porous and requires sealing. Poor maintenance of this stone will lead to staining and bacteria growth. This material is more durable than laminate because it is scratch and heat resistant, however it could chip or crack over time.
Quartz is different from granite because it is an engineered stone. It is made of 93% quartz composite and 7% binder, which makes it scratch resistant, stain resistant, and extremely durable. There is also a great variety of colors and finishes thanks to today’s technology. The downside is that they aren’t as heat resistant as granite and some of the other options and they tend to be more expensive. Concrete countertops are often formed on site or in a shop and are custom. This makes them just about as strong and as expensive as quartz, but they require the same maintenance that granite does to keep them free of staining. However, they will not chip or scratch.
Wood, or butcher block has always been a very popular choice when it comes to countertops. They are ideal for those who love to prepare food and bake. They can be sanded and refinished after years of wear, which makes them very eco-friendly and require less replacement. They do need to be sealed to avoid bacteria, and water damage. Stainless steel countertops are one of the most durable, and easy to keep clean, but unfortunately they are also one of the most expensive. They also create a sterile feeling in a space that is normally supposed to feel warm and inviting.
Last, but not least, would be solid surface. These countertops are about mid-range on the price spectrum. They are a very strong material that is seamless and non-porous. They also require much less maintenance than granite and concrete. However, they are not scratch and heat resistant like the quartz is, which could lead to more wear and tear over time.
There are still more options for countertops out there than the ones mentioned here. These just happen to be the ones that are most commonly used. Some other examples are tile, resin, marble, recycled glass, and even lava countertops. Just like with these options each one has their own benefits and weaknesses, which is why it is important to know the differences when specifying a countertop for a kitchen or bathroom application.