How do I choose my countertops?
Countertops are a central piece in a kitchen or bathroom space. The look and feel of a room are largely determined by the countertops, as these are often what people first see when they walk into a room. Not only that, but the longevity and durability of the countertop materials are important for the long term wear of your kitchen or bathroom.
As you consider countertop materials, durability and aesthetics are generally the most important. Keep in mind that your priorities may differ depending on the room you’re looking to remodel.
Below, you’ll find the pros and cons of four common types of countertop materials.
Granite is a popular choice for countertops. The category often called “granite” encompasses many types of natural stone. Many homeowners are drawn to this choice because it is cut from natural stone, meaning each piece is unique. The stone you choose can be exclusive to you. It also means that there is a wide range of cost depending on availability and unique characteristics. Pricing can be anywhere from <$60/square foot to >$200/square foot depending on how common or exotic the stone is. Common colors/patterns of granite that are more affordable include Santa Cecilia, Venetion Gold, Black Pearl, and Venetion Pearl. These each maintain a fairly consistent design without much movement and have a consistent look.
The color of granite, because it is a natural material, may vary. Individual slabs of stone may be a different shade than what you see in the store showroom. Even the same stone can change shading from one side to another. So, if possible, it is a good idea to look at slabs and choose one yourself to assure you are getting the color you want.
Another thing to consider when choosing granite is that some colors are more porous, which can lead to staining.
This typically means that some preventative maintenance, such as sealing, is required. Because granite is a natural stone, you may notice very tiny micro-sized cracks and fissures when running your hand over the surface. Although this is not noticeable to the naked eye, some homeowners find this characteristic harder to keep clean and it may require occasional sealing. Despite the small amount of maintenance required, granite is a very hard and durable material and holds up well for years of use.
Quartz countertops are manufactured using natural quartz in a controlled setting. This means the colors are very consistent, and what you see in the showroom will be what gets installed. This helps you control the look and feel of the countertop, knowing exactly what to expect. Quartz is a very hard stone, doesn’t scratch, and will wear well. Because it is a manufactured product, it will come with a warranty that you will not get with granite.
There are a number of manufactures of quartz countertops and each has a variety of colors. You will find a very wide variety of choices, ranging from uniform, even colors to bold patterns with many colors and a lot of movement. Here at Russell Room Remodelers, we almost exclusively work with Cambria, but have installed quartz from Silestone, Caesar Stone, Hanstone, MSI, and Dupont.
There is no maintenance required with quartz countertops and it is very smooth to the touch. Quartz tends to be more expensive than common granite (such as the ones mentioned above), and less costly than the exotic natural stone choices. If you choose quartz, keep in mind that you should always use a trivet or pad to insulate anything hot that is placed on its surface. Although uncommon, it could cause damage or cracking from the thermal shock of a hot item.
Plastic laminate is a less expensive option with a wide range of colors and textures. Often known by the brand name Formica, it is still a good choice for many jobs. We recommend thinking about laminate when remodeling a basement wet bar or laundry room. While it is durable, it is not easily repairable. Even though it is not as popular today, it was the mainstay of countertop materials for years and remains the most cost effective option of the four.
This is a finish we primarily recommend for bathrooms. Acrylic is softer, so it can scratch and burn more easily. When utilizing it in a smaller space, such as a bathroom vanity, it is possible to polish the scratches out. However, it is more difficult to keep in good condition in a kitchen. For a smaller room, it is a very cost effective material. If you choose to install acrylic in a larger room, such as a kitchen, the cost will be similar to granite. Corian is probably the most well known of the acrylic brands.
While there are many options when it comes to countertops, the above are the four most common. Depending on your priorities (durability, aesthetics, budget, warranty, etc), we can help you choose the best material for your home remodel. Click here to set up an initial consultation!