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6 Countertop Materials Pros + Cons

Countertops these days are available in amazing varieties of colors, styles, and patterns.  Like many parts of design, the number of options alone can be overwhelming.  So...let's break it down into some basic information about six popular countertop materials, and pros + cons of each...



LAMINATE

Laminate is a very popular option for kitchens and bathrooms because of its low cost and variety of colors and patterns available.


What is laminate?

The base of laminate countertops is particle board, and a thin plastic finished laminate coating is bonded to the surface. 


PROS:

  • One of the most affordable types of countertops ($20-50 per square foot)

  • Widest selection of colors and patterns available of any other countertop type

  • Laminate quality is better than ever before to make them more durable

  • Non-porous surface makes for easy cleanup – soap and a washcloth


CONS:

  • Easily scratched

  • Not very heat resistant

  • Damages are hard to repair

  • Lacks natural beauty of more expensive materials like wood or natural stone

Laminate is a great choice for homeowners on a budget. Laminate will give you an attractive finish without the major expense.  Great for kitchens, bathrooms, offices, and more!



GRANITE

Granite is a beautiful, natural countertop option that a lot of homeowners desire, but does come with some extra care and maintenance.


What is granite?

Granite is a natural stone made from many different materials which gives each slab its own unique look and character.


PROS:

  • Beautiful, natural appearance with unique character

  • Good strength and durability if properly cared for

  • Scratch- and heat-resistant

  • Good stain resistance when sealed properly


CONS:

  • Stains without proper sealing or resealing

  • Can harbor bacteria without proper sealing or resealing

  • Edges can chip or break if a hard object falls on them

  • One of the more expensive countertop options ($50-$140 per square foot)

  • Not many different varieties in color or pattern

  • Need to promptly wipe up spills and not let moisture sit on the surface

  • Requires caution of what cleaners to use (soap residue can create a luster over time)


While naturally and uniquely beautiful, granite does require some extra attention that's worth considering before installing.


QUARTZ - Designer's Choice!

Quartz has quickly become a very popular upgrade option for countertops, and for good reason. It’s one of the toughest materials available and will maintain its beauty and durability over many years with very little maintenance required.


What is quartz?

Quartz is an engineered product usually made up of mostly natural quartz and a small percentage of binder and colorant. Small particles of quartz are ground down and mixed with a binder and pigment to hold it together and give it richer color.  Quartz is so hard that it is next in hardness to a diamond! Finishes can look like marble, granite, stone, and many other designs.


PROS:

  • Extreme durability – resistant to scratches and chips/breaks

  • Many colors, patterns, and finishes available

  • Easy to clean (mild soap or cleaner and washcloth)

  • Non-porous, so won’t stain or harbor bacteria

  • No sealing required, very little maintenance


CONS:

  • Among the most expensive countertop options ($50-150 per square foot)

  • Not as resistant to heat as granite or concrete

  • Because it’s engineered, some styles may not look as natural as stone


As a designer, quartz is an easy upgrade recommendation because of its attractive look and range of colors and styles, as well as easy maintenance and extreme durability. 



CONCRETE

Among the newer countertop options, concrete is a great look that comes in many colors and design options and techniques such as staining and stamping.


What are concrete countertops?

Concrete counters are mixed with blends of concrete with additives that can make them thinner or lighter than traditional concrete.


PROS:

  • Durable and hard, not easy to chip

  • Custom-formed on site to fit any shaped areas

  • Lots of color and design options


CONS:

  • Expensive – in the same price range as granite or quartz ($70-150 per square foot)

  • Needs to be sealed regularly

  • Easily stained

  • Can crack with heavy weight

  • Can tend to be heavy, so cabinetry and floor need to be very sturdy

  • Trending product, so may not be 'timeless' in appearance


Concrete countertops would look great in farmhouse kitchens, bar areas, and edgy designs, but pros and cons of this product should definitely be considered first.


BUTCHERBLOCK (WOOD)

Butcherblock counters are a very attractive option in kitchens that can have beautiful, timeless character. They may be combined beautifully with other types of countertops (ie: a butcherblock island with quartz perimeter countertops).


What are butcherblock counters?

Butcherblock counters are made from pieces or strips of wood of different colors laid in a pattern.  The pieces are glued together, sanded, and then sealed to create a smooth surface.


PROS:

  • Beautiful natural look

  • Affordable

  • Excellent surface for food prep and cutting, hide cuts and scratches well

  • Easy to clean

  • Not easily cracked or chipped

  • Works well in many designs and styles


CONS:

Need to be sealed and resealed and/or oiledCan harbor bacteria if not sealed properlyCan be warped by moisture if not sealed properly or dried promptlyDoes scratch easily, but this also adds to the character of the wood over time.



SOLID SURFACE

Solid surface counters are another newer type of countertop commonly used in kitchens and bathrooms.


What are solid surface counters?

Solid surface countertops are a man-made product made from sturdy acrylic, epoxy or polyester resins and pigments.


PROS:

  • Very hard and durable

  • Many different colors and patterns available

  • Can be custom-made for seamless surfaces

  • Can include integrated sinks


CONS:

  • Not as resistant to heat as stone or quartz

  • Can be scratched (but can be removed with careful sanding)

  • Upper end of countertop pricing ($75-125 per square foot)

  • Can tend to look more commercialized for home application


Solid surface are a nice durable product with attractive finish options. A great option for kitchen counters and bathroom vanities!


Functionality, durability, price, and overall style are all points to consider and prioritize when choosing between countertop materials.  Weighing these pros and cons and figuring out what your priorities are when it comes to your counters should help make your decision easier in finding a product you'll be happy with for years to come!

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