Countertops

Although this page is dedicated to countertops, the same materials used in kitchens are used for bathroom vanity tops. We are going to focus on the four most common types of materials used for your tops.

The Big Three: Solid Surface vs. Quartz vs. Granite

Confused about kitchen countertops? You should be. Three of the most popular types of kitchen counter materials other than laminate – solid surface, quartz, and slab granite – look alike, at least at first glance. This is intentional. Amazingly stone-like looks are engineered into solid surface and quartz but are nature-made in slab granite.

Only when you get close to the material and feel it do you begin to discern differences. Note that in the sections below, “homogeneous” is used to indicate a material in which elements are mixed to form a consistent, even look. 

Solid Surface

What is it?

Solid-surface is the term for a type of heavy polymer-laden countertop material.  They can provide a clean and attractive look and are relatively low in maintenance. A major advantage of solid surface is the ability to have a truly seamless sink – often referred to as integral sink. This means there are no edges or crevices for anything to catch; makes cleaning much easier.

Appearance

Uniform, with a matte-like look. Solid surface can be buffed to a glossy sheen but manufacturers do not recommend this as it shows scratches immediately.

Composition

33% manmade (polymers); 66% natural minerals.

Buy it if

You want a simple, no-nonsense countertop with a homogeneous look and with competitive pricing.

 

Quartz

What is it?

Quartz is the catchy marketing term for what is more widely known as engineered stone, itself a term for a slurry of natural minerals combined with resins to create a hard, rock-like surface for countertops. Think of it as less fake than solid surface but more fake than slab granite. Sinks are top or undermounted with the latter being preferred.

Appearance

Lustrous, deep, three-dimensional. Surface can be honed to a gloss, if desired. Homogeneous appearance.

Composition

Better brands: 10% binders; 90% stone-like materials, such as crushed or waste granite, marble and natural stone or recycled industrial wastes like ceramic, silica, glass, mirrors, etc.

Buy it if

You want a solid, stone-like countertop with a homogeneous look that requires virtually zero maintenance.

 

Granite

What is it?

Real 100% granite quarried directly from the earth and sliced into slabs. Nothing is added, nothing taken out. Granite is known for being very heat, cut and scratch resistant and fairly easy to maintain. A common misconception with granite is constant sealing it. Some sealers used can last for years. Abrasive cleaners will shorted sealer life span.  If you do have to re-seal your granite countertop, it is a fairly inexpensive process and not as time consuming as many are led to believe.

Appearance

Lustrous, rich, and crystalline. Can be honed to a gloss. Attractively chaotic appearance, in sharp contrast to quartz countertop’s homogeneous look.

Composition

100% natural. No granite slab is the same so every top will be unique.

Buy it if

You want a stone countertop that has a one-of-a-kind appearance and you do not mind occasional maintenance duties.

Laminate

Laminate countertops are a budget friendly option for a countertop; and have come a long way over the years in offering new vibrant colors and fashionable edge styles. As technology has progressed over the years, laminate countertops now offer a nearly seamless undermount sink option which helps keep the sink area clean. The disadvantages of laminate countertops is the longevity of the products life, and can be prone to delamination with water and steam penetration. They are also more prone to scratching than a quartz or granite countertop would be.

Name Brands Such As But Not Limited To

Silestone, Hanstone, Wilsonart, Vicostone, LG Hausys-Viatera, Caesarstone, Cambria, Corian, MSI and more

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