Find the best and right material to use for your home spaces in Part 2 of our Guide to Countertop Surfaces. If you missed Part I, you can view here.
Offering a wide range of looks for craftsman-styled homes to contemporary ones, tile is a versatile and attractive, inexpensive countertop material. Tiles come in a wide range of colors and styles to make unique countertops.
Price: $5-$30 per square foot
Pros: Tough, resists cuts, stains and heat. Easy to clean. Cracked tiles are easy to replace.
Cons: It cracks easily if you place a pot or skillet on tile surfaces. Uneven surface makes materials such as cutting boards, glasses or plates, placed on them unsteady. Rolling out dough on tile does not work well. Also annual sealing required or bacteria will grow in the grout lines.
Solid-surface countertops include the popular brand Corian and are made of acrylic, polyester resins, and even marble dust. This material can be molded to include a seamless backsplash or integrated sink bowl.
Price: $35-$100 per square foot
Pros: Non-porous, easy to clean. Scratches can be sanded out.
Cons: More expensive without the beauty of granite or quartz. Scratches and burns easily. Energy-intensive to manufacture and non-recyclable, this is not a green or environmentally friendly option.
There are numerous materials available today such as bamboo and post-consumer materials such as recycled glass, paper and wood that are eco-friendly and attractive to homeowners looking for attractive choices that are also sustainable.
Bamboo countertops consist of bamboo pieces glued together similar to the wood pieces in the butcher block countertop style. Recycled paper countertops are made of 100% post-consumer paper pressed into sheets and covered in a natural resin. Reclaimed wood countertops consist of wood recycled from previous buildings and have a natural look that works well with a wide range of styles from country to French, Mediterranean and more. Recycled HDPE countertops are made of HDPE, a common plastic found in many consumer and construction products that often ends up in landfills. Palm wood countertops are made of wood from palm trees, creating beautiful and affordable countertops.
Price: $35-$50 per square foot (bamboo), $40-$80 per square foot (recycled paper), $50-$100 per square foot (reclaimed wood), $50-$80 per square foot (recycled HDPE), $40-$75 per square foot (palm wood)
Pros: Recyclable, easy to clean.
Cons: Not as tough as granite or quartz. They also cannot handle too much direct heat.
Reclaimed wood countertops can hold bacteria and viruses if not properly sealed initially.
Lava countertops have a distinct aesthetic and are attractive and functional. Made of lave stone quarried from the site of ancient volcano eruptions, lava stone countertops are mostly created today from craters in Auvergne, France. Custom-cut for each order after it is mined, lava stone is glazed with enamel at heat above 1000 Celsius to create a smooth, non-porous finish that is water-resistant. Small cracks appear in the countertop as it cools, creating distinct looks for each countertop. Lava countertops can be glazed in any color to match any kitchen cabinet and decor with a gloss or matte finish.
Price: $250-$300 per square foot (bamboo)
Pros: Strong, does not chip or crack. Withstands heat, staining, acids from cleaners or foods and it will not fade in the UV.
Cons: Expensive (mostly shipping), not easy to refinish.
Beautiful and durable with a seamless finish, resign countertops are made from cured epoxy, acrylic or polyester resin, a commonly used synthetic material. Acrylic resin is commonly used in laboratories. Each countertop is cut to order from blanks or customized for unique designs, tinted or colored to create specific looks. Many homeowners opt for a semi-translucent look that allows backlight to shine through for a very attractive look.
Price: $50-$125 per square foot (bamboo)
Pros: Attractive and durable. Resistant to impact, staining, UV rays, scratches and heat. Also resists damage from the types of acids found in wine, tomato products and other foods. Non-porous and resists bacteria. Cleans up easily.
Cons: Variation in quality depending upon the manufacturer and source.
Stainless Steel Countertops
Known for its distinctive and gorgeous clean look, stainless steel offers elegance and functionality and often matches existing kitchen appliances such as your refrigerator, range, dishwasher and more.
Stainless steel countertops complement retro and contemporary styles well. First introduced in the 1940s as sinks, they became very popular by the 1950s and a demand for new homes. Stainless steel is now in use for backsplashes and for countertops. Stainless steel complements wood cabinetry and natural stone flooring.
Stainless steel is ideal for gourmet cooks as it makes it easy to clean surfaces especially when working with raw meat and vegetables.
Price: $80 and up per square foot (bamboo)
Pros: Attractive and durable. Sanitary and non-porous so bacteria cannot enter easily. Easy to clean and maintain. Has a cool look.
Cons: Can cost more.
Popular for use in bathroom fixtures, porcelain is an excellent material for countertops as well. Growing demand in the United States and established popularity in Europe for porcelain countertops has led to growth in suppliers. Most porcelain countertops are imported from Spain and other European countries.
Porcelain is manufactured from a type of clay that is rich in kaolinite minerals, and may also contain other minerals such as feldspar, silica and mineral oxides that add color and strength. Porcelain is often called ‘china’ because of its popularity in China. Porcelain slabs are used in countertops and are created by shaping kaolinite-heavy clay into slabs, coating them with colored glaze and firing at high temperature to create the final desired look. A wide variety of pigments available today make it possible to create porcelain countertops that resemble natural stone.
Price: $60-$100 per square foot (bamboo)
Pros: Wide range of colors and patterns available, large slab sizes up to 10’ x 5’, stronger than granite, durable, lightweight, no sealing required, easy to clean up. Heat-resistant. Can be recycled.
Cons: Can cost more depending upon the desired look.
So, there you have it! With this information in hand, we hope you can find the best material to use for your kitchen and bathroom countertops that is perfect for your home!
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