So you want to get new counter tops, but you’re confused as to what kind will be best for you. There are four main options to chose from and which of those that will work best for you all depend on your preferences of durability, aesthetics, and place of use.

 

Laminate

Unfortunately, laminate counter tops have come to have a bad name for dated reasons. Little do buyers know, they have their place for anything! High-density laminate is fastened onto engineered wood, which is then heat-set to procure a variety of edges. Laminate tops are available in post-form construction or in sheet goods; post-form construction is fabricated at the factory and then installed by a knowledgeable installer or the homeowner, and sheet-good laminate can be constructed and installed on-site by either the builder, installer, or homeowner. A variety of edges or backsplashes can be fabricated after installation using the fabricator’s unique equipment. You can even achieve an updated look by including an undermount sink! Laminate will most likely always been the most cost-effective option for construction replacement or new construction counter top choices. This type of surface has the most options for color and texture, such as stainless steel or natural stone in a matte or glossy finish. When it comes to durability, however, you have to make sure everyone that will be using the countertop knows not to use sharp cutting utensils directly on it or to avoid setting hot items on it. It resists small scratches and can especially go unseen when the surface is textured, as opposed to smooth and glossy. Laminate is often used in places where affordability is key, such as in commercial interiors, apartments, condos, and homes. It is commonly used in bathrooms and laundry rooms in high-end homes as well. Laminate will last you a long time in your space as long as it is taken care of. It doesn’t require any yearly sealing and is completely non-porous, and when it comes time to replace it, it will be of minimal cost.

 

 Solid Surface

Solid surface countertops are the next most cost-effective option for countertops. They have a genetic makeup of acrylic and polyester blends, in which the ratio of one to the other depends on the company producing it. It is not important to be concerned about the exact proportion of the surface’s composition though because the benefits of solid surface are not dependent on the makeup or the color, finish, or texture of the material. The color of the slab is a through-body, meaning the color is set throughout the entire thickness of the material. This is highly beneficial in hiding scratches, gouges, or stains. The surface can be completely renewable by taking an abrasive substance to the top to remove the top layer of damage, and larger gouges are recommended to be removed by a fabricator. Such wear and tear can be hidden more efficiently by choosing a lighter-toned color because darker options are more susceptible to showing scratches. Solid surface countertops are liked because of their seamless-nature. The composition of the material allows countertop pieces to be sanded and joined together so tightly, seams are very hard to see. Additionally, sinks and backsplashes can be easily integrated into the surface. The sinks are usually of a different solid color, so the seam is visible but cannot be felt, and they are offered in all styles and sizes. Similar to laminate, however, if you put solid surface in your space, it’s crucial to make sure users do not cut or set hot items directly on the surface, in order to prevent damage to the top layer. Solid surfaces can be used anywhere and are most often used commercially and in apartments, condos, and homes for any space application, such as in kitchens, bathrooms, laundry rooms, etc.

 

Quartz

Quartz is considered to be a man-made stone in that it takes bits and pieces of natural stone quartzite crystals and mixes them in with an epoxy to create a surface that can appear to be a natural stone. Quartz countertops require zero maintenance…yes, no maintenance at all. Because of the manufacturing process, it does not need to be sealed ever and is non-porous and highly microbial, in which some brands include Microban technology into the creation of the surface. It is also more durable than some natural stones, resisting heat and scratches better than marble or travertine. Quartz countertops are made to be pretty uniform in color under the manufacturer’s control, giving it a somewhat manufactured, but still very attractive appearance. Seams are existent in this  type of countertop, however quality fabricators match seams to be concealed from sight and might even hide them in places where a sink or range is placed. An endless variety of edges, backsplashes, and sink styles are available with quartz. Drop-in sinks and cooktops or undermount sinks are possible with this surface, and backsplashes are available in a set-on application. A huge benefit of quartz is the amount of color and pattern options that are available. You can achieve any look or style with a quartz countertop. Some things to be aware of are using sharp objects directly on the surface, and same goes for setting hot items on quartz. Because the surface is man-made, it is not resistant to all damage. Minor scratches are possible, and the material can be sensitive to temperature change; manufacturers always recommend the use of cutting boards or trivets for this reason. Quartz is priced similarly as natural stone, but is still dependent on the grade of the material. It is commonly used commercially and in high-end homes as bathroom vanities or kitchen tops, but can be used for any application.

Natural Stone

Natural stone countertops, especially granite, can be considered the top of the line choice for countertop applications…and what do you know, they are made by the lovely earth! There are so many color and pattern choices, it is unlikely to find a stone that you like anywhere else! Granite and other stones are truly unique in nature, where you will not find an exact consistency in any slab. Because of this, it is crucial that customers pick out their slab so they can see it as a whole; it can dramatically vary when compared to the showroom sample! Movements or patterns can be placed in the countertop through the template, allowing the customer to pick and choose which movements are where on their cabinetry layout. It is a natural stone so it requires maintenance, but don’t worry, it is minimal! It needs to be done once or twice a year, depending on how much use the surface gets. This simple process requires spraying a sealant on the surface, allowing it to sit for a few minutes, and then removing it by wiping it off. Granite is the absolute most durable surface to choose, in that it resists heat and scratches. Think of the millions of years the natural stone sits in the earth, compressed by heat! It is the most expensive option for countertops and may not be necessary for every surface, and prices are dependent on the availability, quality, and durability. It is most commonly used in high-end homes and commercial buildings, but really can be used anywhere because of its unique features.

When choosing a countertop, it’s very important to note your personal needs when it comes to aesthetics, use, and placement of the surface because each type of countertop has its own benefits for different applications.


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