When it comes to your countertops, you want it all—beauty, functionality and durability. Considering that much of our time at home is spent next to a countertop — whether in the kitchen or in the bathroom — choosing the right one is perhaps one of the most important decisions that you will make as you remodel your kitchen and/or bathroom. With the multitude of options available, this choice may be somewhat daunting. Consider your lifestyle first. If your countertop bears the brunt of your daily workload—from making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to make-up application to art station—you may want to Stick with a low-maintenance, man-made solid surface. Choosing a white surface or one that may stain easily may not be the best fit.
A common misconception amongst homeowners is that man-made equals “fake,” which simply is not true. The materials used in manufactured countertops are generally over 90 percent natural. Take, for example, Cambria®, a superior choice for countertops. It is made of 93 percent natural quartz stone. Aside from being available in over 60 colors and shades, Cambria is virtually maintenance-free, meaning that it will never require polishing or sealing, and is scratch- and stain-resistant. In addition, it is safe to be used as a food preparation surface, because its nonporous surface makes it impossible for bacteria to penetrate and flourish. Direct contact with heat can cause damage, and using excessive force can cause it to crack. So when you are tempted to hit the countertop with a baseball bat, think twice about the eternal crack it will produce.
Granite is another popular option when it comes to kitchen and bathroom countertop selection. Like quartz, granite offers low maintenance as well as scratch- and stain-resistance. Unlike Cambria, granite is heat resistant, so you can place that hot pot in the kitchen or your curling iron in the bathroom directly on it, without having to worry about damage. For extra protection, consider IntelliGuard® solution, which can prevent spills and liquids from seeping into your porous granite countertop. With IntelliGuard, liquids on granite bead up and can be wiped away easily.
Customizable, adaptable, and relatively inexpensive, ceramic and porcelain tiles present limitless options when it comes to choosing a countertop for your home. They are strong survivors and hold up well to heat and sharp blades. They resist stains and are easily replaced if a tile chips or cracks. On the negative side, the uneven surface can cause cutting boards, glasses and other kitchen or bathroom items to be unstable. In addition, dust and dirt can settle in the grout lines, and if these are not routinely caulked and sealed, they can be a haven for bacteria.
If you’re looking for an acrylic countertop, the Lexton Acrylic Solid Surface Countertop can be a great choice. It can take the heat, is nonporous, and resists cracks, chips and breakage. Furthermore, it is mold- and mildew-resistant, and easy to maintain. In terms of cleanup, all it takes is a little soapy water, or for stubborn stains, a liquid abrasive scrub. Any scratches that appear over time can be buffed out with fine sandpaper or a mild abrasive cleaner.
Silestone and Cambria are often used interchangeably, and they are very similar surfaces. Both materials use quartz and polymer resins for their countertops along with crushed stone. Silestone is highly durable, stain-resistant, heat-resistant, and scratch- and chip-resistant. It will also never require sealing, due to its density. One major difference between these two countertops is their origins. Cambria is manufactured in the United States, and Silestone is made in Spain. If you want to stay stateside, Cambria is your better option.
Though laminate hasn’t always been known for its stylish qualities, its reputation is quickly changing. The latest laminate countertops on the market mimic the designs of stone and other more expensive materials, so this can be a good choice if you are on a tight budget but don’t want to compromise your look. Laminate is also fairly low-maintenance, is easy to keep clean and offers greater resistance to wear and tear. However, it is not heat resistant and is prone to scratching, burning and sometimes even staining. Since laminate is essentially particle board that has been fused with a blend of paper and resins, it provides high durability, but along with this comes the risk of the layers beginning to peel over time.
While we don’t usually recommend ceramic tile countertops, they are an option for homeowners. The uneven surface can cause cutting boards, glasses and other kitchen or bathroom items to be unstable. In addition, the grout is easily stained and can also be a haven for bacteria. Homeowners need to weigh the positive aspects of customization, durability and cost against the challenges.
Ultimately, make sure you select a countertop that you love, from a functional and an aesthetic standpoint. After all, you’re going to be living with this countertop for many years to come!