Which counter top material is best for my project?
We get this question a lot and the truth is that there may be a few materials that are best for your project depending on how you look at it. There are several pros and cons to each counter top surface material but all of them look beautiful and make for perfect kitchen and bathroom counter tops that will last for years. The major players in counter tops surfaces are as follows from least expensive to most expensive (generally speaking):
Laminate counter tops have been around for a long time and have stood the test of time for being the most cost-effective surface material. Popular brands are Formica, Wilsonart and Pionite and all have similar colors and styles with some of the newer colors incorporating better patterns, textures and reflectivity to mimic the ever popular stone counter tops. While not the most durable kitchen counter top surfaces, laminate is a great choice for budget conscious home owners or for individuals who are planning to sell their home in the near future and want to recoup maximum return on investment.
Solid surface counter tops are better known by their brand names and the one that stands out the most is a product by Dupont: Corian. Since its chemical structure is essentially the same as acrylic, it allows for more customizability than laminate. You can make seams disappear or you can form the back splash into the actual counter top for a very clean and streamlined look. There's also the option to have a sink from the same material installed, again, without seams and difficult to clean crevices. Durability is good with solid-surface although it can scratch and it can burn. However, due to its composition, solid surface is a counter top material that is repairable by buffing out scratches and shallow burns. Many edge options are available and while solid surface will set you back more than laminate counter tops, they're usually less expensive than granite.
Granite is the kitchen counter top by which all other counter tops are judged. Granite was the first counter top surface material to feature heat tolerance, scratch resistance and the elegant beauty of a natural stone product. To this day, granite remains an extremely popular counter top material thanks to the low maintenance, timeless beauty and reasonable cost. Sinks are generally under-mounted with granite and there are also a large variety of edge treatment options to choose from. Since granite literally comes from the earth and the patterns and colors can all vary greatly, it becomes necessary to see and select the actual slabs of granite that will be used for your project. You can see some of the latest granite colors here.
Quartz is quickly becoming our most popular counter top material for kitchens and bathrooms. Products such as Silestone, Caesarstone and Cambria are all quartz manufacturers offering unique styles and patterns. Quartz is very similar to granite in that it's heat tolerant and scratch resistant but it also adds resistance to staining. Some brands also incorporate microban or similar technologies to prevent bacteria growth on the counter surface itself. Since quartz is a man made product instead of a natural product, the colors and patterns tend to be more consistent and some colors are completely solid providing the perfect counter top for the growing demand of contemporary kitchens and bathrooms.