Countertop Guide: The Benefits & Limitations Of Every Surface

Posted on 05/05/2011 at 8:45pm

Unlike cars or electronics, most people don’t spend much time contemplating what “the next big thing” in countertops might be.  Because of this, thre is limited knowledge on the products and services available to you when renovating your home.  Until now…

LAMINATE: Many homeowners looking for new countertops want anything other than laminate, but it is the most cost-effective product on the market and you might be pleasantly surprised by the selection.  Laminate is a high-density material that is adhered to engineered wood and heat-treated to achieve multiple edge treatments.

The Benefits

  • Laminate has the widest variety of colors available and many degrees of texture and durability.
  • Laminate is low maintanence.
  • It will sustain slight scratches.
  • It’s affordable.
  • Laminate doesn’t require upkeep like sealing.
  • It’s completely non-porous.
  • It can be easily replaced.
  • It lasts many, many years.
  • There are a variety of edges available.

The Limitations

  • Laminate is suseptible to discoloration when extremely hot items are placed on the surface.
  • You don’t want to use laminate as a cutting surface… that will result in visible damage.  Use a cutting board.

SOLID SURFACE: Solid surface countertops are made of acrylic and polyester blends.  The proportions differ based upon the brand and the level of the product.  When choosing a solid surface, it’s best to pick the color, finish, and texture you want first.  Then, choose your brand.

The Benefits

  • All solid surfaces have color that goes all the way through the slab so if your countertop gets scratched or stained, you can remove the damage with a little Comet and a Scotch Brite pad.
  • Solid surface countertops are SEAMLESS!  One solid, smooth surface.
  • Solid surface is the only countertop that allows for “integrated” sinks and backsplashes of the same material.

The Limitations

  • Depending on your choice of sink, you may see a seam, but you won’t feel it.

GRANITE: Granite countertops have become increasingly popular over recent years but that popularity may decline with the variety of new and interesting quartz surfaces now available.  When selecting granite, a good partner is going to recommend that you pick your own slab because there may be a discrepancy from a sample in the store and the full pattern of the slab.

The Benefits

  • No two slabs of granite are alike, each has its own personality making your kitchen unique.
  • There are a variety of edges available.
  • Backsplashes can be set-on or you can opt for tile.
  • It’s very strong and can withstand heat and scratching.
  • There are lots of colors to choose from and they range in price based on quality, durability, and availability.

The Limitations

  • Granite requires annual maintenance through a sealing process, usually done once a year.
  • Granite is porous and can retain bacteria.
  • Granite requires an under mount or drop-in sink.
  • There have been concerns that granite countertops can pose health risks because they are capable of emitting radiation through the presence of differing levels of radon and uranium.
  • Be sure that you are getting a high-quality grade.  Not all granite slabs are the same and slabs mined in regions such as South America and China can be riskly selections.

QUARTZ: Twice as strong as granite, quartz is one of the hardest and most abundant minerals on earth.  Quartz surfaces are man-made stone.  Quartz has the appearance of natural stone but it’s actually stronger and requires less maintenance than granite or marble.

The Benefits

  • Quartz is completely non-porous so it never needs to be sealed.
  • Quartz surfaces are heat-resistant and capable of withstanding cutting (though a cutting board is always recommended).
  • There are no visible seams with Quartz.
  • Sinks can be under-mounted or self-rimming drop ins with lots of choices for style and color.
  • Quartz offers lots of edge treatments.

The Limitations

  • Backsplashes can be supplied but are only available in a set-on so most homeowners choose tile.

Cambria

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