The Ultimate Guide to Choosing a Kitchen Countertop – Pt. 1

That’s a pretty ballsy statement, no? Good thing I fully intend to back it up.

This three-part mini-series will cover 15 of the most popular countertop material choices on the market today, and the most popular countertop “edge” trends. Because after all, your countertop choice directly affects your tile options. Better make sure you choose it right, don’t you think?

If you’re already shell-shocked by the sheer number of options, you better hold onto your seat because I’m about to blow you away.

Today we will cover The Manmade Materials.

(I know it’s grammatically incorrect to capitalize all of that, but I thought it added dramatic emphasis.)

I will cover each by showing an up-close shot of the material, go over the basic pros & cons, how it needs to be maintained, and a general idea for cost on a $ – $$$$$ scale.

Excited yet? Let’s begin!

Laminate

PROS: Easy on the pocketbook. Also, you don’t have to seal it. Since it’s laminate and all.

CONS: Easy to damage via scratching, melting, and dropping things (not that I do that).

MAINTENANCE: Clean with soap and water, but avoid anything abrasive.

COST: $

Solid Surfacing (i.e. Corian and similar)

PROS: It’s durable and it doesn’t absorb liquids (so no need to seal), but the best part is that if you damage it via staining, burning, or scratching, you can sand it right back out!

CONS: Not heat-resisitant under prolonged heat.

MAINTENANCE: Clean it with soap & water.

COST: $$

Paperstone

PROS: Since it’s made from 50-100% paper, it’s extremely eco-friendly! And it’s just kind of cool that it’s made from paper. But the benefits you really care about: it’s scratch- and heat-resistant.

CONS: Colors can fade slightly with prolonged exposure to sun.

MAINTENANCE: Soap & water, and it should occasionally be treated with PaperStone Finish.

COST: $$$

Stainless Steel

PROS: It looks sweet. It’s also heat- and stain- resistant. But mostly it looks like your counter could be a transformer. Which is awesome.

CONS: Scratches so, so easily. It also shows fingerprints like you wouldn’t believe. I’ve read that over time the scratches can start to look cool, but I know my OCD couldn’t handle it.

MAINTENANCE: Mild cleaners, but nothing bleach-based!

COST: $$$

Icestone

PROS: Well it looks like a glacier and that doesn’t suck. It’s also extremely eco-friendly, made from 100% recycled glass set into cement.

CONS: Also like a glacier, it is not heat-resistant. And it can stain. Although I’m not sure a glacier can stain, so I think that’s where the comparisons end.

MAINTENANCE: Needs bi-annual sealing and tri-annual (is that a word?) waxing. For everyday cleaning, all-purpose nonacidic cleaners will do the trick.

COST: $$$

Engineered Stones (i.e. Silestone, Caesarstone, Quartz)

PROS: It’s pretty idiot-proof…it’s resistant to staining, burning, or scratches. It also doesn’t have to be sealed, which is a major benefit if you’re forgetful and clumsy like me.

CONS: The lighter colors can stain if you don’t pay attention. I personally have Quartz in my home, and it’s never really stained, but there were some close calls with tumeric that, had I left it there a while longer, might have been disastrous. On the other hand, I found a spot of red wine that was behind my faucet for I-don’t-want-to-know-how-long and it wiped right up.

MAINTENANCE: Clean with soap and water.

COST: $$$

Glass

PROS: It’s pretty. Like, really pretty. No picture will do it justice; it’s just something you have to see in person. Obviously it’s also heat-proof. Many companies will offer custom back-painting as well so you can have something unique that exactly fits your home.

CONS: It can scratch and crack. It is glass, people.

MAINTENANCE: Windex. No, seriously. Windex is awesome.

COST: $$$

Concrete

PROS: It’s very durable, resistant to heat and scratching, and depending where you buy it can be custom-coloured which is always fun.

CONS: Installation can be a you-know-what if you’re having it cast in your home. It’s not so bad if it’s pre-cast. Also, it can chip.

MAINTENANCE: Seal it once a year or so.

COST: $$$$

Lava Stone

PROS: Le creme de la creme. Lava stone is stain and heat resistant, but the real fun comes in the fact that there are over 30 ready-made supersaturated colours, and infinite custom-colour possibilities.

CONS: It can scratch, but the biggest “con” is about two lines down below…

MAINTENANCE: Clean it with basic soap & water.

COST: $$$$$ (<— that’s the “con” I was referring to)

And that concludes Part One of this Countertop Workshop. Stay tuned for Part Two: The Natural Materials, featuring TileTramp’s favorite material in the entire world: marble.

I’m all atwitter just thinking about it.

And, as always, if you would like someone to bounce some design ideas off of, or just reassurance that the tile you’ve chosen will coordinate with your other finishings, feel free to email me at tiletramp@gmail.com for a free consultation.

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Comments
2 Responses to “The Ultimate Guide to Choosing a Kitchen Countertop – Pt. 1”
  1. Silestone says:

    Very interesting and great looks. I really like this material, good quality and has a wide selection of colors and has a very wide application

  2. countertopresource says:

    Thanks for putting the time and thought into this info. As editor of http://www.CountertopResource.com, I’m very curious as to your take on tile as a countertop surface. I know it makes a great backsplash – durable with a lot of options – but what about using it for the actual top. Do you have any thoughts on that?

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