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People take countertops for granted, which is insane because they’re part of our everyday lives. Whether they’re in the kitchen or the bathroom, there’s no escaping countertops. So, it’s crucial to pick the right kind.
Still, you may ask, “how many types of countertops are there?” and “which type of countertop is the best?” Well, there’s no one answer for everyone. There are plenty of types out there, and each of them can be right for one person or home and be wrong for another.
So, we’ve listed the most important types of countertops and how to distinguish them from one another. We’ll also discuss the advantages and disadvantages of every kind.
What Are the Main Types of Countertops?
By now, you probably already know there are different countertop materials. So, here are the most popular countertop materials for kitchens and bathrooms, what’s good about each type, and where they may fall short.
1. Natural Stone Countertops
Natural stones have a timeless appeal to them. While new countertop materials are being introduced every once in a while, natural stone, such as granite, marble, and soapstone, is still as relevant as ever.
Granite countertops are some of the most popular materials despite the hefty price tag. Their endless advantages and premium status make them an excellent addition to the real estate value of your home.
As a natural stone, no granite countertop surface looks like the other, making it an excellent choice for homeowners who are striving for uniqueness. Granite doesn’t only look unique but also very attractive. Not to mention, it’s a sustainable material.
More importantly, granite countertops are known for being incredibly durable. If there’s a countertop material that can take a beating and last for a lifetime, it’s definitely granite. This tough natural stone is pretty resistant to scratching.
Moreover, it’s heat-resistant, which is why granite makes the best kitchen countertops. You won’t have to worry about hot pans causing heat damage when you put them directly on granite countertops.
And if you love low-maintenance countertop materials, you’ll like how easy-to-clean granite countertops are. So, spills won’t be a big problem anymore.
That being said, it requires periodic sealing because it’s a porous material. Without proper sealing, granite will stain, absorb liquids, and harbor bacteria. Plus, it isn’t suitable for DIY installation, always needs a professional, and costs a fortune to install. It’s also difficult to repair if it’s chipped or cracked.
Marble countertops share a lot of properties with granite ones but have their own qualities. For example, no two marble slabs are identical, making each countertop a work of its own. Like granite, marble adds to the real estate value of your property. So, make it the center of your kitchen as an island or use it to upgrade your bathroom into a high-end one.
As you can probably guess, it’s costly, but it makes up for its cost with its beauty and luxurious appearance. Where else can you find its natural veining and glisten?
Besides looking pretty, marble countertops are a no-brainer for bakers because the smooth surface that they provide stays cool in the summer heat. So, don’t be scared to turn your marble kitchen countertop into a baking center.
As a natural stone, marble is porous. In fact, it’s more porous than granite, which means it isn’t stain-resistant. However, regular sealing and daily cleaning help. So, if you’re getting marble kitchen countertops, be careful with the liquids and oils around them.
Moreover, marble is a delicate countertop material that scratches more than other natural stones, so it’s best not to use any sharp objects directly on it. Yet, marble is quite heavy, which makes it not ideal for DIY installation. Its installation is costly as well.
As the name suggests, soapstone is as soft and silky as soap. Its natural colors with subtle veining make for the best countertops with a rustic look. While its color darkens over time, it’s the patina that makes it so alluring.
Unlike previous options, soapstone is non-porous and doesn’t need to be sealed. All you have to do is coat it with mineral oil. Unlike marble, soapstone is resistant to stains. And unlike granite, it’s resistant to bacteria. It’s also heat-resistant, which makes it a kitchen countertop.
So, this natural stone stands out in many ways and proves itself to be a sanitary choice needed for kitchen and bathroom countertops.
Nevertheless, while it comes in beautiful deep colors, it doesn’t have the widest variety. It’s also prone to dents and scratches and ends up showing knife marks. Finally, this stone doesn’t come cheap.
2. Engineered Stone
If the allure of natural countertop material options has got to you but you don’t want any of the hassle, you’re in luck. That’s because engineered stone, such as quartz, imitates the appearance and durability of natural stone without serious upkeep.
In fact, quartz countertops are easily the most durable countertops because they’re invincible and last a lifetime. In addition, unlike its natural counterpart, engineered stone is non-porous and never needs to be sealed. And its resistance to heat makes this stone a must-have as a kitchen countertop.
Quartz also comes in an unlimited range of colors and styles because artificial stone is always more customizable. So, it comes as no surprise that it’s one of the most popular countertop materials.
While we wouldn’t call quartz countertops budget-friendly, they’re definitely more affordable than their natural counterparts. So, if you need a cheaper alternative, you know what to look for. Plus, its seams are more obvious than its natural counterparts, and it may look more artificial up close.
3. Solid-Surface Countertops
Moving on to relatively new additions to the countertop industry, solid surfaces combine acrylic and resin. This material will definitely remind you of quartz, as it strives to replace the more expensive materials in appearance as well.
Like quartz countertops, solid-surface countertops are non-porous materials that don’t need you to seal them, and they’re very low maintenance. Plus, they showcase impressive durability.
Unlike quartz countertops, solid surfaces can be installed without seams, which eliminates the artificial look of quartz. Also, there’s no limit to the finishes, colors, styles, and patterns that solid-surface countertops come in. So, if you’re going for a contemporary look, a solid surface will be great for your kitchen or bathroom.
Nonetheless, it’s important to note that the solid surface isn’t heat-resistant. Plus, it’s not Scratch-resistant either, as it’s prone to dents and scratches. That being said, most of the damage can definitely be sanded out.
4. Laminate Countertops
If you’re looking for inexpensive countertop options that are also practical, what you need is laminate countertops.
Laminate is plastic-coated synthetics, and its artificial nature is what makes it one of the most customizable bathroom and kitchen countertops of all time. Laminate countertops are pretty popular among homeowners who wish to replicate the 80s look, but you can mold them into whatever look you like.
If you’re done with unnecessarily heavy and high maintenance stones, you’ll love how lightweight and easy to maintain and install plastic laminate is. In addition, you don’t need to seal it since it’s non-porous, so it doesn’t harbor bacteria. All you have to do is clean it with soap and water.
However, laminate has its disadvantages. It can’t withstand heat or scratching. It can’t be repaired easily either. So, if you don’t mind countertops that won’t last a lifetime, laminate counters will do just fine.
5. Concrete Countertops
Concrete countertops are one of a kind. They’re an excellent choice for a sophisticated, rustic yet bold look. They’re highly polished, unlike the slabs that you see on the sidewalk. If you receive many visitors, concrete countertops are a subtle way of telling them that you aren’t afraid to experiment.
In addition, if you love to DIY, there are kits for you to mold it to whatever shape, shade, pattern, size, finish, or texture you want. However, hiring a professional is recommended to ensure that it’s properly installed.
Furthermore, this virtually indestructible material is heat and scratch-resistant, meaning that it can handle a lot of what goes down in any bathroom or kitchen.
Nonetheless, concrete comes with its baggage. Like stones, its pores need regular sealing and maintenance. Also, it’s pretty heavy and not easy on the wallet.
6. Stainless Steel Countertops
Stainless steel has many advantages. It reflects light, which is great for kitchens that need illumination and brightness. Also, the contemporary, industrial look is quite trendy.
Furthermore, it’s one of the easiest countertops to clean and maintain. You won’t even have to worry about staining the surface, so it’s great for areas where spillage is possible. It isn’t even affected by high temperatures either.
However, stainless steel has its disadvantages. You can clean it easily, but it shows fingerprints and scratches quickly. Also, it creates more noise when you tread upon it than other types. Finally, it costs more than many types of countertops.
While the variety in the types of countertops on the market can be overwhelming, remember that there’s something for everyone out there, whether you’re looking for bathroom or kitchen countertops.
Natural stones make the most elegant countertop options. But a more affordable and durable alternative would be quartz countertops, which need very little maintenance and survive everything. And for more seamless and convenient countertop options, consider solid-surface countertops.
Moreover, one of the most inexpensive choices for new homeowners on a budget is laminate. And finally, concrete and stainless steel are more expensive and bold.