Countertop Features & Benefits
Each of the three types of countertop categories offers a unique combination of advantages. Whether it is the extensive color palette and renewable properties offered by solid surfaces; the natural beauty and strength of real stone or the easy-to-maintain, affordability of laminates, there is something to fit every lifestyle and budget.
Solid Surface countertops (such as DuPont Corian) are made of an advanced blend of materials and pure acrylic polymer. Solid Surface offers benefits no other surface can because they are solid through and through – the color runs from top to bottom. If you are looking for hundreds of colors, consistency in color and appearance, and a countertop that can actually be repaired if damaged, then this might be the right solution for you.
- Renewable/Repairable Nicks, stains, cuts, and scratches are not a problem. That’s because a solid surface countertop can actually be restored to its original state using an ordinary abrasive cleanser and a cleansing pad. If more extensive damage should occur, Solid Surface can be repaired on site, avoiding both downtime and aggravation.
- Non-Porous/Easy to Clean Solid Surfaces are smooth and nonporous, preventing growth of mold, mildew or bacteria. Being nonporous also means liquids and stains can’t penetrate — so it’s easy to clean and maintain.
- Durable It’s engineered to last. Resistant to stains and heat, Solid Surfaces are renewable, so they retain their original appearance long after initial installation.
- Consistency The color, texture and beauty will remain constant over time — whether you cut it to form an edge treatment or renew any part of its surface.
- Design Flexibility Whether you want to express simple minimalism, lush and dramatic sophistication, or cozy warmth, Solid Surface is up to the task, complementing everything nearby. The wide variety of designs available makes it easy to coordinate with just about any color scheme.
Natural Stone comes direct from Mother Nature to you, offering a unique and natural appearance of unrivaled beauty. Plus, Natural Stone is stain, heat and virtually scratch resistant – so it’s more than just surface beauty. Choose from a large selection of original colors and textures that will make a statement in any room.
Mined from the earth in the form of slabs, cool and long-lasting, Granite is rock-solid choice with a lot of advantages:
- Natural Beauty This coarse-grained igneous rock is composed mainly of quartz, feldspar, and mica. Featuring unique variations in color and veining, it’s available in a wide array of colors and distinctive structural characteristics which lend a dramatic quality to any room.
- Durability It’s one very tough stone, allowing for extreme scratch- and heat- resistance. You can cut, chop and dice directly on its surface, and it will keep looking great. Its durable attributes make it a great choice not only for kitchen countertops, but for backsplashes, bathrooms countertops, wet bars, floors and more.
- Easy Maintenance Keeping it looking great is no problem. Simply wipe down with a stone cleaner (in place of ordinary household cleaners) and seal once every year. That’s it.
- Design Flexibility It never fails to look great in a room. Granite adds an amazing and unique natural beauty to a contemporary, country, rustic, or formal setting. Choose from a polished or honed finish for dramatically different effects. For another distinctive look, granite is also available in tiles.
A timeless classic, marble is coveted for its distinctive variegated appearance or smooth veining:
- Because its porous nature makes it easier to scratch and stain than granite, it’s a perfect choice for bathrooms where it does not get exposed to the same wear and tear as a kitchen countertop.
- Marble can be used to complement many styles, and brings a cool, elegant mood to a traditional or contemporary home.
Both durable and beautiful, it’s a handsome choice for a traditional, neoclassical, or modern room:
- Easier to stain and scratch than most stone surfaces. It is less likely to appear in kitchens, but some choose it for the rustic look and patina that forms over time.
- Available in a wide range of colors, including soft beiges, tans, and greens, limestone can be either polished or honed.
Natural Stone countertops are created from nature and cut into slabs direct from the quarry. On the other hand, Quartz is made using natural stone, but in reality it is an “engineered” or manmade product. Unlike Granite or Marble, the earth can’t deliver up a pure slab of Quartz for a countertop. Quartz must be manufactured — using ground-up Quartz minerals mixed with a small amount of pigments and epoxy resin. The result is an extremely strong natural stone-like surface that offers many of the benefits of natural stone. Quartz is a great choice for many reasons:
- Predictable Beauty Quartz offers much of the sophisticated elegance and timeless beauty of stone, but because it is engineered, the color and design of the countertop delivered to your home will be extremely accurate to the sample you select in the showroom. Quartz does not feature the unusual veining and color irregularities present in Natural Stone which make it necessary to review and approve your specific slab prior to installation.
- Extreme Strength Quartz offers unrivaled scratch- and stain- resistance. Only three other natural minerals — diamond, sapphire and topaz – are harder. And because it is completely non-porous, Quartz is highly resistant to stains from many common household products.
- Heat and Scorch Resistance Due to its extremely hard surface, Quartz will withstand limited exposure to heat without burning or scorching. (However, as a precaution, it is recommended to use trivets or heating pads whenever possible.)
- Design Flexibility Quartz is available in a wide array of dazzling colors that will enhance any room and can be used in virtually any indoor surfacing application, including kitchen countertops, bathroom vanities, tub and shower surrounds, backsplashes, and more.
- Maintenance-Free Its polished surface doesn’t need to be sealed. And it’s easily cleaned with any mild household cleaner.
If you’re searching for wide selection on a limited budget, laminate is an ideal choice offering:
- Selection: Choose from hundreds of color and design options.
- Durability: Impact-resistant and easy to maintain.
- Versatility: Suits many settings – kitchens, baths, kid’s rooms and laundry rooms – even walls and doors.
Laminate countertops can be made using two types of construction:
- A synthetic material made up of several layers of papers, with a melamine plastic coating.
- A slightly more expensive alternative, solid-color laminate is made of a colored plastic throughout.
Keep in mind that laminates have several limitations:
- Seams will be visible.
- Layered construction makes it difficult to repair chips; may separate if hot water seeps into seams.
- Scratches more easily than other surfaces, requiring use of cutting boards and avoidance of cleaning with abrasives.
If you are looking to make a more unique statement with your countertops, there are a few other choices you may want to consider such as wood, tile, stainless steel and concrete. Particularly if you are considering combining different surfaces for the various work areas in your kitchen, some of these may be right for you. Although these selections offer a special look and unique benefits, they do have limitations.
- Tile provides unlimited custom designs but doesn’t offer a smooth surface for food preparation and its grout can discolor.
- Wood is great for cutting and chopping but requires sealants and maintenance.
- Steel has a sleek and contemporary look and is easy to clean but scratches and shows fingerprints
- Concrete is very unique in appearance, however it stains easily and can crack.
Keep in mind, most if not all of these will not be included in the Standard selections offered by your builder, and would be considered upgrades.
|If you prefer:||Then choose:|
|Consistent appearance in color and design||Laminate, solid surface, quartz|
|Natural look||Stone, tile|
|A random speckled or veined appearance with high variation||Granite, Marble|
|Integrated sinks||Solid surface|
|Decorative edge treatments||Solid surface, wood, laminate, or concrete|
|A statement-making backsplash||Tile|
|If you need to:||Then choose:|
|Dice, chop, and slice||Granite or quartz|
|Roll dough and make pastries||Natural stone, quartz|
|Set down hot stuff||Granite, tile, quartz|
|Spill without staining or having to first apply sealants||Solid surface, quartz|
|Perform little or no maintenance||Laminate, solid surface, quartz|
Countertop Edge Treatments
Depending on the type of countertop you select, you may have a variety of edge treatments from which to choose. The square edge is the most common, particularly with laminates, wood and tile. Bullnose is a safe, practical edge that makes a countertop look substantial. Ogee is more decorative-and possible only with certain materials. For a more decorative appearance, a detail of wood, metal or a different color is sometimes sandwiched between layers of laminate, solid surfacing or stone. Your design consultant will review your edge treatment choices and explain standard versus upgrade options.
When selecting your countertop, it is a great time to think about what you want to do with your backsplash. A distinctive backsplash can add flair and take a kitchen from ordinary to extraordinary. Backsplashes offer the opportunity to add another significant design element to either complement or contrast your countertops and cabinetry. Choose from surfaces such as ceramic tile, stone, solid surface or even metal or glass. Your design consultant will be able to take you through your choices during your appointment.