Little in life is as daunting as selecting what will become your future kitchen countertop. This is especially true when choosing solid surface countertops. But with so many countertop choices out there, how can you possibly know which one is the logical choice to make?
Solid surface countertops : Rated B+
Despite the belief by some that these options are merely imitation stone, there are still a lot of advantages to be considered by using this type of solid surface countertop. First, there are literally hundreds of colors and patterns to select your perfect countertop from. Second, these countertops are highly resistant to dings and scratches. Any damage of this sort that does take place can be repaired fairly easily to the point of looking like new thanks to its acrylic and poly makeup.
The downside is while you can generally sand out damage due to heat, it is a pain to do as heat on a countertop is as common as rain being wet when dealing with an active family. The plus side however, is that it is cheaper than most other solid countertops and is generally considered to be a good alternative to granite or marble.
Engineered Stone : Rated A (preferred)
One of my personal favs, as this is what we have in our home. Engineered Stone is made up of Quartz crystals and provides both stain and heat protection for your countertops. A bit more cost effective than the stuff being mined for its Earth tones, Engineered Stone also provides you with a number of fantastic color choices not found with granite.
The downside is that it is pricey. So if you are looking at installing it into a large kitchen, you will want to make sure you have a budget that allows for this option over other solid surface countertops. Also should you chip this type of countetrtop, it is not as easy to fix as you would find with countertops using acrylic and poly as its base. The plus side however is that you really have to work at it to damage this type of material. Short of a sledge hammer, I have yet to see anything create a situation in which you would have to worry about damaging this countertop.
Plastic Laminate : Rated C+
When you purchase a starter home or a house that has not been upgraded in the last ten years, chances are good that this is the countertop you are looking at. This is cheap and fairly straight forward to install. Just make sure this is the kind of countertop you are wanting to place in your kitchen during a remodel. While fairly durable, I tend to put it in the same category as the repairable solid surface countertops myself…
Downsides include being able to stain and burn into this maternal fairly easily. Upsides offer you with a cost effective means of installing a new countertop without breaking the bank. If you are thinking long term however, I would not would not recommend this.
Ceramic Tile : Rated A- (preferred)
If I could scream this from the roof tops I would. If you are just not in the market for the higher end stuff, yet are not willing to dip down into the realm of plastic laminate, please consider using Ceramic Tile for your countertops. While not cheap, it is not all that expensive either.
Downsides include it being something that can be chipped with the proper amount of force in specific locations, it does have the upside of being heat resistant and priced in an area in which not to break the bank. Another bonus is the near limitless types and patterns from which to choose from.
Granite Countertops : Rated A+
Understand that the A+ rating is only due its perceived level of luxury and durability. There are still things you should know about granite countertops, covered in the previously linked piece. Like engineered stone, granite countertops provide a sheen, sophisticated look to your kitchen. And despite the limited color choices available, there are a number of Earth tones from which to choose from.
The downside is the expense. Yes granite is expensive, make no mistake. While you can often find good deals if you are willing to shop around, price is a definite consideration for most people. The obvious upside is the “look” and overall durability granite can provide to your kitchen once installed. And once you have a contractor lined up to help you with the installation, I think you will be surprised at how quickly the entire process can actually be.
Another consideration is that this is a great way to get that marble look, but with more choices in the availability and cost. Marble also requires more maintenance to keep it looking its best. So for most people wanting that look, I recommend going with granite every time.
Update! We just posted an article on a brand new product called Modern Masters Countertop Transformations. It’s designed to provide you with the look and feel of a solid surface countertop, but for a fraction of the cost. Best of all, it doesn’t require any removal of the existing countertop whatsoever!