Selecting countertops for your home is as much about aesthetics as it is about finding the right fit for your lifestyle. Some make the decision solely based on the design of their home, their budget, and hearsay about the advantages and disadvantages of the various countertop materials available. We find that the best way to ensure years of services and satisfaction from your countertops is to know all of the facts, both good and bad, pertaining to each material. Here is a list of the most popular countertop materials and their facts.
Granite is a natural stone that begins as molten magma. During the countertop manufacturing process, it is ground and polished which creates its smooth surface and rich luster.
Advantages of Granite Countertops
- As a natural stone, it is an ecofriendly countertop.
- With the proper care, it has exceptional strength and durability.
- Heat Resistant.
- Scratch Resistant.
- When sealed properly, it is easy to clean.
Disadvantages of Granite Countertops
- Poorly sealed granite can lead to staining because it is a porous stone.
- If not sealed properly or resealed from time to time it can be a haven for bacteria.
- There are only about 20 different varieties of granite (although no two stones are the same), while other materials have nearly endless options.
- If a heavy item drops on the countertop, the stone will chip and break.
- It’s a higher maintenance stone, it needs to be resealed every couple of years.
- Granite is an expensive natural stone
Quartz is an engineered product, where 93% is quartz (a natural material in the earth’s crust), and 7% is binder and colour. It has a similar appearance to marble with a lower maintenance. Since it is a manmade product, it has far more options than a natural stone.
Advantages of Quartz Countertops
- Nearly endless colour, pattern, texture, and finish options.
- Exceptionally durable.
- Does not need to be sealed.
- Scratch resistant.
- The resin used to create the stone allows for flexibility, therefore it won’t chip easily.
- It is not porous, therefore making it stain resistant.
- Easy to clean (simple damp cloth).
- Comes in many shapes and sizes.
- The seams in the slabs are less noticeable.
Disadvantages of Quartz Countertops
- Not heat resistant, like a natural stone.
- Direct sunlight overtime will cause fading.
- One of the most expensive countertops.
Laminate, is a hard particleboard core with layers of plastic laminate over top.
Advantages of Laminate Countertops
- Budget Friendly of all countertop materials.
- Fairly tough and durable.
- Widest variety of colours and patterns.
- Non-Porous material making it stain resistant and easy to clean.
- Seams can be better hidden than with other countertop materials.
Disadvantages of Laminate Countertops
- Easy to scratch.
- Not as heat resistant as other countertop materials.
- Difficult to repair.
Marble comes from the Greek meaning to sparkle and gleam. It is a metamorphic rock encompassing a high concentration of calcite and dolomite, and there are many variations of marble based on the minerals in the stone. The grain of the marble defines the variations of colour; the stones with heavier grains generate more variations in colours, while fine-grained stone has a more consistent colour.
Advantages of Marble Countertops
- Every piece of marble is one of a kind.
- There is a rich spectrum of colour and veining.
- Marble has several finishing options (Matte, Polished, and Leather).
- Fits with most home designs from traditional to modern.
- Outstanding Durability.
- Excellent resistance to heat.
Disadvantages of Marble Countertops
- Marble is a natural stone therefore it is porous and will stain without being properly sealed and carefully cleaned.
- Must be resealed often.
- Less scratch resistant than granite.
- Can be chipped and cracked.
- If exposed to acidic materials, it will etch.
- Extremely expensive.
Butcher-block countertops are crafted from wood piece of differing colours, brought together to form a harmonizing and striking pattern.
Advantages of Butcher-Block Countertops
- Wood always adds an inviting warm look to any room.
- Ideal for baking and other food preparation.
- It hides cuts and scratches well.
- Goes well with various home décor.
- Easy to clean.
- Will not crack or chip.
Disadvantages of Butcher-Block Countertops
- Needs to be sealed and resealed over the years.
- Without proper sealing, over time water can penetrate the butcher-block, which can warp the countertop.
- Unsealed wood can harbor bacteria.
- Oiling is required if the scratch is below the level of the finish.
Porcelain, or a “white vitrified translucent ceramic”, is manufactured from a type of clay.
Advantages of Porcelain Countertops
- Many colours, patterns, and finishes are available.
- Slabs up to 10’ x 5’ are offered.
- Porcelain is 30% stronger than granite.
- Outstandingly durable.
- Slabs are lightweight and thin.
- There is no sealing required.
- Easy to clean.
- Heat Resistant.
- Porcelain can be recycled.
Disadvantages of Porcelain Countertops
- Although porcelain is tougher than other natural stones, it can still crack and chip.
- Extremely expensive; cost will vary depending on the type of edge, and number of cutouts and seams.
Stainless Steel Countertops
Stainless steel countertops are often used in retro or contemporary designs; It is efficient and clean, yet beautiful.
Advantages of Stainless Steel Countertops
- Stainless Steel complements other materials such as wood and natural stone.
- Available in various finishes.
- Very Durable.
- One of the most sanitary materials to use as a countertop.
- It is not porous; therefore it is stain resistant and clean up is simple.
Disadvantages of Stainless Steel Countertops
- Expensive material.
- Does not give a room a “warm” feeling many homeowners desire.