Welcome to part 2 of Counter Culture. My series of posts on countertop surfaces! If you missed the first one, it was on natural stone surfaces. Click here to check it out.
The What, When, How, and Huh Guide to Manufactured Countertops.
With manufactured countertops, your design goals are not set in stone. With many choices of materials, and dozens of choices of colors, you can achieve the look you’re going for. The surfaces I’m presenting have an array of uses and applications. I hope you can get some info on which suits you best, if you’re in the market. As always, please give me a call if anything piques your interest. I’d love to help.
Quartz, the counter top, is a hard, granite-like surface constructed of crushed quartz and resin. Quartz, the mineral, is a naturally abundant, (in its purest form) colorless/clear, crystalline mineral. Given the mineral’s incredible hardness, Quartz counter tops are very low maintenance. They’re heat-resistant, stain-resistant, and scratch-resistant. Having them will even make you a better cook. Well, I made that part up. But the rest is true. It can be made to mimic granite and even marble. Some popular brands are DuPont, Silestone, Caesarstone, and others.
Given that it’s manufactured as opposed to pulled out of the ground, Quartz surfaces not only tend to be cheaper than granite, there are more option of colors. Anything from dyes to other minerals can be crushed and mixed with the ground quartz-mineral.
Check out this Pinterest board I created for a ton of examples!
A hard surface made entirely from resin. It is highly customizable and budget-conscious. However, it does have its downsides. For one, it is not heat tolerant and will scorch if something hot is placed on it. Corian also scratches. Although, the scratches can be buffed out with an abrasive pad with no one being the wiser. Since these are a solid slab of resin, the color runs throughout the entire piece of material, and thus sanding can work. To a point, obviously.
That’s not to say Corian doesn’t have it’s applications. It is non-porous and thus will not get stained. It is quite reasonable making it a good surface for affordably priced homes. However, in my opinion, I tend to stick to Corian as a bathroom surface. It can be created to have integrated, seamless sinks. And it works very well in those conditions. Just keep the curling iron away from it.
Here’s another Pinterest board showing the color and style possibilities of Corian.
A Run-Down of Other Manufactured Countertops
Recycled Glass- I have never actually used this product. It is eco-friendly, but can get pricey.
Concrete- Can be sleek, clean, and gorgeous. As long as you’re willing to spend some money on it. Concrete counter tops are difficult to install and can crack. They can also stain. Since it is a poured product, shapes and custom touches are pretty much limitless. Can even be polished.
Laminate- As budget-conscious as you can get. It has its purpose, but unfortunately can’t ever get away from the “plastic-y” look.
Stainless Steel- Who doesn’t love the industrial look of a professional kitchen? Stainless Steel is clean, sleek, and utilitarian. It is also pricey, dents, and scratches. Can make an excellent backsplash though if you really want the look.
Tile- Can be very heat-resistant (depending on the product). But grout lines are a pain to clean. Also, without a good grout sealer, staining is inevitable. Imagine spilling spaghetti sauce on your bathroom floor tiles and cleaning that up. Definitely a possibility if you’re going for a specific look (like, say, French Country). But I’d recommend keeping tile as a backsplash.
Here is a Pinterest board with ideas for all these products.
I know this is a lot of product to choose from. But the best advice I can give is to figure out what your needs are. Some surfaces aren’t better than others just because they’re more expensive. The right surface for you kitchen is the one that meets your needs.
Also, I can’t stress enough the importance of a good installer. Just as with natural stone, the product is only as good as the person cutting and installing it. A bad seam can ruin the whole look. And only incur more costs. So, when planning to choose a countertop surface, vet the installer just as much as the product you’ve chosen.
PS: I have left out one more surface that is different than any of these. The next installment will be a special guest post by my son Christian. And his experiences with making, installing, and living in with Wood Countertops in his own kitchen. Enjoy!