Spotlight On: Countertops – synthetic and man-made materials, Part One
When considering materials for your kitchen countertop, it’s good to keep maintenance and longevity in mind. Man-made countertops were created with one or both of those as goals and we’ll be looking at four of these synthetic counter materials. Here’s what you need to know about laminate, solid surfaces, tile and concrete as countertop materials.
Laminate has arguably the widest range of looks, edges and finishes for kitchen countertops. It can mimic about anything you’d like and edging adds another layer of customization. Laminate is a good option for butterfingers. It won’t chip or crack if you drop pots on it, and its softer surface is less likely to shatter a dish than granite or concrete. Except for some tile options, laminate is also unbeatable for price. Unfortunately it’s not the most durable, as scratches and stains cannot be buffed out. If you are careful with cleaning and cutting, this could be a good option for your kitchen. If cuts are still a concern, consider it an opportunity to install a small amount of a more durable counter surface in heavy-duty areas. Read about more laminate countertop options here.
Solid Surfaces like Corian have a flexible look and can suit many kitchen styles. They are sturdy and consistent in look throughout the slab. Damage can be buffed out, so it can bounce back from rough kitchen use. However, while it is durable, it is not invulnerable. Being a resin plastic at heart, these countertops are easy to clean and don’t change over time. This article has more about solid surface countertops including a selection of manufacturers and different uses.
Tile is affordable and very resistant to cutting and heat. Tile colors and patterns are widely varied. It can be a shortcut to the stone look, a chance to showcase art, or an area of smooth bright color. It’s worth buying quality tile; cheap tile made for walls can be scratched easily while ceramic tiles that are dense are more resistant to moisture damage. Choose your grout with care, because you’ll be cleaning it regularly. Navigate grout considerations and more with this information on tile countertop options.
Concrete countertops have been growing in popularity, quality and range over the last few years. Quality and durability depends on the skill of the craftsperson. This hand-crafted element of creation is what makes concrete countertops so highly customizable. You can build in kitchen features like drainboards. You can have durable heirlooms or mementos embedded into them for a different way to enjoy your memories. Depending on sealant, concrete can stand up well to stain or heat, but other types of kitchen wear is harder on it. Cracks are part of life with this countertop material, which otherwise is very longlasting. You can read more about concrete counters here to determine how to increase longevity and eco-friendliness of this material.
We’ll be taking a closer look at four other man-made countertop options (metal, engineered stone, glass and recycled materials) in our next post, Part 2.
You don’t have to take our word for it!
There are a lot of thoughts out there on the topic of kitchen counter materials.
Visit our ‘Counter Topics’ pinboard for a wealth of ideas and perspectives on countertop materials