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Countertop Options: Which Is Best For You?

Countertops represent one of the largest surfaces in your kitchen. They’re also the surface you’re likely to interact with the most, from sorting the mail to cooking and cleaning. A wide variety of surfaces are available: laminate, solid surface, engineered stone, and natural stone. Each of these surfaces has different characteristics, colors and cost. There is no such thing as a perfect surface – each individual’s style, lifestyle and budget will affect their choice. What follows is a quick review of the options and their pros and cons.

Laminate: It is the least expensive countertop option. Color selections cover a wide range. Laminate countertops typically show the most wear and tear – they’ll burn from a hot pot and can be cut with knives.

solid surface: It has names like Dupont Corian® and Avanstone®. Color selections are consistent and choosing a sampler board is safe as there is little variation in color due to the manufacturing process. These are man-made products that offer uniform coloring and a seamless appearance. These surfaces will burn and scratch similar to laminates, but light scratches can be sanded away from the surface. Entry-level prices for solid surface countertops are more than laminate, and generally only slightly below natural stone. Improved colors and edges are rapidly bringing solid surface prices into the range of natural stone.

Natural stone: It comes in many varieties, with granite and marble being the most popular. Granite and marble are very different stones, with granite being the most widely used in kitchens. Granite resists heat and is difficult to scratch. Most manufacturers seal their stone before or during installation, greatly reducing its propensity for staining. Marble is most commonly used in bathrooms where wear and tear is generally lighter than in kitchens. Natural stone comes in a wide variety of colors and patterns, and each slab is unique, so your countertops can be tailored to your liking. Entry level granite prices are competitive with solid surfaces and generally less expensive than entry level engineered stone.

Engineering Stone: It goes by names like Caesarstone®, Dupont Zodiaq® and Silestone®. These are man-made products composed largely of quartz. They have many characteristics of natural stone in terms of scratch and heat resistance and the appearance of seams. Its colors and patterns are generally more consistent than natural stone due to its man-made origins. Engineered stone typically commands the highest entry-level prices of the materials covered here.

When comparing options, consider your style, lifestyle, and budget. Consider what material will give you the look you’re trying to achieve, and how you’ll use your countertops to match the strengths and weaknesses of each surface. When comparing costs, be sure to compare the full final prices for each option. Each manufacturer and installer may have a different way of calculating their price, so trying to compare prices for linear feet or square feet may not give you an accurate picture of the total cost.

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