Engineered stone and composite countertops are pricier than laminates ( they can range from mid-price to very expensive ), but they are another excellent choice. Some, like Silestone, Caesarstone and Cambria, are made from stone dust ( usually quartz ) and a polymer resin; others, like Corian and Gibraltar, are composed of acrylic or polyester resins and fillers. Either variety comes in a wide range of colours and patterns. Engineered countertops are attractive, durable and consistent–you can look at samples and know exactly what you are going to get. It is easy to custom-size these products, and they can be made with built-in sinks. Another bonus is that they’re usually seamless. Better still, engineered countertops need very little maintenance. Small nicks and burns can be buffed out, and countertops made from polyurethanes can be repaired with a heat gun. Plus, since the material is solid and the countertop is cut for the sink, you can usually ask that these leftover pieces be made into cutting boards for you.
Granite countertops are increasingly popular. They lend your kitchen an air of luxury and sophistication. But they do come in a range of prices ( from mid-price to super-high), and you probably want to avoid countertops at the bottom of the price scale. Granite countertops that have been cut too thin are likely to crack. And of course, being slabs of natural stone, every piece of granite will be a little different. If you are opting for granite, you really should go to the warehouse and pick the exact piece you want, keeping in mind where variations in the stone will appear once the slab is made in to a countertop.
Marble is another natural stone that can be used for kitchen countertops. Bakes love the surface for rolling out pastry. But marble is a softer, more porous stone than granite, so it’s prone to scratches, nicks, and staining. That’s why you’ll see it used more often in bathrooms, where the countertops don’t get quite the same workout as their kitchen counterparts. If you do opt for marble , seal it well and often ( once every three to four months is often suggested), wipe-up stains immediately–especially acidic foods, red wine, etc. — and never use it as a cutting surface. Another way to go is to confine it to a small area, such as an island, and use extra caution when prepping food there.
There are other natural stones to choose from as well, but many have significant problems with staining, chipping or durability. Some are quite-difficult, and therefore expensive, to install. And I’m not a big fan of anything that is particularly porous, uneven or unusual. You may end up opting for a natural stone other than granite or marble, but this will probably be a ” just for you” choice. In other words, don’t expect to recoup the full value of what this countertop cost to purchase and install.