Countertop Buying Guide: Everything You Need to Know

Today, the sheer variety of countertops available in the market is overwhelming. Thus, it can be tough to select a countertop for your kitchen or bathroom. There are many important factors for you to consider when choosing one. This is where a detailed countertop buying guide can help you out.

None of the countertops you find in the market are going to be completely perfect. All of them are going to feature a combination of both pros and cons. Instead of looking for the perfect kitchen countertop, you should seek one which healthily balances both these aspects.

For that, you need certain features of the countertop, such as the quality of the countertop material, its durability, the cost of the countertop itself plus installation charges, and how well it goes with the rest of your space.

If you find the task of choosing the perfect kitchen counter difficult, don’t worry. That’s what this guide is for. We have listed all the necessary facts and details in this countertop buying guide to make countertop buying a smooth and seamless experience for you.

What Should You Look For In A Countertop Material? 

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When it comes to buying a kitchen countertop near you, you have many choices in this countertop buying guide with varying colors, patterns, and materials. Certain materials like granite, concrete, marble, limestone, and stainless steel are now popular in bathrooms and kitchens.

Although bathrooms are subjected to relatively less mechanical stresses than kitchens, you should still choose countertop materials that are more resistant to chipping and staining.

Consider Adequately Large Samples

Tiny samples are not a good representation of the material in question. They can give you a misleading impression of what it looks like in your space. A slab’s veining patterns and color can vary throughout its mass.

Consequently, you should try to bring home larger samples and see how they fit into your kitchen or bathroom. Also, following the countertop buying process, do not forget to ask about the warranty of the product you’ve purchased.

Pay Attention to the Sink

You can use a top-mounted sink with pretty much any countertop material. On the other hand, an under-mounted sink is installed beneath the countertop. Therefore, it is better suited for waterproof materials like quartz, stone, solid surfacing, stainless steel, and concrete.

You can readily use certain materials like stainless steel and solid surfacing for both the kitchen countertop and the sink. That will produce a smooth and uniform look.

Handle Measurements Carefully

Make sure that your fabricator takes accurate and detailed measurements. The contract and estimate should feature the material’s finish and thickness, fees for cutouts for the faucet, cooktop, and the sink, and additional fees for the removal of your old countertops, backsplash, and edge treatment.

Learn How to Save Money

By spending wisely and knowing where you can save money, you can experience a wallet-friendly kitchen countertop buying process. For that, keep an eye out for sales and know where to use different kinds of material.

For instance, you can use costly material on salient areas like the kitchen island and cheaper material on the perimeter.

When it comes to smaller areas like your bathroom counter, pastry slab, or island, you can consider buying remnants. Similarly, you should know about the different kinds of edges as well.

For instance, rounded edges tend to be safer and cheaper than squared edges. Similarly, bull-nosed and beveled edges are trendy but expensive.

Types of Countertop Materials

Every countertop material you will come across in this countertop buying guide has its unique advantages and disadvantages. For instance, granite is an age-old choice for countertops, while quartz is more versatile.

Interestingly, quartz is easier to maintain and resembles concrete, granite, and marble in appearance. It is also relatively easier to maintain compared to other materials. Given below are some of the best countertop materials for you to install in your kitchen or bathroom.

Quartz

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Quartz is a manmade engineered stone composed of a mixture of pigments, resins, and stone chips. It is available in a variety of patterns and colors that closely resemble natural stone. It is waterproof, resistant to stains, and does not require resealing.

Quartz can withstand mechanical trauma inflicted by spills, knives, hot vessels, and much more. Thus, it is a great choice for places that you use regularly.

However, quartz can sometimes have very uniform patterns that give it an artificial look. You should go for random patterns while buying quartz countertops that resemble natural stone more closely. Also, its corners and edges are prone to chipping and can only be repaired by professionals. Rounded edges are much sturdier and resistant to damage.

Granite

Buying granite countertops has been one of the topmost choices for a long time. It is resistant to all kinds of mechanical stress and can be employed in areas that you use frequently. You can install an under-mounted sink on granite countertops as well. Granite slabs are especially known for their quality of individual uniqueness.

Like quartz, granite countertops’ corners and edges are vulnerable to chipping and need professional assistance for repair. Also, you need to seal granite countertops regularly to prevent staining.

Recycled Glass

As its name suggests, you produce recycled glass by recycling pieces of shattered glass and turning them into a countertop. The resulting product is a unique combination of style and strength.

If you ground the glass finely, it can look a lot like solid surfacing as well. Recycled glass countertops are highly resistant to scratches, cuts, and other mechanical trauma.

Nevertheless, certain varieties can potentially get cracked due to excessive heat. Thus, you should avoid placing hot objects upon them. They can also get stained or chipped at times.

Laminate

Laminates are prepared from layers of fabric and paper with an infusion of resin over composition wood. Laminates are available in a wide range of colors and patterns. They are highly resistant to stains, heat, and forceful impact. Moreover, they are mostly unharmed by the action of abrasive pads.

Therefore, they are great choices for places with a lot of use but very little abuse. They are economically priced and easy to maintain. Although laminates occasionally show seams, there are ways of avoiding them, such as post-forming.

However, water can potentially penetrate laminates through seams or between the backsplash and countertop. This greatly weakens the countertop. Also, laminate is greatly prone to scratching, and more or less impossible to repair. When it comes to concealing imperfections, flat finishes are a much better option than textured finishes.

Solid Surfacing

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Solid surface countertops are made of acrylic or polyester resins, along with mineral fillers. The material can closely resemble quartz, marble, concrete, and various other kinds of stone in appearance. The solid surface is quite resistant to heat and mechanical impacts.

Minor damages can be repaired quite conveniently. Since solid surface countertops are waterproof, you can use an under-mounted sink with them. You can efficiently use them while picking kitchen backsplashes, sinks, and counters. However, a solid surface countertop tends to get cut and scratched easily.

Butcher Block

Butcher block countertops are affordable and multipurpose surfaces prepared from solid hardwood. They are well-known for adding warmth to the kitchen. The most common wood used here is maple.

However, other woods like teak are popular choices as well. They are a great choice for preparing food, and quite easy to install and repair. Nonetheless, you can damage them easily due to mechanical stresses and impacts. Hence, you will have to treat them periodically using beeswax or mineral oil.

Although an oil finish usually resists heat better, the stains tend to spread and become nearly impossible to remove. If there are variations in the humidity levels at your home, you can damage the wood as well. Consequently, a butcher block is not a good option for using near a sink or dishwasher.

That said, butcher block is fairly easy to restore even after you subject it to several years of damage. You simply need to sand out any gouges or nicks upon it.

Marble

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Marble has been another classic choice for countertops among homeowners and designers since times immemorial. Its elegance and beauty result from the way it was created – when a piece of dolomite or limestone was subjected to extreme pressure and heat.

These extreme conditions can result in distinctive veining in the rock, which is a characteristic feature of marble. Marble has a truly regal and stately look to it and will certainly take the aesthetics of your bathroom or kitchen to a whole new level.

Cost of Kitchen Countertops

Probably the most important factor of this countertop buying guide is the cost of kitchen countertops. For instance, marble is ultra-luxurious, though it is expensive. Marble countertop costs range between $75 to $250 per square foot.

On the other hand, granite countertops cost around $45 to $200 per square foot. As discussed earlier, quartz or engineered stone is a beautiful countertop material, and it ranges between $55 to $155 per square foot. 

Other countertop costs are discussed below [All units are based on price per square foot]: 

  • Recycled Glass countertops: $50 to $125
  • Wood or Butcher block: $55 to $200
  • Laminate Countertops: $15 to $40 
  • Solid Surfacing: $27 to $200