Nearly Endless Possibilities | Best Pick Reports
Countertops are available in several different man-made and natural materials, each offering a specific look and surface feel. Stone and fabricated materials used for countertops can often be fashioned into additional products, including backsplashes, fireplace and bathtub surrounds, and vanity tops.
Materials and attributes
Stone. Slab thickness, clarity, inclusions, and consistency of color and pattern are a few characteristics of stone that affect price. Remember that the direction of the stone’s grain will be an issue during installation. While granite is often nondirectional, many stone types have a visible direction that should remain the same throughout the entire kitchen or bathroom.
With stone, it’s also best to have the fewest seams possible, which will help the strength and appearance of the countertop. Installers will seal seams with polyester resin—also known as a “hard seam”—that can be colored to match the stone.
Laminate. Laminate is a cost-effective and hardy countertop material. It is available in hundreds of designs and materials, most mimicking the look and feel of stone. Many homeowners find that laminate is an easy-to-care-for surface.
Solid surface. Because solid surface countertops are non-porous, it’s used not only in kitchens and baths, but in hospitals and laboratories. A seamless material that is available in a wide range of styles and designs, solid surface brands include Corian, Staron, and Gibralter.
Edge profile. In addition to straight, squared, and rounded edges, a countertop and stone company can provide a variety of edge profiles for natural and man-made products. Custom edges are possible with computer-controlled CNC equipment.