Your Guide to Countertops


Here we cover the basic benefits and drawbacks to the most common countertop options.

 

For specific projects in kitchens and bathrooms, please visit either our Kitchen Countertops or our Bathroom Countertops pages.


Solid Surface Countertops


Giallo Ornamental Granite with an eased edge.
Giallo Ornamental Granite with an eased edge.

The process of getting a solid surface countertop is simple. Once you choose the material you like, our fabricators measure your cabinets and start fabrication. A large slab of material is cut to size; the edges are polished; holes are cut for sinks, faucets, cooktops, etc.; and then the final product is installed in your home.

 

This is by far the most expensive countertop solution; but you have no grout joints to worry about, the final product looks clean and seamless, it's installed for you (no extra mess or contractors to coordinate), and it will add to the resale value of your home.

 

Visit our Solid Surface Granite and Quartz Countertop pages for more information about the most popular solid surface countertop materials.

Large Format Tiles


There are an increasing number of highly durable porcelain tile lines with large-format options: 18x18", 12x24", 24x24", 12x48", 16x32", 20x40", and even larger tiles. As a strong, dense material that never needs sealing, porcelain is a great product for countertops.

 

  

Large format tiles are desirable for the reduced number of total grout joints in your installation. They tend to cost a little more per square foot than smaller tiles, but far less than a solid surface countertop. You can install them yourself to reduce costs or hire a contractor.


Porcelain & Ceramic Tiles


Porcelain and ceramic tiles come in a wide range of levels of durability, from high-density commercial grade porcelain tiles to glazed ceramic wall tiles. Which type you can use on your countertop depends upon the expected wear you'll put it through. A well-used kitchen countertop with hot, heavy pots and pans requires a more durable tile, while a master bathroom countertop can have more delicate ceramic tiles.

 

Porcelains and ceramics are easy to clean and maintain. You don't have to seal porcelain and ceramic tiles, with the exception of polished porcelains, ceramics with a crackle glaze, or those that are going to be grouted with a contrasting grout color (for example, a light tan ceramic tile with a dark brown grout). Porcelains and ceramics can range in price from $2 to $12 a square foot depending upon quality, durability, and style; but are on average less expensive than natural stone tiles.

Natural Stone Tiles


Natural stone's natural beauty makes it very desirable for creating high-impact countertops. However, the durability of the different types of natural stone affects which countertops they can be used on.

Green granite countertops
Granite is a classic choice for kitchen countertops.

Granite is one of the most durable natural stones, and is one of the most popular countertop materials. There are hundreds of colors of granite available in 12x12" tiles, and they are very easy to install and work with. Seal them well and use a granite-specific cleaner such as Stone Clean & Shine, and your granite tiles will last a very long time.

Travertine countertop tiles and matching backsplash mosaic.
Tumbled travertine lends itself to an Italian countryside style.

Calcium-based natural stone such as marblelimestone, and travertine are susceptible to acidic materials (fruit juice, vinegar, etc.), and as such aren't recommended for kitchen counters. However, these materials are available in a wide range of sizes, colors, and finishes, and are a beautiful option for low-wear areas such as bathroom vanities. We always recommend sealing these stones to protect them from staining.

Slate tile countertop
This kitchen features rustic slate countertop and matching tiled wall.

Slate and quartzite tiles are highly variegated with a vast selection of colors. While not as susceptible to acids as marble or limestone, slate is still softer and easier to scratch than granite. Most slate and quartzite tiles have a natural, clefted finish and can vary in depth. This variation makes it hard to create a level surface, which can be problematic if you plan to set things on your counter. We recommend a honed or polished slate or quartzite for a smooth, level surface. And don't forget a good sealer!

Alternate Materials


Glass tilesmetallic tiles, and mosaics are not commonly used on countertops, but can be very dramatic and unique when done well.

 

Think of the daily use that your countertop will receive when selecting your material. Certain glass tiles and mosaics are very easy to scratch, and should only be used on low-wear countertops. Some metallic tiles will patina when wet or show smudges and fingerprints. With mosaics, you'll have a lot of grout, which can be hard to keep clean.

 

While generally more expensive than other tile options, using glass, metal, or mosaics on your countertop creates a beautiful, custom look.


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