Choosing your kitchen countertop is a big deal. The material that you choose will set the tone of your kitchen and will affect the way it functions as well. Let’s look at the 6 top engineered countertop options to help you make the best decision for your ideal kitchen.
Quartz countertops, sometimes referred to as quartz surfacing or engineered stone, are made of 93-95 percent crushed natural quartz particles blended with other materials like color pigments and plastic resins. As an engineered material, quartz can be designed to mimic the look of natural stone and comes in a broad range of colors, patterns, and finishes.
Pros: It is a non-porous material, so unlike granite, it requires no sealing to make it impenetrable to stains, scratches, and bacteria, so maintenance is a breeze. It’s also heat and impact resistant making repairs less likely.
Cons: Like granite, it can be pricey, but considering it’s durability, most feel it’s a wise investment. Although manufacturers are awfully talented at creating quartz countertops that mimic natural stone, to the trained eye it may be apparent that it’s an engineered material. While quartz countertops will have seams where pieces are joined. Even though it’s tough, corners and edges can potentially be chipped, in which case you’ll need a professional repair.
Concrete is a heavy building material made from a mixture of broken stone or gravel, sand, cement, and water. When hardened, it forms a stone-like mass. Concrete is a favorite for people wanting a more contemporary, industrial, or edgier look. Although most homeowners prefer a variation of gray, it can be fabricated with just about any color, pattern and finish.
Pros: Concrete is a very versatile material and can be molded off-site or poured in place, so it’s a good choice for people who need countertops in unusual shapes. You can also customize it further by inlaying other materials like glass or tile. It is also quite durable.
Con: Concrete is porous, so it will need to be sealed and resealed at regular intervals to protect it from stains. Concrete will also needed to be treated with additives during fabrication to prevent cracking and to reduce porosity. It’s a tough material and isn’t likely to incur scratches, but it will dull knives and it’s not as heat resistant as other options. Like granite, it’s heavy and so you’ll need to keep that in mind.
Once seen primarily on the countertops in industrial kitchens and restaurants, stainless steel has become a trendy preference for folks seeking a more modern and stylish feel to their kitchen.
Pros: Stainless steel countertops are popular in part because they are extremely durable, impervious to heat, rust, and stains and is wonderfully easy to clean. Stainless steel has antibacterial and antimicrobial qualities so it’s fairly hygienic. These countertops are simple to install and are always fabricated to order, so it will fit beautifully in kitchen with unusual specifications.
Cons: Like all stainless steel, fingerprints show and so most folks find themselves wiping these countertops down frequently. And although stainless steel is durable, it can dent and scratch and can be affected by certain chemicals, so you’ll need to be aware of how to care for these countertops. They can also be noisy, so you’ll want to be careful using metal pots, pans, and utensils.
If you’re looking for something durable, easy to maintain, and relatively affordable, consider opting for tile countertops. Tile can be made of porcelain, ceramic, or stone and comes in many different colors, sizes, and textures. The aesthetic options are vast, so tile can coordinate with a wide range of styles.
Pros: Tile is installed one section at a time and many resourceful homeowners choose to install tile countertops themselves, which can keep the cost down even further. It resists heat, sharp blades, resists stains, but if one or two tiles need to be replaced, it’s fairly easy to do.
Cons: Some find the uneven surface of tile countertops to be challenging. Grout is prone to staining and regular cleaning and maintenance is required to prevent bacterial growth.
These countertops are custom fabricated with long lasting acrylic or polyester and can be made with a practically infinite variety of colors and patterns.
Pros: Solid surfacing countertops are just that, solid material throughout, so most surface scratches and stains can be sanded out. Installation is seamless, so there are no cracks to trap dirt and debris. Because solid surfacing is nonporous and requires no special sealing or cleaning, it’s super simple to maintain.
Cons: It does scratch and nick more easily than other surfaces and can be damaged by heat. Many people are turned off by the look and feel of an artificial surface.
King of budget friendly kitchens, countertop laminate is the go-to option for affordable countertop. Laminate is made by pressing layers of paper and resins into a single, semi-rigid plastic sheet which is then fused to particle board. The resulting smooth surface is cut to size and is fairly quick and easy to install.
Pros: Laminate can be found limitless variety from bright, retro colors to patterns that resemble natural materials like stone, wood or even quartz but at a fraction of the cost. It is easy to maintain; no special sealing required and it’s a cinch to keep clean.
Cons: Unless installed with special (and more expensive) finishing and front edges, seams show. Laminate is very difficult to repair, so you’ll want to use cutting boards to prevent scratches and keep heat sources, like pots and pans off of the countertop. Moisture can cause the layers to peel, so you’ll need to keep it dry which means you’ll want to stay away from undermount sinks if you choose laminate for your kitchen countertops.