7 Countertop Materials for Bathrooms
Explore the pros and cons of these common countertop materials
If your heart is set on granite, count yourself among an enduring majority. Despite encroaching competition from quartz (see below), granite remains the premier choice among the varieties of natural stone, due to its dramatic beauty and seemingly endless variety of colours and patterns.
- A profusion of options: With patterns from subtle to bold and a rainbow of hues, you’re sure to find a slab that speaks your language.
- Granite is hard and scratch resistant, and requires minimal upkeep when properly sealed.
- It’s impervious to humidity or damage from a hot curling iron.
- It lasts just about forever.
- Because granite is so desirable, it’s likely to add resale value to your home.
- Granite is still one of the most expensive countertop choices.
- Though granite is recyclable, its transport and mining require extensive energy resources.
Quartz is one of nature’s hardest and most abundant minerals. In fact, nearly every type of stone contains some percentage of this ubiquitous material. Manufacturers of quartz countertops add pigments, resins and, occasionally, recycled content, to a base that is about 95 per cent natural stone.
- Quartz is tougher than granite and doesn’t require sealing.
- It’s naturally resistant to moisture, stains and bacteria.
- It has a variety of edge treatments and installation options
- Quartz can rival high-end granite and marble in cost.
- Honed and textured finishes will show fingerprints and smudges, so frequent wipe-downs may be necessary.
Solid-surface materials are made of acrylic resin and crushed stone. You’ll find a wide range of solid colours and subtle patterns that pair especially well with contemporary decor.
- Extremely durable and naturally resistant to water, bacteria and stains.
- Realistic flecked or streaked styles can rival natural stone.
- Virtually seamless.
- Minor damage can be buffed out.
- Available with integral sink and backsplash options, as well as custom colour inlays and lighting effects.
- Wear and scratches are more visible on darker colours.
- Can be damaged by intense heat or dropped objects.
For centuries marble’s cool elegance has been synonymous with wealth and privilege. But thanks to improvements in its production, this rare beauty has become a bit more affordable. A hard, crystalline form of limestone, marble is often white with streaks of greys, although there are many colour variations.
- Long lasting and strong enough to resist most chips or dents.
- Can be polished for a high shine or honed for a casual, matte finish.
- Adaptable to nearly every style.
- It’s expensive.
- Marble’s porous nature makes it prone to stains, scratches and etching from acidic substances.
- Requires periodic sealing to maintain the finish.
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No longer exclusively an industrial material, concrete has miraculous shape-shifting abilities that allow an endless array of looks.
- It’s an appealing organic material that can mimic the look of natural stone.
- Vast range of customised colours, textures and decorative inlays.
- Can be cast in the exact shape, dimensions and edge style desired.
- Extremely durable.
- Reasonably ecofriendly, especially when recycled content is added.
- Because concrete is naturally porous, countertops need to be waxed and sealed regularly.
- Visible seam lines, although their appearance can be minimised with a coloured filler.
The hard facts on using concrete to decorate
Laminate has come a long way since the garish pastels and visible seams many of us remember from the ’60s and ’70s. Most commonly known as Formica, this easy-care product is composed of a thin plastic surface that’s pressure bonded to a particleboard or plywood base. The latest printing technologies are used for modern laminates to produce amazingly realistic stone- and wood-like finishes, as well as a plethora of solid and graphic patterns.
- One of the most affordable countertop surfaces.
- Durable, water resistant and easy to clean.
- Warm to the touch.
- Presized products are widely available at home supply stores.
- Relatively easy to install without a professional.
- Laminate tends to thin or dull over time.
- Damages can’t be repaired; the entire counter usually needs to be replaced.
Ceramic tile can be a charming and informal surface material, especially in a Spanish colonial-or beach cottage-style bath. Boldly patterned tiles also make wonderful backsplashes and tub surrounds.
- Glazed ceramic tiles are resistant to heat, stains, scratches and moisture.
- Tile is affordable, and individual tiles can be replaced if damaged.
- The installation and pattern can be customised.
- Grout can attract stains and mildew and may be difficult to keep clean.
- Tiles can crack or chip.
What is your bathroom countertop now? What material do you wish you had? Share in the Comments below.
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