Countertops – A Simple Guide to Help You Choose the Best

///Countertops – A Simple Guide to Help You Choose the Best

Countertops – A Simple Guide to Help You Choose the Best

Countertops are a central part of room design and often times design revolves around the countertop choice. There are many varieties including: bamboo, butcher block and wood, concrete, copper, granite, laminate, lava stone, marble, palm wood, pewter, quartz, quartzite, reclaimed wood, recycled glass, recycled HDPE, recycled paper, resin, sintered stone, slate, soapstone, stainless steel, tile, and zinc. Believe it or not, I’ve had most of them! What I haven’t had, I’ve worked with. What I’m currently digging: recycled paper countertops. Check them out!

Need help choosing what’s best for you? I’ve put together this simple countertop guide based on my experience with each one. Want the pdf? You can download it here.

Bamboo

  • $30 – $50 per sq. ft.

  • Looks and feels like wood

  • Very light blond color but can be darkened

  • Since it is actually a grass, there are many layers glued together to form a slab

  • Have to watch out for volatile chemicals and if you have a nut allergy you might have an allergic reaction to it

  • Needs oil maintenance

  • Has anti-bacterial properties

  • Very green, sustainable and durable

  • It can scratch, dent and burn

  • Modern, unique look and feel

bamboo wood countertop

Butcher Block and Wood

  • $30 – $200 per sq. ft.

  • Homey, quiet and forgiving

  • Wood countertops were always used in the butler’s pantry to keep preparation quiet and easy on the china and glassware.

  • Naturally bacteria resistant, scratches, cuts and burns look like they belong

  • Need to seal and oil

  • Green choice

butcher block counter top

Concrete

  • $75 – $200 per sq. ft.

  • Hard and heavy

  • Can chip and crack

  • Can stain and etch

  • Cool looks by stamping, staining and polishing

concrete counter top

Copper

  • $100 – $150 per sq. ft.

  • Looks good in farm houses to contemporary houses

  • Can scratch and dent but it can handle the heat

  • Ages beautifully
  • It is a living finish that evolves over time and what it is exposed to, though some prefer to polish. That would not be me.

  • Sanitary, antimicrobial and inhibits the growth of bacteria and other microorganisms

  • Make sure you use 24 gauge

  • I had a copper faucet in California. It was a beautiful verdigris color

copper countertop

Granite

  • $90 – $250 per sq. ft.

  • Strong, heavy, durable

  • Heat and scratch resistant

  • Porous, can stain and etch even when sealed

  • Loud and be careful setting down a stemmed glass

  • Can break and crack. Mine did in the 1994 Northridge California earthquake. Also, had a client standing on her bar to change a light bulb, she was standing in the middle of a drawer below it and it cracked.

  • Not very green unless locally sourced. At this writing, most is coming from Brazil, Italy, India, and China.

  • Super hard on little ones heads when running and looking back at siblings chasing them. Many hematomas and stitches.

salvador dali granite slab

Laminate

  • $20 – $50 per sq. ft.

  • Affordable

  • Very resistant to etching and stains

  • 3D printing has added a great variety of looks and some surface texture

  • Can scratch and burn

  • Can fade with a lot of direct light

  • Not very green

laminate counter top

Lava Stone

  • $250 – $400 per sq. ft.

  • Beautiful, colorful and most expensive

  • Natural occurring resource that is environmentally friendly

  • Super easy maintenance

  • Heat, cold, temperature fluctuation, stain, chemical and impact resistant

  • Will not fade so use indoors and out

  • Non-porous

  • Love it! Interested? Check out Pyrolave, LavArte and MGO

paris lava stone signs

Lava Stone Art Nouveau
metro signs in Paris

Marble

  • $120 – $300 per sq. ft.

  • Stays cold so great for rolling dough or laying on when hot

  • Heat resistant

  • Porous, can harbor bacteria

  • Recommend a honed finish

  • If you have a red wine tasting party, have a clear acrylic top made for it to protect it

  • My favorite: Blue Lumen

  •  In the 1990’s, a friend installed white marble in her entry, within a couple of weeks her son got sick and was prescribed a red cough syrup, it made him sick to his stomach, and on his way to the bathroom he threw up that red acid right in the middle by the front door, then his brother came running to see and he slipped and hit his head and they were off to the emergency room to get 12 stitches. By the time Mom got home with 2 sick kids the floor was ruined. You just can’t make this stuff up.
lumen blue marble slab

Palm Wood

  • $40 – $80 per sq. ft.

  • Stronger than oak

  • Affordable and recyclable

  • Comes from old palms past their fruit bearing age

  • Very green

palm wood wall and desk area

Pewter

  • $100 – $200 per sq. ft.

  • Very similar to Zinc

  • Non-porous and easy to clean

  • Matte look but shinier than Zinc

pewter countertop

Quartz Solid Surfaces

  • $90 – $200 per sq. ft.

  • Many varieties

  • Carefree marble look

  • Very durable and hard but can scratch and burn

  • Non-porous

  • Easy to clean

  • Green if sourced locally, but most are sourced from India at this time

  • Love it!

quartz solid surface countertop

Quartzite

  • $90 – $250 per sq. ft.

  • True quartzite is harder, denser, and less porous than granite

  • Very heat, etch, and scratch resistant

  • Needs to be sealed once per year

  • Use pH balanced soaps to prolong finish and sealer

  • Beautiful natural stone in a vast array of colors

  • Super white is a good choice if you want the look of marble without the upkeep

quartzite countertop

Reclaimed wood

  • $50 – $100 per sq. ft.

  • Salvaged wood from old buildings are turned into countertops

  • Easy to recycle

  • Many looks are easily achieved

  • Have to watch out for chemicals

  • Reclaimed wine barrels are being used too

reclaimed wood countertop

old freight car floor turned into a countertop

Recycled Glass

  • $50 – $130 per sq. ft.

  • Strong and durable

  • Hard and loud, mostly green in color and green for the planet

  • Easy to clean

recycled glass countertop

Recycled HDPE

  • $50 – $80 per sq. ft.

  • Hard, durable, impervious to water

  • Made from post consumer and construction products that would end up in landfills

  • HDPE is shredded, compressed and bound with resin to form countertops

  • Very green

hdpe countertop examples

Recycled Paper

  • $40 – $100 per sq. ft.

  • This stuff looks super cool and it’s green

  • Eco friendly and easy to work with, super tight seams (LOVE)

  • Non-porous, strong, durable indoors and out

  • Scratch, dent and chip resistant

  • Heat resistant to 350 deg and no bleach or alkaline soaps because they can dull the surface

  • I’m into it, if you are too, check out PaperStone and Richlite

black recycled paper countertop

Resin

  • $50 – $130 per sq. ft.

  • Lots of variety

  • Durable, impact resistant

  • Make sure you are buying an acrylic or epoxy resin and not a polyester resin

red resin countertop

Sintered Stone

  • $40 – $50 per sq. ft.

  • Sintered stone is made with a mixture of minerals, metals and ceramic powders processed under heat and pressure to create a very dense and strong product.

  • Comes in many finishes

  • Can look like marble, concrete, copper, etc.

  • Panels come in different thicknesses

  • Can be used on walls, floors, and mitered edges can make it look like a thick chunk or a thin waterfall over and down to the floor.
  • Very resistant to heat, stains, chemicals and abrasions. Can be used inside and out.

  • Eco-friendly and 100 percent natural. It is completely recyclable and it is common to find that up to 52 percent of sintered stone is made of recycled natural content.

  • Want to know more? Check out Lapitec, Neolith, DuraLosa, and Dekton.

sintered stone countertop

Slate

  • $100 – $200 per sq. ft.

  • This stone is a cousin of Soapstone. It only comes in dark, matte colors but you can use lemon oil to get a wet look.

  • It is durable, non-porous, won’t stain and naturally anti-microbial. It is resistant to chips, scratches and heat. If it chips or scratches, most can be buffed away with steel wool.
  • Green choice if locally sourced
  • I have had a couple of houses with slate floors. They are cool to the touch. One house had black and the other had a combination of green, gold and blue. They were easy to keep clean, my dogs could get pretty good traction on them without too much scratching but they are hard and not forgiving if you fall or drop a glass.

slate countertop

Soapstone

  • $70 – $120 per sq. ft.

  • Limited colors from light gray to charcoal, some with beautiful veining

  • Needs to be oiled

  • Non-porous, heat, chemical, stain and etch resistant. Very chemical resistant, That is why it is used in chemical labs

  • It will dent and scratch but won’t chip or crack. It is a very forgiving natural stone and sanitary. I love it

  • When it gets wet and you rub it, it foams up like there is dish soap in it

  • It’s green, if you buy from Alberene Soapstone Company in Virginia. This quarry was founded in 1883 and is the only remaining supplier of American soapstone.

  • Originally used by American Indians to carve bowls and cooking slabs, after the industrial revolution soapstone became the go-to material for chemistry labs, hospitals, even famed jewelers Tiffany’s used soapstone for their acid tanks. As the 20th-century progressed soapstone made its way into homes as laundry tubs and griddles and was used commercially for electrical components.

blue soapstone sink
natural and oiled soapstone

natural and oiled slab

Stainless Steel

  • $70- $145 per sq. ft.

  • Wont’ rust, etch or stain

  • Heat and impact resistant

  • Can scratch and shows fingerprints and smudges

  • I don’t really like it

stainless steel countertop

Tile

  • $3 – $100 per sq. ft.

  • Affordable

  • Unlimited choices allowing for creativity

  • Doesn’t etch or stain (talking tile here not grout)

  • Can crack with high impact

  • Can handle heat

  • Environmentally friendly

contemporary tile countertop

Zinc

  • $150 – $200 per sq. ft.

  • Another living finish that ages to a soft, powdery gray blue

  • Can be carved into beautiful motifs

  • Can scratch and dent

  • Extreme heat will warp the metal and even melt it

  • It is used in Europe’s finest kitchens

  • Most use simple beeswax for maintenance

  • Like copper it has antiseptic properties that kill bacteria on contact

zinc countertop

Have questions? Just ask! Comment below or send us an email. We’d love to hear from you!

Let’s create great design.

Sustainable Design

Renewed materials

Sustainable design continues to gain traction in the design community and with good reason. Technological advances make it easier than ever to produce quality, green products without sacrificing beauty. If you are interested in learning more about eco-friendly recycled surfacing check out Alkemi.

Be Kind to Mother Earth

Remember, it matters to someone.

exotic bird flamingo
2018-08-08T10:56:22+00:00