A Hard Look at Manmade Materials for Bathroom Countertops
Bathroom countertops have not always been a necessary part of the bathroom. People back in the day did not spend any more time than necessary in there. Today, however, the bathroom is more of a showpiece, and can add considerable value to the home for you and other people. Bathroom countertops play its part in that value, so it important to choose the right one for your bathroom.
Modern innovations have expanded the choices somewhat in countertops beyond laminates and ceramic tiles. These are still popular because they are inexpensive and relatively low maintenance, but other manmade materials are giving them a run for their money. Here is a hard look at the pros and cons of manmade materials for bathroom countertops.
Back in the day, the only way to describe laminate for bathroom countertops is ugly. They used to come with metal edges to keep them in one piece, as laminates have a medium density fiberboard or particleboard core sandwiched between layers of plastic sheets.
Much has improved since those bad, old days, at least for big laminate manufacturers. Gone are the metal bands around the edges in everything but the cheapest products. High-end laminates look so convincing that only the very discerning can tell that they are not stainless steel, wood, marble, granite, or leather. At quick glance, it looks like a solid surface.
You can get laminates in a huge range of colors and styles. They are available as prefabricated laminate countertops you can cut to any size and shape you want with relative ease, which makes it DIY friendly. You can also get custom countertops from experienced fabricators, complete with features such as different edge profiles.
Laminates are also quite affordable, starting at $10 per square foot for stock products. However, custom laminates are quite pricey, starting from
$40 per square foot.
Another problem with laminates is that it does not have the durability and heft you would expect from the way it looks. It may look like granite, but it is not granite. From a handling and installation perspective, its lightness is an advantage. However, it is not going to stand up to regular use, and people know this. Despite improvements in its appearance, people still consider it a cheap alternative to the real thing.
Choose laminate for bathroom countertops in powder rooms and guest bathrooms as these are infrequently used. It is also a good choice if you are looking for a quick and inexpensive way to upgrade a bathroom, such as staging it for an open house.
Another mainstay for bathrooms of a bygone age is ceramic tiles. While it is still a good choice for bathroom walls and floors, it has not made the transition to modern bathroom countertops quite as readily. Trendy innovations and a wide range of colors and styles have made them more acceptable for many homeowners, but it most people still do not consider it high-end material for countertops.
Installing ceramic tiles for bathroom countertops is doable for DIYers, and it is relatively cheap compared to granite or marble slabs. Standard ceramic tiles cost around $2 per square foot, although handmade ones can go as high as $200 or even more. This does not include installation, which ranges from nothing if you DIY to $35 per square foot if you get a pro to do it for you.
Ceramic tiles are low maintenance, so that is good. However, they crack quite easily and not repairable. Grout lines are also an issue, especially as bathroom countertops, because the porous surface absorbs dirt and liquids. You need to seal the grout periodically to keep it from staining.
Choose ceramic tiles for DIY bathroom countertops and for bathrooms used by children and teenagers. If you would rather pay for professional installation, you might be better off choosing granite that starts at $34.99 per square foot, installed at KNC Granite.
Solid surface countertops had a good run when it first came out in the late 60s, and it is still a good choice today for bathroom countertops. A mix of acrylic and polyester materials, top brand solid surface products look a lot like natural stones, and a distinct improvement over cultured marble.
Solid surface is easier to cut and install than quartz or granite. So, you can DIY your bathroom countertop quite easily if you can get it. It is low maintenance, stain resistant, and you sand away any surface damage. It is a good choice for bathrooms that get a lot of use and abuse.
There are some problems with solid surface, however. For one thing, it is not for retail sale. You must buy it from a distributor, which will probably be required to install it as well. At prices starting at $45 per square foot, it is not dirt cheap. It is also not heat-resistant, so you need to keep it away from curling irons. Finally, manufacturers have not yet succeeded in simulating the look of natural stones as well as quartz stone manufacturers, so it still looks like a synthetic product.
Choose solid surface for bathroom countertops if you something durable without having to pay a little more for quartz or granite countertops. It is a good choice for bathrooms used by small children or careless teenagers.
Some manmade materials for bathroom countertops tend to be more affordable than premium options, and some are even quite durable. However, they cannot match the look, durability, and value-added features of natural stones and engineered quartz. If you want something truly special for your bathroom countertops, you should get in touch with KNC Granite for a free in-house visit and cost estimate.
KNC Granite services the Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. areas. We are experts at fabricating and installing bathroom countertops and offer attractive packages for all your countertop needs.
We have a large array of granite and marble slabs from which to choose. You can check actual slabs at our showroom in Lanham, Maryland. We will walk you through how we can meet your budget and still give you quality bathroom countertops for your home.
We do not only supply top-quality granite and marble stones, however. Aside from natural stones, we carry some of the top brands of engineered stone, including Cambria, Caesarstone, Silestone, and MSI, all of which come with manufacturer warranties.
We also specialize in kitchen remodeling and bathroom upgrade projects, delivering on time and on budget.
Give us a call or email us for your free in-home consultation and quote.