If you think granite is going to top the list, you would be almost right. Granite is incredibly tough, but it is not the only one out there. Consumer reports rank the hardest working materials out there with an eye on cost-effectiveness. Check out the benefits and drawbacks of the top 6 durable kitchen countertops that are also affordable for most homeowners.
Quartz countertops take the top prize in this category. Quartz stone is a composite quartz product engineered for durability. The quartz in the name comes from its major component, which is crushed quartz. Now quartz is a natural mineral with high scratch resistance, so it takes a lot to damage the structure. Mixed in with the quartz is a small percentage of resins, which keep the crushed quartz cohesive, and pigments, which give it its color and design. The costs of quartz countertops per square foot ranges from $40 to $100.
The top benefit of quartz, strangely enough, is not its durability, but availability. Of course, it is almost indestructible because of its quartz component, and it is stain-resistant because it is non-porous. You will never need to seal quartz, so maintenance is a breeze.
However, many designers and homeowners choose quartz because they are available in almost all colors and designs, so it is easy to find one that will match your kitchen. If you are looking for the look of natural stones, quartz is still a good choice because many models mimic the look of granite, marble, soapstone, and slate.
The main issue with quartz countertops is heat resistance. While it will take a lot of force to crack or chip it, it does not take a lot of heat to damage it. It will not melt in the presence of high heat, but it will discolor permanently. In fact, even exposure to direct sunlight can cause it to fade, which is why manufacturers will void the warranty if you use quartz stone outdoors.
You probably knew that when it comes to durability, granite would be close to the top. In fact, the National Association of Realtors conducted a survey of homebuyers, and they still put a premium on homes with granite countertops in the kitchen.
Granite is a natural stone with a distinct look that even the best efforts and latest technology used by engineered stone makers cannot duplicate exactly. You can get slabs of granite from local retailers, and countertop specialists can fabricate and install them for you. Better yet, source your granite countertops from these specialists for the best prices. Granite countertops cost about the same as quartz countertops per square foot, ranging from $40 to $100.
Granite is very durable, resistant to physical damage, including heat. It is suitable for use indoors and outdoors, and it will not discolor no matter how much heat you apply to it. After all, it was born of high heat and pressure.
The main problem with granite is its porosity. Most natural stones are porous, so it requires an application of impregnating sealer to keep it from staining, that said, mot granite countertops rarely need a reapplication of sealer under normal use.
Another problem you might have with granite is consistency. Because it is a natural stone, slabs can vary widely, even if they come from the same source. You will need an expert fabricator and installer to make granite countertops look as seamless as possible.
3. Crushed or recycled glass
Crushed or recycled glass for kitchen countertops is gaining some ground among socially conscious homeowners. As you might imagine, it uses glass recycled from old glass containers such as beer bottles as well as broken windshields and traffic lights.
Countertop manufacturers offer two types of recycled glass products. One is set in clear acrylic, giving the illusion of crystals floating in water or air. The other is set in concrete, so it gives the surface a mosaic-like shimmer. Recycled glass countertops are quite expensive per square foot, ranging from $60 to $120.
Like quartz, crush glass countertops are very durable and non-porous, so they will not chip or stain. They are also resistant to heat, which is good for kitchen use. Unlike quartz, it does not discolor with exposure to direct sunlight or heat.
The big problem with crushed glass countertops is brittleness. It can crack quite easily without proper support, so it is not a good idea to put anything heavy at the corners. If you choose the acrylic type, you need to keep acidic substances away from it as it will eat away at the resin. The cost is also a problem, as the cost range above is just for the material. You will have to pay for fabrication and installation separately.
Laminate countertops are not new. They have been around for a few decades, and the most recognized brand is Formica. Most people consider laminate countertops as cheap, but they are actually quite durable.
Laminate countertops are basically several layer of Kraft paper and plastic sheets sandwiched together to form a solid slab. It comes in a very wide variety of colors and designs, and they are very affordable at between $10 and $40 per square foot.
The great thing about laminate countertops is its budget-friendliness. Even if you are strapped for cash, you can still get the look of granite or wood for your kitchen countertops, and you can DIY the installation. In most cases, you can apply a laminate countertop right on top of your existing countertops to spruce up your kitchen. It is non-porous and stain-resistant. If you damage any part of it, it is easy and cheap to replace.
The issue with laminate countertops is the its affordability, ironically enough It does not add any value to the home because people simply do not like the idea of laminate countertops in the kitchen. It may be because it has almost zero resistance to heat, and they scratch and crack quite easily. In fact, many homebuyers consider them deal breakers.
5. Ceramic tiles
Many older homes have ceramic tiles for their countertops, primarily because they are very affordable and versatile. You can get them in almost any color, and you can get creative with the design. You can purchase tiles in any quantity from hardware stores, and it is the perfect material on which to try your DIY chops. They are also quite durable given the right circumstances.
Ceramic tiles are heat resistant, non-porous and smooth, so they will not burn or stain, and oil and dirt just slides off them. Since they come in many colors and designs, you can really play with the look for your kitchen countertops and avoid a cookie cutter look.
Ceramic tiles crack quite easily, such as with dropping a heavy pot on it, so even if you can easily replace individual tiles, it can be a bit inconvenient. Ceramic tile countertops also have numerous seams, so that makes for an uneven surface. However, the biggest issue with ceramic tile countertops is the seams, which can discolor and stain very easily even with a grout sealer. In some cases, it can harbor bacteria, which is not a good thing for a surface used for preparing food.
6. Solid surface
Solid surface countertops were popular when they first came out as alternatives to natural stone countertops such as granite and marble. They are also composite products like quartz, but unlike quartz, it has a much higher proportion of non-natural materials such as resins and acrylic. The most popular brand of solid surfaces is Corian, and composed of equal amounts of natural materials such as marble durst, resins, and acrylic, with pigments to give it color and design. The cost per square foot of solid surface countertops is between $35 and $100.
Like quartz countertops, solid surface countertops are non-porous and readily available in many colors and patterns. Unlike quartz, however, you can cut solid surface slabs with an ordinary rotary saw. It is relatively soft, so you can sand out scratches without much trouble.
Solid surface countertops scratch easily, and most models are not as beautiful as granite or marble. It is also not resistant to heat. The biggest issue with solid surface countertops, however, is that they are not eco-friendly. They have a significant carbon footprint because they require a lot of energy to manufacture. They are also mostly non-recyclable. These will not endear it with many homeowners.
Durability is an important component for many homeowners when considering their options for kitchen countertops, but so is the cost. These are the top 6 durable kitchen countertops available to you when you are on a budget, and many homeowners agree they do the job in the kitchen.
You can get quite a great deal for quartz and granite countertops with KNC Granite if you are in the areas of Washington DC, many areas in Maryland (Baltimore, Annapolis, Bethesda, Rockville) and Virginia (Alexandria, Arlington). We have a large array of granite as well as marble slabs from which to choose. You can check actual slabs at our showroom in Lanham, Maryland.
If you prefer quartz countertops, we can also help. We also carry some of the top brands of engineered stone, including Cambria, Caesarstone, Silestone, and MSI, all of which come with manufacturer warranties.
We do not only supply top quality natural and engineered stones, however. We are experts at fabricating and installing kitchen counters or bathroom vanities. 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 for your durable kitchen countertops!