The last several years when I have asked a client what type of countertop material they want 90 % immediately responded “granite” as if they hadn’t considered any other option. When people sell their houses, one of the first things a realtor will boast about are the granite countertops. It’s true that granite is a high quality material, it’s unique veining and coloration can truly make a statement, but is it right for everyone?
While granite is a well recognized material signifying quality, it is important for the client to evaluate their lifestyle and their budget and consider the following alternatives.
- Manufactured Stone aka Quartz ($$$)– This is one of the fastest growing materials available right now. Manufactured stone has been on the market for quite a few years now, though people (especially in the Midwest) are just now starting to warm up to it. This material can emulate the look of granite without the maintenance. That’s right! No sealing, and it’s scratch resistant, heat resistant, non porous, and best of all has a warranty anywhere from 10 years to a lifetime! It’s perfect for a low maintenance kitchen or bath.
- Concrete ($$$$)- Many people hear the word “concrete” and immediately picture driveways, sidewalks etc. Concrete is one of the most labor intensive countertop materials and it must be fabricated by a highly trained professional, which, depending on your location in the country, can keep the price well above granite and quartz materials. What attracts most people to concrete is it’s versatility. You can control color, aggregate, sheen, and thickness to make your countertop completely unique to you.
- Solid Surface ($$$)- Gone are the days when solid surface meant a solid white, off white, or beige countertop. Many solid surface colors imitate the look of granite, concrete while others are completely unique. The advantages of it have remained the same- no visible seams, integrated seamless sinks, and coved backsplash capability.
- Plastic Laminate ($)- When choosing a new countertop, many clients will do just about anything to avoid the use of laminate countertops. When budgets are tight I see many clients wanting to sacrafice the quality of their cabinets so that they can afford another material. I make a point to explain that cabinets are the foundation of your kitchen and it is important the quality & construction of your cabinets is equal (or better) to the material on top of them. Unfortunately there are people who purchase cabinets that were not intended to support the weight of granite, quartz or concrete. Without a doubt those customers will end up having to replace both their cabinets and their countertops when the cabinets begin to sag and the stone cracks. A great alternative are the High Definition laminates which actually look like a natural stone in both pattern and texture. You’ll spend a little more on these, but nowhere near the amount of natural or manufactured stones. I also suggest to clients that if the budget doesn’t allow for a pricier countertop- purchase laminate now, and in a few years (when the budget allows) replace the countertops with a higher quality product.
I hope this will encourage you to become more educated on the different surfaces so that your final selection fits the space aesthetically, functionally and most importantly in the budget!