In every home there are a multitude of horizontal surfaces, from counters in kitchens, bathrooms and wet bars to custom tabletops and storage units. Choosing the right countertop materials for your needs and lifestyle is extremely important in creating a design that will work for you for many years to come.
There are a number of things a homeowner needs to consider when choosing surfacing materials. Durability, the propensity for germs and bacteria to grow on their surfaces (especially important in kitchens), the colors and patterns available and how they fit in to your décor, the care and maintenance that each will need over it’s lifetime, and if there is any sustainable aspect such as being recyclable at the end of their useful life.
Engineered Quartz Countertops like those available from Caesarstone or Silestone have many benefits. They have a non-porous surface that never needs to be sealed, they can be cleaned easily with soap and water or a non-abrasive household cleanser in case of staining. They also have a heat tolerance of up to 300 degrees Fahrenheit (though it is not recommended that you place hot objects directly onto the counter) and they have a natural scratch resistance (though you should still use a cutting board.)
These attractive countertop materials also come in a large range of colors, everything from neutrals to bright colors as well as some types that mimic a marble-look, and some that contain recycled materials. Caesarstone also deals with surfacing made from semiprecious stones that can be back-lit when used vertically and all Caesarstone products have a lifetime residential warranty that includes a 10 year limited warranty for the next owner should you sell your home.
Caesar Stone Concetto Semi-precious stone solid surfacing material is used here to create a living room table.
Ceasar Stone Concetto Semi-precious stone solid surfacing material in Rose quartz is used here as a bathroom countertop.
Caesar Stone Classico in “Red Shimmer” is used here as a waterfall kitchen island, adding color to a modern neutral kitchen.
Here we can see how various Caesarstone countertop materials can be used for commercial table-tops.
Caesar Stone Concetto Semi-precious stone Amythyst Rock used to create an attractive consul table.
The PaperStone Company makes solid surfacing from 100% post-consumer recycled paper that has been saturated with PetroFree™ phenolic resins and selected natural pigments. It is one of the few FSC certified surfaces and also qualifies toward LEED certification. It has a non-porous surface that “provides a lifetime of stain resistance”, any scratches can be sanded out and refinished. It is also a VOC free product meaning that it’s installation has no off- gassing, and is heat resistant up to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. It is currently available in 9 colors Slate, Cabernet, Chocolate, Denim, Evergreen, Gunmetal, Leather, Mocha and Sienna.
A PaperStone kitchen counter top , shown here in “Leather”.
PaperStone molded bathroom counter top in “Slate”.
PaperStone kitchen counter top in “Slate” shown with optional water drainage grooves that drains into an under-counter sink.
PaperStone Slate kitchen with back counter and tabletop.
Marble countertop materials can be extremely beautiful but also rather expensive. This is because unlike their manufactured counterparts they are cut from existing rock and have a natural veining pattern that can come in different colors depending on the region where it was harvested.
This extra effort in retrieval means that your Marble, Granite, Travertine, Limestone, Slate or Onyx countertop is going to cost more at the outset, including the costs for shipping it to your local supplier from places such as Brazil or Russia. This extra travel also increases the carbon footprint that will be left by your countertop purchase.
In addition, most natural stone countertop materials need to be sealed and resealed regularly (granite countertops are slightly less porous than marble and are just as beautiful). The tradeoff is that you will get a one-of-a-kind masterpiece created by nature that is unique to your home. In terms of function, marble especially stays cool to the touch which is a benefit for bakers rolling dough.
Be warned however that one-of-a-kind also comes with a one-chance-to-make–it mentality, if your slab is miss-cut by your installer or is broken in transit you will have to choose a whole new slab, and though you may have access to the very next cut from the same rock it will look different and certain details will no longer be in the same locations.
Modern kitchen back-splash, countertop and kitchen island top covered with Granite to create a warmer version of a very modern design.
Grey and black granite island counter tops bring in the colors that surround them in the kitchen and are truly beautiful.
Rainforest Green Marble used to create a beautiful bathroom vanity counter top.
Rainforest Brown vanity counter top with under-mount copper-look sink.
An Acacia Granite slab, which could be used in counter tops or for vertical installation.
An Abrolios Green Granite slab, which could be used in counter tops or for vertical installation
Recycled glass countertop materials are also becoming popular as an eco-friendly product and a bit of a novelty item in kitchens and bathrooms where you can tell your guests “oh this counter top was once beer bottles”. GEOS recycled glass surfaces produces a countertop that doesn’t need to be sealed, and due to a propriety resin binder purports to be stronger and more chip and crack resistant than other recycled glass countertop materials on the market. It has a 15 year limited warranty and like other countertops recommends the use of trivets and cutting boards despite its heat and scratch resistance.
Geos recycled glass countertop in “Juneau” has a mixture of blue, brown, grey, white and cream pieces held together by white resins.
Geos recycled glass countertop in “Red Rocks” has a mixture or red, orange, cream, white and grey pieces held together by white resins.
Geos recycled glass countertop in “Auckland” is a denser mixture of greens and blues pieces held together by white resins.
Another relatively new recycled countertop product now available is ECO by Cosentino. It is made from 75% recycled mirror, glass, porcelain, earthenware and vitrified ash, with the other 25% including quartz, natural stone, and the binding of corn and other ecologically based resins. 94% of the water used in its manufacture is reused, it has a rating between 5 and 7 on the Mohs hardness scale. It is also scratch, chemical and impact resistant and is approved for use as countertops, flooring, wall cladding and custom large-scale projects. It comes with a 10 year residential warranty and is currently available in 14 neutral colors.
ECO by Cosentino in “White Diamond” used here on a kitchen island.
ECO by Cosentino in “Crystal Sand” used here as a bathroom vanity counter top.
ECO by Cosentino in “River Bed” used on kitchen counter tops and two waterfall edged kitchen islands.
ECO by Cosentino in “Luna” used here as a waterfall edged modern bathroom vanity.
ECO by Cosentino in “Polar Cap” used on a two tiered kitchen island that houses a bar and cooktop.