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Choosing the right countertops for your kitchen or bathroom can be difficult due to the wide variety of materials that are available. It is not a decision to enter into lightly, because whatever countertop materials you choose will essentially become a long-term feature of your kitchen or bathroom, which in turn can have a significant impact on the value of your home. So with all the materials to choose from, where do you even start? Below is a brief overview of some of the most popular countertop surfaces being installed in kitchens and bathrooms today to give you an idea of your options.

Granite

Granite countertops exude a certain elegance and richness, and they’re exceptionally strong as well. Whether in the kitchen or the bathroom, granite countertops are like a magnet for the eyes, and their multi-faceted appearance makes them a great complement to a wide range of cabinet styles and colors.

Granite is highly scratch-resistant, but it is a porous substance, which means that it needs to be sealed in order to keep from being stained by liquid spills. Being a natural stone, granite has unique qualities of tone and shading that make it visually appealing, but this natural beauty comes with a slightly higher price tag. If you plan to install granite countertops, you can expect to pay anywhere from $100 to $230 per square foot for the material. For this reason, granite is a recommended complement to high-end appliances, cabinets and flooring.

Quartz

Quartz countertops are often referred to as engineered stone countertops, because they aren’t cut directly from solid stone, but rather are comprised of a combination ground quartz (about 93%) and polyester resins that bind the quartz crystals together. Since quartz is one of the hardest stones on earth, these countertops are also very hard and arguably the most durable surface you can use in a kitchen or bathroom.

Quartz countertops come in a variety of colors and designs, and often include flecks or veining features to imitate the appearance of granite or marble. One of the most outstanding features of quartz countertops is their resilience; they do not chip or scratch easily, and because they’re non-porous, they never need to be sealed. They’re good for kitchens and bathrooms alike, because they’re very low-maintenance, which really helps the homeowner who is always on-the-go.

Butcher Block

Butcher block countertops are comprised of several strips of wood (often in different shades or colors) that are glued together to form a unified pattern. As with most other wood surfaces, butcher block countertops offer a warm and inviting appearance, and they’re immensely popular for kitchens in particular due to their exceptional utility when it comes to food prep. They can handle various cuts and scratches very well (often these marks can be sanded or buffed out), and they aren’t subject to many of the chipping and cracking issues that can occur with harder surfaces. Butcher block does require sealing when it’s first installed, in order to prevent warping due to water penetration.

The beauty of a natural wood surface can add character to a kitchen or bathroom space, which makes butcher block countertops an ideal choice for either room. They also work well with a variety of cabinet styles and kitchen or bathroom decor.

Laminates

Laminate countertops are often referred to as plastic laminate because they’re comprised of a hard wooden core (typically particle board or medium density fiberboard) wrapped in several layers of plastic laminate material. They’re an extremely popular surface due to their availability in a wide range of colors, patterns and styles, some of which are designed to mimic the appearance of higher-end surfaces such as granite or marble. Laminate countertops are non-porous, which means that they won’t harbor bacteria or germs, and they’re easy to clean, which makes them an ideal surface for both bathrooms and kitchens alike. The main drawback to laminate countertops is that they’re more susceptible to scratching, staining and burning than other surfaces. That being said, laminate countertops are one of the most affordable options on the market, and they offer exceptional versatility and low-maintenance upkeep for busy families.

Although there are several different types of countertop surfaces on the market, the above materials represent some of the most popular options for homeowners who are looking to add functional utility along with visual appeal to their kitchen or bathroom areas. Use the information above as a guide to help you determine which countertop surface will be the best fit for your individual needs and budget.

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