Engineered stone. These are your quartz surfaces composed of 93 percent quartz particles and available in a larger range of colors than granite. Prices are comparable, sometimes more. The nonporous surface resists scratches and stains, and manufacturers generally offer a warranty. Brands include Cambria Quartz, Silestone, CaesarStone, LG Viatera and DuPont Zodiac.
Laminates. The surface known as Formica is plastic-coated and available in a range of colors—including surfaces that resemble granite. If you’re budget is tight and you’re doing a quick-and-dirty kitchen overhaul, this is a solution within reach. You’ll have to weigh the resale pros and cons: Does your home value require granite? (It’s not a bad idea to check out real estate comparables.)
Soapstone. These pewter-toned countertops are ideal for historic renovations, such as this one by Superior Homes. They darken over time and require regular maintenance with mineral oil applications, but people like the smooth feel and rich character.
Ceramic tile. You can lay it on the floor, wall and, yes, countertops. You can recover an existing surface, which appeals to DIYers. And with a wide range of colors and textures available in tiles today, options are seemingly endless. But remember, tiles do crack. And perhaps the biggest down side: tiles require grouting.
Concrete. Cast concrete counters can be poured to suit countertops of all shapes. They can be cast in the kitchen, or produced off-site and installed after the fact. The great thing about concrete is its durability. Plus, today’s concrete is even stronger because of treatments that eliminate cracking and seal the surface so it’s less porous. This style suits a modern kitchen—concrete can be dyed a range of colors.
Solid surfaces. Otherwise known by the popular brand-name Corian, solid surfaces offer the same seamless loo as engineered stone, except these are not resistant to stains and can scratch. (You can always sand those out—but do you want to?)
Stainless steel. This industrial-strength surface provides a sleek finish in modern kitchens. It’s easy to clean with soap and water, and it takes hot pans, no problem. But stainless steel can scratch and dent, so you can’t cut on stainless. Plus, it’s a costly surface. You might decide to use stainless in a certain area of your kitchen, such as a dining area or by the range.
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Kitchens by Professionals(at Pro Galleries)
Kitchens by People Like You (at Rate My Remodel)