Countertop Choices

A common issue for builders, architects and home buyers is what countertop they should choose. The question is simple, but the answer is not. Options are plentiful. During the housing boom, the industry was all about granite. This enthusiasm turned a once-luxury surface into something that became standard even in entry-level condos. Subsequently, critics claimed that the nation “overindulged” on the product. American consumers are so fixated on granite that they neglect to explore the rich possibilities that are available, including laminate, solid surfacing, a variety of stone — marble, soapstone, slate — quartz, concrete, recycled glass/concrete, recycled porcelain/concrete, bamboo, glass, composite resin, paper, aluminum, glazed lava stone, fiber cement, cork, stainless steel and on and on. If money is an issue, laminate is a good bet. It’s still an old standby and can be purchased in pre-made tops at home supply stores, or contractors may choose one of many colors, textures and patterns for a custom installation. From laminate, you can step up to ceramic tile or wood. Ceramic is not as popular as it used to be, especially when other materials give you a monolithic surface that can support an under mount sink. Wood is a good-looking product that’s always an option. No other surface has the product’s warmth and resilience, and it can be used as a cutting board. It does require some maintenance — periodic oiling — but it can be sanded and refinished.