The Best Countertop Surface

laminate countertops chip

One downside of laminate is that it chips.

There really isn’t a single best countertop surface, each one has its good and bad points. This chart provides a great overview of them all. At first we talked about having laminate surfaces in our new kitchen, largely because Wilsonart, a leading manufacturer of laminate surfacing, has sponsored the Type -A Mom/Type-A Parent Conference for bloggers. I learned from them that laminate has changed since the days of the bright goldenrod countertops of my youth. Indeed, laminate is inexpensive and I argued to DH that if we didn’t like the look, we could afford to change it in a few years.

Among many of my friends and family, granite is the thing, but I wasn’t quite sold on it due to the higher cost in addition to maintenance issues.

Also, there’s not really, but potentially kind sorta an issue with radon and radioactivity with some granite. Ironically, it was a specialty granite salesman who told me this in an attempt to scare me away from what he perceived to be the lower quality and possibly dangerous granite available through big box retailers.

But it’s mostly the price that keeps me away from granite. Once we go there, we are never going back. I guess I’m just not good at commitment (though I have been with hubs for 20 years; however, he’s still under warranty).

When it comes to pricing, the many surface choices exists on a continuum, except for the newer “green” stuff, which all seems to be outrageously expensive. So a high end laminate is not far off  the price of a low end solid surface, and a high end solid surface might actually cost more than some varieties of granite.

As we finalize our kitchen design choices, we’re leaning toward a manufactured solid surface along the lines of Corian (copyright, trademark, etc.), likely in a sandy neutral color.

Any advice for? Do you have a countertop that you love or hate?

18 Responses to The Best Countertop Surface
  1. emily @ the happy home
    August 31, 2011 | 2:44 pm

    i’m not sure why, but my mind is set on either concrete, butcher block, or soapstone in my dream house. for one thing, i know my kitchen isn’t going to be very big, so i won’t be too pricey to get much of anything in there. they’re all heat resistant (great for the fact that i’ve melted a few laminate countertops) and are offbeat. i like offbeat.

    • admin
      August 31, 2011 | 2:54 pm

      I love soapstone, but I’ve heard it’s not durable enough for a busy kitchen. I didn’t check it on that chart, though.

  2. RL Julia
    August 31, 2011 | 3:52 pm

    Love Corian. It is indestructable (what I mean is you can set a cookie sheet right from the oven on it and it doesn’t melt, scar, chip, discolor etc..)and easily repaired should you need. Its also easy to keep clean (and mildly anti-bacterial)and comes in a million colors. Its sort of environmentally friendly but to date can only be re-used not recycled.

    • admin
      September 1, 2011 | 12:32 pm

      No worries. I will be dead before I change the countertops most likely. I’m sure you get my humor. I’ve probably scared off 50 readers.

  3. Sarah
    August 31, 2011 | 5:48 pm

    I was going to go with corian, but I am a low maintance kinda gal and didn’t feel like sanding my countertop if when of my lovely children accidently (because they would never do it on purpose) cut something with a knife on the countertop. I got a quartz countertop last summer. I love it! The only thing that you have to do is clean it with windex. I actually did get my countertop through a big box store. The thing that no one tells you until it is actually installed is that they contract the work out to companies in your city and that the same countertop is actually cheaper through the big box. The place that installed my countertop is a very reputable company where I live.

    • admin
      September 1, 2011 | 12:31 pm

      I think quartz is making a comeback. I think there are now some engineered versions of it as well that are very hot. Good to the big boxes have the best prices as that’s the way we are leaning.

  4. TheNextMartha
    August 31, 2011 | 9:35 pm

    I’m not fond of corian because I think it lacks the depth that counters need. It just looks like plastic molded counters to me. I have a silestonein a bathroom (it’s like a composite of quarts and stuff)_ that I love. It looks and feels like stone but does not require the maintenance of granite.

    • admin
      September 1, 2011 | 12:29 pm

      You always have interesting commentary. I’ll have to look into the Silestone.

  5. Cat Davis
    August 31, 2011 | 9:37 pm

    Should I suddenly hit the lottery, I’ll replace all of my counter tops with granite. Until then, I’m stuck with the stuff we have now which has a granite pattern but it’s not … and it’s dull and boring. However, it has held up well to scratches, abrasive sponges, etc.

    • admin
      September 1, 2011 | 12:29 pm

      Sounds like solid surface maybe? One of the reason laminate got nixed was that even if we could, in theory, afford to replace it, we likely wouldn’t. If I won the lottery, socked away a bunch for my retirement, kids college and some fantastic family vacations, then I’d replace my counters, LOL.

  6. Sara at Saving For Someday
    August 31, 2011 | 11:11 pm

    I’ve had the solid surface counter tops in both houses we’ve built. Absolutely love them! Current home is going on 14 years and the solid surface counter tops look as good as new. We also used the solid surface as the backsplash in the stove area and it’s always a breeze to clean.

    I have a neutral sand color and it’s been terrific and coordinates well with pretty much anything I’ve done over the years.

    I did look into granite and for the thickness I wanted it was too costly. I don’t want some cheap thin piece.

    My neighbor has a quartz counter top, going on 15 years for her. It’s a bit dated because it never caught on like granite or the Corian-like solid surface products.

    I think you’d be very happy with it. Oh, and if you do get the Corian-like counter tops have them make you 2 or 3 cutting boards. I put those little rubber feet on mine to lift it off the counter top a bit. Best cutting board EV.ER! We had ours made from the overage so it wasn’t even an extra cost.

    • admin
      September 1, 2011 | 12:24 pm

      Thanks for sharing. It’s great to hear directly from someone who has the product. Because salesmen only like to praise what their selling and downplay everything else.

      And I love the cutting board idea; thanks.

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  8. Kelby Carr
    September 1, 2011 | 11:55 am

    I just hate my countertop. It came with the house, is really cheap and white and stained… I am actually going to be changing it up very soon, so I am really curious to hear what you decide and how you like it. I was looking at Wilsonart too, just because what they have showcased at Type-A looks so nice.

    • admin
      September 1, 2011 | 12:21 pm

      Wilsonart certainly got me looking at laminate in a new light. I’ve noticed its gotten nice shout-outs in several shelter magazines in recent months. Also, as someone heavily invested in the online momspace, I do like to consider/support brands that support us.

  9. Tracy
    September 2, 2011 | 10:39 am

    If you want to support Wilsonart, they do make a line of solid surface material.

  10. AstroGremlin
    September 3, 2011 | 2:59 pm

    I’m crazy about marble. It does stain, develops character and lasts forever. For wet areas, marble. Butcher block on dry counter. My opinion on granite: it’s a fad that will eventually date the installation like an avocado-colored refrigerator. Classic materials give a classic look. Marble caught on with the Romans and still works.

  11. Jeanine
    September 15, 2011 | 10:59 am

    What acrylic solid surface did you decide on? I don’t know much about the product or who sales it.