Pros and Cons of Bathroom Countertop Types

From the available types of materials to edge details, countertop options really vary across the board – so how do you choose the right one for your bathroom? Aside from appearance, you should also consider price, and maintenance when investing in a bathroom countertop.

Although bathroom vanity tops see less wear and tear than kitchens, you may want to consider low-scoring materials as there are many risks for scratching in a bathroom. Let’s explore several of the most popular bathroom vanity materials and look at the pros and cons of each.

Laminate

If your vision of laminate countertops is that of the ugly, metal-edged laminates, you need to spend a little time looking at new products from Formica, Wilsonart, or other top manufacturers. The look has evolved so much that laminates can fool you into thinking they are granite, wood, marble, leather, or even stainless steel.

Laminate countertops are made from layers of plastic that are bonded to a particleboard (MDF) core to create a solid countertop surface. Countertops are available in-stock pieces that can be cut and fit by anyone, or they can be custom-made by fabricators who can make a countertop to your specifications from a designer laminate, giving it custom edges and other designer features.

Purchased off the shelf, prefabricated laminate countertop material costs $10 to $30 per square foot. Custom made by a fabricator, expect to pay $40 to $65 per square foot. Laminate countertops are best for guest bathrooms or powder rooms but are not the best choice for master baths or other places where style is important. They can also serve as a “quick fix” where you need to redecorate a bathroom quickly, such as when staging your home for sale.

Quartz

For many years, granite was the most popular choice for countertops with both homeowners and designers. Today, we’re seeing more and more homeowners and designers opting for beautiful quartz countertops, and in fact, quartz has replaced granite as the number one choice. 

Quartz is one of nature’s hardest and most abundant minerals on the planet. Quartz countertops are a man-made material that uses about 95% natural quartz dust and chips bonded together using resins, and the pigment is then added to create color throughout the stone. 

Popular brand names include Caesarstone, Cambria, and Silestone. Quartz is tougher than granite, does not require sealing, and is naturally resistant to moisture, stains, and bacteria. 

The downside, at $60 to $100 per square foot, quartz can rival high-end granite and marble in price. Also, honed or textured surfaces can show fingerprints, so you’ll need to wipe it down more often.

Marble

For centuries marble has been seen as a symbol of luxury and good taste. Marble is a hard, crystalline form of limestone and comes in a wide choice of color variations, the most common being white with streaks of gray. It’s a long-lasting, strong material that can be polished to a bright shine, or honed to a more causal matte finish. On the downside, marble is expensive at $125 – $150 per square foot, needs to be periodically re-sealed, and its porosity makes it prone to stains, scratching, and etching.

Concrete

Although it might not be your first choice for a countertop surface, concrete has become a very popular trend in countertops. As a countertop material, concrete is not the rough gray slab found in sidewalks but is more typically a stained, highly polished surface that may even be texturized. Some installers even embed tile, stone, or bits of polished glass into the surface during fabrication.

Concrete countertops are one of the more expensive options—expect to pay $75 to $150 per square foot, fabricated and installed. They are a good choice where you want to make a special design statement, and can also serve well for heavy-use family bathrooms. 

Crushed Glass

Countertops made of crushed glass are a relatively new introduction, but they are steadily becoming more popular. These countertops are made from recycled crushed glass embedded in either clear acrylic or concrete. These uniquely beautiful countertops are striking to look at, and they lend a bathroom a trendy designer appeal. Because they are typically custom fabricated, no two crushed glass countertops look the same. They can be either traditional in appearance, or extremely modern, depending on the glass used in them

Crushed glass countertops typically cost $50 to $100 per square foot, installed. They are best reserved for upper-end bathrooms where style is important.

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