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Countertop Properties Guide

This guide lists the common countertop materials in use around Austin, TX today, maintenance issues, features and detractors of the different countertop choices and their pros and cons. Understanding the different materials will aid homeowners select the best counter-top material that fits their lifestyle.

Countertop Properties - The Pros and Cons

Counter Surface

Advantages

Disadvantages

Laminate

 Stain resistant, waterproof, lots of color options, low-maintenance, inexpensive.

Can crack and scratch, not heatproof, is usually replaced instead of repaired.

Soapstone

Resistant to etching from acids, somewhat resistant to stains, scratches can be easily sanded or oiled away.

Regular maintenance required, may crack, chip and scratch, color may darken. Must be purchased by the slab, therefore you may have to purchase more than you need.

Solid Surface

Scratches and burns can be sanded out; deep gouges can be filled. Seams are fused together and hard to detect. Available in a wide array of colors.

Can be damaged by heat, scratches and dents, will stain.

Butcher Block

Scratches and burns can be sanded out, gouges filled. Some say regular use and minor nicks add to the natural patina.

Much like your wood furniture, it is easily damaged by burns, dents, spills and scratches, requires sealing that is food safe, requires regular maintenance, and water discolors it.

Marble

Marble countertops can be fabricated to have fancy ogee edges because marble cuts easily yet it is hard enough to withstand high traffic, plus its heat resistance lends itself to kitchen use. Smaller kitchens and baths may be able to take advantage of remnants. Durability is dependent upon grade, A being the hardest which performs as well as glass and some granites.

Porous rock that can scratch, scouring powders or abrasives will mar, it can be etched by acids like coffee, orange juice, alcohol, and soaps.  Must be purchased by the slab, therefore you may have to purchase more than you need. 

Glass

Non-porous and therefore antibacterial, heat-resistant, mold and mildew resistant and can withstand high traffic.

Can crack, chip or break, can’t be repaired, must be replaced, scratches and just like windows, collects fingerprints every time it’s touched.

Slate

A non-porous rock that is naturally anti-bacterial and mold / mildew resistant without requiring maintaining a polish although it can be oiled or sealed and waxed. Heat resistant. Subdued appearance.

Can chip or crack. Edges and corners can be brittle and sharp (have them rounded). Subdued appearance. Must be purchased by the slab, therefore you may have to purchase more than you need.

Stainless Steel

Durable, stain-proof, spill-proof, temperature-proof, easy to clean and maintain, it will reflect light and brighten the area.

Expensive, scratches, nicks and dents, has the same fingerprinting problem as glass, plus it is noisy.

Granite

Won't scratch easily, resistant to stains, heat and water if sealed, non-porous if sealed, low-maintenance, high resale value, lots of color options. Can be filled with color-matching epoxy or resin if damaged. Slab remnants can save you big money if your project is smaller.

Porous rock that is sealed. Yearly waxing required maintaining the seal. Must be purchased by the slab, therefore you may have to purchase more than you need.

Engineered Quartz/Stone

Nonporous, resists scratches and stains, easy to maintain, no sealant required. Looks like natural stone (it's at least 90% quartz) but can be mixed with pigments for custom color. No need to apply wax or sealers. Rates just a bit higher than granite on the hardness scale and is slightly more resistant to damage. Slab remnants can save you big money if your project is smaller.

Do not expose to abrasives, acids or oxidizers like bleach. It is not heatproof but is heat resistant.

Ceramic/Porcelain/Tile

Inexpensive and durable, available in many colors and styles. Broken tiles can be replaced with new ones. 

Uneven surface, tiles can get scratched, cracked or chipped, grout can stain, grout is porous; moisture can penetrate between.

Concrete

A smooth and very strong heat / scratch resistant material with a lot of color options that is durable.

Can get cracked, somewhat porous, must be sealed and waxed, needs to be custom cast.

Quartzite

It can be used as a cutting board and is not harmed by acidic drinks, heat is not an issue. Quartzite counters are naturally anti-bacterial like slate due to its non-porous nature. Does not require a seal or maintenance to the seal, as it is simply polished.

An expensive stone that can chip and scratch. Must be purchased by the slab, therefore you may have to purchase more than you need.