Bathroom counters don't have to be boring. So much emphasis is placed on kitchen counters--their materials, styles, edge design, and so forth--that bathroom counters take a back seat.
Let's look at five bathroom counters and assess which one is the best fit for you.
Good: Ceramic Tiles
Designers are divided on the issue of installing ceramic or granite tile in bathrooms. One advantage is cost. While ceramic tile is vastly cheaper than granite, even granite tile is cheaper than granite slab, making it an affordable bathroom countertop option.
The main reason is because tile--tile of any material--easily becomes a do-it-yourself project. Tile is easy to transport, lay out, cut, mortar, and grout.
One difference between using tile for kitchen vs. bathroom counters is that in kitchens it is desirable to reduce the number and length of seams. That means that slab granite, solid-surface materials, and even concrete are best in the kitchen, because they have the fewest seams. Yet in bathrooms, seams are not as much of a consideration.
- Best For: Do it yourself and cost-saving measures.
- Worst For: Resale value.
Good-To-Better: Laminate Countertops
If your vision of laminate countertops is that of the ugly, metal-edged laminates of yore, you need to spend a little time looking at Formica's or other top manufacturers' products. The look has evolved so much that, even upon close examination, laminate can pass (almost) for granite or other natural stone.
What laminate cannot undo is the hollow and insubstantial feeling of the MDF (particleboard) core base.
- Best For: Bargain installations or for guest bathrooms, basements, or other areas that aren't used very often.
- Worst For: High-end installations. Even though premium laminate looks better than past laminates, it still isn't considered appropriate for higher-ticket houses.
Better: Solid Surface
Long a popular choice for bathroom counters, solid-surface material combines flexibility and functionality with true style.
Solid-surface is the industry term for man-made counter materials like Corian or Silestone. It should be noted that these counters can scorch on contact with hot bathroom implements such as curling irons.
- Best For: Middle-of-the-road installations for yourself or even for making the house ready for sale.
- Worst For: Scratches and scorching.
Better-To-Best: Granite Slab or Modular Counters
Even though slab granite is a popular bathroom counter choice, it's worth considering something called modular granite. Modular granite comes in sheets that are smaller than slab, yet larger than traditional granite tile.
Because of this, you can lay down bathroom counters by yourself, and still keep the seams to a bare minimum. And because bathroom counters tend to be smaller than kitchen counters, you're looking at perhaps no more than two or three fairly unobtrusive seams.
- Best For: Natural stone provides a varied appearance that no man-made stone can ever hope to imitate.
- Worst For: Needs maintenance in the form of regular sealing.
Best: Quartz Bathroom Countertops
DuPont Zodiaq and Cambria are two well-known brands of quartz counter material.
Quartz counters are over 90% organic quartz composition, with the rest made up of pigments and binders. Quartz looks remarkably like granite. In some cases--and in the opinion of some owners--quartz looks even better than granite.
- Best For: The look of granite without the hassle of granite maintenance.
- Worst For: Cost can meet, or exceed, that of slab granite.