Countertops and Surfaces (Bathroom) Buying Guide

Countertops and Surfaces (Bathroom)
  • Getting Started

  • A comprehensive guide on what you need to know before choosing the right bathroom countertops and surfaces.

    Vanities and cabinetry in bathrooms require surfaces that will stand up to moisture and solutions used by homeowners for their personal hygiene and beauty regime. Also, the surfaces will enhance to the aesthetic of the room’s design.

  • What to Consider

  • How many people will use the bathroom? If this is a family bathroom, then the countertops will receive heavy usage for hygiene products and appliances such as hair dryers, etc. If this is a master bathroom with a spa-like atmosphere, fewer people will be piling products onto the surfaces.

    When purchasing vanities for the bathrooms, consider if the countertop is already integral to the cabinet.

    Depending upon the surface chosen, sinks can be molded into the countertop instead of installed separately.

    What is the budget for the bathroom? Countertops can be created from natural stones that will be expensive, or even man-made products that can be costly, or from practical products that will stand up to wear and tear. Professional installation may be required.

  • Materials

  • Laminate has been used for generations on bathroom countertops because of its durability, affordability and ease of maintenance. Colors and designs increase with trends. The construction of the laminate product will determine its ability to stand up to heat, scratches, and stains. Nonporous, it is water resistant and does not need maintenance other than cleaning.

    Solid Surface materials are a mixture of natural minerals with resins, providing a range of colors and styles. Care should be taken when using heat or acidic products. Solid surface materials are nonporous and durable in a moisture setting. These may be known by brand names such as Corian® or Ceasarstone®, or Cultured Marble, Cultured Granite, which then identifies the mineral used in the composition. Easy to clean, these products require little maintenance and can be repaired if necessary.

    Quartz is a man-made material of crushed quartz stone mixed in a resin. Created in a variety of colors and designs, quartz countertops can look like stone without the need for sealing and maintenance. Quartz is nonporous and easy to maintain and clean. Quartz can be heavy and may require additional support if the countertop is large.

    Granite is a natural stone with warm colors that may contain veins. If more than one piece is needed, the veins will not match up in the design. Granite will be sealed and will require resealing to maintain its stain and water resistance. Heavy, granite will require professional installation.

    Marble is a natural stone often used for vanity tops. White is the most popular color but marble will contain veins that will not match during installation. If short run pieces are needed, this is not a problem. As a soft stone, marble will require sealing and resealing to provide moisture and stain resistance. Marble provides a warm, generous feeling to the bathroom countertop and will require professional installation.

    Soapstone is a natural stone that is ideally suited for use in the bathroom. Nonporous, it will not require sealing, but it is softer so scratches or nicks will show if not sanded out. Soapstone is available in a range of colors and patterns; professional installation will be required.

  • Cost Considerations

  • Material chosen will be the largest impact on the budget as it will change from laminate to natural stone.

        •  Laminate is the least expensive of the materials choices and does not require maintenance.

        •  Solid Surfaces can be as expensive as natural stones, such as granite. Manufacturers priced them to compete with stone because the nonporous nature eliminates the sealing and maintenance.

        •  Quartz competes with granite in costs, but does not require sealing or maintenance.

        •  Granite not only requires sealing, but professional installation

        •  Marble is highly sought after and will need sealing and maintenance.

    Length of the countertop is then the next largest consideration.

    Installation, if requiring a professional, should be factored into the budget.

    Maintenance also is a consideration as the natural stones will need resealing periodically depending upon the usage. If in a family bathroom, more frequent sealing will be necessary.