Ten years ago granite was just starting to be introduced in Wilmington and Raleigh. Today it has become the countertop of choice. We price granite in price points starting at an A price group, or level 1, through an E (expensive and exotic) price group, or level 5. This material is very durable, comes in an infinite number of colors, and today is surprisingly affordable, especially in the lower price groups, with a lot of choices. You can put hot pots on it, you can hardly scratch it, and it’s very durable.
We also want to mention marble, a similar material but vastly different. Limitations of marble are it is not stain resistant, and is softer and more porous than granite. That said, there isn’t a granite which looks like marble. Marble has a luminescence and color which no other material can duplicate, just be prepared for the porosity which can’t be overcome with sealing.
Quartz countertops are a manmade material comprised of quarried quartz stone mixed with a polyester resin material that binds the stone together. There are five different companies which make this material, Silestone, Caesarstone, Cambria, Zodiaq and Hanstone, and all of them make a very similarly manufactured product in a fairly broad range of colors. People are drawn to this material because of the imperviousness of the product, and the color consistency. The price point for quartz starts at a higher price point than granite, which has limited it’s popularity.
We all grew up with Formica countertops, they were in the schools, homes, restaurants and offices. Laminate tops are actually resin impregnated paper, heated and pressed at a very high temperature to create a very durable material with an infinite number of designs and colors available. Today laminate is primarily used in the kitchens of less expensive homes, or in a laundry room or desk application. We fabricate our own tops and stock a number of colors. And this is still a very cost effective material.
Very distinctive and hand-crafted, available in any color imaginable with the use of coloring agents, very heavy and industrial looking. Concrete tops are made one-at-a-time, and the labor to fabricate them is part of the uniqueness, as well as why they are on the high-end of countertop choices in terms of cost. They can be made in different thicknesses, typically starting at around 2” thick for strength purposes. Sinks can be undermounted. The top pictured is one we made with white concrete and blue glass.
Corian was the original solid surface material we all know, now joined by 10-15 other manufacturer’s products with similar characteristics. This material is a petroleum-based product, and has 100’s of colors available. Although it’s been around for years, as granite has become more competitive in cost and widely distributed and fabricated, the use of solid surface has decreased dramatically. This is due to the cost, which today is more than granite, as well as the care it requires, such as not putting anything hot directly on the surface. Yet there are still jobs where no seams in the countertop are desired, or where specific colors are needed, and solid surface has many choices available. Sinks in a solid surface top may be undermounted, or a solid surface sink is available which is seamlessly attached to the underside of the countertop.
Vetrazzo is a line of countertop materials crafted from recycled glass. Composed of 85% glass and 15% cement, this distinctive surfacing material is derived from recycling beverage bottles, windows, windshields, stemware and stained glass. Although very durable and scratch resistant, this product needs to be sealed periodically.
Price points are on the high-end, but there really isn’t any other product like it.