Look Beyond Laminate for Kitchen or Bath
The choice of surfacing material is the cornerstone of a successful kitchen
or bath remodel, and today's consumer is fortunate to have more choices than
ever before. Although laminate is still the dominant material--about 60
percent of all
kitchen countertops are newly surfaced in laminate--other materials such as
solid surfacing, tile, granite, stainless steel and marble are beginning to
reach respectable shares of the kitchen and bath market. Selecting a
material from a catalog is one thing but designing and installing it is quite
another. The key is to make sure your contractor can properly install or
fabricate the material.
There's just about no limit to the colors, textures and patterns you can
create with surfacing materials. For example, Askilan is a solid surfacing
material composed of quartz, glass fiber and bauxite that actually looks like
granite but weighs much less. It comes in ten colors. Solid surfacing is
very resistant to staining or heat, and is impermeable so bacteria and fungi
can't grow on it. Its durability is matched by its flexibility. Fabricators
can work wonders by creating custom decorative edges or patterns to your
order. The problem is, there are not many qualified fabricators and
installers in the United States, and that limits availability in some regions.
On the laminate side, you can choose from a plethora of patterns, solids or
wood grains. Laminate continues to be the most popular and cost-effective
countertop material. On the downside, laminate is vulnerable to chipping,
scratching and burning. Once damaged, a laminate countertop might need to be
While each has its own quirks, tile, granite, marble and stainless steel are
worth considering, too. Although more costly like solid surfacing, sometimes
designers take a mix and match approach, blending these materials with
laminates for an
appealing blend at a reasonable cost. Ceramic tile comes in a huge variety
of shapes and sizes from 3/8 to 2-inch squares to rectangular, round,
hexagonal or even triangular shapes. Make sure the tile is rated at least 6
or 7 on the Ceramic Tile Distributors Association 10-point scale for scratch
resistance. Marble can be striking and elegant in the kitchen or bath.
Marble also is porous which makes staining and scratching a concern.
Stainless steel is making a comeback for its cutting edge, commercial chic,
although the homeowner must avoid scratching and denting this relatively
expensive material, too. Whatever you choose, take time to evaluate the
cost-benefits. Remember to consider how long you plan to live in your home
and can enjoy your remodeled kitchen or bath, versus how much the investment
may or may not pay off at resale.
Sources used to create this article include Janice Anne Costa and Kitchen &
Bath Design News.