The Layman's Guide to Different Home Countertop Materials

The Layman's Guide to Different Home Countertop Materials

A great countertop puts the finishing touch on a room. They tie the entire look together while also offering functionality and beauty. There are many countertop types available that will satisfy both your personal taste and practical needs.

Countertops come in a variety of materials and finishes. Whether you're going for a polished stone look or a more rustic wooden appearance, you've got some exciting options.

If you're looking to learn more about countertop types, look no further. Read on for a helpful rundown of countertop ideas.

Laminate Countertops

Laminate countertops are versatile and lower in cost than many worktop solutions. They are composed of an MDF (medium density fibreboard) or particle board substrate onto which sheets of plastic laminate are glued.

Laminate tops come in a huge variety of colors and textures, so they're a good fit for many rooms. Finish options include solid colors, interesting patterns, mock stone, and woodgrain.

Like any top, laminate has its good and bad points.

Laminate countertops are great because they:

  • Are a cost-effective option
  • Are resistant to bacterial growth
  • Are easy to keep clean and maintained
  • Are resistant to heat, scratches, and general wear and tear
  • Come in varieties that can suit many kitchen and bathroom styles

If made or installed improperly, laminate tops can:

  • Bubble, melt, or burn when exposed to heat
  • Peel or chip at the edges or corners
  • Become scratched and can no longer be thoroughly cleaned

When constructed well and properly installed, laminate can be a good choice. This is especially true for heavily used spaces and for those who are on a tighter budget.

Composite Countertops

Composite countertop types are those made up of more than one material. They are combinations, or aggregates, of minerals and polymer-forming resins. There are two main types of composite countertops. These types are engineered stone and solid surface.

Engineered Stone

Engineered stone tops are made mostly of hard, small pieces of industrial byproducts. The most commonly used material is quartz, but mirrors, glass, and marble are also used.

The remaining five to ten percent of the countertop composition is resin. This resin can be cement or polymer based.

Engineered stone tops are fairly heat resistant and scratch resistant. Sometimes seams can be difficult to make invisible during installation.


Quartz countertops are made of almost 95 percent quartz particles combined with resin and color pigment. These tops offer the look of natural stone without some of the downsides. They're durable, solid, and non-porous for outstanding performance.

Solid Surface

Solid surface countertops such as Corian are composed of natural mineral dust and acrylic resin. These tops have a higher percentage of resin than engineered stone.

Solid surface tops can be molded into a variety of shapes. They are beautiful and durable.

Because of its composition, solid surfaces can be installed with a nearly seamless look, unlike engineered stone. It doesn't hold up as well to scratching; however, it can be buffed and refinished if necessary.

Solid surface tops should not be exposed to excessive heat. Their high resin content makes them vulnerable to heat damage. If you should scorch your solid surface top, this damage can generally be repaired with some surface work.

Wooden Countertops

Though it takes more upkeep, hardwood is an excellent and beautiful countertop type that ages nicely. It works well for many kitchen styles, from modern to more traditional.

Wooden countertops are naturally beautiful, showcasing striking grains and gorgeous colors. They look wonderful on their own or as an accent piece in kitchens where another worktop material predominantly used.

Wooden tops are generally made from many pieces of wood jointed together. This is called stave construction. It prevents any warping that would occur if a solid slab of wood were to be used instead.


Wooden countertop types:

  • Are more cost effective than other options, such as natural stone
  • Come in a gorgeous array of colors and grains
  • Inhibit bacterial growth with proper maintenance
  • Age beautifully

Though it takes a bit of elbow grease, a wooden top can look and perform well for many years.


There are a few aspects of wooden tops that may turn some people off. Wooden tops:

  • Will require frequent maintenance (such as sanding and oiling)
  • Are vulnerable to staining
  • Are not scratch resistant

While there are some drawbacks with a wooden top, a little extra work can go a long way. Most tops only get more beautiful with time.

Granite Countertops

Granite is one of the most durable and beautiful types of stone countertops. It's a natural stone and no two pieces are alike. Granite can elevate the look of any room.

Like other options, granite has its pros and cons.


The advantages of granite are many, in both aesthetics and function.

Granite countertops:

  • Are naturally hard and durable, making them scratch and heat resistant
  • Are polished to a gorgeous glossy finish
  • Do not have a substrate (are solid stone throughout)
  • Can withstand impact without damaging
  • Are stain resistant

Because it is both attractive and can withstand heavy use, granite is a great countertop investment.


Granite is a popular choice for modern countertops in all rooms and settings. However, there are a few aspects of granite that some may find unappealing.

Granite tops:

  • Must be joined together, thus leaving visible seams at joints
  • Can only be cut to a length of 3 metres so that pieces are not too heavy and don't become structurally compromised
  • May require support as they tend to be much heavier than other materials
  • Are more costly than other countertop options

Granite makes a beautiful and long-lasting work surface. If the cons aren't much of an issue for you, they're a great choice that will stand the test of time.

Countertop Types for Every Room and Style

Each room has its own unique style and purpose. Choose countertop styles that will hold up well and look great in your room for years to come.

Are you looking for the perfect countertop for your space and lifestyle? Please browse our top quality selection of countertops and contact us with any enquiries.

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