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There is an ever increasing array of materials used for countertops. The softer, less expensive materials (e.g., laminates) can be cut to fit by the do-it-yourselfer, while the top end (solid surfaces and stones) need to be pre-cut and most likely installed by a professional (a countertop slab of granite takes a team just to lift it in place). Pick the type of material you will be comfortable working on (i.e., not worried about damaging), that cleans easily, looks nice, and fits your budget.


Perhaps the most common surface materials are laminates -- a plastic coating over particle board -- because of it's easy to cut, install, and clean and is inexpensive. However, laminates can be scratched and scorched and the surface can chip and peel.

Solids & Composites

Solid polyester or acrylic resins like Corian are very durable (scratches and burns can be sanded out) but also very expensive; they have the added advantage of having decorative edges. Cultured marble (a marble dust aggregate) is popular for bathroom countertops. To learn more about concrete and quartz countertops, which are also a composite rather than solid quartz, visit these pages:

Natural Stones

Stones, like marble and granite, add elegance to any room; granite is more durable and stain resistant than marble, but both need to be sealed to prevent stains. To learn more, visit these pages:

Butcherblock, Stainless Steel, Teak, and Tile

If you like tile, a tiled surface gives a country look and is durable (unless you break a tile), but the grout lines make it harder to keep clean. Other traditional looks are butcher block (small strips of wood glued together) and stainless steel (for that industrial kitchen look). Or, you may want to try teakwood, for its wonderfully warm patina. To learn more, visit these pages:

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