A countertop is a functional part of your kitchen or bathroom. If you're updating your home or doing a little remodeling, you've probably noticed that many different types of countertops are available and the wide range of prices. You don't have to sacrifice appearance or durability if you use cost-effective countertop materials. The type of countertop that will work best for you depends on your needs and the countertop's location.
Solid surface countertops made from acrylic materials are less expensive than stone, wood and metal countertops. They are nonporous, seamless in appearance and stain-resistant. Although acrylic countertops are more sensitive to heat and more vulnerable to scratches than are some other surfaces, the appearance can be renewed with light sanding and buffing.
Laminate countertops, a traditionally affordable choice, has particleboard for the base, which is covered with bonded plastic layers. A laminate countertop is usually made to resemble the appearance of more expensive countertop materials, so you'll find many different colors, patterns and textures available. Staining foods and liquid, such as wine, can discolor a laminate countertop if not cleaned up quickly after a spill. Since the covering layer of the countertop is bonded plastic, you'll have to be careful to avoid heat damage, cuts and scratches.
Tiling is an inexpensive way to make a countertop. The durability of a tile countertop depends on the type of tile used. Tile is available in many materials, including granite and ceramic. Making a countertop using tile is more work than buying a prefabricated piece, such as a laminate countertop. You'll need to make a base, cut the tiles to match the space you need to cover and grout in the tile spaces. If you don't install the base or tiles correctly, the tiles may crack from regular use.
Wood is a very cost-effective option for a countertop, especially if you're cutting wood yourself instead of buying a premade wood countertop. If you're making your wood countertop yourself, you'll need to treat the wood with a finishing coat, such as water-based polyurethane. Wood countertops need regular treatment with an oil, such as mineral oil, to prevent the wood from drying out. Since wood is susceptible to damage from water and heat, a wood countertop is not a good choice near a heat or water source.
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