Monday, 18 August 2008

Home Building - Bathroom - Bathroom Countertops

When it comes to bathroom countertops there’s no limit to how creative you can be, because most countertops are custom-designed for each installation. There are hundreds of colors, patterns, and materials to choose from, but not all of them work well in the bathroom where water and condensation are a constant concern. Your best choices are marble, granite, ceramic or porcelain tiles, solid surface materials and laminate surfacing.

Plastic Laminate is the most common and least expensive countertop material, by a considerable margin and is available in just about any color and texture you can imagine. The four major manufacturers - Wilsonart, Formica, Nevamar and Pionite -each offer more than a hundred colors and patterns. The latest rage is having your plastic laminate custom-designed to your own color, texture and style, but be prepared to spend a few bucks here. Laminate is a breeze to clean because of its smooth surface. Cost is between $25 and $50 per linear foot, installed.

Ceramic & Porcelain Tile is probably the most versatile material that you can use on your countertop to create a specific style or look. Contemporary, retro, traditional, rustic, country, and everything in-between is possible when working with ceramic tile. The only drawback to using tile is the grout lines, because nobody wants to invest the time and energy necessary to keep grout clean, especially in the bathroom. And don’t be fooled - tile grout requires regular maintenance and lots of elbow grease. On the flip side, the tile itself is easy to clean. Cost is between $50 to $80 per linear foot, installed. Plain-colored tiles cost from $2 to $40 per tile with hand-painted tiles running from $5 to $75.

Corian and Solid Surfacing is made of either a pure acrylic product or a polyester-acrylic mix. The most widely available and widely known 100 percent synthetic countertop material is Corian by Dupont, but other manufacturers including Wilsonart, Formica and Avenite also make it in a wide range of colors and textures. Some of the materials are solid colors, but most have flecks that give it a textured look that resembles real stone (that will run the cost up). Cost is between $75 to $150 a linear foot, installed.

Granite slabs are the most expensive of all countertop surfaces, but this is one product that holds its weight. The expense of granite will vary greatly, depending on the type, quality and availability of granite that you select, as well as the finished edge that you choose. If you just can’t resist the look of granite and your purse is stretched, try going for granite tiles. Cost is between $75 to $200 a linear foot, installed.

Composite Stone is the hot new surface when it comes to tops and a big rival to granite. It is a stone-synthetic composite made of about 90 percent quartz particles and 10 percent acrylic or epoxy binder. Some of the composites look like natural stone, but not one that you could identify. Others are so close to real granite that you're left wondering if it’s real or not? Since the composites are man-made materials, they do not have the unexpected variation of granite or marble and they do not need to be sealed. The four major choices - Silestone, Okite, CaesarStone and DuPont's Zodiaq - all use the same process. The only differences between them for the end users are the colors and textures offered. Taken together, the four companies offer more than 130 countertop choices. Cost is between $110 to $250 a linear foot, installed

Wood is attractive and versatile, but it is very vulnerable to water damage and its porosity makes it hard to clean - especially in the bathroom. If you have to have a wood top in your bathroom be sure it’s well sealed with polyurethane or marine varnish. Note: extra care should be taken to seal around the edges of plumbing fixtures so standing water can't seep in and cause wood rot. Cost is between $25 and $40 a linear foot, installed.

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