Most families spend the majority of their time in the kitchen. Whether it’s preparing school lunches, family dinners or holiday meals, the kitchen is the center of the home. Your countertops should be both durable and beautiful. There are two basic choices for kitchen countertops: stone and laminate. Within either category, there are multiple choices that can be made with color, style, type, cost and manufacturer. However, the first choice is between laminate and stone. Read on as we help you decide how to choose between stone and laminate countertops.
Both have pros and cons. Laminate is considerably cheaper, can be installed quickly, and is low maintenance. In fact, laminate costs roughly about half the price of stone. Some styles even resemble stone. Laminate is not porous, so it is water resistant on the surface and doesn’t require sealing. However, it will only last around 10 years, can deteriorate around the edges with water exposure, can be damaged and end up with scratches or burns. In fact, the adhesive behind the laminate loosens when temperatures rise about 150 degrees. So, a hot pan on laminate could eventually cause it to bubble.
Stone is incredibly durable, can withstand things like knives and hot pans, and has a long life of 50 years or more. The one thing you will need to do with stone is have it sealed. It is porous, so it can absorb things like grease, water and things like wine and sauces unless it is sealed. Tile and stone will need grouting. The disadvantages of natural stone are it is expensive, requires sealing and requires special cleaners. It is also heavy to install. The other major difference between the two products is some handy people can install laminate countertops themselves while installing stone countertops is best handled by a professional, since they could require special cuts and are heavy.
There is the typical thought that stone requires an extended time to install, but that isn’t true. Some projects can be completed in a day. Stone countertops have one more advantage in that they raise the value and marketability of your home. It is one of those items that distinguish a quality home from a cheaper home. It’s been proven that natural stone simply attracts more buyers.
Maintenance and Repair
Some people may be concerned about repairs to stone and tile countertops versus laminate. Laminate is easily repaired or replaced at a low cost while most believe stone would need to be replaced. The truth is professionals can also repair stone and tile without replacing the whole countertop. This can extend the life of your natural stone countertops. Grouting can also be restained or replaced over the years as it wears down or if you want to change the look. A service professional is the best way to get that work done also. Most of those types of projects can be easily done with a professional and some can even be done yourself if you have some know-how and the proper tools.
The other major difference in the two products is in beauty. Laminate is available in many colors and styles, even a natural stone color. However, real stone offers a natural beauty that can’t be compared to laminate. There are hundreds of colors in different types of stone and each has its own natural specks and veins that make it unique. A different cut will completely change the veining as well.
While cost could play a major role in your choice, it would pay to consider the long-term advantages and costs of both options. Knowing you have a professional to help maintain your countertops could help you feel more comfortable with the more expensive option of stone.