Your Guide to Selecting Bathroom Countertops

bathroom countertops

Assuming your roof, basement, and electrical are all in order, bathroom renovations offer one of the best returns on investment. Of course, deciding on a bathroom renovation still leaves a lot of things up in the air.

Do you go with porcelain tiles or stone? Should the fixture match the rest of the house or do you create a unique look in the bathroom? What kind of countertop should you use?

You might want to answer that last question first. The sheer variety of bathroom countertops make it a major decision and can influence every choice for that room.

So, how do you make the choice? Keep reading and this guide will cover the essentials in selecting countertops for your bathroom overhaul.

Matching

Some bathroom renovations embrace the nuclear option. Everything comes out until you’re down to bare walls and floor joists. If you take that approach, matching isn’t a problem.

You can choose any material for your countertop. Then, you select colors and fixtures that complement that countertop.

Some homeowners like most of the existing look in the bathroom. They go for the partial renovation.

That typically means you replace the tub and vanity but leave everything else intact. In those types of renovations, matching becomes a more serious concern.

No matter how gorgeous that bianco lasa marble, it probably won’t work in a bathroom with dark tiles and dark blue walls. You’ll want something more like black pearl granite.

Fortunately, most materials come in a range of colors and patterns that can accommodate most decorating styles.

Durability

Durability is a major concern for kitchen countertops. Everything from canned goods to chef’s knives might fall on the surface. As a general rule, though, bathroom countertops endure far less abuse than kitchen countertops.

That means you can go in for a luxury material like marble, which comes with the bonus of adding value to your home.

If you’re worried about durability or that a teen’s hair dye experiment will stain your counter, you can choose a quartz countertop. Quartz has very high durability and very high stain resistance.

If durability is your main concern, granite offers similar durability to quartz countertops.

Soapstone also makes an excellent bathroom countertop. It has good durability and heat resistance. So, your teen’s curling iron won’t mar the surface if it comes in contact with the countertop.

Stain Resistance

Some countertops offer a high degree of innate stain resistance.

Quartz countertops top most lists for at-installation stain resistance. Solid surface countertops also provide excellent stain resistance from day one.

Granite is a trickier case. All granite is at least somewhat porous, though high-grade granite is less porous than cheaper granite. That makes the raw stone more susceptible to stains.

Of course, professionals know that granite is porous and seal the stone before installation. As long as the sealant holds up, granite has fairly good stain resistance.

Sadly, marble shows very poor stain resistance. That makes it a poor choice for a high-traffic bathroom that your kids might use for offbeat science experiments or at-home dye jobs.

Reserve marble for the master bathroom. Save renovating the other bathrooms with marble until after your kids head off to college.

Maintenance

The very nature of bathrooms means most surfaces require regular cleaning. Different countertop materials require different cleaning regimens.

For example, you can’t use most common bathroom cleaning products on granite. The cleaning products will chew straight through the sealant on the stone. You should typically use a cleaner made either for stone or specifically for granite.

In addition, the sealant on granite only provides protection for a limited time. You must get it resealed at least once a year. In a high traffic bathroom, aim for a new coat of sealant every six months.

Quartz, by contrast, is a breeze for cleaning. It’s a non-porous surface. So you can generally just wipe down the counter with a bit of soap and water on a cloth or sponge. Quartz countertops also don’t require any sealant.

Soapstone is easy to clean, but it also requires more ongoing maintenance. Unlike granite, soapstone doesn’t get a semi-permanent sealant applied. Instead, you must apply a coat of mineral oil approximately once-a-month.

For pure ease of maintenance, solid surface countertops win. They are also non-porous and can withstand any typical bathroom cleaning agents. A cloth and mild soap will cover the vast majority of cleaning needs.

Solid surface countertops don’t need sealant applied every year or a monthly application of mineral oil.

What About Tile?

Some homeowners do choose tile for their countertops.

Granite tiles, for example, offer a less expensive version of solid granite countertop. Whatever money you save up front will cost you in ongoing aggravation. The granite still requires a fresh coat of sealant every so often.

The cleaning restrictions apply when dealing with stone tiles. Porcelain tiles and man-made materials often stand up better to household bathroom cleaners.

On the other hand, you get the added hassle of grout maintenance with any kind of tiles. Grout absorbs stains much more readily and also requires new coats of sealant. The sealant for grout, however, is not the same sealant for the stone tiles.

For homeowners working with a very strict budget, tiles can make a new countertop more affordable. It’s important to understand that it’s a tradeoff between cost and ongoing elbow grease.

Parting Thoughts on Selecting Bathroom Countertops

Selecting the right bathroom countertops depends on a number of factors.

Nuclear option renovations let you pick whatever material and color you want. For durability and stain resistance, quartz offers the best of both worlds.

On the maintenance front, solid surface or quartz countertops demand the least ongoing effort. Granite, soapstone, and tile countertops all require specialized or ongoing maintenance routines. Tile, in particular, adds the complication of grout maintenance.

The good news is that most countertop materials come in a wide range of colors that will work with your decorating style.

International Granite & Stone specializes in granite and quartz countertops, as well as countertop design and installation. For more information or to schedule an in-home consultation, contact us today.