Similar to the quartz-based engineered stone countertops are the seamless, manufactured acrylic-based ones that are called "Solid Surface" counters. While they also offer a wide assortment of colors, patterns and finishes, they dont have the natural look of stone. They do resist stains, moisture, sunlight and heat, and inhibit the growth of mold and bacteria. However, they are vulnerable to hot pans and stains which can damage the surface. Solid Surface countertops are custom-made and their acrylic material can be formed to include an integrated sink with seamless installation. Brands of Solid Surface countertops include Avonite, Corian, and Swanstone.
There are also some that are less hassle than others, so pay attention to details like application procedures and length between reapplying. Sealers can come in many different sheens and even tints. A higher gloss sealer tends to bring out the richness of the colors, while a flat or matte sealer will tone the concrete countertop down a bit. Tinted sealer must be used carefully because if the color is conflicting or if the particle count of the tint is too high, it can completely ruin the hard work you put into the concrete countertop. Concrete countertop fabricators have been trying many unique ways to set their countertops apart. One semi-common technique is inlaying decorative materials into the concrete countertop when the concrete has yet to cure. Inlaid materials can include sea shells, tiles, natural stones, glass, etc. Even more delicate objects like preserved leaves can be inlaid. Although a sealer can add some protection, always consider the long-term durability of the materials you choose to inlay in the countertop.
Granite exudes elegance in a kitchen and as the use of it becomes more widespread, prices have come down. Stone upgrades even the most modest kitchen. It holds up to heat and comes in a range of colors. It is substantial and will last a lifetime. It can have a mat finish as "honed" or a shiny polished finish. New sealers are almost maintenance-free but granite can require some periodic sealing and some stones, particularly marble, can absorb stains despite being properly sealed. Granite has the second highest hardness rating after diamonds but any stone can crack if it is stressed in transport or installed improperly. Stone offers a high value to home buyers and, particularly, granite kitchen countertops are elegant and timeless.
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