Choosing Bathroom Countertops

Get tips on how to find the right surfaces for your bath remodel
Cosentino Marlique Marble Bottachino Counter Top

Cosentino Marlique Marble Bottachino Counter Top

Vanity tops must play the dual role of being durable and capable of standing up to water, soap, cosmetics while serving as an ample work surface for morning rush hour in the bathroom. This is no place for delicate, porous (read: easy-to-stain) surfaces. At the same time, the vanity top can be a focal point and a connecting point, where wood cabinets below meet tile wall above, for instance.

Photo by: Cosentino

Cosentino

Vanity tops must play the dual role of being durable and capable of standing up to water, soap, cosmetics while serving as an ample work surface for morning rush hour in the bathroom. This is no place for delicate, porous (read: easy-to-stain) surfaces. At the same time, the vanity top can be a focal point and a connecting point, where wood cabinets below meet tile wall above, for instance.

By: Kristen Hampshire

Vanity tops must play the dual role of being durable and capable of standing up to water, soap, cosmetics while serving as an ample work surface for morning rush hour in the bathroom. This is no place for delicate, porous (read: easy-to-stain) surfaces. At the same time, the vanity top can be a focal point and a connecting point, where wood cabinets below meet tile wall above, for instance.

The surface you choose for that countertop depends largely on your budget and taste.

Bathroom Countertop Styles and Trends

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Granite Countertops

With beautiful veining, specks and swirls, a granite vanity top lends a luxurious look to any bathroom. The extremely popular stone is a practical choice, as it resists stains and isn't damaged by water or heat. Granite countertops can be pricey, but they last for years and add value to a home. Image courtesy of Arizona Tile

Engineered Stone Countertops

Catching up with granite in popularly, engineered stone countertops emulate the style and texture of natural stone without the maintenance. Typically composed of more than 90 percent quartz particles, the nonporous surface won’t scratch, stain or crack, and it resists mold and mildew. Image courtesy of HanStone Quartz

Marble Countertops

When it comes to sheer beauty, few countertop materials rival marble. Though types vary, most marble can be easily scratched or stained. Save it for baths where it’s likely to receive gentle treatment and proper maintenance. Image courtesy of ADKO

Laminate Countertops

A great choice for budget bathroom remodels, low-cost laminate countertops are easy to clean and come in a wide range of colors and patterns. Improvements in the manufacturing process have resulted in laminate that mimics marble, granite, slate and other natural stones. Laminate countertops resist water and stains, but they can be damaged by hot objects like curling irons. Image courtesy of Formica Corporation

Concrete Countertops

Cutting-edge concrete countertops aren't just for industrial spaces. One of the most customizable surfaces available, concrete can be cast into almost any shape and dyed in a wide range of colors. The surface resists heat, stains and scratches, making it a smart choice for a busy bath. Concrete countertops require regular sealing, and custom installations can be expensive. Image courtesy of Buddy Rhodes

Tile Countertops

Available in a multitude of colors, patterns and textures, tile countertops are a classic choice for bathrooms. Tile is resistant to heat, impervious to water and easy to clean, but grout lines can stain and collect grime. Image courtesy of Mannington Mills, Inc.

Solid Surface Countertops

Solid surface countertops, crafted from acrylic resins and natural materials, offer a compromise between high-end stone and affordable laminate. The surface resists stains, mold, mildew and bacteria, and it won’t chip or wear because the color runs all the way through. Image courtesy of The Swan Corporation

Composite Countertops

Composite countertops look and perform like solid surface — and you'd never guess most are made out of recycled paper. This eco-friendly surface inhibits bacteria and resists stains, scratches and heat. Composite countertops have a rich, natural feel and gain character with age. Image courtesy of Paperstone

Soapstone Countertops

A centuries-old surface option, soapstone brings classic beauty to the bath. The light gray surface gains a rich, dark patina from age and applications of mineral oil. Durable soapstone is nonporous and impervious to chemicals. Image courtesy of Soapstone International Inc.

Limestone Countertops

Limestone countertops offer a slightly more rustic appearance than granite and marble, and they are often embedded with tiny shells and fossils. The porous surface requires sealing to prevent stains and scratches. Photo courtesy of Walker Zanger

Travertine Countertops

A member of the marble family, travertine is an elegant stone that comes in various colors. The soft stone is prone to staining and etching, but sealer can increase its durability. Image courtesy of ADKO

Here are some of the options:

Granite and marble. In a master bath, it pays to install granite or marble, which attract buyers at resale and give the vanity top a rich, sleek look. And with affordable “grades” of granite available on the market today, you don’t have to empty your wallet for this feature. You will, of course, spend more on granite than laminate, but the result is a surface that can handle heat and wear. Be advised: granite must be sealed to repel grease (which you could run into in hair products and such). Marble stains easily, while granite stands up to most stains.

Solid surface. Quartzite materials are incredibly durable and low-maintenance. Scratches are easily buffed out with fine-grade sandpaper, and the surface can handle high heat (curling irons and all). The cost is comparable to granite and marble.

Cheap vs. Steep: Bathroom Countertops

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Cheap: Laminate Countertops

An inexpensive alternative to solid surface and stone, laminate countertops are available in many styles and colors and can even mimic the look of natural stone countertops. Image courtesy of Formica Corporation

Cheap: Basic Ceramic Tile

Simple ceramic tile is less expensive than natural stone and provides a water-resistant, easy-to-clean countertop surface. Design by Erinn Valencich

From: Erinn Valencich

Photo By: Federico DeVera

Mid-Range: Engineered Stone Countertops

For somewhat larger budgets, quartz countertops combine the beauty of natural stone with the durability of a manufactured surface. Photo courtesy of HanStone Quartz

Mid-Range: Solid-Surface Countertops

A compromise between laminate and natural stone, acrylic-based solid-surface countertops are stain-resistant, easy-to-clean and available in dozens of colors. Image courtesy of Formica Corporation

Steep: Granite Countertops

Though more expensive than laminate or tile, granite countertops add value to a home and offer an elegant, stain-resistant surface. Design by Beth Haley

Steep: Marble Countertops

An elegant option for high-end baths, marble countertops offers dramatic veining and lovely colorations. Most marble scratches and stains easily, so this stone is best saved for gently used bathrooms. Design by Andreea Avram Rusu

Laminate. Economical and available in a range of finishes (including those that look like solid surface or granite), laminate is a go-to vanity top material because of its versatility. It stands up to water and is relatively stain-proof, but it will burn, dull and dent.

Tile. The downside of tile countertops is the maintenance: Grout lines inevitably trap gunk. But tile can be laid in a pattern, it comes in a vast array of colors (ceramic) and finishes (natural), and the artistic detail that can be applied makes this a surface worth considering.

Wood. Wood vanity tops must be well sealed because these porous surfaces are susceptible to water damage—rot, that is. This is mainly a concern in seams where sinks and faucet fixtures are installed. However, wood offers a warm, inviting feel and an organic look if a butcher-block type counter is used. Keep in mind this is thicker in width and, according to the National Kitchen and Bath Association (NKBA), you might need to modify plumbing connections.

Next Up

Choosing Bathroom Cabinets

Get tips on how to find the right cabinetry for your remodel.

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