Bathing beauties for the bathroom

  • Article by: ALICE DANIEL , Home and Garden Television
  • Updated: April 9, 2012 - 11:26 AM

Once, there was just Formica. Now we're awash in choices for countertops.

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A White Cliff countertop from Cambria offers a blank canvas for other colors in this bathroom.

In the market for bathroom countertops? Here's a guide to maintenance and cost to help you make your choice:

 

GRANITE

Long-lasting, stain-resistant and beautiful, granite is the most durable and easiest to care for of any of the natural stone materials. While relatively expensive, it provides an elegant look.

Tip: Tammy Crosby, CEO of thehousedesigners.com, suggests comparing prices at local stone shops. You'll save even more if you can use leftovers from another homeowner's project.

Maintenance: Granite countertops may need to be sealed every six months to a year. Clean countertops with warm water and a liquid detergent. Avoid abrasive cleaners; they'll scratch and dull the finish. Small chips and scratches can be polished down.

Cost: From $75 to $200 a linear foot, installed.

MANUFACTURED QUARTZ

Manufactured quartz imitates the look of limestone, granite or marble, but is more resistant to scratches and stains. Made up of 90 percent quartz particles, this synthetic composite comes in a wide variety of colors and thicknesses. Manufacturers include Silestone, Cambria, Caesarstone, Viatera, Zodiaq, Technistone and HanStone.

Maintenance: Practical for the bathroom, quartz is durable, easy to clean and doesn't require sealing.

Cost: From $110 to $250 a linear foot, installed.

TILE

Tile has always been a popular material for bathroom countertops, but homeowners often complain about the need to clean the grout. These days, however, tiles are coming out in much larger sizes, eliminating the need for numerous grout lines. Through-body (unglazed) porcelain tiles are stronger than granite and about a third of the price.

Maintenance: Grout lines need regular maintenance and cleaning. The tiles can be easily cleaned with any household detergent.

Cost: For plain-colored tiles, $2 to $40 per tile. For hand-painted tiles, $5 to $75 per tile.

SOLID-SURFACE MATERIALS

Designed to look like natural stone, solid-surface is one of the most popular countertop options available. Known by brand names such as Corian, Staron, Gilbraltar and Avonite, these easy-to-maintain synthetic products can be molded to fit any design specification.

Maintenance: Being nonporous, it's easy to clean.

Cost: $75 to $150 a linear foot, installed.

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