Granite or Laminate Countertops
June 3, 2012 3:48 PM   Subscribe

Laminate or granite for kitchen countertops?

We're moving soon to a condo in a retirement development--not a luxury community but a more plain vanilla, well located community with retired teachers, librarians, professors, not bankers, doctors, and lawyers. As my GPS says: "You have reached your destination." Or it may be.

We're painting existing wood kitchen cabinets white, replacing cabinet hardware with snazzy new ones , putting in new sink, fancy "swan" faucet, great looking new pendant lights, new floor. We're keeping most of the appliances but replacing the fridge. Oh, we're adding white subway tile backsplash. I've seen dozens of Apartment Therapy Before and Afters, budget redos of just the type we're planning. But even a budget makeover of an small ordinary kitchen gets pricey.

We are replacing the countertops. The contractor is pushing granite counters, which are $2500 more than some really attractive, sturdy newfangled laminate counters. Other folks in the development have laminates, and their counters look totally fine. I do cook a lot and still have some cooking and entertaining years ahead of me, if I'm lucky, since we're younger than most of the other residents. All the same, cooking daily for a family and kids is behind us.

My husband wants the granite. (He does the clean-up as well as occasional cooking.) The contractor definitely wants the granite. Are any Mefites out there happy that they spent the extra $$$ for granite instead of some of the sturdy, attractive laminates that are out there? Pro laminate people, please feel free. Keep in mind the subway tile backsplash. Would that look weird with laminate counters? Help me decide. (A plus factor for me but not for my spouse, contractor, and pro-granite friends is that laminates are made in the U.S. The granite slabs I looked at come from Brazil.)
posted by Elsie to Home & Garden (44 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
I can't imagine why you would consider laminate. It does not last anywhere as long as stone nor does it wear as well. Not to mention that laminate *never* looks as nice. I would also consider the new solid surface counters like Corian or Quartz. The "newfangled" laminates are not much different than the old stuff, just somewhat nicer looking. Sounds like you have a great project on the go!
posted by saradarlin at 3:58 PM on June 3, 2012 [3 favorites]

Have you ruled out wooden butcher block countertops? I have laminate countertops and really wish I'd gone for wood, I think they look beautiful. The laminate is fine, though, and is a sort of granite effect. It's very hardwearing but not very sexy. A friend of mine has granite and she spends ages polishing it every time she uses her kitchen.
posted by essexjan at 4:00 PM on June 3, 2012 [4 favorites]

BTW: I plan to do this same renovation to our next house, though likely with a white Corian counter (Artic something) or white marble as I really like a bright white kitchen.
posted by saradarlin at 4:01 PM on June 3, 2012

There was a news report a while back that some granite countertops were giving off low level radiation. Me, personally, I wouldn't want it for that reason. I suppose it could be tested. But I like the recycled crushed glass counter tops that are now available.
posted by cda at 4:07 PM on June 3, 2012

Response by poster: I had Corian in our old house and over the years it got a lot of dings and scratches. Just last week at a kitchen place, the salesperson there said they only recommend Corian for bathrooms, not kitchens. It can cost as much as granite. I've ruled out butcherblock as well because of care involved and wear and tear. Really the choice comes down to granite vs. laminate, not other surfaces which cost as much as granite.
posted by Elsie at 4:08 PM on June 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

I have had the same laminate countertops for 25+ years. They've held up just fine. They're white, which I like because it brightens up the kitchen. I think laminates are much more 'classic' looking. I really dislike granite because its so trendy. In expensive home appliances and finishes, I much prefer classic over trendy. Remember almond-colored appliances from 10 years ago. I predict in 10 years, granite countertops and stainless steel appliances will be so 2010.
posted by marsha56 at 4:16 PM on June 3, 2012 [14 favorites]

If you are set on using white subway tile for the backsplash, you need to go with stone to complement the updated/retro vibe. The other option is stainless steel which is a PITA to maintain in a residential kitchen.

And, with white tile go for some actual light colored granite or marble, not just random dark or colored stone.
posted by mightshould at 4:18 PM on June 3, 2012

My favorite thing about stone counters is that you can set hot pots and pans directly on them without any sort of trivet. Otherwise... meh. Granite is virtually always very highly polished, and the resulting glare can be problematic for people with certain common vision problems, especially if you have many distinct artificial light sources (recessed ceiling lights, halogen or xenon undercabinet lights).
posted by jon1270 at 4:19 PM on June 3, 2012

Oh, and I also like undermount sinks, which are nearly impossible with laminate counters.
posted by jon1270 at 4:20 PM on June 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

Granite is very hard -- which means it's less forgiving than other surfaces. If you drop glasses (etc) on it they will break.
posted by LobsterMitten at 4:36 PM on June 3, 2012 [2 favorites]

Our apartment, built in the 1920s, had a granite countertop + sink very like this modern version when we first moved in. Yeah, it was a little too low for comfort, but it was beautiful and had interesting historical stains ;) and was easy to clean and had withstood the test of time. I mourned when the landlord decreed a refurbishing and we lost it.

BUT. Every single time I ever dropped something made of glass - jar of pickles, Pyrex dish, bistro wineglass - it broke. Every. Single. Time.
posted by likeso at 4:38 PM on June 3, 2012

If you are set on using white subway tile for the backsplash, you need to go with stone to complement the updated/retro vibe.

I disagree. If the reason you are considering subway tile is for the 20s-30s retro look, laminate is totally in keeping with that aesthetic. Laminates were new and high tech, and they were used extensively as countertops in at that time.

Personally, I hate the smash factor of dropping anything on stone. High quality laminate saves your crockery, doesn't bounce sound around, is warmer to the touch, and has so many more options to choose from. You shouldn't pay more for granite unless you love it and really, really want it.
posted by oneirodynia at 4:58 PM on June 3, 2012 [2 favorites]

Butcher block isn't any more maintenance than granite. You wipe it down, let it dry, and use mineral oil on it once a month or so. With granite you're just using some other kind of sealant, lest it stain. And if you still manage to get a stain, you can't easily sand it down like you can a butcher block counter. Which, by the way, takes a couple of hours at most.

The one thing you give up, of course, is the ability to set very hot things on it without scorching.
posted by wierdo at 5:08 PM on June 3, 2012

We had beautiful kashmiri honey coloured granite in our last kitchen. Looked fantastic when all clean and polished. But required regular (twice a year) resealing with a wax product, and stained with red wine and oils readily. Wouldn't recommend it next time, I would look for manufactured stone such as corian, which is stone with polymer, looks about as good, much more stain resistant.

If you're a pastry chef, either a big stone slab or an entire benchtop is a good thing.
posted by wilful at 5:14 PM on June 3, 2012

Seconding the low-maintenance reality of butcher block. I put in butcher block countertops in a house four years ago and had them sealed with four layers of sealant before they were installed.

I have had exactly no stains, and I cook five or six days of the week. I have also never resealed or put mineral oil into the counters.

The only problem I have had is with dings and dents, but because the surface is wood, these actually look good and give the countertop character.
posted by yellowcandy at 5:26 PM on June 3, 2012

I know you already said you only want to choose granite vs laminate, but I really beg you to look at caesarstone. It's in the same price range as granite, but requires no resealing, you can put hot pots and trays on it without worrying about the sealer scorching, and it's way more resilient than laminate. You can cut directly on it and barely see the scratches. It doesn't have the big dramatic swirls and patterns as granite, it's much more uniform, like laminate. I have it in my kitchen remodel and I love, love, love it.
posted by Joh at 5:28 PM on June 3, 2012 [4 favorites]

We put in granite seven years ago, and even though it will probably look dated in another ten, I love it. Completely maintenance-free, worry-free, and always looks good with a quick swipe of a dish towel and all purpose cleaner. I really wanted honed soapstone, but got granite because our contractor pointed out the maintenance was easier, and I've been very happy with it.

I've gotten more eco-conscious since then, and I'd probably look into a recycled option if I were doing a kitchen now. Or maybe butcher block for everything but the sink surround.
posted by instamatic at 5:29 PM on June 3, 2012

Have you looked into the granite countertops that are engineered to fit over the existing laminate? That's what we got. The slabs are 3/4" thick but the edges are engineered to look thicker. It was just a little bit more than laminate, and it looks fantastic. You cannot tell that the edges are made from two pieces of granite.
posted by Ostara at 5:35 PM on June 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

Silestone or something similar. We had it installed as part of a remodel 4 years ago. Beautiful like granite, no need to seal or wax, seams are invisible. Cleans with a wet sponge.
posted by Fibognocchi at 5:40 PM on June 3, 2012 [3 favorites]

We love our granite countertops and we cook a lot. Have had them in for ten years and haven't had chipping or staining, and we've been lazy about resealing them but it hasn't had an impact. The "things will break" is right on, though.

This month's issue of Consumer Reports has a very detailed report on countertops, so you might want to take a look at that.
posted by Sidhedevil at 6:13 PM on June 3, 2012

As a life long renter I've lived with all sorts of counter tops and I find granite dark and depressing looking, and because it's speckled it's hard to tell if it's clean. Is it covered with coffee grounds? You don't know until you wipe your hand over it. For some people that's a plus, but I hate it. I like solid colors.

My personal favorite is tile, but I like old fashioned kitchens. My second favorite is wood. I was in one very old place with thick, very old, white marble, which I liked a lot, but I don't know what it's upkeep was- I was only a guest.
posted by small_ruminant at 6:21 PM on June 3, 2012

Due to your description of the neighbourhood, I would go with laminate; it seems more appropriate than granite. If you're big into baking get a marble slab.

Don't forget - you CAN over-improve a home.
posted by deborah at 6:30 PM on June 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

Caeserstone and Silestone are brands of quartz countertops.

When I bought my condo (which had previously been a rental) the owner of the building neglected to tell me that he hadn't sealed the stone and marble he'd installed when he renovated and I discovered this the hard way. I've since replaced the stone counters in the kitchen with quarttz and plan to do so with the bathroom counters and floors.
posted by brujita at 7:13 PM on June 3, 2012

Have you considered soapstone? It's a beautiful stone that unlike granite, is totally resistant to staining, acids, etc. Maintenance is as simple as wiping it down with mineral oil every few months, and if it ever scratches, you just lightly sand it and then re-oil, and no one knows the difference. It's priced at or slightly more than granite, but it's infinitely less fussy and looks really really sharp.
posted by muirne81 at 7:20 PM on June 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

I'm not sure if this is the case with all granite countertops, but in my kitchen with granite countertops the way the sink was installed is very different from with laminate countertops. Instead of the sink being dropped into a hole in the countertop with a little lip overhanging the countertop, the sink is completely under the granite. This is *awesome* because I can wipe the counter and just push anything (dirt, liquid) directly into the sink without it getting stuck around that lip or having to push it up and over the lip. And also, the area where the lip meets the laminate counter always got grungy in my other kitchens--it's a great place for brown shmutz to build up.
posted by needs more cowbell at 7:58 PM on June 3, 2012

I have engineered quartz and have not had to reseal. I have granite elsewhere which required a little more maintenance but not too much while the butcher block peninsula takes on stains too easily. I am happy with the engineered quartz and would do so again.
posted by jadepearl at 8:12 PM on June 3, 2012 [2 favorites]

This is a really tricky question. My parents recently redid their kitchen in the house they moved to at ~ age 60ish. My mother agonized and agonized over what to choose but eventually ended up going with laminate. She does not have subway tile, but she has smallish white tiles for a backsplash as well as white cabinets. The counter is also a very light neutral (it's not white really but close). It looks great!! I was kind of dubious about the choice, but it really turned out very attractive and she loves it. It hasn't been there for very long, but the previous counters were laminate and had been there since 1974. They looked surprisingly not as bad as you would expect (they were a little beat up, but not terrible).

Prior to this kitchen/house, my parents lived in a condo in which they also redid the kitchen. This was maybe 2005ish. For that renovation, they chose granite counters. There were various reasons my mom didn't want granite again. I think the maintenance/need to seal was a big factor.

The problem here, IMO, is that whatever you get is going to work just fine for you and you will be used to it almost immediately. I don't think you will regret either choice.

My advice to you is not to worry about what the builder says (easier said than done, I know), but work this out with your husband, taking into account how much money $2500 is to the two of you at this point in your lives.
posted by pupstocks at 9:00 PM on June 3, 2012

I'll say from the get go, I love stone, and not just on counter-tops, I actually go out and hunt the stuff in the wild. So with that prejudice in mind consider that most "granite" isn't. Granite that is.

The word granite has come to mean any stone counter top which is unfortunate because the many different types of stone that react in very different ways when confronted with typical kitchen usage. So let me try and shed a little light on the subject. This is not intended as a geology lecture but we'll go part way there.

First there are your limestone, marble & travertine counter-tops. I think these were what was traditionally thought of as a stone counter-top. I well remember butcher and fishmonger shops with beautiful white marble counters for prepping the goods when I was growing up. So this family of stone is based on calcium carbonate - the fossil remains of billions of tiny sea creatures from the deep past come to rest in your kitchen. They look beautiful, but calcium carbonate is very easily attacked and dissolved by acids. This is why geologists carry small bottles of acid to test suspicious white rocks to see if they are calcium based. Acids taste pretty nice so there are lots in the kitchen like tomatoes, citrus, vinegar etc. All of these will readily attack your beautiful stone. So this family are perhaps not a great choice for a general purpose counter-top.

Next up is slate, another simply gorgeous natural material. Slate is basically mud that has been compressed and heated until it has become a hard stone. Because it started as mud on the ocean bottom it's chemical makeup is variable - it depends on the rocks up in the mountains that were eroding into the rivers to create the mud. So just call it a big mixture with unknown resistance to chemicals. But a good rule of thumb is that it is probably mainly made of silicon containing grains and so much more resistant to acids than the calcium family. The issue with slate is hardness, even though it has been pretty well compressed it still started as very fine particles so if you drop something heavy then you can ding it.

That brings us to the "granite" family. Which to keep things (very) simple we will call any formally molten rock (magma) that cooled slowly underground. Now most pretty 'granite' rocks are made of two major types of mineral crystal, quartz and feldspar. Quartz is a white translucent rock made of silicon dioxide. It is basically a crystalline form of common glass (amorphous silicon dioxide). It is tough stuff, it laughs in the face of most acids - only the most powerful will touch it (and if you have hydrofluoric acid in your kitchen you have other problems). When I want to store really strong acids I put them in silicon dioxide bottles, great stuff!. Also its damn hard 7 out of 10, where diamond is 10 and the calcium carbonate above is about a 3. Now the feldspar part of the granite is a mineral made up of silicon, oxygen, aluminum and the varying amounts of potassium, sodium and calcium. There are two types of feldspar one that is generally pinkish and one that is white. So when you look at a 'granite' you can see the different grains. The translucent ones are quartz, the white and pink are the feldspar. The black specks are usually another mineral called biotite, which is a type of mica. Feldspar's are not quite as hard as quartz but they're still pretty hard. Basically granite is not going chip if you drop something heavy on it. The problem with granite is porosity, given time liquids can seep in between the grains and cause a stain. The thing to remember is that the stone is not actually damaged (like marble will be if attacked by acid), it just dirty. But it can still be hard to remove that dirt. Colored liquids (say tea or blueberry juice) can be fixed using bleach. Oils might be harder to remove. This is the reason we 'seal' granite surfaces - basically just pre-filling the pores with a clear material that keeps the other stuff out. However there are an almost limitless number of combinations of the basic minerals that change the character of granite. Some of it is almost pure quartz, some is mostly one type of feldspar or the other. The grains can be huge or too small to see and porosity can be all over the place. Some 'granite' doesn't need any sealing, some need it every year. Some might stain, but because of color just don't show it. The best advice is ask for sample of material you like and test them for yourself - the old beetroot, tumeric and extra virgin olive oil overnight test.

I will also add that many of the most beautiful stone counter tops are actually high grade metamorphic rocks which are not granite at all (they may have been granite once but have moved on to better things). Some of these just deserve a place in the kitchen out of pure coolness. For example you might find a stone called 'rainbow granite' from exotic Minnesota. It is in fact a rock called Morton Gneiss and is probably the oldest rock in North America, and is a staggering 3.5 billion years old. So if this trip into basic geology has whetted your appetite for more, checkout the geo-blog entries for Accretionary Wedge #42 which was about counter-top geology.

My kitchen counter-top is Larvikite from Norway, its sold as blue pearl granite, and it's just beautiful.

So yea, I'd go with the 'granite' if I were you.
posted by Long Way To Go at 12:31 AM on June 4, 2012 [51 favorites]

This spring we had our kitchen redone. We have white cabinets and white subway tile back splashes. We had a great tile guy who made it a point to use epoxy grout instead of the usual stuff because epoxy grout will not stain. After seeing how well this worked out, I'll insist that epoxy grout be used on any future tile projects around here.

We went from our former oak butcher block counter tops to neutral gray solid granite only because my wife really wanted granite.

This may be a non-issue for you, but several of our Realtor friends have repeatedly said that you'll always get your money back when you ultimately sell a home with granite counter tops. We went with the neutral gray granite for the color so that we can, if we ever desire, paint the walls virtually any color at all.
posted by imjustsaying at 3:41 AM on June 4, 2012 [3 favorites]

I can't imagine why you would consider laminate.

It's cheap, is available in a wide range of finishes, is easy to cut, shape and install, and usually comes with a decent warranty (seven years in Australia - same as a granite bench top). I could afford to rip out and replace our bench top every year for a decade for the price of a granite alternative.

If I sell the house, and they want granite, they can pull off the bench top and install granite. Simple.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 5:20 AM on June 4, 2012 [5 favorites]

We did the very makeover to our kitchen that you're describing.

We started with wood, butcher-block counters from Ikea. Pronomen. They curled up like potato chips pretty much instantly. I actually got a refund on them from Ikea they performed so shittily. But I soldiered on with them for 4 years. They stained, they showed little nicks, they split along some of the seams. What a disaster.

Last year I saved some $$ and went to a stone yard. We spent $2500 on custom granite and I couldn't be more pleased. That included the building of a new cabinet for around the dishwasher, and a new sink, so quite the bargain I think.

I like my new countertops, they wear well, look beautiful and are pretty much exactly as advertised.

Hopefully, you only do a kitchen re-do every decade or so. As long as you're doing the rest, spring for the extra dough and get the granite.

If you get the laminate and you dislike it later, you'll always regret not getting the granite. If you get the granite now, you won't even think about the laminate.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 7:10 AM on June 4, 2012

I've got two surfaces in my kitchen: butcher block on one side, quartz composite (eg Silestone or Ceaserstone) on the other. I consider this the Platonic ideal setup.

Quartz surfaces are similar to granite, but more durable and heat-tolerant, and you've got more options in terms of appearance. Butcher block, well, having butcher block means I've got a 5' long cutting board.

Any surface that's near a sink should be some kind of monolithic material. Dealing with tile and grout in a wet area is not worth the trouble if you can avoid it. More effort to keep clean with less satisfactory results.

Other options: concrete, soapstone. I've seen really nice stuff done in both these materials. You can get all artsy with concrete, embedding stuff into it.
posted by adamrice at 7:31 AM on June 4, 2012

We didn't have laminate as a viable candidate because my husband was awfully absent-minded about hot things as a young man and had a tendency to leave large burn marks on every apartment laminate countertop, and lost multiple security deposits, leaving him mentally scarred and incapable of cooking without paranoia. So no laminate for him. And I was really sick of the ring of gunk that builds up at the perimeter of a drop-in sink, so I was really pleased to be able to do an undermount sink.

We were stunned at how cheap granite is if one isn't picky. Low-end granite was significantly cheaper than any Corian, quartz, Siletsone, etc. High-end granite does get pricey pretty fast, but if you don't have a real visual dream that involves a particular shade of grey, dramatic swirls through the stone, etc, you can get the basic light-speckle or dark-speckle or brown-speckle or tan-speckle for less than $40/sqft. (effective price ~$50/sf after adding in cuts, sealants, fees) If the granite your contractor wants is significantly more than that ($65, and up) you need to have a serious talk with him and tell him that cost is a bigger priority than whatever it is he's focused on.
posted by aimedwander at 7:54 AM on June 4, 2012 [2 favorites]

We switched to granite in a kitchen renovation about ten years ago. Just did another total kitchen renovation last year at new house. As God is my witness, I will never live without granite again.
posted by raisingsand at 8:24 AM on June 4, 2012


A quartz composite such as Silestone is much easier to keep clean than granite (it isn't porous, doesn't need to be re-sealed). I hate granite countertops after spending 2 weeks trying to get smoked salmon oil out of an improperly sealed granite counter. :-) LFMF.
posted by LittleMy at 8:58 AM on June 4, 2012 [1 favorite]

Quartz! We love ours -- beautiful, heat-resistant, scratch-resistant, no-maintenance. We have CeasarStone.
posted by statolith at 9:40 AM on June 4, 2012

That reminds me- if you don't mind darker colors (as in, not white), I have seen some absolutely lovely concrete countertops. I don't know what its durability is, though. I haven't lived with it.

Huh. From that link, it looks like it does come in white. I have only seen the grey, khaki, and red versions.
posted by small_ruminant at 9:41 AM on June 4, 2012

+1,000 on soapstone. I just renovated my kitchen and I don't know what I'd do without it. I take red hot pots and pans from the stovetop and oven and put it right on the countertop, no worries. Maintenance is entirely optional, and involves only mineral oil--this is only to ensure uniform darkening of the soapstone with use--none of those chemicals needed for granite. It is wonderful to the touch, and has all sorts of natural variations.
posted by oneironaut at 10:19 AM on June 4, 2012 [2 favorites]

If you end up leaning toward granite, try pricing out stone and installation at independent dealers. If your kitchen isn't very big and you aren't super picky, you may be able to get a remnant at a significant discount.
posted by defreckled at 1:10 PM on June 4, 2012 [1 favorite]

we just went through this very same discussion ourselves with an extensive kitchen remodel that we just completed in early May. Although many many others have already answered this, here's a summary of our own decision and thought process:

-- Corian (marble resin composite) - sucks. It was part of the previous kitchen that we remodeled and was the primary reason we had to replace the countertops as it was. It is soft, it stains, it etches and it chips, scratches and dings. Next.
-- Wood / butcher block - also sucks. No way. We actually had a 24"x24" slab of butcher block incorporated into the Corian surface in the previous countertops. It had gotten incredibly ratty even though according to the realtor the previous homeowner had "upgraded" the kitchen surfaces in 2003 - despite that, it was split, warped, stained, had lots of gross oily substances soaked into it, and it smelled.
-- Tile. I've been at the mercy of several tiled countertop surfaces in rental units over the years. Never again. I don't care if you epoxy seal it, stuff gets caught up in the grout lines which renders it IMPOSSIBLE to easily wipe down.
-- Laminate. Just, no. In 5-6 years after your toddler and/or dog has chewed, chipped and/or peeled back the laminate surfaces off of all the kick plates and counter fronts, you'll thank me.
-- Granite. Some granite these days is even cheaper than composite / manufactured stone. We looked at several slabs and ultimately decided the periodic maintenance wasn't worth it.
-- Soapstone. Thought about it. It is pretty in a sort of odd way, but requires periodic mineral oil applications to keep it looking nice and not sort of dusty. Comes in any color you want, so long as it's black. And the thing about black countertops is that they look uber cool right up until you realize that matte black (aka soapstone) is effectively a huge black hole / light sink. It doesn't even reflect the lighting back off the surface as a polished black stone or composite would. You wind up with a very dark kitchen, which may or may not be your intent.
-- Concrete. Has become uber-trendy amongst the Boulder wealthy enviro set, and to me trendy upscale = could be very dated in 10-15 years. Also typically requires custom installation (in place pours), hella expensive, looks very postmodern industrial, which in my mind translated to "kinda institutional". Your call.

which brings us to...

-- "engineered stone" aka quartz / composite / manufactured stone. We went with Zodiaq, other brandnames are Caesarstone or Silestone, plus probably more but those are the brands we looked at. Depending on the grade/color/style you can get it for comparable to slightly cheaper than granite, you don't have to worry as much about custom cuts and slab sizes, and once it's installed it is durable, more resistant to breakage / heat propagation cracking / chipping than granite, and requires no sealing so it is essentially maintenance free. It is also somewhat more "green" strictly from the fact that most composites use post-consumer recycled materials to make up the matrix composite (glass, crushed stone, etc). We ultimately chose Zodiaq Storm Grey, which was a cheaper option than some of the more "modern" sparkley styles, but we both liked the simplicity and the fact that it had a less opaque "resin-y" quality to it, so it looks a bit more "real". We sourced ours from Costco, who carried it at a 20% discount over the other local source (Lowe's, I believe), and their local rep also did a fantastic job of coordinating the installation work with our contractor and our subs.

I'm not sure why someone always brings up the glass breakage thing with stone countertops. I've dropped plenty of glasses on plenty of surfaces in my lifetime, and almost every single one of them (depending on the glass) has broken regardless of what I dropped it on. Solution: either don't drop glasses, or if you're that accident prone (or have kids) I'd strongly suggest sticking with plastic or durably tempered heavy glass tumblers such as they use in foodservice. Besides which, if it misses the counter and lands on the floor, it's going to smash regardless, right?
posted by lonefrontranger at 2:16 PM on June 4, 2012 [6 favorites]

Heh, lonefrontranger. Nope, not a klutz, no kids, don't drop much, and when stuff does hit the (laminate) floor, it usually doesn't break. :)

I've had formica, laminate, and now stainless steel. Don't think anything dropped on the formica, laminate or stainless steel counters ever broke... I could be misremembering, and something might have once. But the granite? Every. Single. Time.
posted by likeso at 2:49 PM on June 4, 2012

A quick note about two possible cons of granite: the shininess/glare and the nuisance of sealing.

We installed black "brushed" granite countertops in our kitchen about 8 months ago. They're not shiny (nobody realizes that they're granite when they see them, which I'm happy about - I agree with marsha56 that granite is going to look dated quickly), and they're indestructible.

On the advice of posters on Gardenweb about black granite, I explicitly asked the installer not to seal the granite, and it now requires exactly zero maintenance. I don't think about spilling anything on it or setting anything on it, and I love it every time I see it our touch it. (Mind you, I was very anti-granite when I started the renovation process.)

Since it was a very common variety of stone, it was as cheap or cheaper than almost all of the Corian/Caesarstone that we looked at.

We have white subway tile backsplashes & it looks great; I like the contrast with the dark matte of the granite.

Have fun with your renovations!!
posted by queensb at 5:03 PM on June 4, 2012 [3 favorites]

The other option is stainless steel which is a PITA to maintain in a residential kitchen.

We've had stainless steel countertops for 6 years now and maintenance doesn't seem to be a problem: just wipe them down. I love them--the sink is welded in, so the counter is a single seamless piece of steel from one end of the kitchen to the other. Getting it in was a little tricky, but it's a fantastic surface: easy to clean, great for rolling out dough, and no worries about putting hot pots on it.
posted by fogovonslack at 11:16 AM on June 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

When I had granite countertops in my previous house, I hated them. They were dark, and you could never tell if they were clean just by looking at them. That might seem like a plus, but if you spill something it is very hard to see where to clean it up. Also, granite seems very trendy and I agree with others that it will seem outdated in a decade.

Our current countertops are laminate and they are not a problem. They are light colored and easy to clean. I might prefer some other material in the future, but I'm never getting dark granite counters again.
posted by mokin at 10:45 AM on June 6, 2012

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