Previously, I wrote about all the negatives about granite countertops and why most countertop makers push them on people. I did go into some detail about granite alternatives, however there is a big wide countertop world out there that can imitate and replace granite.
Two popular stones that are often sought after to replace granite are marble and limestone. The downside to marble is that it is quite on the expensive side, but it is beautiful to be sure. Limestone is cheap and can create some glamorous stone effects after it's polished. However, a problem with both of these stones is they are soft and scratch easily. They also wear down and show their age. If you are looking for a good stone countertop that shows age, these are both good options. However, if that is not the case, try some of these options.
If you really want to cut costs on the materials below, install them yourself!
Corian, and many other solid surface materials, has been sort of "downgraded" in the eyes of many consumers. Especially with the decreasing prices of natural stone, many people overlook corian as an option. Corian designs used to be limited rather boring earth tones, however in recent years it has come leaps and bounds with its designs to mimic basically any design, stone or not. Because corian is made by combining acrylic polymers (plastic) with stone derived materials, it is rather unstable to heat.
Corian is prone to scorch marks if hot pans are places on it. Though, any countertop designer will always tell you to use a cutting board or some surface cover when placing hot pans on countertops, regardless of materials. Corian is nice compared to granite because it is not porous and will not stain. You do not have to worry about using the right cleaner on it either, even the most abrasive cleaners or safe on corian. Though, like most polished surfaces, it can dull over time.
If you are looking for a darker colored countertop, soapstone is a great option. This material first made its appearance in chemistry labs because it was resistant to staining. Soapstone reached out of science labs and started creeping its way into homes when homeowners wanted a stone top with a different look than granite and marble. However, the major downside to soapstone is the very limited range of color. Most soapstone ranges from light gray to gray-green to almost black.
Some soapstones do come with white veining in it, however, these are less resistant to scratches than the normal solid. If your countertop is going to endure a lot of wear and tear, soapstone is probably the best choice you will find.
Soapstone will never stain, it is heat resistant so it will not scorch, and if you happen to scratch it, you can sand those marks off easily.
Silestone quartz is the best go to countertop surface for those who want the look of granite without all the hassle of having to care for a granite countertop. It is made by crushing granite and removing the quartz particles from it. They are then combined with a binding resin and some coloring agents to make a hard and durable surface.
Unlike granite, Silestone quartz is very resistant to stains and chemicals. Like other granite countertop alternatives, it is resistant to heat. However, while they are durable to these things, silestone quartz is not wholly invincible to the things that plague countertops. It has lower maintenance than granite, but you should still use protective measures like a cutting board when working on silestone quartz to give it a longer lasting life. One thing you should absolutely not do with silestone quartz is use an abrasive cleaner on it. Unlike corian, abrasive cleaners will wreak some havoc on the finish of silestone quartz.
Concrete countertops are not exactly what a person would imagine for indoor countertops. Outdoor countertops, sure, but indoors? Concrete has came a long way over the years and can be more elegant and versatile than people might think.
The biggest reason people go to concrete countertops usually is that they can be crafted into unique shapes that you just cannot get with any other material. Through adding coloring agents and chemical stain, you can get more color to your concrete countertop than just a bland grey. You can also get concrete with bits of glass, quartz, coins, or even sea shells in it to give a little more life to it.
Concrete countertops, like granite countertops, resist heat well and are extremely durable. You can chip them if you use enough force with the right knife, however I don't think many people will be stabbing at their new countertops. Make sure to have a professional install your concrete countertops, though. Concrete countertops can gain a yellowish tint if the proper epoxy is not used.
Surprisingly enough, concrete countertops can be a bit on the expensive side. It has prices similar to marble and high grade granite. Though this is mostly because people ask for unique shapes. If you are just looking for a traditional shape, the cost will be much lower.
Laminate is by far my most recommended granite alternative. Laminate has gotten a bad reputation because it is affordable and it is not the luxurious countertop option that people want. However, laminate comes in THOUSANDS of designs with every finish you can think of. Laminate designs can mimic every possible design you can think of, plus it will not break your bank and is by far the easiest option to install. Just because you want a luxurious looking kitchen does not mean that it does not have to cost a luxurious amounts.
With its wide variety of finishes, you can easily recreate the texture of granite or any other stone as well. Laminate is pretty much stain proof although it is not a good countertop for rough use. Laminate is not heat resistant and can easily warp or scorch if you place hot pans on it. It can be prone to chipping on the edges if you are not careful. However it can withstand most chemicals, depending on the finish.