People are using all types of materials such as: glass, stainless steel, concrete, wood, ceramic, and porcelain. Watching five decades of business trends come and go there is a reason for the separation between the major countertop materials and these others. If you're one of those people that are considering one of the "other" types of counter surfaces, it's important to research the product and make sure that it truly suits the application in which you are using it. If you want the best performing, most popular surface, you will eventually find Quartz.
Solid surface could be the next most affordable countertop material after laminate, but petroleum costs have sky rocketed causing solid surface to be just a touch below the harder surfaces, and in some cases, even more. The brand name that most people recognize in this category is Corian made by DuPont. Although DuPont invented this product in the 1970's there patent was up quite some time ago, and many companies have imitated Corian with varying success. Today there are about a half dozen real players in the solid surface industry making acrylic and acrylic-blend countertop material.
Solid surface pricing can be very complicated, as there are varying levels in pricing based on color, decorative edge treatments that can cause labor hours to vary, and seam locations to consider. Typically the larger the agrigate, the more expensive the cost. Also, some companies are providing veined product to resemble marble. Therefore there are many colors that can price higher than natural stone and quartz. If you stick with simple colors and edge treatments, you can sometimes find a middle ground between laminate and the stone products. But be careful, because there is a maintenance schedule you will want to follow to keep this product looking good over time.
Natural stone offers a range of materials, but most people that are looking for natural stone as a residential countertop are looking for a type of granite. Granite is the most popular option of natural stones for your residential needs. Other stones are available such as marble, soapstone, or limestone, but be careful. These materials are not ideal for residential kitchens, and they require a lot of extra care and maintenance. If you insist on natural stone granite or quartzite is usually your best option for the long haul.
Most granite or natural stone prices between $65 - $95 a square foot with everything included and installation. This price range will get you a good quality stone and you can feel comfortable going to sleep at night. Natural stone that is offered at $40 - $60 a square foot usually comes from Asia and is an inferior stone that is not ideal for residential use. also be careful with those banners, because the yards usually charge for every item separate. Additional charges for edge treatments, cutouts, corners, installation, etc. At the end of the day the tops cost considerably more than $40 per square foot. Lastly, don't forget that ALL natural stone is porous (some more than others) and requires a regular sealing/ maintenance schedule.
Quartz surfacing or just QUARTZ counters have become the product of choice, representing more than 85% of what residential homeowners are putting in there kitchens today. Products Cambria, Viatera, Wilsonart, Caesarstone, and Corian Quartz are the leading brands. Quartz is a natural stone, but unlike granite that is cut in slabs from mountain ranges, quartz usually is broken down in smaller pieces and makes up 93% of the finished product. The whitish, clear stone is then ground down into even smaller particles and color is injected with a polyester resin (the remaining 7%) that gives the product consistency, strength, and a nonporous surface, which means NO sealing required.
Most quartz surfaces price between $85-100 per square foot and include template, installation, edge treatment, corner details, undermount preps, and faucet drillings. Most of the quartz brands have a warranty that extends a minimum of fifteen years, others offer a limited lifetime warranty, but most importantly... NO maintenance required! Quartz does not require sealing, so just wipe and go. Use regular Dawn dish detergent to clean up the counters, and never worry about bacteria breeding in your counters.