Which Bathroom and Kitchen Countertops are Right for You?
We conclude this pros and cons discussion about bathroom and kitchen countertops, talking about concrete, stone, stainless steel, and lavastone. This information, combined with my previous article about your countertop investment will help you make a choice that will give you years of great service and personal pleasure.
Materials: Concrete, Stone, Stainless Steel, Lavastone
Made popular by Fu Tung Cheng, who has written at least one book about the subject.
Pros: Concrete can be an exquisite, unique countertop, with an unlimited color palette, and the possibility of inlays or relief impressions. Undermount porcelain, cast iron, and metal sinks can be used with concrete bathroom countertops, and it’s possible to have a one-of-a-kind integral concrete sink as a focal point. Cons: Although there are many step-by-step seminars, articles, and videos showing how to create concrete countertops, they are not a beginner-DIY project; they must be manufactured by an expert. Concrete is a very porous substance and a brittle material, prone to cracking and chipping. It must be sealed to prevent bacteria growth and staining. It can be very heavy, and may require extra-sturdy cabinets — and reinforcement of the structure. (Photo Courtesy of Sonoma Cast Stone)
Granite, Quartzite, Marble, Slate, Soapstone, Limestone. Quartzite shouldn’t be confused with quartz.
Pros: Stone is long-lasting and durable, with thousands of colors and patterns available to blend with most architectural styles. Because it is a natural product, it has universal appeal, and has become the standard for residential upgrades since the 1980s. Undermounting bathroom sinks is not a problem. Cons: Stone is porous and easily stained — especially marble, slate, soapstone, and limestone. It requires sealing to maintain the beautiful appearance and stain-resistance.
Not a D-I-Y project; find an experienced, qualified metal fabricator in your community.
Pros: Stainless steel has a high-tech appearance, and blends well with other materials. It is bacteria-resistant and long lasting. Integral stainless steel sinks look best, and achieve a sculptural appearance. The patina that evolves over time is appealing to many people. Cons: Stainless steel is very easily scratched and dented. It shows fingerprints and water spots, and can be high-maintenance. Some consider it to be cold and industrial, reminiscent of hospitals. (Photo Courtesy of Metal Masters Northwest)
Manufactured by Pyrolave USA
Pros: Lavastone is available in unlimited colors. It is durable, easy to maintain, and bacteria resistant — the major reason why it’s used more frequently in kitchens. Sinks can be undermounted for easy maintenance. Cons: It is very expensive, and has a long lead-time for fabrication and installation. You may not be able to find a fabricator in your area. (Photo Courtesy of Lavastone) The production of durable, beautiful countertops for bathrooms and kitchens has come a long way since indoor plumbing became popular during the industrial revolution, about 150 years ago. Homeowners at that time had very little choice. Now, you can choose from 11 specific materials, a myriad of styles, colors, shapes, and prices, from thousands of international manufacturers and fabricators.
CLARIFYING THE CONFUSION
Bathroom design jargon defines the bathroom sink as a lavatory, with roots from Middle English lavatorie (1325–75), derived from late Latin “lavātōrium,” washing-place, lavā (to wash) + -tōrium (place). Lay people refer to the lavatory as the entire room, and many refer to the toilet specifically as the lavatory. No wonder Homeowners look at us quizzically (or with disdain) when we talk about washing our face and hands, and brushing our teeth in front of the lavatory!
Are you thinking about remodeling a bathroom (or kitchen)? D. P. Design can help you clarify any confusion you may have, and help you achieve great results! Send an e-mail to Diane or call D. P. Design (503-632-8801) to get more information about how we can help you.
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