How do I go about choosing the best bathroom vanity top?
If you’re looking for a bathroom countertop—usually called a vanity top—look for something that will stand up to water, soap, toothpaste, cosmetics, and alcohol- and acetone-based liquids. Most bathroom vanity tops are surfaced with one of the following materials.
Granite and Marble
Though marble and granite are unrivaled for their beauty, these classic materials warrant careful thought. While marble stains easily, granite shrugs off most stains, except grease, especially if the granite is unsealed. If a solid sheet of stone for your countertop is beyond your budget, granite or marble tiles may be substituted at a lower cost.
Cultured marble is less expensive and is made from real chips of natural marble embedded in plastic. Cultured marble comes with or without a wash basin molded into it. Although easy to clean, cultured marble must be well cared for; once scratched, it cannot be resurfaced.
Laminate offers good value and performance. Laminate countertops clean easily and are resistant to water and stains. However, laminates can burn, wear thin, and dull over time. Hard blows can chip or dent the plastic, and there’s no remedy short of replacement.
Available in many colors and patterns, laminate finishes range in texture from high-gloss smoothness to a mottled, leather-like look.
Solid surface countertops offer many of the advantages of stone with few of the drawbacks. Cast from an acrylic resin that sometimes include crushed stone—particularly quartz—solid-surface material demands little maintenance and is extremely durable. Intense heat and heavy falling objects (which shouldn’t pose much of a threat in bathrooms) can cause damage, but scratches, abrasions, and even minor burns (if you leave a curling iron on the vanity top, for example) can be repaired with fine-grade sandpaper.
Solid surface material is available in white, beige, pastels, and imitation stone, usually in ready-formed vanity tops with integrated sinks.
Ceramic tile makes an attractive, durable finish for countertops. It’s available in many colors, designs, and textures. Grout lines that trap dirt and encourage mildew are a major drawback, although new grouts and sealers help alleviate these problems to some degree.