the numerous natural countertop materials, a variety of newer man-made
materials are available.
Silestone: A composite of 93% quartz, resin
binders and pigments. It is made in Spain and sold in the USA through
a network of distributors. A similar material is made by DuPont
under the Zodiaq brand name. Silestone is available in 35 colors
and three thicknesses - 7/16 inch, 13/16 inch, and 1-1/18 inch.
Trespa: A Netherlands-based company makes
three types of composite architectural panels Two of them - TopLab
and Athlon - are potential kitchen countertops. Athlon is essentially
super-thick high-pressure laminate. It's made from phenolic resins
reinforced with cellulose fiber and manufactured under high pressure and
temperature. Its top decorative layer is melamine-impregnated paper,
and it is available with either a smooth or slightly textured finish.
One thing that makes Athlon attractive is its price: in a 1/2-inch
thickness, Athlon is less than $7 per square foot. It can be worked
with standard carbide tools, and it doesn't need sealing. TopLab
is usually used in laboratory setting because of its resistance to chemicals,
scratches, and stains. Prices are slightly higher. Pionite
makes a similar material called thick phenolic-core laminate.
Fiber Cement: Sold under the following brand
names: Fireslate2 and Colorlith. They are manufactured
in Germany, imported to the US and sold through authorized fabricators.
Fiber cement has the bulk of quarried stone, but it can be less expensive:
$30 to $40 per square foot in 1-1/4 inch thickness. Fiber cement
is currently available in four colors and five thicknesses. It has
good resistance to heat and has high compressive strength. Like
other cement-based product, this material stains easily unless it is sealed
properly and that takes regular maintenance.
Lava: If you want something unusual in you
kitchen, try French lava with a kiln-fired enamel coating that the manufacturer
says is impervious to stains and heat. Pyrolave comes in sheets
up to four feet by eight feet, in two thicknesses - 1-1/4 inch and 1-1/2
inch. Custom colors are available in addition to the 30 stock colors
the company offers.
PROS: Nonporous and non-staining, scratch and heat resistant, durable.
CONS: High cost.
COST: $45-75 plus per sq. ft. installed.
PROS: Scratch and heat resistant, low cost.
CONS: Limited color choice, damaged by heat.
COST: $7-10 plus per sq. ft. installed.
PROS: Relatively low cost, heat resistant, durable, high strength.
CONS: Can stain (requires periodic resealing), limited color selection.
COST: $30-70 per sq. ft. uninstalled.
PROS: Hard, stain resistant, heatproof.
CONS: Extremely high cost, limited availability.
COST: $220-350 plus per sq. ft. installed.
Trespa North America Ltd.
American Fiber Cement Corp.