For years, granite has been the go-to material for high-end countertops. Despite its expense, weight, and ubiquity, it still remains the countertop of choice. There was a variety of granite alternatives on display at the EuroCucina 2014 trade show this year in Milan, Italy, ranging from stainless steel to tempered glass, from ceramic to wood. If you’re trying to steer clear of traditional countertop selections like granite, marble, quartz, or synthetic solid surfaces, the number of stylish alternatives continues to grow.
Glass countertops made an appearance at EuroCucina 2014. The thick, translucent material is tough and has a pleasant tactility, while still remaining easy to clean. With a growing number of manufacturers, it’s also available in a huge variety of colors. Try pairing this countertop material with a vessel sink in the bathroom.
Ceramic countertops were popular at the trade show this year. The material has been described as the “closest thing you can get to indestructible” – it is scratch-resistant, easy to clean, and cool but not cold to the touch. It is also available in a variety of colors.
The most unusual alternative countertop seen at EuroCucina this year was referred to as a “nanotech matte material.” It is anti-reflective, anti-fingerprint, self-healing, and soft to the touch, all while maintaining a high level of durability. Its matte sheen and extreme consistency give it an appearance that falls somewhere between honed stone and ceramic.
Solid wood and wood-finished countertops were everywhere at the show, often contrasting with or overlaid on a stone or synthetic material. Everything from mahogany and ebony to light pine and bamboo was used, and often paired with matching cabinetry to create a minimalist yet warm look. In some cases, wood was even paired with granite, though that was less common.
Stainless steel probably isn’t the first alternative we’d recommend over granite, marble, or synthetic solid surfaces – too much of it, and it can easily become overpowering. That said, a stainless steel top can make for a great focal point on a kitchen island. It is non-porous and cleans much easier than stone. It also comes in a variety of textures above and beyond the traditional “brushed” look, which helps hide scratches and dents as it ages.
When it comes to countertop finishes, tile is pretty old school. It’s a style that’s generally beholden to a certain era and/or region, and traditionally takes substantial time and elbow grease to clean. Deep, wide, difficult-to-clean grout lines are becoming a thing of the past though, and closely set tiles with thin, flush-set grout are beginning to bring back the appeal of a tile countertop in the kitchen or bathroom.