5 Commercial Countertop Materials and Design Ideas

Commercial Countertop Materials

If you need a commercial countertop — such as for a front desk, guest lounge or corporate space — you’ll want a durable material that can stand up to high levels of traffic. Read this guide to learn about the most commonly used commercial-grade countertops.

1. Granite

Granite has long been a popular option due to its durability, natural beauty and ruggedness. As it’s a natural stone, every slab has a unique pattern, hue and shading.

Since each piece varies in size and appearance, customers often visit their local granite warehouse and pick out the pieces they want to have installed.

Granite slabs tend to be between 9 and 10 feet long and 5 to 6 feet wide. However, for extra-wide spaces, you can find places that carry slabs as long as 12 feet. If the countertop you require for your commercial setting is longer than this, it will need to have multiple pieces, which will inevitably result in seams.

Some notable benefits of granite countertops include the following.

  • Durability: Granite is resistant to scratches, stains and heat. It is also water-resistant when sealed.
  • Uniqueness: As mentioned above, every piece of granite features one-of-a-kind colors and patterns.
  • Maintenance: Granite is easy to clean.

Here are some potential drawbacks to granite slabs you’ll want to consider.

  • Price: Granite is one of the pricier countertop options.
  • Potential to break: Granite may break if subjected to excessive stress during transportation or installation.

2. Quartz Countertops

Quartz Countertops

Quartz rivals granite in terms of its natural look and durability, but requires considerably less maintenance. After workers quarry it out of the earth, it gets ground into tiny pieces, mixed in a sheet layer and held together in a resin.

Advantages associated with quartz countertops are as follows.

  • Less noticeable seams: Like granite, quartz also has seams, but they’re subtler. That’s because quartz has a more consistent appearance and pattern, which allows the seams to blend more easily.
  • Durability: For countertop durability, quartz is king. It is virtually indestructible in most normal conditions. These countertops resist bacteria, stains and gouges from the sharpest objects without any extra sealing. While edges and corners are still potential weak points, any damage here is easy to fix.
  • No sealing required: As quartz is a pre-engineered material, no sealing is necessary.
  • Various appearance options: Quartz offers a range of appearance options, ranging from vibrant, customizable hues to natural finishes.
  • Flexibility: Quartz is more flexible than granite, which gives it more strength and a higher stress tolerance.

Consider some cons associated with quartz.

  • Susceptibility to heat damage: This material is nonporous and pre-engineered, meaning there is no need to seal it, but it isn’t completely heat-resistant. If someone places a hot pot on a quartz countertop and leaves it there, the heat will react with the resin, leaving behind a burn mark.
  • Price: While it’s less expensive than higher-end granite, quartz is still a pricey countertop material.
  • Not real stone: While quartz is a beautiful material, you’ll want to consider other options if you’re searching for a natural stone look.

3. Solid-Surface Countertops

Solid-surface countertops are an acrylic, human-made material often seen under the brand names Corian and Meganite. This durable material is seamless, nonporous and hygienic. It is also available in a wide array of colors and patterns that can easily match whatever motifs you have in mind. For instance, a stone pattern works well for a traditional, warm decor, whereas black or white is better for minimalist styles.

It has a consistent appearance that lends itself to curving, soft designs and integrating features such as backsplashes, drain boards and sinks.

Here is a summary of the most impressive features of solid-surface countertops.

  • Seamless: Unlike granite and quartz, which have seams, solid-surface countertops are completely seamless for a consistent look.
  • Customizability: With solid-surface countertops, you have lots of color, pattern and finish options, making it easy to find a countertop for your commercial setting.
  • Nonporous: Its nonporous nature makes it resistant to stains.

Of course, solid surfaces come with a few potential drawbacks.

  • Susceptibility to damage: It’s possible to leave dents and scratches in solid-surface countertops, and they are also susceptible to heat damage. However, repairing this material is not challenging.
  • Not natural: Solid surface does not resemble natural stone, so look into other countertop options if you want that authentic stone appearance.

4. Marble Countertops

Marble Countertops

Despite being synonymous with luxury, marble countertops are surprisingly one of the more affordable natural stones. Marble can come in white, beige, gray, pink and even exotic green and feature subtle, flowing veins and the illusion of gentle movement. Its elegant look works well in large and small rooms.

For centuries, marble has been the go-to stone for high-quality commercial applications. From ballroom floors to monuments, it’s a stone that often serves as a room’s centerpiece, though it can blend in as well, depending on its pairings. Whether it’s a classic neutral or a more striking variety, marble is an elegant stone that catches the eye.

Here are some benefits of commercial marble countertops.

  • Affordability: When compared with other natural stone choices, marble is relatively affordable, making it an elegant but realistic option for many of today’s businesses.
  • Attractiveness: Marble countertops’ otherwordly beauty can make a bold statement in any room.
  • Wide availability: Marble occurs naturally worldwide. Despite its VIP status, this material is ubiquitous, making it widely available in different varieties. Its smooth, cool surfaces are a sophisticated way to bring nature into your business.
  • Longevity: In the right conditions, marble is long-lasting. If you take excellent care of your marble countertop, it can last for many years. However, if you plan to install a marble countertop in a high-traffic area of your business, you may want to consider lower-maintenance material.

Some drawbacks of marble include the following.

  • Susceptibility to etching and staining: Marble is porous and soft, which means it’s more susceptible to etching and staining than materials like quartz and granite. However, with diligent maintenance and the correct choice of finish, marble is much more likely to retain its original appearance through the years. Some finish options — like honed instead of highly polished — can better hide etching. What’s more, you can adjust your space’s overall design theme to adapt to the aging marble. For instance, in the marble’s early years, when it’s smooth and elegant, you can begin with a contemporary design scheme, and as the stone naturally ages, you can shift to more of an Old-World style.
  • Maintenance required: If you would like your marble to have a smooth appearance, you should seal it regularly and keep acidic materials away from it. Of course, some people prefer their marble to have an imperfect patina or enjoy seeing their stone age over time, so it all comes down to your preference. Modern marble cleaners can mostly or entirely remove stains from your marble.

5. Laminate Countertops

Since their introduction in the mid-20th century as a space-age replacement for stone or wood surfaces, laminate countertops have come full circle. After their heyday in the 1950s and 1960s, laminate countertops went through many years of having a cheap, tacky reputation. People started turning to alternative countertop materials like natural stone, synthetic stone and Corian.

However, today’s laminate countertops are much higher-quality than those that were in fashion six decades ago. While still not as prestigious as natural stone, quartz or composite countertop materials, modern high-pressure laminates are high-quality and come in hundreds of designs — all while being considerably more affordable than most other materials.

Laminate countertops all follow the same essential manufacturing process, though tiny proprietary variations exist between manufacturers. The first step involves laminating plastic phenolic resins onto layers of regular brown kraft paper, then adding a decorative print layer. Then, manufacturers add a wear layer, followed by a transparent protective melamine resin layer. The HPLs of today feature plastic resins impregnated using cellulose layers that solidify under pressure and heat, providing the product with much more durability and resistance to scratching and heat.

Here are some benefits you can enjoy by opting for laminate countertops.

  • Affordability: For a much lower cost, you can enjoy the look of granite, marble or wood. Or, if you have more modern tastes, you could go with brighter, bolder colors and patterns.
  • Large variety of styles: There is no shortage of looks to choose from with laminate countertops.
  • Little maintenance: You don’t need to do much to keep your laminate countertop looking its best — clean it regularly with water and mild soap, using enough water to thoroughly rinse without saturating the countertop for long periods. Make sure not to use any abrasive cleaners, as you will risk scratching your countertop.
  • Stain resistance:  A laminate countertop has plastic resins, making it stain-resistant.

Here are some potential downsides associated with laminate countertops.

  • Susceptibility to damage: Laminate countertops can crack, scorch and get scratched over time. They can also experience delamination, particularly if water gets into the seams. If any of these issues happen, repairs can be challenging to make. Significant damage to your laminate countertop usually requires a total replacement.

Where to Install Commercial Countertops

Where to Install Commercial Countertops

Countertops are an excellent addition — and often a necessity — for many businesses. In this section, we’ll recommend the best material for different commercial countertop applications.

  • Reception area: If you would like a dramatic centerpiece for your reception area, it’s hard to beat quartz. Quartz will also allow you to create waterfall counters and other features that will make your commercial space more inviting and memorable.
  • Reception desk: Your reception desk is often the first thing your customers see when entering your business. With a custom-fabricated solid-surface countertop for your reception desk, you’ll make a statement that will attract your customers’ attention. Solid surfaces look great, and are sufficiently durable to withstand customers bumping, leaning or writing on the surface. Also, remember that solid-surface counters don’t limit you to using square or rectangular slabs — you can make a custom fabrication such as ovals, which adds a bit of personality. The soft edges you can create with solid surfaces will open up your space and help create a contrast with the sharp angles of wood-framed offices. With solid surfaces, your imagination is the limit.
  • Kitchens: Quartz makes the most durable commercial kitchen countertops. It is not vulnerable to knife cuts, will not chip or crack and is highly stain-resistant.
  • Desktop surfaces: Granite is excellent for creating attractive, custom-made desktops that are durable and easy to maintain.
  • Restaurant bar: Quartz can be ideal for trendy commercial counters for restaurants. Your customers will love the clean lines and natural stone-inspired patterns quartz provides.
  • Coffee bar: Granite is a good choice here, as it can withstand coffee stains.
  • Restrooms: Bathrooms are one of the highest-traffic areas in a commercial space. To provide your restroom with a touch of durability and class, pick a simple quartz pattern. As one of the world’s hardest materials, quartz is the ideal choice for commercial restrooms.
  • Conference room tables: For many years, traditional conference room tables were wooden. However, wood’s primary issue is that it’s less durable and susceptible to chips and stains. In contrast, a granite conference room table is easy to maintain, can last many years and does not scratch or stain.

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H.H. Ross specializes in building and installing countertops for businesses and homes. As a Lancaster, Penn.-based, family-owned business with many years of experience, we prioritize providing our community with the highest-quality commercial work surfaces. To learn more about what we offer or receive a free quote, get in touch with us today.

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