Bathroom Vanity Countertop Materials | Pros, Cons & What To Consider
Is it time to select the countertop for your bathroom vanity? It is easy to head down to the local home improvement centre and pick up a pre-cut unit, but if you are customising your room, the options are endless. Take some time to learn a little more about all the vanity countertop material choices available. You might discover a new-to-you trending idea or save big over your first idea.
In this post, I’ll go over the different vanity countertop material options, their pros and cons as well as look at what to consider when choosing the best countertop material for your bathroom needs.
Let’s dive in!
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Vanity Countertop Material
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What To Consider When Choosing A Bathroom Vanity Countertop Material
Choosing the best bathroom vanity countertop material is a balancing act between the practicalities, style and budget of the material. Think about these considerations to help you pick the right countertop material for your bathroom needs.
How durable and tough do you need your vanity countertop? Is it located in the main family bathroom and needs to withstand daily abuse from the kids? Or is it for your private en-suite and treated with care and attention?
Depending on what you need your vanity countertop to withstand will impact the material you should choose. Laminate is budget-friendly and surprisingly tough. Ideal for a family bathroom. Whereas marble looks gorgeous but can stain and scratch easily. Think about who will be using the bathroom and how durable you need your bathroom countertop to be.
Is your vanity countertop material non-porous, does it need to be sealed or is it ready to go with no additional work?
As the bathroom is an especially wet environment, having a non-porous or sealed countertop can be particularly important. Especially if you’re a bit splashy around the sink and don’t want to have to think about and remember to dry up any water splashes every time. Timber is usually the worst culprit for this. Natural stones will need sealing and maintenance. Whereas quartz or solid surface materials are non-porous by design.
Do you want to be constantly cleaning, sealing or repairing your countertop? Probably not.
Think about how much maintenance a particular countertop material requires. Timber may look beautiful but it needs to be kept dry and re-oiled to maintain its look and protection. Similarly, natural stones such as granite and marble look stunning but will need to be sealed and re-sealed periodically to help prevent water damage.
Not every consideration has to be practical. Especially if this is your dream en-suite bathroom reserved just for you.
The look and feel of the countertop shouldn’t be underestimated. Laminate and tile may lack a certain style and depth. Whereas marble or granite has an undeniable depth and charm to them that simply cannot be replicated.
Take the time to look around and consider all your options before deciding on your vanity countertop. You might just find the perfect look you didn’t know existed.
How much have you got to spend on the overall bathroom budget, and how much of it do you want to spend on the countertop compared to the cabinets and sanitaryware?
If you’re on a budget then you will most likely be looking at laminate or timber countertops. If you’ve got a bit more to spend, or would rather allocate more of your overall budget to the countertop, then you could start to consider options such as quartz, marble and granite.
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Types Of Vanity Countertop Material
Explore eight of the most popular materials on the market to create your own bathroom vanity countertop that best matches your style and budget.
Laminate is the most affordable countertop and is used extensively throughout Great Britain. Your mother’s and grandmother’s bathrooms likely had laminate counters. Today’s laminates are extremely durable and available in styles that resemble pricier stone counters. It is made out of resins and highly compressed paper and topped with a surface that resists stains, scratches, and water penetration. You can expect a laminate counter to retain its good looks for up to 20 years.
It is a great option for DIY projects as you can find pre-fabbed lengths of laminate counters at the home improvement store. It can be mounted on a cabinet or as a wall-mounted shelf. Use a hole saw to cut out spots for the taps and drains. A line of silicone around the edges seals it to prevent hidden water damage.
- Super affordable
- Great for DIY projects
- Works with any decor
- Can have a cheap appearance if installed improperly
- Poor seams can lift and absorb water
- Can chip or burn
Price Range of Laminate Installed: £30 to £100 per sq/m
Quartz is a very popular option for homeowners looking for a natural stone counter look without any of the uncertainties associated with a slab of granite or marble. It is made out of the remnants of the granite quarry process. The stone dust and aggregate are combined with resins and subjected to pressure and heat. The resulting slab includes the veining, texture, and appearance of stone. It requires no sealing to resist staining.
If you see a sample of quartz at the store, your counter will be nearly identical to the sample. Natural stone leaves more room for variation in appearance. It is measured, cut, and installed by a local countertop company. Quartz is engineered to last as long as your bathroom. Cracks can be repaired using a mix of resin and colour and then polished. You may find an all-in-one vanity, counter, and basin at the DIY store that you can install yourself.
- Looks and feels like natural stone
- Requires no sealing to preserve the finish
- Extremely durable
- Store samples provide an accurate representation of the quartz
- Comparable price to custom stone
- Not a good choice for a DIY project
- Lengthy installation process when working with a countertop company
Price Range of Quartz Installed: £150 to £300 sq/m
Maybe you are not quite in love with the options available on the quartz sample rack. Walk down the aisle and discover a huge range of choices in the solid surface countertop area. Some brand names such as Corian use a similar process as quartz but apply a different ratio of resins and polymers to create unique patterns and colours. Other solid surface counters use recycled glass to create a bold speckled look while removing material from the landfills.
Solid surface options are good if you want a countertop in solid red, blue, or green. If you scratch a solid surface counter, it will be nearly invisible as the material is uniform through the entire depth of the counter. It requires no special cleaning to maintain its polished appearance. It will be just as heavy as a stone counter, so hiring a counter company to install it is a good idea.
- A wider range of colours and looks compared to stone and quartz
- Completely waterproof
- Can include recycled materials
- Cutting and installation the same as stone
- Can be chipped or cracked
- May develop a scuffed appearance over time
Price Range of Solid Surface Installed: £140 to £320 sq/m
Granite has developed a reputation as the must-have counter for modern kitchen and bath renovations. It is a natural stone quarried from mountain faces across the globe. It is known to have a speckled surface with bright flecks of quartzite catching the light. You can find granite with a base colour of grey, pink, rose, brown, black, or almost orange. There will be veining, inclusions, and some texturing that you will feel as you run your hand across the slab. No two granite counters are exactly alike.
On the hardness scale, granite is fairly durable with a rating of around seven. Marble is softer and quartzite is harder. Granite must be sealed every few months to a year to prevent water stains. You will want to work with a countertop company where you will select the exact slab to be used for your project. They will measure, cut, and install your granite counter after the vanity and flooring is in place.
- The most popular custom counter
- It will last as long as your bathroom renovation
- All-natural material
- You pick your favourite slab to be installed
- Pricey material
- Lengthy ordering and installation process
- Requires sealing to maintain the finish
Price Range of Granite Installed: £275 to £450 sq/m
Like granite, marble is also a natural stone that is cut from a mountain face. When you think of marble, you may picture classic sculptures or stunning floors in libraries or museums. It also makes great worktops. It is a softer stone than granite and will develop a patina with age as well as scuff and scratch and if it is not sealed, gathers oils from your skin that will darken the finish. Still, if you desire that subtle sheen associated with ritzy hotels, marble will be at the top of your list.
You will select the slab of marble from which your bathroom counter will be cut. It may feature bold or subtle veining in shades of grey. You can match your marble vanity to the floor and wall tiles used throughout your opulent spa. This will be a custom job, and it is not recommended for a DIY installation. Marble prices have a wider range since some types of marble are more widely recognised.
- Rich and lustrous appearance
- Unique look found on each slab
- Timeless elegance
- Requires sealing to prevent staining
- Will gracefully age
- Requires professional installation
Price Range of Marble Installed: £200 to £500 sq/m
Tiles may be one of the oldest types of materials used for worktops. The same process has been used for thousands of years to produce ceramic and porcelain tiles. If you are thinking about a tile counter for your bathroom vanity, you will want to use porcelain, instead of ceramic. Porcelain is made out of a denser clay, so it is more water-resistant. Tiles are inexpensive, but require time and attention to lay. You can find them in any colour of the rainbow or mix and match to create a pattern or mosaic. Once commonly found in every kitchen and bath across Britain, a tile counter is now a unique statement.
Tiles are very durable but can crack. The grout will age and need to be sealed to prevent water from getting under the tiles. If properly maintained, your tile counter will look just like new even after twenty or thirty years of use. They are a good option for DIY projects as you can work on the counter at your own speed. If you are having professionals do it, you will pay about £300 for the labour as it will take a day or two to lay the tile.
- Huge variety of colours available
- Very affordable material
- Good for a DIY project
- Designed to last for decades
- Ageing grout can allow water to get under the tile
- Creates an uneven surface
- Time-consuming installation
- Susceptible to cracking
Price Range of Tile Material: £3 to £50 sq/m *Labour costs run about £150 to £200 per person per day*
Concrete / Microcement
Do you love the industrial look that is trending in urban homes? You may love the look and feel of a concrete or microcement countertop. The two are not the same but have many similarities in appearance. You get a polished surface that looks like concrete that is ready to stand up to any abuse you may throw at it. A concrete worktop is made by building a form around the vanity top and pouring in a mix of concrete. It must be levelled and then skimmed to create the swirl or finished texture that you desire. It will need to cure up to a week before the sealant is applied. Then the sealant must dry.
Microcement is applied in multiple thin layers. It can be used on walls and to create three-dimensional edges for your worktop. Each layer must be left to dry before the next can be applied. It can take weeks for a microcement piece to fully cure and be ready for use. You will want to work with a technician that is fully trained in the application of this new material. When they are done, you are left with a bathroom that belongs in a home design YouTube channel.
- Trendy modern appearance
- Fully waterproof and does not require special sealants to maintain
- Can be finished in the texture/polish of your choice
- New material requires speciality installation and training
- Lengthy installation and dry time
- Limited choices for colour
Price Range of Concrete or Microcement Installed: £150 to £200 sq/m
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Wood? In a bathroom? Yes! Even though your first reaction is that wood will rot when it is left in a moisture-laden room, there are ways to bring the warmth of timber into your bathroom decor while protecting it. If the counter is sealed and resealed regularly, a counter crafted out of oak, walnut, bamboo, or mahogany is entirely possible. Timber counters can be found made out of single planks or constructed using many thin lengths of wood in varying colours. It will be a unique accent in your rustic home.
Timber has a softer feel to it under your hand, making it an attractive choice for families. It is not likely to crack like stone, however, it may dent or scratch, but that adds to its singular appearance as it ages with time. It is also a good choice for a DIY project as it requires no speciality tools or materials.
- Unique appearance
- All-natural material
- The softer material is safer for little hands
- Will not crack
- Good DIY project
- Must be sealed to prevent mould and water damage
- Will show dents and scratches
Price Range of Timber: £50 and up *You will likely need to source a local craftsman resulting in a huge range of pricing options.*
There you have it. The most popular vanity countertop materials, their pros, cons and everything you need to know when considering which material is best for you and your bathroom.
There’s no right or wrong answer when selecting your vanity countertop material. It will ultimately come down to how durable you need it to be along with what style you like the most and what your budget can allow.
So, which vanity countertop material will you go for?
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Michael is a KBB designer from the UK. He's been designing and project managing new Kitchen, Bedroom and Bathroom installations for over eight years now, and before that, he was an electrician and part of a KBB fitting team. He created The Bathroom Blueprint in early 2020.