Laminate countertops are made of plastic-coated synthetics. The pieces are cut to size and finished on the ends. Originally, all laminate countertops were manufactured with high-VOC papers and adhesives, but healthier laminates are available today. To protect IAQ, choose laminate countertops certified by Greenguard as being made from low-emitting materials that use formaldehyde-free paper and low or nontoxic glues. Laminates are easy to clean, inexpensive and available in the widest range of colors of any countertop material. Among the drawbacks, scratches and chips are almost impossible to repair, seams are visible from the start and distinctive front-edge options can be expensive. Also, laminate countertops have a relatively short life span (15 to 20 years) and can`t be recycled.
While many homeowners reserve tile for floors and backsplashes, tile countertops can be an excellent—and affordable—option. Ceramic tile is impervious to heat and water, and when properly glazed, it won`t stain. Proper sealant helps ensure grout won`t discolor or stain, and large-format tiles cover a lot of area with minimal grout lines. Still most popular out west, ceramic tile is a solid option worth a second look.
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