At Consumer Reports, we test over a dozen countertops, including laminate and limestone. Only four earn high scores.By Perry Santanachote
In Consumer Reports' labs, we spend weeks staining, scratching, scorching, and pounding popular countertop materials—including classic stones and trendy composites—to see which will hold up best in a bathroom.
“Stains are typically the most common issue,” says Chris Regan, CR’s lead tester of countertops. “So that’s the test that affects the Overall Score the most.”
We test bathroom countertops differently than kitchen counters. We use lipstick and hair dye instead of food and beverages in the staining test. We also spill abrasive chemicals such as Drano and nail polish remover on the counters to see if they leave any marks. Instead of using hot pots to test a countertop’s heat resistance, we use hot curling irons. For more information, see our countertop buying guide.More on BathroomsCR's Countertops Rating & Buying Guide How to Clean and Maintain Your Countertops Is a Bidet Seat Right for You and Your Bathroom? Best Bathroom Paints for Lasting Appeal 3 Ways to Upgrade Your Bathroom
We found minimal differences among brands, which is why our countertop ratings are organized by material, not by manufacturer. Some materials, including marble, limestone, and concrete, get stained and scratched far too easily in our tests and therefore aren’t recommended for a bathroom.
Here are four countertops that will look great in your bathroom and last, too. For tips on how to care for these and other countertops, see How to Clean Countertops and Keep Them Looking Their Best.
Because granite is a natural stone, each slab is unique, with patterns and colors from subtle to bold. In our tests, granite earns Excellent ratings for abrasion and heat resistance. It does an admirable job fending off stains, too, scoring a Very Good in that test. Granite does require a bit more maintenance than the other countertop materials on this list, though. You need to reseal it occasionally. A good rule of thumb is to do it anytime drops of water begin to sink in rather than bead up on the surface.
This ain’t your grandma’s laminate. Today’s laminate countertops can look convincingly like granite, marble, wood, or even leather. Laminate surfaces are made from layers of plastic that are bonded to a particleboard core. It’s easy on the budget and remarkably stain- and heat-resistant, scoring Excellent ratings in those tests. This material is resilient when it comes to cracks and chips but can get scratched up.
This engineered material is a blend of quartz and other stones mixed with resins and pigments to create a variety of styles that can look like natural stone. But unlike stone slabs, quartz countertops are more durable and require less maintenance; they don't need to be sealed. Quartz aces our abrasion and heat tests and scores a Very Good rating for resisting stains.
Ultracompact countertops, commonly known by the brand name Dekton, are made of a combination of quartz, porcelain, and glass. Various surface patterns and pigments can make the countertop look like stone or concrete. In our tests, this relative newcomer (introduced in 2013) resists damage from heat and stains, earning Excellent scores in those tests. It’s also a hard surface that holds up in our abrasion test, scoring a Very Good rating. The only test Dekton doesn’t fare well in is our punishing impact test, which simulates a heavy object falling from a shelf 2 feet above the counter. The sample we used cracked in two, the only countertop material to do so in our tests. Still, Dekton should be fine for a bathroom, where you’re unlikely to accidentally drop, say, a heavy pot.
A multidimensional background in lifestyle journalism, recipe development, and anthropology impels me to bring a human element to the coverage of home kitchen appliances. When I'm not researching dishwashers and blenders or poring over market reports, I'm likely immersed in a juicy crossword puzzle or trying (and failing) to love exercise. Find me on Facebook.