Tip Top Countertops

FRESNO, Calif.

A beautiful new kitchen countertop can really stand out. But with so many different types to choose from, how do you know which is best? Consumer Reports tested 14 different countertop materials to find out.

"We checked out popular surfaces like granite and quartz. New to our tests we have recycled glass, bamboo, and soapstone." To see how well a countertop resists stains, tester Chris Regan applied 20 common substances, like tomato sauce and grape juice, then let them sit overnight.

"We tested bamboo countertops with a mixture of a beeswax and mineral-oil finish. Both countertops looked great out of the box, but not so much after our tests."

Both stained badly, even coffee and tea, which most other surfaces could handle stained the bamboo.

Consumer Reports also tests to see if counters can take the heat, literally. Testers set a pot of 400-degree oil on the countertop for an hour. There were scorch marks left behind on each of these bamboo counters.

"We also found a problem with some of the recycled-glass countertops," Regan said. The counters from Eco by Cosentino cracked within 12 minutes. The crack went from the pot to the counter's edge. But recycled-glass countertops from two other manufacturers did not crack.

When all the tests were done, quartz countertops and as well as granite came out on top. And while either surface can chip, getting a rounded edge helps minimize this.

Consumer Reports says if you decide to go with granite or quartz, be aware these natural stone surfaces can vary widely, even within the same slab. For that reason it's best to go to a stone yard and pick out the sample you want and reserve it.

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