The countertop is the centrepiece of our kitchen. As it has evolved from a utilitarian place into the social hub of our domestic life, it must be attractive, easy to maintain and durable. It must also be able to wow friends and family while withstanding the heat, scratches and the wear and tear due to daily culinary theatrics. The fact that we have been spending more time at home because of the pandemic has only added to its importance.
Beyond being used for food prepping and some meals, it now doubles as a workplace, a Zoom “meeting room” and even a study for many of us as well. In short, whatever the countertop is made of has become an investment. Natural stones – think marble, granite and soapstone – and tiles as well as laminates, and butcher blocks are some of the classics.
More recent decades, however, have seen the use of newer material choices such as concrete, engineered stones, solid surfaces and even stainless steel, which has made its way from commercial kitchens to home kitchens. Meanwhile, brands all over the world have continued to improve their materials and develop new ones, too.
Here is a comprehensive list of the most commonplace kitchen countertop materials in Singapore.
The countertop is the centrepiece of a kitchen and determines how its design will be perceived in terms of function, weight, durability, proportion and cost.
Just like marble, no two pieces of granite are alike, so your counter will be unique. One of the most preferred materials, because it’s solid, durable, and long-lasting, this igneous stone is resistant to scratches and heat, but that doesn’t mean you should place hot pans on it without a trivet. To ensure longevity, it needs sealant, but not as often as marble does.
Founded in 2009 in Singapore, KompacPlus kitchen countertops are composite panels that are 6mm thick and made of layers of kraft paper and resin. They are waterproof and resistant to static, fingerprints and scratches, as well as heat and impact.
This is made from layers of kraft paper and resin. Although just 6mm thick, the panels are hardy, non-porous and resistant to heat, water and steam. Choose from designs that mimic natural wood and even stone.
“The durable surfaces of KompacPanels are easy to maintain. A simple wipe down using a wet cloth is sufficient for everyday cleaning, and we also provide a Care Guide with recommended solutions to treat various stains,” says Damien Tan, director of KompacPlus Pte Ltd.
They also have thermal healing property, thanks to a thermosetting resin. The KompacPlus range includes four collections: Plains (solid colours), Alta Plains (pastels), Woods (timber effects) and Patterns, which features textural simulations such as concrete and rust.
Each colour variant is custom-matched with the brand’s six signature finishes, which run from the ultra-matte to the shimmery with mica flakes.
Let’s move on to one of the most popular kitchen countertop materials, quartz.
Quartz, often used for countertops, backsplashes, and flooring, is a type of engineered stone made from natural quartz crystals. Different design options can be created when combined with other materials, such as resin and pigments.
Durability is one of the key advantages of using quartz, as it’s highly resistant to scratches, stains, and heat. It’s also non-porous, which means it does not absorb liquids or bacteria, making it very suitable for kitchens and bathrooms.
When it comes to design and style options, quartz is actually versatile, able to mimic the look of natural stone, such as marble or granite. As such, it’s easy to achieve the look that you want while enjoying the durability and low maintenance characteristics of this material.
However, it’s important to consider that quartz can end up being more expensive than some other options, such as laminates or tile (as with anything that is better quality). In addition, this material requires professional installation as it can be heavy and difficult to work with. Another thing to keep in mind is that while quartz is highly resistant to heat, it’s not completely heat-proof, so prolonged exposure to high temperatures can eventually cause damage.
Engineered Quartz Countertop
Made of at least 90 per cent ground quartz with resins and pigments, it comes in an array of styles. It is also tough and non-porous so no worries about stains. However, although resistant to heat, too high a temperature could damage it. It may also cost more but you could save on its upkeep in the long run.
Considered a premium material, it provides a host of benefits. If you cook daily, engineered quartz is an ideal surface. It is durable and non-porous, so there’s no need to apply sealant regularly to protect it from stains.
“In most cases, a mild detergent is enough to keep a Caesarstone surface looking like new. If necessary, use a non-abrasive soft soap along with a non-scratch or delicate scrub pad. Afterwards, thoroughly rinse with clean water to remove residue.”
Caesarstone Engineered Quartz
Two generations ago, people would shudder at the thought of a black-clad kitchen. Today, contemporary kitchen designers embrace black as a classic offering both contrast and intimacy.
Launched in September 2020, Quartz surface specialist Caesarstone’s Dark collection offers four shades of black: intense solid black (Piatto Black),
Made of up to 90 per cent natural quartz, Caesarstone’s engineered quartz are impervious to stains, scratches, cracks, heat and cold.
The collection also introduces a brand new surface finish called Natural with a slightly textured, fine-grain finish and a subtle sheen that emulates the look and feel of natural stone – but without the porosity and hassle of maintenance.
Dekton Engineered Quartz
Dekton, the ultra-compact surface range from Spanish brand Cosentino, caused a stir in the surface material industry when it was commercially launched in 2013. Made from a secret blend of quartz, porcelain and glass using a patented sintered particle technology, Dekton is virtually indestructible.
Highly resistant to UV rays, scratches, heat, stains, abrasion and thermal shock, it is suitable for both indoor and outdoor applications. It is available in large format for a seamless look and several thicknesses, ranging from 30mm to 4mm, so you can apply the same product for both countertop and cabinet finishes.
Microcement Kitchen Countertops
Cement screed is de facto as underlayment for tile flooring, but it can also be used as a finished floor surface by polishing it to a smooth finish, and has most recently been trending in 2022 for microcement kitchen countertops.
This approach creates a more raw and industrial look popular in modern homes today.
However, cement screed has its own fair share of issues. For one, you can expect chips and cracks to happen as it depends on the humidity and temperature of your home. It is also quite porous if not sealed properly, and the moisture can result in the growth of mould and fungus.
So if you prefer that cement screed look but want something more durable, microcement is one you should consider.
In terms of durability, both of these materials are highly resistant to wear and tear, however, microcement is generally considered to be more durable. This is because microcement is made with a combination of cement and polymer resins, giving it a higher level of resistance to cracking and other forms of damage.
Microcement is also more versatile because it can be applied to a wider range of surfaces than cement screed, including walls, floors, and even furniture. Furthermore, microcement is available in a wider range of colours and textures than cement screed, making it easier to achieve a custom look.
However, it’s important to note that microcement is definitely more expensive as it requires more specialised equipment and expertise to install. It also requires a smooth and even substrate, which may require additional preparation work and cost.
Vinyl Kitchen Countertop
Made from a blend of PVC and other materials, vinyl is the top contender when it comes to home and commercial flooring and surfaces because of its durability. In the past, vinyl options were plasticky, and designs were limited. However, these days, vinyl has come a long way and also comes in a wide range of styles, colours, and patterns that are easy to maintain – making them an affordable choice for kitchen countertops.
I definitely highly recommend this as it strikes a good balance between affordability and durability. Let’s break down the crucial characteristics which make it a great choice for your forever home’s flooring and surfaces.
To be sure, durability is one of vinyl’s main selling points because it’s highly resistant to scratches, dents, and stains, making it a good option for high-traffic areas in the home. It’s also waterproof and able to withstand exposure to moisture, which is why it’s a popular choice for bathrooms and kitchens.
You can choose a variety of styles, from wood-look planks to designs that look like stone tiles. This allows you to achieve the same aesthetic without having to worry about maintenance since it doesn’t require special cleaning products or treatments.
Maintaining a vinyl surface is only a matter of sweeping, vacuuming, or mopping with a damp cloth – your choice, whichever is most convenient for you.
Of course, vinyl is not without its drawbacks.
It’s vulnerable to fading and discolouration when exposed to direct sunlight for extended periods of time. It can also be susceptible to damage from sharp or heavy objects, such as dropped kitchen knives or heavy furniture. Plus, if this does happen, vinyl flooring can be easily replaced with minimal need for hacking.
Sintered Stone Countertops
Sintered stone is a relatively new type of material that is becoming increasingly popular in the construction industry. It is made by compressing and fusing natural materials, such as clay, silica, and feldspar, at extremely high temperatures to create a highly dense and durable material that is resistant to scratches, stains, and extreme temperatures.
One of the main advantages of sintered stone is its durability. It is highly resistant to impact, scratches, and abrasions, which makes it a good option for use in high-traffic areas indoors as well as for outdoor applications. And while Singapore doesn’t have harsh weather conditions (besides the sun), it’s also good to know that sintered stone is also resistant to extreme temperatures and UV exposure.
However, one of the potential drawbacks of sintered stone is its brittleness.
While sintered stone is highly durable and resistant to damage, it can be brittle and prone to cracking or chipping if subjected to extreme force or impact. This can be a concern in areas where heavy objects are frequently moved or dropped.
Another potential drawback of sintered stone is its high cost. Since it’s a relatively new and innovative material, it can be more expensive than some other options, such as natural stone or ceramic tile. Additionally, sintered stone requires specialised tools and equipment for installation, which can add to the cost of the project.
You may not be able to ensure that your home will literally last forever, but with the right materials, you can make it feel like it’s truly a forever home. It’s not fun to have to replace different parts of the home later, only because you chose to skimp on certain materials.
While some of the materials may end up incurring more cost than their cheaper counterpart, remember you’re going to reside in your home for a long time. It may look costly right from the get-go, but it can be more cost-effective in the long run since you won’t have to worry about replacing or repairing your walls or floors anytime soon.
Marble’s distinctive veining makes this natural stone luxurious and grand. However, marble is not as durable as other materials. One mistake with a knife and you’ll have a permanent scratch on your beautiful countertop It’s soft, porous and stains easily as well, so it must be sealed often to protect it from damages.
A composite material made of layers of paper and plastic resins, laminates are topped with a layer printed with a decorative pattern or colour and then pressed to form a durable, non-porous surface that works as a kitchen countertop surface.
Price-wise, such countertops are in the low- to mid-range categories, compared to other surfaces. Laminates can be an earth-friendly option, with some brands using paper that is recycled or sourced from FSC-certified forests. They are also easy to install and can be adapted for use in L-shaped or extended kitchens, thanks to its tight, clean seams.
This cost-effective alternative offers lots of design options. It’s also pretty durable and non-porous. However, to avoid scorching, you should avoid placing hot pans directly onto it. A sharp knife can easily nick its surface.
EDL Singapore – Laminate Countertops
EDL, a home-grown company specialising in high-pressure laminates (HPL), is famous for its nanotech collection called Fenix NTM. Developed by Italian HPL manufacturer Arpa Industriale, the laminate is exceptionally opaque, soft to the touch and fingerprint- resistant.
It also has a self- healing property. Superficial micro scratches on Fenix NTM surfaces can be eliminated with heat, which preserves the pristineness of the surface. In thin sheets for carpentry and 10mm thickness for worktops, the collection is available in 12 colours.
EDL also carries Fenix Integrated Solutions for kitchen worktops that come with matching sinks manufactured by Italian brand Elleci for that seamless minimalist look.
The brand has also expanded the Fenix NTM range with the introduction of a nanotech alloy variant called Fenix NTA, which comprises three metallic colours with the same thermal healing property
Solid Surface Countertop
For many years, solid surfaces have ruled the roost – and for good reason. A manufactured material consisting of polymer resins mixed with minerals and colourants, solid surfaces are durable, non-toxic and hygienic.
They offer excellent versatility too. Produced in sheets, solid surfaces can be fabricated into countertops, backsplashes and even cabinet fronts. Because there is no veneer or coating, solid surfaces have the same colour and composition throughout.
Note that while the material is non-porous and generally resistant to stains, this depends largely on the quality and composition of resins and other materials. Aside from being susceptible to scratches, it is also not heat-resistant.
On the flip side, it can be sanded down to make it appear new. Great for L- and U-shaped kitchens, the solid surface sheets can be glued and sanded to erase the seams.
The material can also be shaped, carved and sanded to create a surface that can accommodate other kitchen necessities. As this is a manufactured material, it can be produced in a wide range of colours and patterns to accommodate tastes. If your kitchen will see moderate to heavy-duty use, solid surfaces should be considered.
We have seen pretty nice and durable kitchen islands made completely from solid surfaces. They are cheaper on the wallet, too. However, most of the interior design firms that you go to will strongly discourage you from using “old” solid surfaces or give you an extremely high quote for solid surfaces (so you will be enticed to opt for an expensive Dekton or premium KompacPlus that can earn them more commission instead).
Hi Macs by LC Hausys Solid Surface
However, there has been new innovative solid surfaces launching in recent years as well. For example, Hi-Macs by LC Hausys is a newer generation solid surface.
Hi-Macs is a solid surface material produced by LG Hausys that can be moulded into any shape. Made from acrylic, natural minerals and pigments, it is non-porous, smooth, visually seamless and easy to clean, making it ideal for custom sculptural countertops.
Launched in 1967, Hi-Macs has undergone generations of improvements. The latest includes Ultra-Thermoforming, a technology that expands its malleability by 30 per cent, and Intense Colour Technology, which creates vivid colours and patterns for today’s applications.
While it is technically a grass rather than a hardwood tree, bamboo has emerged as the sustainable alternative to timber in recent years. This is also the case for countertop materials. Classic butcher block countertops – usually sturdy thick slabs made by glueing together straight cuts of wood – now have, well, a new counterpart.
Teragren Bamboo Countertop
Canada-based company Teragren manufactures bamboo countertops using mature Moso bamboo, a species native to China and Taiwan. The range comprises three varieties: Parquet with a mosaic-like pattern, Traditional(vertical grain surface with strand core) and Strand (strand surface with vertical grain core).
The Traditional bamboo countertop is said to be 25 per cent harder than maple wood while the Strand is a whopping 130 per cent harder. Teragren doesn’t have a plan to expand to Asia yet, but we feel that it may be only a matter of time before the bamboo countertop makes its way to the Asian market. After all, the material comes from this side of the world.
Recycled Glass Countertop
Glass slabs might not sound like the most practical material for a countertop, but glass is 100 per cent recyclable. Terrazzo has been making a comeback, imbuing our spaces with its nostalgia-inducing, confetti- like patterns. Marry the two and you have glass terrazzo, which is both on-trend and sustainable.
Vetrazzo Glass Countertops
American company Vetrazzo has been producing tiles, mosaics and countertop slabs using recycled glass since 1996. Its largest source of glass comes from neighbourhood curbside recycling programmes. Other resources include glass from car windows, stained glass, laboratory glass, reclaimed glass from building demolition, and other unusual sources such as broken traffic lights.
Recycled glass makes up approximately 85 per cent of Vetrazzo’s products. It has distributors in South Korea and Australia, which can help customers in Singapore. While we do not generally have a commercial product that uses recycled glass yet, individual designers are taking initiatives to collect glass waste for their projects through community platforms like Zero Waste SG.
Looking to improve your existing countertop? Applying an epoxy coating is a great way to do it. Local company Metallic Epoxy amps it up by offering a treatment that is both functional and decorative. The Metallic Epoxy coating comprises clear epoxy and metallic mica powder, which create a glossy, swirling, pearlescent effect when poured over an existing countertop.
The epoxy coating renders a surface waterproof, stain-proof, heat-resistant (up to 200°C) and scratch- and impact- resistant. It is also easy to clean and seals up cracks, fissures and holes on the surface that would otherwise retain dirt and grime, and lead to mould. It is also highly customisable, making personalisation or one-of-a-kind designs easy to execute.
Except for glass, the coating can be applied over most conventional countertop materials, including wood, solid surface, quartz surface, marble, and granite.
Mushroom Mycelium Countertops
Mycelium, the filamentous structure that forms the base of a mushroom, has emerged as one of the hottest new materials, with researches, exhibitions and design start-ups dedicated to it, well, mushrooming around the world. Mycelium can be used as an adhesive that binds materials together, much like resin or glue.
Mycotech Lab MYCL Mushroom Mycelium
Mycotech Lab (MYCL), a start-up based in Bandung, Indonesia, aims to create a circular material production using mycelium and agricultural waste. So far, it has two commercial products: decorative panels called Biobo, which can be used for interiors and furniture finishes, and mushroom ‘leather’ called Mylea, which has been used for fashion accessories like watch straps and bags. It plans to create other mycelium-based products and expand its production scale. We chatted with Ronaldiaz Hartantyo, one of MYCL’s five co-founders.
How did you get into the mushroom business?
The inspiration came from tempeh, which is basically fermented soya beans bound together by mycelium, creating this edible nutritious substance. We use the same principle with our mycelium-based products, but we’ve replaced the soya beans with fibres from industrial waste, creating durable and sustainable materials.
How is Mycelium sustainable?
We are co-creating with nature while reusing waste materials available locally. This process has significantly lowered carbon emissions. And the resulting materials are completely biodegradable.
Can we make mycelium kitchen countertops from it one day?
Absolutely. We’ve tested mycelium on different kinds of agricultural waste like sawdust and wood chips, as well as coconut and rice husks, and it has excellent strength and fire retardancy. We just need to add sealant because it is porous, and to expand our production scale to produce it commercially. In the future, this material can even be used to cast any shape just like concrete or solid surface.
Our ultimate dream is to decentralise production, so you can produce mycelium-based materials locally no matter where you are in the world. It doesn’t matter if the agricultural waste comes from different plants; as long as its C/N (carbon to nitrogen) ratio is the same, the material performance will be the same.
We have patented the C/N ratios of our products for this reason. One day, we hope to be able to have mycelium production facilities around the world close to where the agricultural waste is generated to create a genuinely circular economy.
Luxury Crystal Countertops
Tired of the usual marble or granite options? How about amethyst or petrified wood instead? These countertops made of semi-precious stones are not for everybody, but if you are looking to add that wow-factor in your home, these options might just do the trick.
“Surfaces made from semi-precious materials require additional care but it’s definitely worth it because it drastically changes the feel of the room and adds a lot of personality to the space,” says Rakean Aruman Gandapradja, marketing manager of Cosentino.
The well-known Spanish stone surface producer offers a premium line of surfaces made from materials such as carnelian (shown here), agate and jasper. The Prexury collection features 11 materials and is available at Cosentino.
Concetto Blue Agate
A semi-precious stone collection by Caesarstone, there are 15 different materials to choose from. The Blue Agate version is used here as an eye-catching backwash along the cooker. Not only does it act as a focal point for the space, the intricate detail also helps to make the room look warm and inviting.
Concetto Tiger Eye
Caesarstone’s Concetto Tiger Eye casts a golden shimmer when it catches the light, made more impressive by the black undertones imbued in the semi-precious material. You can choose to go all out and cover the walls with it (as shown) or opt for a more understated look by using it on one accent wall instead.
The rich violet tones change shades throughout the course of the day, and the way light shines through the crystal-like material. The swirls of colour within create a dreamy, cloudlike effect and softens an otherwise contemporary space.
Considered a special stone by new age healers, Labradorite posseses the ability to balance and protect one’s aura while strengthening the intuition. Here the stone is laid across a vanity counter and becomes a highlight of the space.
An unusual stone material that was originally wood, petrified wood is also known as fossilised wood and can be defined as wood that has been buried under soil or volcanic ash and undergone a period of permineralisation. The process of petrfying wood takes milions of years, making this material rare and hard to obtain. For homeowners who are willing to invest in its allure, the result is nothing short of breathtaking.