What Is the Best Material for the Top of a Bathroom Vanity?

Bathroom vanities face many demands, from the heat of a curling iron to constant exposure to water and grooming products.

Economical Laminate

Wood vanities come in modern or traditional varieties.Wood vanities come in modern or traditional varieties.
Choosing a vanity requires finding a material that can not only meet these demands, but also one that you won't mind looking at every time you enter your bathroom. When comparing vanity top materials, consider cost, maintenance and aesthetics to find the best option for your bathroom.

Laminate tops consist of thin sheets of printed plastic bonded to a plywood or similar substrate. This product offers the most cost-effective countertop option, according to This Old House. Laminate comes in numerous colors and patterns, from solid shades to products designed to mimic the look of metal, stone or tile. While this material is very strong and able to withstand everyday use, it may develop scratches, chips or dents when abused. These signs of damage can't be repaired without replacing the laminate. Its low cost and the many finishes available make it the most widely used material for bathroom vanities, reports the National Kitchen and Bath Association.

Durable Composites

Solid surface or composite vanities, such as quartz, offer superior durability and longevity. They last for years with little maintenance, and any scratches or burns can be sanded out or repaired with relative ease. This durability comes at a price, however, as these tops cost about three times as much as laminate, according to This Old House. For a similar look at a lower cost, look for wooden substrates covered with thin layers of composite or solid surface veneer. These products offer many of the advantages at 30 percent less than the cost of true composites.

Attractive Stone

Marble, granite and other stones can be used to create high-end vanities in the bathroom. While these materials are known for their natural beauty, they tend to come at a high cost. Light marble tops with minimal veining cost about the same as solid surface tops, according to This Old House, while other colors and more intricately veined pieces of stone cost more. While marble and limestone tops are prone to staining if they aren't properly sealed and maintained, granite offers a tough finish that is less likely to stain. Re-create this look at a lower cost with granite tiles or cultured marble, which features chips of real marble blended with resin to form a solid surface.

Versatile Tile

Tile represents one of the most versatile options for bathroom vanity tops, with a great number of colors, patterns and textures to choose from. The price of tile countertops varies significantly based on the tile you choose, from affordable countertops made from basic ceramic or porcelain materials to more costly models made from stone or other specialty tiles. Keep in mind that tile countertops remain vulnerable to ugly mold and mildew in the grout lines, and the tiles may chip or break if you drop something on the counter.

Classic Wood

Wood vanity tops offer a classic, natural appeal, but may develop water damage if not properly sealed and maintained. These countertops are easy to install, but remember to account for the added thickness of butcher block if you choose this option. Expect to pay $35 to $40 per square foot for butcher block, according to a 2013 report by the National Association of Realtors, with reclaimed wood countertops priced between $75 and $225 per square foot.

About the Author

Emily Beach works in the commercial construction industry in Maryland. She received her LEED accreditation from the U.S. Green Building Council in 2008 and is in the process of working towards an Architectural Hardware Consultant certification from the Door and Hardware Institute. She received a bachelor's degree in economics and management from Goucher College in Towson, Maryland.