One of the most popular choices in this category is stainless steel. It is a classic look and combines a hard-wearing surface with clinical efficiency. Stainless steel will scratch but over time these scratches build up to an even matt-like appearance. There is available textured stainless steel and apart from looking great, they reduce finger marks and scratches are less visible. When comparing quotes check the gauge, or thickness, of the steel. Some companies use a thinner gauge, and this may be why they are cheaper.
Corian is a well-known engineered product that works well in kitchens. It comes in a wide range of colors and patterns as well as a range of textures. There are almost invisible as joins, welded together. This lets you have a long countertop with almost no visible joins. Corian due to its composition has some flex and so is not brittle. Corian can melt if subjected to enough heat. Do not put pots and pans straight off the hobs onto a Corian bench or you could damage it. However, Corian is repairable and damaged sections can be cut out and new pieces seamlessly welded in.
Manufacturers make this product by crushing a natural stone and then reconstituting it together with the aid of a resin. Typically these engineered stones have about 90% to 95% stone and the balance is resin. Engineered stones tend to be less brittle than natural stones as the resin allows them to flex slightly. A benefit of these products is that you get a consistent color and pattern throughout the whole sheet. As there is no variation a small sample will be representative of the final product. Make sure you use material from the one batch for your countertop as like wallpaper each batch will vary slightly.
There are two categories of engineered stone. One is where the countertop is solely made up of the engineered stone. The other is where the stone is made into thin sheets that are then laid onto a substrate. The second option is usually cheaper.
These layered paper with a printed pattern on top that is super compressed. The compression gives the laminate its strength and durability. Laminates are only a few millimeters thick so are then glued onto a substrate to make your countertop. They come in the widest range of colors, patterns, and textures of any countertop material. High-pressure laminates are not as durable as other options but they are the lowest in price. Remember on horizontal surfaces only use high-pressure laminates. Low-pressure laminates are less durable and you should use them on vertical surfaces only. You should not cut or chop directly onto even a high-pressure laminate and do not put hot pots and pans on them.
Manmade countertop materials vary widely in properties and price. If you are unsure talk to a kitchen expert about your individual needs.