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Glass Countertops

Definitely Unique & Stylish Too

Glass countertops are among the less common types of countertop material you'll find but that doesn't mean they're not up to the task. On the contrary, they can provide a clean, sanitary and very stylish countertop surface, one that you won't find in every other household down the block.

While there are plenty of countertop choices that are available, you'd have to agree that there's a cluster of common countertop materials that most homeowners opt for, like stone, solid surface, laminate or engineered stone.

But what about those individuals that want to be set apart from the masses, who want their kitchen or bathroom to express their unique style? From a countertop perspective, glass countertops are one of those unique materials that meets that need.

Glass counters aren't common but they're gaining in popularity among designers and style-minded homeowners who want unique options. And they're well suited for both the kitchen and the bathroom.

So what should you know about glass countertops before you start shopping? Let's take a look.

Getting To Know Glass Countertops

Determining If They're Right For You

Just like with any other countertop decision you should first think about your lifestyle and how you intend on using your countertops. Do you have a family with small children to consider? Do you do a lot of cooking and food preparation?

Glass countertops provide a durable surface but depending on your lifestyle they may be a right or wrong choice. Children leave lots of finger and hand prints as their calling card and keeping a glass counter top clean with young children around might be more of a chore than you think.

If you like to cook and foresee needing a surface for cutting and chopping, you might think of something more akin to a wood or butcher block countertop. That doesn't mean you can't have glass counters. It's just that glass does scratch so you'll need to use cutting boards for cutting operations.


glass countertop

Getting Familiar With Types of Glass

As a material all glass might appear to be the same but there are differences. Here are some common concepts and terms you'll come across when researching glass counter tops.

  • Tempered and Non-Tempered
    Similar to metal, glass can be heat treated to obtain certain properties. Tempered glass has been heat treated to increase its strength. On the flip side, annealed glass can be considered non-tempered or not as strong as tempered glass. Some glass countertops may or may not be tempered. You'll want to discuss this with your fabricator to determine the best type of glass for your application.

  • Types of Glass
    These are terms you may encounter with various fabricators as relating to the type of glass they use in their products.
    • Float Glass - Molten glass is "floated" on a bed of molten tin to produce sheets of glass that have a uniform thickness and are very flat and smooth. This is the same process used to make windows.
    • Slump Glass - Glass that's laid in a mold and heated until it softens and "slumps" into the shape of the mold is called slump glass. This is one process used to give glass sheets texture and variable shape.
    • Kiln-Fired Glass - Glass remnants that are melted in a kiln and recycled into new glass classifies as kiln-fired glass. It's typically strong and hard but its size is limited by the size of the kiln.

Installation

Since glass counters are usually clear or at least translucent, installation on top of base cabinets will reveal the inside of the cabinets, something you obviously don't encounter with opaque countertops.

To get around this, the glass can be treated with an opaque paint or coating on the bottom surface that will hide what's underneath it. Other options include installing the glass over a solid substrate like plastic laminate that covers the inside of the cabinets. Some fabricators suggest using metallic-colored laminates to enhance the color depth within the glass.


glass vanity top

As Unique As Art

One of the attributes of glass countertops that make them a unique surface choice is that practically each one is custom made. And the heritage that glass has in the art world makes this countertop choice an easy pallet to display your individuality and style.

Some of the sources that make glass counters are art studios specializing in the craft of glass fixtures and art pieces. In this way they're well positioned to create for you a distinctive countertop that you won't find anywhere else.

If you've only seen a few examples of glass counters, it may be beneficial to spend some time looking over the websites of some of the sources for glass counters. You'll be able to see the wide range of colors, textures and the visual impact that this type of countertop can have. You can find sources for glass counter tops here.


Different Forms And Many Options To Choose From

Being a custom product, glass countertops can come in many forms and styles. Smooth surfaces as well as textured glass are available. You can combine these two features by having the textured portion on the bottom side of the glass with the smooth surface on top. This gives visual appeal while maintaining a flat top surface that's easy to wipe clean and won't cause wine glasses to wobble.

One style option that works well with glass countertops is the "floating" or raised countertop. It's nothing more than a two-tiered countertop where the top counter is raised on small pillars off of the main countertop or island surface. The main countertop might be a different material that offers a contrast to the raised glass surface.

glass countertop

Similar to concrete countertops, glass countertops allow for interesting contours and curved edges. These stylistic options complement the clean modern look that glass possesses.

Glass, unlike other countertop choices, can accommodate under-surface lighting for a striking visual effect. The light can be used both as a decorative effect to enhance the natural depth and color of the glass as well as for practical means by providing additional light in the kitchen.

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Pros and Cons of Glass Countertops

Where would we be without pros and cons to make us more confused than ever? Actually, they're best at pointing out some of the considerations to think about, maybe as a piece of information that helps tip the decision scales one way or another.

Pros Cons

Offers a unique, distinctive style choice that's not in every other kitchen or bathroom

Easily cleanable surface

Heat tolerant - won't scorch, burn or melt

Non-porous surface makes it very hygienic and stain resistant - no place to harbor germs and bacteria

Non-porous surface makes it very hygienic and stain resistant - no place to harbor germs and bacteria

Non-porous surface makes it very hygienic and stain resistant - no place to harbor germs and bacteria

Is a custom product - your style choices are limited only by the imaginations and creativity of you and your fabricator in many cases

Although tempered glass is strong it can scratch, chip or break depending on the abuse it sees

Will show hand and fingerprints as well as water spots, particularly with non-textured smooth glass

Acidic substances can permanently etch the glass and mar its surface

Can be expensive depending on the style, size and thickness that you choose

Textured glass might be more difficult (annoying??) to wipe clean than a smooth surface depending on the degree and depth of texturing



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What Do I Need To Consider When Choosing Glass Countertops?

Assuming you've looked at the pros and cons in the table above, consider these additional items if you're thinking about glass countertops for your bathroom or kitchen:

  • Provide Plans and Templates
    Glass countertops are not an 'off-the-shelf' type of product and they're virtually all custom made. You'll need to provide fabricators with plans and templates of your countertop and/or kitchen or bath design along with measurements for them to be able to craft your countertop.

    If you're handy, you can do this yourself. Otherwise you may want to employ the services of your contractor or a kitchen & bath designer to help with this process.

  • Pricing is Widely Variable
    The cost for a glass countertop is based on a number of variables such as overall size, thickness, type of glass, any added artistic details or colors and so on. A rough (very rough) ballpark range for glass countertops is anywhere from about $60 to $300 per square foot. Some sources put cost at the higher end of this range.

    The best way to get an idea of what a glass countertop could cost you is to contact one or several glass countertop sources and provide them with dimensions in order to get a quote.

  • Consider Fabrication Lead Times
    In many cases there will be a lead time involved in the fabrication and delivery of your glass countertops. In some instances this could be several months, depending on the design and the fabricator. You will need to factor this into your building or remodeling schedule so that the countertops are available for installation at the right time.
  • Understand Shipping and Damage Policies
    Fabricators of glass countertops understand the fragile nature of their products and have sophisticated means to crate and ship them. But make sure you understand your responsibilities when receiving the goods and what do and who's responsible if the goods are damaged.

    Some fabricators provide this information on their website but others don't. Remember to discuss these issues so that there are no surprises should the unlikely event of damage occur.

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Where To Get Them

Although they're not the type of countertop you'll find at your local big-box home supplier, there are still plenty of sources for glass countertops.

Kitchen and bath designers in your local area might know of sources close by that make or can source them for you. Local sources obviously save on transportation and shipping costs and afford you the ability to work face-to-face with the fabricator.

If you're looking for a bathroom countertop or vanity top there are some pre-fabricated vanities that are sold with glass tops. Your best first tactic will be to look on the web. Due to the fact that glass countertops are becoming more well-known, there may even be some home centers or local kitchen and bath design centers in your area that carry glass-topped vanities.

If those options aren't fruitful, click here to go to our glass countertop sources page. There you can find a list of fabricators that design and fabricate glass countertops. Highlights of what each company has to offer is included along with their website address.

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Here's More Related Info That Might Be Helpful...

Recycled Glass Countertops - One way to go green and still make use of glass is to go with recycled glass countertops. See what's available and what you should consider in this article.

Quartz Countertops - Quartz is a durable and beautiful countertop option. Find out more in this article on what quartz has to offer and how to choose.



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