Whether you’re building a brand-new home or are looking to upgrade your kitchen, choosing the right countertops is an important decision. The right type of countertops goes beyond aesthetics, too; different materials have varying degrees of durability and maintenance requirements. In this post, we’ll go over the general characteristics of different countertop materials, their pros and cons, and even general cost to help you decide which kitchen countertop is best for your home.
Here are some of the most popular types of countertops:
Granite countertops are among the most popular, and for good reason: they are simply gorgeous and add a touch of classic elegance to any kitchen. If you’re upgrading your kitchen to sell, granite countertops are among the most desirable features in real estate right now. This type of countertop material is all natural and made from a naturally-occurring composite of quartz, mica, and feldspar. This means that every granite countertop is completely unique.
Another bonus with granite countertops is that they are hard and resistant to scratches. All of these positive characteristics are reflected in the cost. Compared to most other countertop materials, granite is expensive, and may cost up to $140 per square foot.
Like other natural stone countertops, granite needs to be regularly treated with a stone sealer. It’s also important to note that it’s difficult to repair chips in granite, so it’s best to be extra careful to avoid dropping anything too heavy on the counters.
If you’re looking for elegant countertops in natural colors and aren’t put off by the price and necessary TLC, granite countertops may be a perfect addition to your home!
Like granite, marble countertops are a natural stone option that will add a touch of classic elegance to your kitchen! These gleaming surfaces are very versatile and will match well with almost any décor or design scheme you can dream of. There are many variations of marble, depending on your preference.
Various minerals give marble its distinct colors and veining. Some popular choices for marble countertops include Carrara (white or blue-grey, from Italy), Creole (white or blue/black, from Georgia, USA), Sienna (yellow, from Italy), and Makrana (white, from India).
However, marble has a few drawbacks that might not make it the best-suited material for your kitchen countertops. For one, it is a very high maintenance countertop materials that requires sealing every few years because it is very porous. Marble is a much softer stone that granite, so it can chip and scratch easily. Another issue many people have with marble is staining and etching; acidic foods and drinks can really affect these countertops.
If you think the classic elegance far outweighs the high maintenance of marble countertops, it can run you anywhere between $50 and $200 per square foot to install them in your kitchen.
Unlike granite and marble, quartz countertops are engineered stone, rather than solid stone. However, in terms of composition, they are made from approximately 93% quartz and 7% binder and color. These elegant countertops have both beauty and brawn. They are available in a much wider range of colors than the pervious stone countertop materials, ranging from white to black with creams, greys, and browns in between.
Additionally, quartz countertops are incredibly durable and require far less maintenance. They are very hardy against chips and scratches (especially when compared to marble) and have a non-porous surface, making them resistant to staining and bacteria. This also means they don’t need to be sealed.
Quartz countertops are not as resistant to heat as other materials, including granite and concrete. Frequently putting hot pots directly on the counter, for example, can cause permanent discoloration, as can too much direct exposure to sunlight. These also clock in as one of the most expensive countertop materials, especially when you’re looking for high-quality. While cost will naturally differ, quartz countertops may run you between $50 and $100 per square foot.
Corian is a brand name solid surface type countertop manufactured by DuPont. Made from a fusion of acrylics and polyesters, these countertops are available in a wide variety of colors but manufactured to look like real stone. In fact, you can even get solid surface countertops to look like marble, granite, or quartz without the expense or drawbacks of real stone.
Solid surface countertops are incredibly hard and durable. They are also nonporous and very easy to clean. However, they can scratch more easily and are not as resistant to heat. As with quartz, it’s not a good idea to leave a hot pot on a Corian countertop, and the heat can cause the material to warp. If you’re looking for beauty on a budget, solid surface countertops typically cost between $40 and $125 per square foot installed.
If you prefer the look of warm wood to stone, you may consider going with butcherblock countertops in your kitchen. Basically, “butcherblock” refers to thick, fancy wood. This is a preferable option for anyone who wants a renewable/sustainable material that is very warm and inviting.
Wood counters are particularly ideal for those who do a lot of baking and food prep in the kitchen. They handle cutting very well for working directly on the surface and the natural grain in the wood does a good job hiding cuts and scratches. Butcherblock counters are hardy and can be sanded and resealed after years of wear and tear.
This material does have its drawbacks, however; they are very high maintenance. Because the wood is susceptible to mold and bacteria, they need to be resealed quite frequently (about every six months). If you’re looking to sell, the necessary upkeep for butcherblock counters may turn off potential buyers.
However, if you’re looking to add a touch of warm to your kitchen without complete commitment, butcherblock counters are a popular choice for kitchen islands! Limiting the wood to a smaller surface significantly lessens the upkeep. Another plus is that wood goes well with a wide variety of styles and décor, so incorporating a butcherblock island should fit seamlessly with your cabinets and existing countertops.
If you love the idea of wood countertops, you can choose from a wide array of materials. This gives butcherblock counters a wide price range: anywhere from $35 to $200 per square foot.
Concrete countertops are newer to the kitchen renovation scene, made popular, in part, by TV shows like Fixer Upper. If you want truly custom countertops, you may want to consider concrete as your next countertop material, as these are often framed and poured right in the kitchen. Modern concrete countertops can be produced in a variety of different colors and homeowners have the possibility of adding stones, glass, or tile to the concrete, as well as stamping and staining.
For a hardy countertop material, concrete is durable, hard, and does not easily chip. While resistant to scratches, concrete can actually crack. However, fixing a crack in a concrete countertop is relatively easy and just requires more concrete to be mixed and poured in.
While concrete is very popular right now, it is not without its drawbacks. Concrete countertops need to cure, which means you have to wait a while before you can actually use them. Additionally, this material is porous, which means they can stain easily and need to be resealed regularly. Installed, concrete countertops typically cost somewhere between $65 and $130 per square foot.
Laminate countertops are certainly not a new material for kitchens, but they remain a popular choice because they are affordable and available in the large selection of colors and patterns. The laminate material is composed of a hard particle board core with layers of plastic laminate bonded on top. You can even get these countertops to look like stone surfaces, including granite and marble.
Don’t mistake modern laminate with the vintage laminate of yore. These “plastic” countertops are now made of a higher quality than ever before and are much more durable. Cleanup is also the easiest with this material. Have a spill? All you need is some soap, water, and a sponge or washrag.
While new laminate countertops are more durable than old ones, they still can’t hold up to stone or solid surface counters in terms of durability. They can be scratched more easily and they are not particularly heat resistant. When you have laminate countertops, it’s always best to do all of your cutting on a cutting board and use trivets if you need to set down hot pans.
Perhaps one of the biggest draws to laminate countertops is the cost. This material is among the most affordable when it comes to countertops and range between $20 and $50 per square foot, installed.
Sarah is a content writer and social media assistant with a BA in literature/creative writing from Wilkes University. When she’s not spending her days at work writing, reading, and drinking coffee, she’s usually at home reading, writing, and drinking coffee. She also devotes a fair amount of time to HGTV, drawing, and doting on her dog. As a creator, Sarah believes in emphasizing personality through design and DIY projects.