The 11 Best Countertops

  • 01 of 11

    Best Countertops? Ratings and Reviews.

    Blanco Performa Stainless Steel Sink
    Blanco Performa stainless steel sink. Blanco America

    Counters Rated (1-5)

    • Reclaimed Wood: 2.7
    • Zinc: 2.8
    • Ceramic Tile: 2.8
    • Laminate: 2.8
    • Solid Surface: 3.2
    • Slab Granite: 3.4
    • Quartz: 4.6
    • Concrete: 2.7
    • Refinished: 2.9
    • Stainless Steel: 3.3

    Criteria

    What's the best countertop? Factors such as stain and heat resistance are objective; appearance is subjective. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

    We rated the best countertop material on the basis of the five factors below. Each factor receives a rating of 1-5 indicated in brackets, with 5 being the best overall...MORE rating.

    Appearance
    Countertop appearance has been rated according to generally-accepted appearance, from the comments of countertops owners and would-be owners across a wide sampling.

    Price
    Not the absolute rock-bottom countertop price, but price balanced out by other factors in the list.

    Stain Resistance and Clean-Up
    How well does the countertop resist common kitchen stains? If stained, how easily and thoroughly does the counter clean up?

    Heat Resistance
    While most cooks expect to use hot plates, sometimes life happens. How well does the best countertop perform when a hot pot is placed on it?

    Resale Value
    We all want to buy a countertop that is right for us. Yet, it does help to look ahead to the day when you may eventually sell the house. Some countertops have better resale value than others.

    Overall: The Global Picture
    How do all the five factors add up? That's what makes the best countertop.

    Please bear in mind that what's a "best countertop" for one use may not be the best for another use. This ratings list is an attempt to aggregate all factors, as best as possible.

    Continue to 2 of 11 below.
  • 02 of 11

    Best Countertop for Eco-Friendliness: Reclaimed Wood

    Reclaimed Wood Countertops
    Reclaimed wood countertop from Craft-Art.com. Craft-Art.com

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    Overall Rating Out of 5

    2.7 / 5.00

    I want to like reclaimed wood countertops more than I really do. I like the idea, but I'm not so sure I like the reality of continual maintenance.

    But in terms of eco-friendliness, they can't be beat.

    Appearance

    [3.5] Reclaimed wood can look awesome. In fact, even awesomer (as my son says) than new wood. That's because this is nice maple, ash, and oak from old barns and commercial buildings like bowling alleys....MORE But, like any wood counters, it gets nicked, scratched, and scuffed fast.

    Price

    [3] Though ostensibly "wood that no one wants," reclaimed wood isn't cheap. The companies that find it, re-mill it, and sell it do need to make a profit for their specialized work (remember, these aren't counters that just get extruded from a Play-Doh machine; they are all unique).

    Stain Resistance

    [2] You need to keep wood counters sealed. It's not so hard to do, but you do need to be religious about it. Let it go and you'll find your red beets staining your counters a rich purple color.

    Heat Resistance

    [4] Excellent.

    Resale Value

    [1] The average home buyer will turn up his or her nose at reclaimed wood, we hate to say. We hope things will change, though.

    Continue to 3 of 11 below.
  • 03 of 11

    Best Countertop for Sheer Coolness: Zinc

    zinc countertops
    Zinc counters from Brooks Custom. Brooks Custom, Mt. Kisco, NY

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    Overall Rating Out of 5

    2.8 / 5.00

    Zinc is cool. You can read Ernest Hemingway stories about hanging out in bars in Europe, and those bars are covered in zinc. Even though zinc is rarely used in countertops, it does happen to be the most common metal on Earth.

    Appearance

    [3] I personally like the look of zinc. It has a dark gray matte finish; it's not like shiny stainless steel. But it's not a popular look.

    Price

    [2] Being a specialty countertop, zinc is...MORE expensive. You buy zinc because you like it, not because of cost concerns.

    Stain Resistance

    [2] But it will develop a patina, and should vinegar come in contact with it, dark spots will develop.

    Heat Resistance

    [5] Excellent. It's metal, after all.

    Resale Value

    [2] A few buyers may be charmed by zinc counters; most won't.

    Continue to 4 of 11 below.
  • 04 of 11

    Best Countertop for DIYers: Tile

    tile counters
    White ceramic tile countertop on kitchen island - not the favored countertop material. Lee Wallender

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    Overall Rating Out of 5

    2.8 / 5.00 Tile barely made the best countertops list. Whether we're talking about stone or ceramic tile, it certainly is easy for the homeowner to install him or herself. But tile counters have one huge drawback, namely appearance and function.

    Appearance

    [1] Tile countertops have seams--anathema for most cooks. Have you ever rolled pasta dough out on a tile counter? A flat, continuous surface is best.

    Price

    [5] Low prices available...MORE on most tile countertops because standard white tile (if you so desire) can be had for pennies per square foot.

    Stain Resistance

    [1] Ceramic tile itself holds up well to stains, but once the grout is stained, there is no cleaning it. Ever.

    Heat Resistance

    [5] Since it is fired at high temperatures, tile resists heat very well.

    Resale Value

    [2] Home buyers tend not to love kitchens with tile counters. Poor resale value.

    Continue to 5 of 11 below.
  • 05 of 11

    Best Countertop for Cost Effectiveness: Laminate

    laminate countertop
    Wrapped edge laminate countertop. Wilsonart

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    Overall Rating Out of 5

    2.8 / 5.00

    Laminate countertops are the perennial standby when it comes to kitchen and bathroom counter choices. But can we rank them in the best countertops group? Yes. Price and appearance are laminate's strongest factors.

    Appearance

    [3] Traditionally, laminate counters have looked faker than fake. But manufacturers such as Wilsonart and Formica have been pushing the boundaries, and laminate is beginning to look better and better...MORE all the time.

    Price

    [5] With the better looks come higher prices. Yet it's possible to buy rock-bottom cheap laminate counters--something you cannot do with other kinds of countertops.

    Stain Resistance

    [2] Stains are tough to get out of laminate countertops.

    Heat Resistance

    [2] You would think that laminate could melt under heat. But surprisingly it doesn't. That's because laminate isn't really plastic. Still, it will scorch under hot pans.

    Resale Value

    [2] Ouch. Laminate counters, even the high-end stuff, are still having a hard time gaining acceptance with home buyers and Realtors. Time will tell.

    Continue to 6 of 11 below.
  • 06 of 11

    Best Countertop for Cost & Appearance: Solid Surface

    formica solid surfacing
    Formica Solid Surfacing - featuring Pearl Mica. Formica

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    Overall Rating Out of 5

    3.2 / 5.00

    Solid surface countertops mean brands such as Corian, Silestone, and Avonite.

    Appearance

    [4] Solid surface countertops can be manufactured to look like practically anything. While they cannot match the appearance of real or even engineered stone, they still look better than laminate.

    Price

    [4] For what you get, the cost of solid surface counters is quite reasonable.

    Stain Resistance

    [3] Yes, solid surface counters do stain, and...MORE those stains can be pervasive (See: Cleaning and Caring for Solid Surface Countertops).

    Heat Resistance

    [2] Not great. Countertop manufacturers have been developing solid surface materials that hold up better against heat, but the product still has a long way to go.

    Resale Value

    [3] Moderate resale value.

    Continue to 7 of 11 below.
  • 07 of 11

    Best Countertop for Resale Value: Slab Granite

    modular granite
    Modular granite. Artisan Granite

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    Overall Rating Out of 5

    3.4 / 5.00

    Darn you, granite. We love to hate you, but you still do very well when we're trying to determine the best countertop out there. After all, check out our first factor:

    Appearance

    [5] Granite counters have a deep, rich, complex appearance that cannot be duplicated.

    Price

    [1] Try as you might, it is difficult to find cheap granite counters. Install tile granite or modular granite to bring down costs, but slab granite is...MORE always pricey.

    Stain Resistance

    [2] Since granite is porous, it does suck up stains. But sealing is the trick to avoiding this problem.

    Heat Resistance

    [5] Granite, forged in the heat of the earth, will hold up well against your hot pans.

    Resale Value

    [4] Even though slab granite's favor has passed, its resale value is still high.

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  • 08 of 11

    Best Countertop Overall: Quartz

    caesarstone
    Caesarstone, a type of quartz countertop. Caesarstone

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    Overall Rating Out of 5

    4.6 / 5.00

    I must admit it. I like quartz countertops. At least in my world, quartz easily rings the bell. Here's why:

    Appearance

    [5] Quartz countertops look fantastic. Because they partially use natural materials (as opposed to solid surface, which is all man-made), quartz counters have unparalleled depth and richness.

    Price

    [4] Are quartz countertops expensive? Yes. Yet factoring in the other strong points for quartz, I think that...MORE the price is justified.

    Stain Resistance

    [5] Quartz counters hold up well against stains and need no sealing. However, extremely caustic substances such as lye or other strong chemicals may damage your quartz counters.

    Heat Resistance

    [4] Excellent.

    Resale Value

    [5] Home buyers place a high premium on quartz countertops.

    Continue to 9 of 11 below.
  • 09 of 11

    Best Countertop for an Urban, Contemporary Look: Concrete

    Concrete Countertop Around Kitchen Sink
    Truform Concrete

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    Overall Rating Out of 5

    2.7 / 5.00

    If you've got a stylish, modern house, you can do no better than to install a concrete countertop in the kitchen. While these monolithic beauties would look odd in a period house, they fit perfectly well into any home that heavily employs steel, glass, concrete (for floors or columns), reclaimed wood. Yet, surprisingly enough, concrete can be finicky when used for countertops.

    Appearance

    [4] Concrete can become whatever...MORE you want it to be. With tinting, it can take on a number of muted, earthen colors, as well as some darker reds, blues, and greens. But its chief value--and the one thing that distinguishes concrete from other counter materials--is that you can have a single, unified, seamless counter. In a single pour, concrete can form L shapes, U shape, and all sorts of permutations that no other material can duplicate.

    Price

    [2] Concrete: bags of QuikRete available from Lowe's, 40 lbs. for $2.68. How expensive, then, could concrete countertops be? Actually, quite expensive. For one thing, it's not QuikRete--it's a special blend made just for countertops. Then there are stains and sealers, screeds, and polishing pads, liners and forms. In short, DIY-ing your concrete counter and making it look decent is more difficult than you might think, which means you're best off hiring professionals. Costs can run $100-$200, a perfectly reasonable cost for a top-notch counter, not the $54 DIY price you might be imagining.

    Stain Resistance

    [2] Oddly enough, concrete can stain quite easily. Acidic foods and liquids, as well as cleaning chemicals, need to be wiped off immediately or they will stain the surface. Since people do tend to cook with common items such as lemons, vinegar, wine, and tomatoes (all of which will stain concrete), this makes the cooking process more difficult.

    Heat Resistance

    [3] With concrete, you'll still need to use trivets or pads before setting down hot pans.

    Resale Value

    [2.5] Hopefully, the entire contemporary style of your house is congruent with those concrete counters. And hopefully, buyers' minds are congruent with your house's contemporary style. If so, there is a possibility they may love the counters. If not, they will despise them.

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  • 10 of 11

    Best Countertop For Price: The Refinished Countertop

    Countertop Refinished with Countertop Transformations
    Countertop refinished with Countertop Transformations. Rustoleum

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    Overall Rating Out of 5

    2.9 / 5.00

    Laugh at them all you want, owners of resurfaced countertops themselves laugh all the way to the bank--as they deposit the $3,000 they saved by not installing a granite, solid surface, stainless steel, or any other type of all-new countertop. For just a few hundred bucks, they turn their laminate or tile counters into something apparently new. With refinishing, the base material stays the same, but a special, thick coating...MORE goes on top to radically change its appearance.

    Appearance

    [2.5] It's all relative. Refinished countertops look spectacular compared to the old countertop. Yet no matter how much the refinishing kit claims your resurfaced counter will look like real marble, it just won't.

    Price

    [5] Refinished countertops blow all other countertops' pricing out of the water. Nothing is cheaper. Even purchasing the cheapest laminate counter off the racks at Lowe's or The Home Depot is more expensive. For as low as $200 to $250, you can purchase a do-it-yourself counter refinishing kit.

    Stain Resistance

    [4] Refinished counters resist stains well--as well as an unfinished laminate counter.

    Durability/Heat Resistance

    [1] Poor durability. Coatings easily scratch.

    Resale Value

    [2] Same as laminate counters. Appearance-wise, a counter that is refinished well looks the same as a normal, unfinished laminate counter. Yet laminates still don't attract a high resale value.

    Continue to 11 of 11 below.
  • 11 of 11

    Best Countertop For Trendiness

    Stainless Steel Counter with Integrated Steel Sink
    Stainless steel counter shown is from Frigo Design. Frigo Design

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    Overall Rating Out of 5

    / 5.00

    Second to concrete as the most trendy countertop material, stainless steel's popularity has waxed and waned over the years. Originally just a material for commercial kitchens, stainless steel has invaded high-end residential kitchens. But there is no denying that, in terms of pure coolness, this material comes out ahead.

    Appearance

    [4] Stainless steel is highly attractive. It is luminous, without being glaringly bright. It has a lovely patina. The...MORE only downside is that it has only one face: it always looks the same way. Unlike other materials, it cannot be tinted, aged, painted, resurfaced. You can buy hundreds of different kinds of countertop marbles and granites, but you can buy only one stainless steel.

    Price

    [1] Very high. This is due partially to the expense of the materials, but also because of the limited number of competent fabricators. The paucity of good labor drives prices higher.

    Stain Resistance

    [3] Stainless? This means a complete lack of staining, right? Not so fast. It will stain. By "stainless," we mean that it will not rust.

    Find out how to remove stains on stainless steel.

    Heat Resistance

    [5] Excellent. It's steel, after all.

    Resale Value

    [3.5] Discerning buyers will value stainless steel, so your investment will indeed pay off. Non-discerning buyers may look down on this material, mentally subtracting from their offer the cost of pulling out the steel counters and replacing with another material.