There are many types of countertops available to customize your kitchen. However, before selecting an ideal countertop material for your kitchen, it's important to consider the characteristics of each, including the durability, appearance, longevity, resistances, and maintenance requirements.
Whether you are looking for natural stone, like marble and granite, or you prefer the look and feel of concrete or ceramic tile, each option has different characteristics and knowing them can help you choose the best one for your needs. Use this guide to the most common types of countertops to learn more about the benefits and drawbacks of each, so you can discover the best types of countertop materials for your kitchen.
Pros and Cons of the Top Kitchen Counter Surfaces
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One of the top choices for kitchen countertops is granite. This material is a popular option that is durable and tough, allowing the granite to stand up to impact and abrasive damage. Additionally, this material is resistant to heat, making it an ideal choice for the kitchen.
Granite is a type of natural stone that comes in a variety of colors and patterns. Select the color and undertone that suits your home aesthetic or opt for something that will stand out from the rest of the room. Just keep in mind that due to the weight of granite, this type of countertop is better installed by a professional, instead of trying to DIY the project.
If it is taken care of properly, a granite countertop can last for decades. Granite is easy to clean, but it is a porous natural stone, so you will need to apply a new sealant over the granite about once every three to five years.Pros
Resistant to heat and abrasion
Strong and durable material
Many colors and patterns
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Premium price material
Requires regular sealing
Heavy and difficult to install
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Using soapstone as a kitchen countertop material is an excellent way to avoid stains because soapstone is an entirely non-porous naturally occurring stone. It has a high percentage of talc, giving the surface a soft texture, similar to a soap. The soapstone is also heat-resistant and bacteria-resistant, though it is susceptible to scratches and dents.
Any minimal damage to the soapstone can actually help develop the unique patina that appears gradually as the surface of the soapstone oxidizes, giving the material a unique look. You can also select the color from a variety of gray shades that have blue or green undertones with marble-like veining.
In order to keep soapstone kitchen countertops in good condition for years to come and to help develop the patina on the surface, it's recommended to treat the countertop with mineral oil about once per month during the first year after installation.
Unique veining and color patterns
Non-porous, resistant to heat and stains
Patina can create an antique appearance
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Takes time for the patina to develop
Must be treated with mineral oil
Surface is vulnerable to abrasive damage
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Similar in price to granite, marble is a high-end kitchen countertop material that is known for its aesthetic appeal. Marble comes in a wide range of colors, each with marble veining or naturally occurring pattern made from mineral deposits, making it an excellent option for anyone that wants a unique countertop design.
Marble holds up well against heat and it is resistant to cracking, chipping, or breaking, allowing it to last for years without problem. However, this luxury material is vulnerable to scratching and staining, which is why it's necessary to have the marble sealed at least once a year to keep it in good condition.Pros
Reistant to heat, cracking, and breaking
Attractive material with unique marble veining
Durable, long-lasting material
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Vulnerable to scratches and staining
Requires regular sealing and maintenance
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Quartz (Engineered Stone)
Engineered stone quartz is an ideal option if you don't have the budget but want the natural stone appearance of marble or granite. This type of countertop material is made of about 90 percent quartz particles, mixed with other minerals to create a strong, durable product that is resistant to staining.
The nonporous engineered stone quartz comes in a wide range of colors and patterns, allowing you to choose the best design for your kitchen aesthetic. It's an easy-to-clean material that is resistant to mold, mildew, and bacteria, making it a great choice for the kitchen where food is prepared.
Due to the non-porous design, you don't need to worry about sealing the countertop regularly. However, it's important to avoid placing hot objects on the engineered quartz because it is vulnerable to heat damage and may begin to melt. Additionally, engineered quartz can fade under direct sunlight, so consider the layout of your kitchen before choosing this material for a new countertop.Pros
Easy to maintain, no sealing required
Resistant to mold, mildew, and stains
Wide variety of color options
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Vulnerable to heat damage
Susceptible to scratches
Direct sunlight can fade the color
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Solid-surface material is made out of a blend of acrylic particles and resins that have been pressed into sheets to create kitchen countertops. This type of material was first designed as an alternative to natural stone countertops, which its creators sought to mimic.
The main benefit to solid-surface material over natural stone is that solid-surface material is more cost-effective, making it an excellent middle-tier option for your kitchen. It comes in a variety of colors, patterns, and styles, including duplicates of granite and marble.
The seams on the material are almost invisible and it is resistant to stains, so you can expect the countertop to stay in good condition for years. However, solid-surface material is not heat resistant and it's vulnerable to abrasive damage. Take care with how you use the countertops to avoid damaging the material.Pros
Resistant to staining
Seams are virtually invisible
Available in many colors and patterns
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Vulnerable to damage from heat
Susceptible to scratches and dents
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More commonly used in the bathroom, ceramic tile is an interesting option for the kitchen countertop that can be installed by an experienced DIY to help save on the cost of installation. Ceramic tile counters are typically made by laying individual tiles over a cement-board core with thin-set mortar adhesives.
Putting in a ceramic tile countertop is an inexpensive option for the kitchen. It's hard, durable, and resistant to heat, though the size of each tile can impede the functionality of the countertop, making it more difficult to prepare food and keep clean.
This material comes in a wide selection of colors, patterns, and styles, so you can get the look you want for your kitchen. Just keep in mind that ceramic tile is brittle and prone to cracking. The grout lines are also vulnerable to staining and can be difficult to clean.Pros
Affordable countertop material
Relatively easy for DIYers to construct
Range of colors and patterns
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Grout is prone to staining
Tile sizes can restrict functionality
Tile is brittle and vulnerable to cracking
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A go-to kitchen countertop option for many DIYers is laminate because it is an inexpensive choice that's relatively easy to install due to the lightweight design. Laminate is made of particleboard, resins, plastic, and pattern paper that has been seared together using a combination of heat and pressure.
This material comes in a variety of styles, colors, and patterns, making it easy to find the right look for your kitchen. The nonporous surface keeps out mold and bacteria while preventing stains from forming on the countertop.
Despite being made with heat and pressure, laminate is vulnerable to heat damage, so it's important to avoid placing any hot pots or pans on the surface of a laminate countertop. This material also has a shorter lifespan than most other countertop options and it is prone to peeling.
Easy to clean and maintain
Inexpensive countertop option
Resistant to mold, mildew, and stains
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Susceptible to heat damage
Prone to peeling
Vulnerable to scratching and dents
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Wood or Butcher Block
Wood has long been used for the construction of homes, chairs, tables, and more, so it shouldn't come as a surprise that you can get wood countertops made similar to a butcher block. These countertops are typically composed of maple, oak, teak, ash, or possibly even bamboo, giving you a range of options to choose from for your kitchen aesthetic.
The wood is tough and durable, allowing it to stand up to years of use without failing. However, the fibrous nature of wood means that the surface of the countertop can become scratched, stained, or even burned. You can sand and reseal the wood about once every two to three years or as necessary to restore the original appearance of the countertop.
However, it should be note that the wood needs to be regularly oiled and would benefit from being sealed to prevent mold, mildew, and bacteria from seeping into the fibrous countertop.
Durable, long-lasting material
Environmentally friendly countertop option
Attractive country-style appearance
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Susceptible to moisture and stains
Porous material is vulnerable to bacteria
Must be oiled and sealed frequently
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Stainless steel is commonly used in commercial kitchens due to the nonporous construction that makes it easy to keep clean. This is one of the types of countertops for the kitchen that resists mold, mildew, and staining, though the longer you leave a splash or spill, the more difficult it is to clean.
Consider stainless steel for your kitchen countertop if you are looking for a modern aesthetic for the kitchen that is highly heat resistant. Just make sure that you are prepared to deal with the high frequency of water spots and fingerprints that get left behind on the smooth surface.
Also, it's necessary to mention that stainless steel is susceptible to scratches, dents, and other abrasive damage, so make sure that you use cutting boards to protect the surface of the countertop.
Impervious to heat damage
Easiest material to clean
Resistant to mold, mildew, and stains
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Easily scratched surface
Shows fingerprints and water spots easily
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If you want a truly unique kitchen, concrete may be a good choice for your countertops. Due to the heavy weight of the material, concrete countertops are usually cast in forms right in your kitchen for custom installation. Though, it's necessary to note that this custom work does come at a higher price than other popular countertop options.
Concrete countertops can be color-tinted or may have decorative textures added to improve the look and feel of the material. It's scratch-resistant and heat-resistant, though the porous construction is vulnerable to moisture, bacteria, and staining.
To keep the concrete countertop in good condition, it's important to regularly seal the surface of the material. It should also be noted that the home shifting or tension being applied from over-tightening the faucet or other connected fixtures can create stress within the concrete. If tensile stress builds up in the concrete it can crack over time.
Long-lasting industrial appearance
Porous surface must be regularly sealed