Top 10 Materials for Kitchen Countertops

White quartz kitchen countertop

The Spruce / Kevin Norris

There are lots of countertop options on the market for kitchen countertops, but 10 materials comprise the majority of countertops in residential kitchens. They include granite, marble, quartz, and more. Each material has its positive and negative aspects. For instance, some are very strong while others can be scratched or marred. And some materials cost a lot more than others.


Pros and Cons of the Top Kitchen Counter Surfaces

Here are the pros and cons of 10 types of kitchen countertops.

  • 01 of 10


    Granite kitchen countertop

    The Spruce / Kevin Norris

    For some time, granite has been the countertop material of choice when there were no cost issues to consider. Granite defines elegance in a kitchen. Even modest kitchens seem like luxury spaces when flavored by the beauty of granite countertops. 

    Historically, granite has been an expensive material, but its cost has come down somewhat as supplies have increased and engineered stone has become more common. 

    • Almost impervious to heat

    • Very strong and durable

    • Adds real estate value to home

    • Thousands of different colors and types available

    • Nearly maintenance-free when treated with newer sealers

    • Very expensive material

    • Not suitable for DIY installation

    • Slabs may have imperfections

    • Can crack if stressed or improperly installed

    • Knives are quickly dulled by cutting on granite

    • Stone is porous and requires sealing to avoid stains

    Continue to 2 of 10 below.
  • 02 of 10


    Soapstone countertop

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    Soapstone is another natural stone, usually dark gray in color with a smooth, silky feel. It has seen a recent resurgence as an alternative to granite. Soapstone is often seen in historic homes but is also used in modern homes as both a countertop and sink material. Over time, soapstone takes on an antique-like patina that can be very attractive in certain kitchen styles. 

    Contrary to expectations, the architectural soapstone used for countertops is actually quite hard and resistant to stain. However, it will scratch over time, although this can add to the antique patina of the stone.

    • Deep, rich color

    • Somewhat stain resistant

    • Fairly impervious to heat

    • Damage can be sanded out

    • Offers antique, historic look to a kitchen

    • May darken over time

    • DIY installation not possible

    • Must be treated with mineral oil

    • Surface can scratch and dent, though this can create an attractive antique look

    Continue to 3 of 10 below.
  • 03 of 10


    Marble countertop

    The Spruce / Ana Cadena

    Another natural stone commonly used in kitchen countertops is marble. Because no two sheets of marble are exactly the same, each marble countertop will be entirely unique.

    Because of its extremely high price tag, marble is not often seen on the entire expanse of countertops of most kitchens. More often, its luxurious look is limited to use on an island or section of countertop reserved as a baking center.

    Although highly prized, marble may not be the best choice for kitchens due to its penchant for staining and scratching. Newer sealers can reduce the upkeep on marble, but this is a considerably more temperamental stone than granite or soapstone.

    • Waterproof and heatproof

    • Adds to real estate value of a home

    • Exceptionally beautiful stone, with unique veining

    • Expensive

    • DIY installation not possible

    • Can be scratched; repairs are difficult

    • Stone is porous and stains easily unless sealed

    Continue to 4 of 10 below.
  • 04 of 10

    Quartz (Engineered Stone)

    Quartz kitchen countertop

    The Spruce / Kevin Norris

    The countertop material known as "quartz" is actually an engineered stone product that contains as much as 93 percent quartz particles and other minerals, shaped into slabs and bound with resins. These are not solid quartz slabs produced by quarrying.

    Sold by companies such as DuPont Zodiaq, LG Viatera, Cambria, and Silestone, quartz was created as a more adaptable and better-performing alternative to granite and marble. It is available in a larger range of colors than granite and has a nonporous surface that resists both scratching and staining. Some types are convincing copies of natural marble, with similar veining. Unlike natural stone, engineered quartz requires no annual sealing.

    Similar technology is now being used in so-called glass countertops, which consist of particles of recycled glass blended with resins and shaped into countertop slabs. Consumers keen on being on the cutting edge may want to consider glass as well as quartz countertops. 

    • DIY installation possible

    • Easy to maintain, no sealing required

    • Slabs are uniform, with no imperfections

    • Can be custom-fabricated in any size and shape

    • Resists stains and is impervious to heat and acid

    • More convincing, natural appearance than solid surface material

    • Expensive

    • Countertops are very heavy

    Continue to 5 of 10 below.
  • 05 of 10

    Solid-Surface Material

    Kitchen solid surface countertop

    The Spruce / Kevin Norris

    Solid-surface material, sold under brands including Avonite, Corian, and Swanstone, is a man-made material consisting of a blend of acrylic particles and resins that are pressed into sheets and other shapes. Solid-surface countertops and sinks have now been around for nearly 50 years, but at the time of introduction, they were regarded as space-age alternatives to natural stone, which they sought to mimic. 

    Once regarded as premium, luxury countertops, solid-surface material is now considered somewhat mid-tier, but it is still an excellent choice for mid-range kitchens. It can also be a good material in high-end kitchens with a lot of countertop space that would be prohibitively expensive to cover with granite or quartz. 

    • Resists staining

    • Seams are virtually invisible

    • Damage can be easily sanded out

    • Available in many, many colors and patterns

    • Integrated sink/countertop units are available

    • Moderately expensive

    • Vulnerable to damage from hot pans

    • No DIY installation; must be fabricated by pros

    Continue to 6 of 10 below.
  • 06 of 10

    Ceramic Tile

    Tile countertops

    The Spruce / Christopher Lee Foto

    Ceramic tile is durable and easy to clean, and it is considerably less expensive than natural stone, quartz, or solid-surface countertops, especially for DIYers willing to do their own work.

    Recent innovations in porcelain tiles offer many more design options than ever before, including tiles that look like wood, marble, or even leather or cork. Ceramic and porcelain tiles offer more design options than nearly any other countertop material. 

    • Easy to clean

    • Usually affordable

    • Easy for DIYers to construct

    • Immune to heat damage from hot pans

    • An enormous range of colors and styles available

    • Custom tiles can be very expensive

    • Tile are brittle and may crack under impact

    • Grout lines can stain and are difficult to clean

    • Does not carry the same prestige as granite or quartz

    Continue to 7 of 10 below.
  • 07 of 10


    Laminate kitchen countertop

    The Spruce / Kevin Norris

    Laminate counters bear trademarks such as Formica, Nevamar, and Wilsonart. The laminates are plastic-coated synthetics with a smooth surface that's easy to clean. Countertops are made by bonding the laminate sheets to a particleboard (MDF) core. Laminate countertops can be purchased as pre-formed segments (called "post-form countertops"), or custom-fabricated to specifications, either on-site or in a fabrication shop. 

    Although for many years regarded as more ​ordinary than premium countertop materials, laminates have seen a recent surge in popularity, thanks in part to the thousands of colors, patterns, and styles now available. Laminates are especially popular in retro designs, particularly midcentury modern kitchens.

    • Very easy to maintain

    • Thousands of options available

    • DIY installation is relatively easy​

    • Very inexpensive countertop option

    • Seams are always visible

    • May be viewed as too average by potential home buyers

    • Custom edging and backsplash treatments can add expense

    • Surfaces can be scratched and chipped; damage is almost impossible to repair

    Continue to 8 of 10 below.
  • 08 of 10

    Wood or Butcher Block

    Wood kitchen countertop

    The Spruce / Kevin Norris

    Wood countertops offer a beautiful warm look and are available in a wide range of colors and finishes. Hardwoods such as maple and oak are the species most often used as countertop woods.

    • Relatively easy to clean

    • Very long-lasting when properly cared for

    • Can be sanded and resealed, as needed

    • Offers a charming country look in most kitchens

    • Fairly expensive countertop material

    • Surfaces can be scratched and cut by knives

    • Can be damaged by water and stains over time

    • Bacteria can be a problem if not properly maintained

    • Wood is subject to cracking if not maintained; must be oiled and sealed frequently

    Continue to 9 of 10 below.
  • 09 of 10

    Stainless Steel

    Stainless steel countertop

    Robert Daly / Getty Images

    For a really contemporary and industrial look for your kitchen, stainless steel is a good choice. Stainless steel countertops are heat-resistant and durable. Because they're constructed to your specifications, you can have a seamless countertop.

    • Impervious to heat damage

    • Excellent for modern-style kitchens

    • Easiest of all countertop materials to clean

    • Regarded as "premium" countertop; adds real estate value

    • Noisy

    • Very expensive to fabricate

    • Can be easily scratched; not a cutting surface

    Continue to 10 of 10 below.
  • 10 of 10


    Concrete countertop

    Andreas von Einsiedel / Getty Images

    If you have countertops in unusual shapes, or if you want a truly unique kitchen, concrete may be a good choice for your countertops. Due to their heavy weight, concrete countertops are usually cast in forms right in your kitchen. These are not the same kind of concrete slabs used in sidewalks but are highly polished concrete slabs that may even be textured or acid-stained to produce colors. 

    Although concrete can be subject to cracking, new treatments can reduce this tendency. The porousness of concrete can be reduced with additives. 

    • Can be color-tinted

    • Heat and scratch resistant

    • Provides a look that is sophisticated and unusual

    • Decorative textures and colors are possible

    • No DIY installation possible

    • Cracking may occur over time

    • Costs are high due to custom work

    • Surface is porous unless regularly sealed

    • Appearance may seem too "industrial' by future home buyers