Revamping your kitchen can be as simple as updating your counters. With so many popular countertops to choose from, it's possible to opt for eye-catching designs that can make your space stand out. From stainless steel to concrete, wood, and more, this quick upgrade is an easy way to completely change the look of your kitchen.
Here, get inspired by 12 unique countertop ideas you can install in your kitchen, as well as the pros and cons of bringing each one into your home.
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Hi-Definition Laminate That Looks Like Granite
Formica 180fx is a laminate pattern that recreates the visual chaos of real granite. 180fx™ reproduces the look of natural granite without the repetitive design found in most laminates.
Pros: The unique aspect of this counter is how much of an innovative improvement on good old-fashioned laminate countertops it is.
Cons: It is still laminate, and prejudices linger among homebuyers when it comes to this material. Thus, it may lead to a lower resale value.
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Stainless Steel: For the All-Around Chef
Perfect for foodies, stainless steel has risen to the upper rank of home counters. It's an excellent way to duplicate a restaurant-quality kitchen in your home. This unique countertop idea offers a sleek, modern look with sturdy material.
Pros: There's no denying the benefits here: It is stain, rust, and burn resistant, which is a great option if you're always creating something new in the kitchen. It doesn't hurt that it will likely impress friends and relatives with its reflective, upscale atmosphere.
Cons: Going this route is a good way to cut deep into your budget with this ultra-expensive, hard-to-fabricate material.
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Concrete Countertop: Solid as a Rock
Looking for something high-end and contemporary but a little outside the box? Concrete counters might be precisely what you need. This DIY countertop idea can be created by yourself at home with the help of a friend and a few common tools.
Pros: It allows for a truly infinite range of design possibilities: color, size, thickness, etc. This is also the only material that will adapt to your kitchen instead of the other way around.
Cons: Concrete counters do come at a price—they're more expensive than you might expect when installed by professionals. Though it's sturdy, concrete can also crack and scorch if not properly cared for.
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Modular Granite: A DIY Dream
Bigger than tile granite but smaller than slab granite, modular granite is an excellent compromise for enterprising do-it-yourselfers. These super-sized granite tiles minimize the annoying seams you would get with conventional 12x12- or 6x6-inch alternatives. Like other forms of granite, modular options are a timeless countertop choice that can withstand popular trends changing.
Pros: Even though modular granite's installation process is unique, it aims to duplicate the look of a very ordinary material—slab granite. It's a great choice for those who want to recreate a solid slab counter without the hefty price tag.
Cons: Modular granite is one of the newer countertop ideas to hit the market, and it has not really taken off yet.Continue to 5 of 12 below.
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Reclaimed Wood: Going Green
Would you believe this wood kitchen countertop is made of reclaimed materials? Using recycled or repurposed wood is an inexpensive countertop idea that certainly looks unique. These hardwood counters can be constructed from options like maple, ash, and oak pieces that are salvaged from old barns and commercial properties.
Pros: Reclaimed wood is gorgeous, and it verifies your "green" credentials. Few homes have wood countertops, much less reclaimed ones.
Cons: Wood does require a high degree of maintenance that non-organic materials such as solid surface do not need. If you're dedicated to its additional care, though, it can be worthwhile.
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Solid Glass: Crystal Clear
As pictured above, ThinkGlass counters are 1.5 inches of solid glass. If that is too thin for you, they can even create glass counters up to 1.5 feet thick. The company assures that with everyday use, they will not chip or crack, much less shatter.
Pros: Investing in a glass counter can undoubtedly ensure you have the most unique option in your neighborhood—this isn't your average kitchen upgrade.
Cons: ThinkGlass calls glass a "noble" product, and for $200 to $400 per square foot, it's typically expensive. Still, this counter material allows for high-end options like embeddable LEDs ranging in color from white to fuchsia.
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Quartz: A Solid Choice
"Quartz" implies a shimmering type of countertop material full of gold and silver flecks—or at least that's what you might expect. However, quartz is a feel-good industry term for engineered stone countertops such as Caesarstone. Quartz countertops are becoming increasingly popular thanks to their modern look and hardy construction.
Pros: This countertop is created from a combination of crushed quartz, other stone materials, and polymer binding agents. It looks fantastic and performs better than granite.
Cons: It is not cheap: Quartz rivals slab granite's cost at $50 to $100 per square foot.
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Zinc: One of a Kind
Like stainless steel counters, this countertop idea includes a thin layer of metal wrapped over a base. Instead of stainless steel, though, the metal is zinc.
Pros: If you want something incredibly unique, look no further. Even Ernest Hemingway writes about zinc countertops in the bistros of post-World War I Paris. It's non-porous and can develop a patina as it ages, which some homeowners appreciate.
Cons: Zinc countertops, typically 1/16-inch thick, develop a fine patina of hairline scratches over time. Not in love with those scratches? No problem: Just sand them out.Continue to 9 of 12 below.
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Paper: An Unexpected Option
Paper countertops are often 100 percent post-consumer recycled cardboard. As one of the biggest manufacturers, PaperStone, states, "[it is] a petroleum-free resin that contains natural ingredients like cashew nut shell liquid."
You might already be using paper as your countertop material. Laminate counters are a particleboard base, topped with a laminate sheet that is composed of resin-impregnated paper.
Pros: Leading paper countertop manufacturer PaperStone saturates individual sheets of paper with petroleum-free resins and consolidates them under extreme heat and pressure in an industrial press. The result is a solid surface material, meaning the same thing through and through. Solid surface is not just a product description but a category of countertop materials, much like Corian. On top of that, all of the paper is 100 percent post-consumer recycled material, which is a big deal if you're trying to be eco-friendly.
Cons: Post-consumer recycled paper is the most eco-friendly of the green countertop materials, and it's a popular countertop alternative. However, like other unique materials listed here, it is somewhat difficult to obtain.
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Polyester: A Conversation Starter
Alkemi makes countertops out of aluminum, acrylic, and polyester. They use virgin polyester resin and have a minimum of 34 percent recycled content.
Pros: It is non-porous on the surface, so no sealing is needed. However, cutting the edges will expose pores, so those must be sealed. If you're someone who prefers a high-gloss finish, polyester counters won't let you down.
Cons: You'll pay the price for this conversation piece. Alkemi says that their polyester surfaces cost the same as high-end solid surface materials, which can be pretty expensive.
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Skimcoat Concrete: Set in Stone
This isn't a concrete counter in the traditional sense. This is no concrete pour; this is a skim-coat.
One of the best accounts of this material comes from an intrepid Minneapolis resident Sarah Riedl, who followed through with her dream counters. She wanted to skim existing counters, but none existed. So, she and her husband Chris constructed a top made of a 1- by 2-inch frame, half-inch OSB, and half-inch cement backer board. Then they laid down three coats of Ardex Feather Finish, sanded, and covered it all with carnauba wax.
Pros: It's a great option for DIYers who want the look of concrete without committing to it entirely.
Cons: Sarah reported that, four months later, the concrete was beginning to scratch, despite mitigation efforts, like religiously using cutting boards (she says that even dropping keys on the counter will scratch them). But for a total of only $150 in materials, she feels it was worth it.
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Poured Epoxy: Not Your Average Counter
Instead of a traditional countertop, poured epoxy is a unique counter idea that's also customizable to a variety of kitchen designs. To be clear, this is not your typical countertop resurfacing project like using a Rustoleum Countertop Transformations kit. While a fine product, that kit includes one quart of material, and it spreads on with a roller. This epoxy-based resurfacer comes in gallon quantities and pours on.
As a surface material, poured epoxy is often found in unconventional locations, occupying both the world of brewpub "penny floors" and world-class biomedical facilities for laboratory tables. Epoxy resin adequately mimics marble, but it really excels with eye-catching solid colors like the pictured bottle green from Countertop Epoxy.
Pros: Epoxy can withstand temperatures up to 518 degrees Fahrenheit before distorting. Water absorption basically doesn't exist, as epoxy resin sips up only 0.008 percent water after 24 hours (by contrast, porcelain tile, which is rated as "impervious," soaks up 0.5 percent).
Cons: While it is a distinctive material, epoxy can also be challenging and time-consuming to apply. You will likely want to look to a professional for this one. Epoxy can also be damaged from a thermal shock (like moving the frozen turkey from the counter and replacing it with a hot pan straight from the oven).