12 Unique Countertop Ideas You've Got to See to Believe

Laminate kitchen countertop

The Spruce / Kevin Norris

Looking for a unique countertop idea? Here are some of the more eye-catching counters you can install in your kitchen.

  • 01 of 12

    Hi-Definition Laminate

    Formica 180fx

    Why not install a truly unforgettable countertop material?  Spice up your life--and who cares if you're the talk of the neighborhood?

    Ranked in uniqueness from 1 to 10, with higher rankings representing more unusual countertops:

    First up, Formica 180fx, and it's a laminate pattern that recreates the visual chaos of real granite. 180fx™ reproduces the look of natural granite without the repetition of pattern found in most laminates.

    How unique (1-10)? 3

    Why? An innovative improvement on good old fashioned laminate countertops. However, it is still laminate, and prejudices linger among homebuyers when it comes to this material. Thus, lower resale value.

  • 02 of 12

    Stainless Steel

    Modern white kitchen with stainless steel counter and oven
    seanoriordan / Getty Images

    Stainless steel has risen to the upper rank of countertop ideas in the last 10 years, as "foodies" have striven to duplicate restaurant-quality kitchens in their own homes.

    How unique (1-10)? 5

    Why? Impress friends and relatives with your extremely non-porous and beautiful kitchen countertop.

    On the downside, going this route is a good way to chop out a big slice of your wallet with this ultra-expensive, hard-to-fabricate material.

  • 03 of 12

    Concrete Countertop

    Concrete Countertop
    Concrete Countertop Copyright Trueformconcrete.com

    Thick, poured concrete created by a professional company that specializes in this.

    How unique (1-10)? 7

    Why? Concrete allows for a truly infinite range of design possibilities: color, size, thickness, etc.

    This is the only countertop material that will adapt to your kitchen, rather than your kitchen adapting to the countertop.

    More expensive than you might imagine, concrete also can crack and scorch.

  • 04 of 12

    Modular Granite Countertop

    A modern kitchen with white cabinets and countertop
    EJ-J / Getty Images

    Bigger than tile granite, smaller than slab granite. Modular granite is a great compromise for enterprising do-it-yourselfers. These super-sized granite tiles minimize the annoying seams you would get with conventional 12x12 or 6x6 inch granite tiles.

    How unique (1-10)? 6

    Why? Even though modular granite's installation process is unique, it aims to duplicate the look of that very ordinary countertop:  slab granite.

    While modular granite is one of the more innovative countertop ideas to roll around recently, it has not really taken off yet.  

    Continue to 5 of 12 below.
  • 05 of 12

    Reclaimed Wood Countertop

    Senior man cooking, drinking wine and looking at cookbook in kitchen
    Hero Images / Getty Images

    Would you believe a kitchen countertop made of wood? Not just that, but reclaimed, recycled, salvaged--or whatever you care to call it--wood. This is a hardwood such as maple, ash, and oak from old barns and commercial properties.

    How unique (1-10)? 9

    Why? Reclaimed wood is absolutely gorgeous and it verifies your "green" credentials. Few homes have wood countertops, much less reclaimed wood countertops.

    But wood requires a high degree of maintenance that non-organic materials such as solid-surface do not need.

  • 06 of 12

    Solid Glass Kitchen Countertop

    Solid Glass Kitchen Countertop
    Design by Julie Thibodeau

    Pictured, ThinkGlass' counters are 1.5" of solid glass. If that is too thin for you, they can even create glass counters up to--ready for this?--1.5 feet thick. The company assures that with normal use, they will not chip or crack. Shatter? Not a chance.  

    How unique (1-10)? 10

    Why? Solid glass counters are a big deal, and nobody in your neighborhood has one. 

    ThinkGlass calls glass a "noble" product, and for $200 to $400 per square foot, only nobility can afford it. Still, who can argue with any counter material that allows for embeddable LEDs, ranging in color from white to fuscia?

  • 07 of 12

    Quartz Countertop

    Quartz kitchen countertop

    The Spruce / Kevin Norris

    "Quartz" implies a shimmering type of countertop material, full of gold and silver flecks. Right?

    How unique (1-10)? 4

    Why? This one was a trick question. Quartz countertops is a feel-good industry term for a common countertop, an engineered stone such as Caesarstone.

    This countertop is engineered from a combination of crushed quartz, other stone, and polymer binding agents. It looks super and performs better than granite. Still, it is not cheap: quartz rivals slab granite's cost at $50 to $100 per square foot.

  • 08 of 12

    Zinc Countertop

    Zinc Countertop from Brooks Custom
    Brooks Custom

    Like stainless steel countertops, this one is a thin layer of metal wrapped over a base.  Instead of stainless steel, the metal is zinc.

    How unique (1-10)? 9

    Why? You want unique? This is unique. Even Ernest Hemingway writes about zinc countertops in the bistros of post-World War I Paris.

    Zinc countertops, typically 1/16" thick, develop a fine patina of hairline scratches over time. These countertops have been used for a long time for bar surfaces. Not in love with those scratches? No problem. Just sand them out.

    Continue to 9 of 12 below.
  • 09 of 12

    Paper Kitchen Countertop

    Paperstone paper countertop

    Paper countertops are often 100 percent post-consumer recycled cardboard and, as one of the biggest manufacturers, PaperStone, states, "[is] a petroleum-free resin that contains natural ingredients like cashew nut shell liquid."

    How unique (1-10)? 7

    Why? 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. Yes, paper.

    Post-consumer recycled paper is the greenest of the green countertop materials. But like other unique materials listed here, it is somewhat difficult to obtain.

    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. Now, how green is that?

  • 10 of 12

    Polyester Kitchen Countertop

    Polyester kitchen countertop

    The Spruce / Kevin Norris

    Alkemi makes countertops out of aluminum, acrylic, and yes, polyester. They use virgin polyester resin (meaning, no recycled shirts) and has a minimum of 34 percent recycled content. It is non-porous on the surface, so no sealing is needed there. However, cutting the edges will expose pores, so those must be sealed.  

    How unique (1-10)? 5

    Why? So, your slightly off-kilter neighbor Larry is selling his house and going into assisted living. But not before getting rid of his 1976 Corvette Stingray and selling off his old disco shirts at a yard sale. What better use for polyester shirts than turning them into kitchen counters?

    Sounds like a killer conversation piece. Except that, despite the name, polyester counters are very much like that staple of millions of kitchens already: solid surface counters.

    You'll pay a 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.

  • 11 of 12

    Skimcoat Concrete

    Ardex Fauxcrete kitchen counter
    Sarah Riedl

    Concrete skimmed by hand over a cement backerboard, smoothed, and waxed.

    How unique (1-10)? 10

    Why? Positively, insanely unique.  

    No, this isn't a concrete counter in the traditional sense. This is no concrete pour; this is a skim-coat.

    One of the smartest accounts that with have read comes from intrepid Minneapolis resident, Sarah Riedl, who, unlike those who just think about it, actually followed the dream. 

    She wanted to skim existing counters, but none existed. So, she and husband Chris constructed a top made of 1"x2" frame, 1/2" OSB, and 1/2" cement backerboard. Then they laid down three coats of Ardex Feather Finish, sanded, and covered it all with carnauba wax. 

    She reports 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.

  • 12 of 12

    Poured Epoxy

    Epoxy Resin Countertop
    Countertop Epoxy

    To be clear, this is not your typical countertop resurfacing operation like the Rustoleum Countertop Transformations kit. While a fine product, the Rustoleum kit is one quart of material and it spreads on with a roller. This epoxy-based resurfacer, instead, comes in gallon quantities and pours on.

    How unique (1-10)? 10

    Why? As a surface material, poured epoxy is a bit schizophrenic, occupying both the world of brewpub "penny floors" and world-class biomedical facilities for laboratory tables.

    Epoxy counters can take up to 518 degrees F before distorting. Its Achilles Heel is a thermal shock (moving the frozen turkey from the counter and replacing it with a hot pan). 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 .5 percent).

    Epoxy resin adequately mimics marble. But it really excels with those in-your-face solid colors like the pictured bottle green from Countertop Epoxy.

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