Choosing the materials for new kitchen countertops can be a stressful, daunting task. The options may seem limitless, but there are only just a handful of materials that are commonly used in modern home building and renovations.
Five of the most popular kitchen countertop materials in use today include:
Quartz, or engineered stone, kitchen countertops are the most popular surface for kitchen remodeling projects.
- Extremely hard and durable
- Flexible properties make quartz countertops less likely to chip or crack than other similar surfaces
- Highly stain resistant
- Never needs resealing
- Quartz can discolor over time with regular exposure to sunlight. Sections of the counter that get exposed to UV rays may begin to look different with prolonged exposure.
- Seams will show, particularly on lighter color quartz countertops
- The price of quartz countertops is among the highest in kitchen countertop options.
- Weak tolerance to heat
Wood kitchen countertops, also known as “butcher block” countertops, are still a popular choice for homeowners who enjoy the natural look and warmth they add to the home’s character.
- Wood adds a feeling of warmth and beauty to a kitchen that no other material can match
- There is a wide range of wood types used for countertops. Hardwood adds a rustic touch to homes and is used extensively in modern home building and renovations. Maple, cherry, oak, birch, and teak are also popular types of wood countertops.
- Wood countertops are incredibly versatile and can go with just about all kitchen styles
- Wood is an excellent surface for cutting and other food preparation processes
- If not sealed properly, wood countertops can store germs inside its porous surface
- Susceptible to water damage
- Periodic refinishing may be needed
- Wood is softer than other countertop materials and can be damaged easier. Keep a cutting board handy
Granite kitchen countertops offer a rich beauty that will improve the look and style of your entire kitchen.
- Every granite slab is different with varying shades, lines, and patterns’, meaning every granite kitchen countertop is a unique creation
- Granite countertops are wise investments, adding value to your home
- Granite is a sturdy, scratch-resistant material that will last for decades
- Heat-resistant properties valuable for placing hot pots or pans directly on the surface
- Among the most important features for a kitchen countertop, especially when children are involved, is that adequately sealed granite countertops are extremely stain resistant
- Prone to cracking and chipping
- Slab seams will be visible on countertops
- Granite is expensive; installation is costly and labor-intensive
- May require additional structural support
Laminate countertops reached the height of its popularity in the 1960s, but remain an affordable and viable option new and remodeling kitchen designs.
- Laminate is typically the least expensive and most widely available material for kitchen countertops
- Simple enough to install and replace that most can be done by handy DIY enthusiasts.
- Prone to damage caused by hot pans and knife scratches
- Hard to repair sections of laminate countertops
- Will not add to the resale value of the property
The clean look and shiny gloss of marble countertops add an element of class and elegance to any kitchen design.
- Simply stated, marble countertops are beautiful, bright, and timeless
- When common marble is used, marble countertops are among the least expensive types of natural material used countertops
- Materials are widely available
- Susceptible to scratching
- Easily stained
6. Solid Surface Materials
Countertops made from solid surface materials offer a durable alternative to real stones or wood, as well as offer a variety of solid surface countertops colors.
- Hard, solid surface
- Non-porous, resistant to bacterial growth
- Versatility allows for a wide range of colors and shapes, with different types of edge finishes
- Installation is a labor-intensive project that is best left to professionals
- Heat can cause discoloration or disfigurement
One of the most popular countertop materials, Soapstone is not without its pros and cons. Keep in mind the following if you are considering soapstone countertops:
- Non-porous, making soapstone resistant to bacterial buildup as well as staining.
- Crack-resistant, making soapstone a durable choice for your countertop
- Unique – no two soapstone slabs are alike.
- Must be oiled regularly to reduce watermarks and ensure the stone darkens evenly
- Unfinished soapstone can scratch glassware or china..
Quartzite is often confused with marble, but quartzite is an entirely different stone. In fact, quartz is more comparable to marble or granite than quartz.
- Looks like marble, with less maintenance needed, allowing homeowners to add an element of class without the work.
- UV-Resistant, making quartzite perfect for outdoor applications. No fading!
- Simple cleaning – soap and water will typically do the trick.
- Doesn’t stand up well to direct heat. Hot pots or pans may damage quartzite.
- Susceptible to damage from sharp objects, such as knives.
- Limited color choices, making quartzite not as customizable as other countertop materials.
Designing your custom kitchen can be a rewarding experience; creating a unique kitchen aesthetic can influence the tone of your entire home.
Mandy Lee is a contributor to Innovative Green Building Materials. She is a blogger and a content writer for the building materials industry. Mandy is focused on helping fellow homeowners, contractors, and architects discover materials and methods of construction that increase property value, maximize energy savings, and turn houses into homes.