The Best Kitchen Countertop Materials

Shopping for countertops can feel very overwhelming since there are hundreds of colors, patterns, and textures. However, there are really only a few basic categories of materials for countertops that you should know. Let's break down the pros and cons as well as the important information to know for each type of countertop.

First off, when choosing a counter material you need to think about your needs and habits in the kitchen.  For example, if you cook a lot and do prep on the countertop, you don't want to use a soft porous material. You also have to consider your overall kitchen design. You want to make sure the counters fit with the appliances, the backsplash as well as the cabinets in your kitchen.

Natural Stone

Granite: This is a very common and popular material for a countertop since it comes in a variety of colors. The colors offered range from vibrant reds and blues, midnight black, as wells as white.

Pros - no (or low) visible seams, durable surface, heat-resistant

Cons - must be sealed to resist heat as well as can be expensive

Marble: This is a softer stone and more high end then granite. It is also comes in much fewer colors. However it is great surface for baking but since it is softer might show knife scars or be discolored by citric acid.   

Pros - durable, striking natural patterns

Cons - high-maintenance, needs repeated sealing, expensive

Soapstone

pros - won't need sealing

cons - soft and may show knife marks

Slate

pros - won't need sealing

cons - brittle especially at corners

 

Engineered Stone

Quartz : This is stone is what most engineered stone is made out of. It comes it lots of different colors and is a hard material so it doesn't need any sealing

pros - no sealing, durable, low maitenance

cons - expensive 

Concrete

 

Precast: These concrete slabs are extremely smooth and flat. These countertops can also have a variety of colors as well as have glass or other materials embedded in to give it an artistic feel. 

pros - won't scratch, durable, heat resistant

cons - must be professionally installed, expensive, needs sealing

Solid surfaces

Acrylic or Polyester: These counters show no seems since the pieces get fused together. This is great for long stretches of countertop. You can also get sinks to match

pros - low maitenance, lots of colors, repairable, non-porous

cons - not heat resistant, shows knife marks and scratches

Plastic Laminates

pros - very affordable, durable and hardwearing, ready-to-install,

cons - not heat resistant,  can chip or scratch

Tile

Ceramic or Stone:  Lots of color options and many different styles. Has to be applied over laminate or fresh plywood topped with cement backerboard. 

pros - lots of colors,  affordable, lots of choices,  ceramic is non porous

cons - regular grout cleaning is necessary

Wood

Edge-Grain: These counters have long, thick strips of wood that are glued together with the edge grain facing up

End-Grain (aka Butcher Block): These counters have relatively short, square sticks of wood that are joined together with the tough end grain facing up

Wide-Plank: These counters are made by edge-gluing wide boards together. These counters are the most susceptible to warping and cracking.

pros to wood - warm, ideal work surface, heat resistant

cons to wood- medium maintenance, will show knife marks

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