Choosing the Best Countertop Option for Your Home
New countertops can transform the look of your entire kitchen, even if you’re not doing a complete remodel. But there are so many countertop materials from which to choose - deciding on just one can be difficult.
This guide will help you understand all of the options. Learn about the pros and cons of various countertop materials, as well as how much you can expect to spend. We’ll tackle everything from popular materials like granite to modern favorites like concrete and recycled glass.
Natural Stone: $50-$125 per square foot
Natural stone is available in a wide variety of colors and patterns, and no two countertops are exactly alike. Granite, of course, is the most popular of natural stones. It has been the countertop material of choice for many than a decade now, regarded for its beauty and strength.
Less common natural stones include marble, soapstone and limestone. They’re great if you’re craving a unique look. However, marble and soapstone are much softer than granite, making them more susceptible to stains and scratches. Also, high-end marble is more expensive than other stones, selling for as much as $250 per square foot.
- PROS: Classic; durable; heat resistant
- CONS: Expensive; porous
Quartz, also called engineered stone, is relatively new but growing in popularity. Quartz countertops are available in a wide variety of color options, from neutral to bright blues. Popular brands include Cambria, Silestone and Zodiaq.
Quartz countertops are made by combining more than 90 percent natural quartz with a resin mixture for binding. Because quartz countertops are factory-made, not purely natural, they have uniform look and texture. They are much easier to clean and maintain than natural stone.
- PROS: Attractive; durable; low maintenance; heat and scratch resistant; bacteria resistant; no sealing required
- CONS: Almost as expensive as natural stone; not as natural looking
Solid Surface: $40-$80/sf
Solid surface countertops are manmade, yet they mimic the look of natural materials such as stone, glass and wood. They look is more attractive than laminate, but the quality is inferior to quartz. Solid surface countertops are available in an enormous variety of color and design options.
- PROS: Less expensive than stone or quartz; very low maintenance; durable; countless color and design options; stain resistant
- CONS: Not as natural looking; can be damaged by hot pans or knives
Wood or Butcher Block: $35-$100/sf
Wood countertops add warmth and character to a room. They can be used to create a rustic, country look. Or, use them to soften a modern kitchen. Butcher block is the most common type of wood countertop, but you can opt for just about any type of wood available, from recycled to exotic woods.
- PROS: Charming; long-lasting; can be refinished
- CONS: Easily damaged by water, heat, chemicals or acidic food; require sealing and regular maintenance
Restaurants have long used metal countertops because they are clean and sanitary, but metal is growing in popularity for residential use - both in modern and traditional kitchens. Stainless steel is the most popular metal countertop, but other options include copper, pewter and zinc.
- PROS: Tough; antibacterial; heat and stain resistant
- CONS: Prone to scratches and dents; hard to repair; expensive
Concrete : $75-$125/sf
Concrete is another material that is currently in vogue. Concrete is actually more versatile than most people think. Sure, it can be used to create a modern, industrial look. But the look can be softened by opting for warm-toned wooden cabinets and floors. Or, the concrete can be tinted to match just about any design.
- PROS: Durable; unique look; heat and stain resistant
- CONS: Susceptible to cracks; must be sealed to prevent stains and water damage; very heavy
Laminate countertops exploded in popularity after World War II and remained the most popular countertop material for many decades. They’ve largely fallen out of fashion, but the low price makes them a great option for some homeowners. Laminate countertops have also improved immensely over the last few decades - they’re much more attractive and they can even be designed to mimic natural stone.
- PROS: Affordable; many color and design options; easy to clean
- CONS: Not as attractive as other materials; susceptible to damage from heat and knives; impossible to repair; only compatible with drop-in sinks
Tile countertops are extremely versatile. They’re available in a wide variety of colors and styles. For a really unique look, you can purchase tiles with a design or pattern. Tiles can be installed over some existing countertops, including laminate, which makes the installation process easy and inexpensive.
- PROS: Many colors and designs; affordable; easy to install
- CONS: Prone to scratches and chips; grout susceptible to stains; heat and scratch resistant
Glass countertops used to be a rare sight, but they’re growing in popularity. They create a modern look, and they’re one of the most sanitary countertop options available. Glass countertops can be designed to match about any decor, too - they can be cut into almost any shape and stained in any color.
- PROS: Sanitary; easy to clean; durable; many design options
- CONS: Expensive
Interested in going eco-friendly? A wide variety of recycled countertop materials have emerged in recent years. Choose from concrete, glass, bamboo, plastic - even paper. Because there are so many green options from which to choose, the design options are nearly endless. And your countertops will be anything but boring.
- PROS: Eco-friendly; unique
- CONS: Expensive; harder to find at traditional stores