8 Popular Countertop Materials

When designing or remodeling a kitchen, choosing the countertops can be a difficult decision.  There are so many options, from color to material, and a wide range of prices.  Once you start to narrow things down, however, it can actually start to be pretty fun.  The best thing to get your mind going when choosing is to just look at a bunch of pictures for inspiration.  It also helps to decide how you want the entire kitchen to look before picking a countertop.

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Different Countertop Materials

Granite

Granite countertops are long lasting, versatile, and attractive.  They come in a huge variety of colors and types and are built to last multiple generations.  Granite is naturally impervious to heat due to the way the stone is formed under intense pressures and heat in the Earth’s crust.  It’s also naturally harder to scratch and easier to repair should you accidentally chip it.  However, sometimes granite can easily be stained unless it’s sealed properly due to its porous nature.  Granite is also more resistant to fading from direct sunlight.

With granite you can also directly pick your slab that will be formed into your countertop, which can be a fun process.  Each one is unique!

Granite can also add a lot of value to your home, however you should ensure that it is installed properly to prevent cracking due to stress or poor installation.

Quartz

Quartz countertops are more expensive than granite however they lack some of granite’s main strengths.  Quartz is sensitive to heat and is also more difficult to repair.  However it is generally stain proof and more easier to maintain in the long run.  Unfortunately quartz can fade quickly in direct sun, especially darker shades.  It’s a good idea to think about whether or not your countertop will have a lot of direct sun shining on it.

Due to the way that quartz countertops are manufactured, they can be made to order in any shape or size, and there are fewer limitations.

Marble

Marble is a “luxury” countertop, being both expensive and difficult to maintain.  It can scratch and stain easily, although newer sealers can prevent some of this.  Given its pricetag its rare to see entire kitchens decked out in marble – its often used for just an island or a section reserved as a baking area.  It’s also a bit too hard to DIY installation – each counter has to be custom made.

Due to the unique makeup of marble slabs no two countertops are the same – each stone is different!

Soapstone

Soapstone has seen a resurgence lately in terms of being a popular stylistic choice.  The stone is known for its “soapy” feel to the touch.  It was once used quite often in the “olden days” and is often seen in some historic homes that have retained the original counters.  Over time the stone takes on that rustic feel and can give your kitchen a more old fashioned feel.

Although soapstone is relatively impervious to heat, it can scratch and “dent” easily.  However some feel that this adds charm and character to the surface.

Ceramic Tile

Tile countertops are popular with DIY people or those who want the specific look.  It’s also much less expensive than many other countertops.  These counters are heat resistant and stain resistant (except for grout, which stains easily and is hard to clean due to its porous nature).  However tile are brittle and may crack under sudden force such as a dropped dish.

Custom tiles can give your kitchen an incredibly unique look, however this can cost a lot of money.

Laminate

One of the cheapest countertops you can get is laminate, which is a plastic coated synthetic.  It is also known under names such as Formica, Nevamar and Wilsonart.  Laminate can be custom made in almost any color, and some laminates are dead-ringers for marble, granite, and other more expensive countertop surfaces.

Unfortunately laminate is not as sturdy as the previous countertops mentioned.  It is not heat resistant and can scratch easily.  Damages such as chips can be almost impossible to repair.

Wooden Butcher Block

For a rustic or farm style look, wooden butcher block counters can be a great option.  Although they require a bit of maintenance they are easier to repair and can last a long time with proper care.  They come in a variety of different wood and stain colors as well, making them fairly versatile.

Due to the fact that wood is not that hard these counters can be scratched easily by things like knives.  Stains can also occur due to the wood’s porous nature.  Bacteria can also nestle into wood unless it’s properly taken care of.

Concrete

For a modern or industrial look, concrete countertops are gaining popularity.  Concrete is very heat and scratch resistant and can be easily made to fit unusual counter shapes or designs.  These counters are often cast right in the kitchen due to their weight. Unfortunately concrete is sometimes subject to cracking, although modern additives have reduced this risk somewhat.

These counters can be somewhat expensive due to the fact that they all have to be custom made, and they are probably too difficult for DIYers unless they are in the industry.