How to Choose Kitchen Countertops

When choosing kitchen countertops, consider carefully what you need and what you can afford. It’s a good idea to choose the most functional material possible for your countertop.




Kitchen countertop made of quartz
Kitchen countertop made of quartz

It needs to be…

  • durable.
  • easy to clean and maintain.
  • stain-resistant to all liquids, even acids.
  • heat-resistant to many different objects (pots, pans…).
  • scratch-resistant, to avoid scratches while cutting ingredients on it.
  • a suitable match for your tastes and kitchen design.

It’s difficult to find material for kitchen countertops that possesses all these qualities, so a combination of different kinds of materials is perhaps the best option. It’s interesting, practical and probably cheaper. For example, you can use a quality material, such as granite, for places that receive the most frequent use (e.g., around the range or the sink), and you can cover the rest with cheaper material, such as laminate.

Kinds of material for kitchen countertops

The following materials are popular choices for kitchen countertops. Some other, less traditional ones, such as lava stone, paper-base, copper & zinc, are also used, but less often; perhaps they will become popular in the future.

Some of them require comparatively little care and maintenance. Others you will need to maintain regularly (e.g., resealing and/or polishing), according to the instructions of the manufacturer.

1. Natural stone

Expensive, but functional. You can use different types of stone for your kitchen countertops: granite, marble, mineral soapstone, limestone, slate… Each one has its advantages and disadvantages. What unites them is their excellent durability and beauty.

Granite is a stone that possesses highly desirable qualities, and it can be used anywhere in your kitchen; round the sink, round the range, for a food preparation area… If price is a consideration, you might want to use it only for a kitchen island.

Characteristic features…

  • extremely durable.
  • visually appealing, with a unique pattern for each layer.
  • scratch-resistant (in contrast to marble, which is a softer stone).
  • heat-resistant.

Disadvantages…

  • absorbs liquids; you will need to maintain it regularly.

Learn more about granite countertops.
Learn more about marble countertops.
Learn more about soapstone countertops.
Learn more about slate countertops.

2. Stainless steel

This is a functional, comparatively expensive material. It can be used anywhere in your kitchen; round the sink, round the range, for a food preparation area… You can integrate it with a sink, as a seamless unit. This will facilitate cleaning and gives your countertop an integrated look.

Other qualities…

  • neutral color, which facilitates color coordination for your kitchen.
  • trouble-free maintenance (this is the choice for countertops in the food service industry).
  • heat-resistant.
  • stain-resistant and waterproof.

Disadvantages…

  • prone to scratching.
  • prone to fingerprints.
  • easily dented; you need a hard base to attach it to (usually plywood). The hard base also serves to reduce any noise made by objects coming into contact with the steel.

Learn more about stainless steel countertops.

3. Concrete

A comparatively expensive material. Concrete is a good solution if your countertop will have an unusual shape; you can cast it directly in your kitchen.

Characteristic features…

  • easy to shape the edges.
  • easily integrated with a sink, like the variant with the steel.
  • can be painted, polished or textured.
  • can be customized according to your needs and desires.

Disadvantages…

  • absorbs liquids; you will need to maintain it regularly.
  • prone to cracking.
  • placing hot utensils on the surface can mar the finish.

Learn more about concrete countertops.

4. Tiles

A comparatively cheap material, although custom-made tiles may be expensive. You can place them anywhere in your kitchen; round the sink, round the range, for a food preparation area…

Characteristic features of ceramic tiles, which are among the most frequently used for kitchen countertops…

  • wide range of colors, patterns and textures.
  • durable, heat-resistant.
  • glazed tiles are stain-resistant and waterproof.
  • tile countertops are comparatively cheaper than large slabs.

Disadvantages…

  • fragile.
  • difficult to knead on them, due to the uneven surface.
  • matte tiles absorb liquids; you will need to maintain them regularly.
  • the grout between the tiles gathers dirt.

Learn more about tile countertops.

5. Laminate

An artificially produced, low-cost material, laminate is one of the most frequently used materials for kitchen countertops. It’s best to put it in places in your kitchen that are not used frequently, because its quality is not as high as that of some of the other materials.




Characteristic features…

  • beautiful and affordable.
  • a wide range of colors, patterns and textures.
  • can resemble ceramic, stone or hardwood.
  • easy to shape the edges.

Disadvantages…

  • prone to scratching.
  • vulnerable to heat.
  • fragile.
  • once damaged (burns, scratches…), it is difficult to repair.

Learn more about laminate countertops.

6. Wood

A natural, comparatively cheap material. Ideal for preparing food on. A very good variant is to use it as a butcher’s block, inserted in a countertop made of other material.

Characteristic features…

  • warm, comforting appearance.
  • a wide range of finishes, shapes and designs.
  • easy to shape the edges.
  • minor damage to the countertops is easily repaired by sanding.

Disadvantages…

  • vulnerable to heat and moisture; you can spoil it if it is placed near the range or the sink.
  • absorbs liquids; you will need to maintain it regularly.
  • prone to scratching.

Learn more about wood countertops.

7. Solid surface

A moderately expensive artificial material. You can use it for a great part of your countertops in the kitchen, especially round the sink. You can integrate it with the sink, just as with steel and concrete.

Other qualities…

  • durable and trouble-free maintenance.
  • easily shaped edges.
  • a variety of styles exist.
  • it is possible for it to have strong visual appeal, like stone.
  • damage such as scratches and burns can be repaired.
  • stain-resistant and waterproof.

Disadvantages…

  • vulnerable to heat.
  • prone to scratching.

Learn more about solid surface countertops.

8. Quartz (or engineered stone)

An expensive but quality material for countertop. A great percentage of it is real quartz stone. You can place it everywhere in your kitchen, as with granite and steel. Again, if price is a consideration it can be used just for a kitchen island.

Some of its characteristic features…

  • durable, smooth and scratch-resistant.
  • a visually appealing material with consistent colors.
  • adds a luxurious element to your kitchen.
  • stain-resistant and waterproof.
  • heat-resistant.
  • trouble-free maintenance.

Learn more about quartz countertops.

9. Glass

Glass is not often thought of as a material for countertops, yet glass is an ideal material for modern kitchen countertops.

Characteristic features…

  • glass looks beautiful and adds a transparent or translucent depth to your kitchen countertops as compared to the traditional opaque countertops.
  • glass provides an aesthetic as well as a functional advantage, and can be totally customized as per your tastes and requirements.
  • when it comes to maintenance and hygiene, glass countertops are the best, since they are absolutely non-porous, moisture-resistant and stain resistant.
  • glass can endure heat, and is suitable for areas around ovens and stoves.

Disadvantages…

  • prone to cracking.

Learn more about glass countertops.

Price of kitchen countertops

The price of your countertops depends on the materials used and how difficult the work is:

  • color, pattern, texture.
  • shaping the edges.
  • size.
  • possibility of integration with the sink.
  • installation…

Kitchen countertops installation

Even if the installation of your kitchen countertops looks easy, I recommend that you use the services of a professional.




16 Replies to “How to Choose Kitchen Countertops”

  1. Kitchen Remodeling NYC consists of a team of professionals representing the absolute top in Kitchen designs offers custom-built cabinets offering the widest variety of laminates and finishes.

    By staying current with the latest trends in traditional, transitional and contemporary styles we provide our clients with a highly educated and experienced team of designers whose designs are on the leading edge in the industry.

  2. “When choosing kitchen countertops, consider carefully what you need and what you can afford.”
    very well said.

  3. I commend very helpful blog postings like this. Thank you very much for sharing this to us and the large number of consumers you are helping.

  4. Thank you for the pros and cons of counter tops. I am using your disadvantages to tile counters in an upcoming blog in December regarding changing counter tops before putting a house on the market. I like the look of fresh new tile but maintenance, especially regarding the grout, is a big issue for me. I love granite and like laminate.

  5. Thank you for your comment, Valerie. I think that the beauty and durability of granite make it one of the best choices for kitchen countertops.

  6. What a wonderful article about kitchen counters! Very useful for beginners! Thanks a lot for that!
    From my side, I just want to share one more related article, which will be harmonic addition to this one: How to choose right material for your countertop if you know a color

  7. Great article, I especially like the part about glass countertops. You don’t see many people mention them as an option.

  8. This is a very interesting post on kitchen countertops. The content is very informative and I am so glad that I dropped by. Thanks!

  9. Thanks so much for the information on the Granite countertop, I appreciate that very much.

    Stuart

  10. What an extremely helpful, informative and well written article.

    As a personal preference I went with concrete, mostly because you can adapt it to your kitchen while still being able to give it an artsy design, call me eccentric but I like to personalize my home as much as possible, however you do need an experienced and talented contractor.

  11. Yes, installation of concrete counters is a very special job. It requires a high skilled professional and intensive skilled labor.

    Regards,

    Ganka

  12. Great ideas, don’t forget about the paint job btw, it’s also very important as well. It’s the finishing touch to truly customize your kitchen.

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