by Jeremy Troetti / December 16, 2019
Table of Contents
Last updated on December 20, 2019
Installing new countertops is a major sign that your kitchen remodel is almost complete. From natural stone to engineered stone and many other countertop materials, you will have plenty of options to evaluate before making your final decision. This guide will fill you in on what your top countertop options are and provides information about the positive aspects, negative aspects and cost of each option.
How to Choose Kitchen Countertops: Finding the Right Material
Choosing kitchen countertops is not a process that should be rushed. Because the surfaces will remain in your home for many years, you will want to choose something that will satisfy you long term. From natural materials to engineered surfaces, the following are your best countertop choices.
Granite is one of the overall best materials you can find for countertops. These natural stone countertops are known for being beautiful, durable and low maintenance. Granite slabs can be found in a variety of colors, many of which include gorgeous veining. The material is heat resistant, stain resistant and scratch resistant. Granite countertops are easy to clean and do not require re-sealing as often as many other materials. If you are looking for an ideal countertop surface (or backsplash, kitchen island top, etc.), there are many reasons for granite to be at the top of your wish list.
Average Cost: Between $32 to $75 per square foot
|Many colors and styles to choose from||Rare types can be pricey|
|Resistant to heat, stains and scratches|
|Easy to care for|
Marble countertops have long been adored by homeowners. If you are looking to incorporate natural beauty into your home, these surfaces can help you accomplish just that. As with granite, marble will offer you many countertop colors to choose from. While you will have to be careful with acidic spills (coffee, tea, soda, wine, etc.), as long as you are careful and keep up on cleaning and re-sealing, your marble countertops will look amazing for years.
Average Cost: $40 to $100 per square foot
|Natural beauty||Prone to stains from acidic substances|
|Many colors and styles to choose from||Rare types can be expensive|
For homeowners who enjoy the appearance of marble but want the toughness of granite, quartzite countertops are an excellent choice. The surfaces can be found in various colors and styles and is very durable. If these qualities appeal to you, quartzite may be just the material you are looking for.
Average Cost: Between $60 to $120 per square foot
|Beautiful||High-end types can be expensive|
|Durable||Some types can require re-sealing more often|
|Variety of color options|
Quartz countertops are the best alternative to natural stone options. These surfaces are engineered by combining roughly 90 percent ground natural quartz with around 10 percent polyresin. The specific percentages will slightly vary based on specific brands (Caesarstone, Silestone, etc.). Because it is manufactured, quartz can be made to replicate the look of natural stone. It is available in many colors and styles. The material is durable, easy to clean and does not require sealing. One of the only downfalls is that you will have to be careful with heat around these surfaces. Excessive heat can cause the resin to melt, resulting in a permanent burn mark on your countertop.
Average Cost: Between $50 to $120 per square foot
|Many colors and styles to choose from||Can be damaged by excessive heat|
|Durable||Rare types can be pricey|
|Easy to clean|
|Does not require sealing|
Slate countertops are a fantastic choice if you are looking for a darker countertop surface that works well in a modern kitchen design. The natural stone can be found in a range of beautiful gray tones. Slate is also a very durable material and is resistant to heat and stains.
Average Cost: Between $50 to $200 per square foot
|Beautiful||Not many colors to choose from|
|Ideal for modern kitchens||Some types can be costly|
|Heat and stain resistant|
Beautiful, durable and smooth to the touch are all words that can be used to describe soapstone. This material is an excellent choice for your new kitchen countertops. Not only is it beautiful and low maintenance, but soapstone will naturally darken over time and develop a distinct patina. If you want to speed up the process, you can also treat your soapstone with mineral oil.
Average Cost: Between $55 to $100 per square foot
|Beautiful||Only available in greens and grays|
|Durable||Naturally darkens over time (may not appeal to some)|
|Smooth to the touch|
|Naturally darkens over time|
If you are looking for a countertop that will bring feelings of light and warmth to your space, limestone countertops will appeal to you. While you will need to be extremely cautious in the kitchen (because limestone is very porous), you can be rewarded by the natural stone’s incredible beauty. You will need to re-seal more often that you would with many other natural stones, but the process is not complicated in any way.
Average Cost: Between $70 to $200 per square foot
|Beautiful||You must be very cautious|
|Brings feelings of light and warmth to the space||Requires re-sealing more often than some other stones|
Travertine countertops are very similar to limestone. Much of this is due to travertine being a type of limestone, although the two names should not be used interchangeably. Travertine and limestone do have distinct differences. This stone is known for its long streaks and consistent color.
Average Cost: Between $45 to $75 per square foot
|High-quality appearance||You will need to be very careful|
|Long streaks and consistent color||Requires more frequent sealing than many other stones|
Onyx countertops are truly a stunning and exotic addition to any home. This natural stone is sure to become the focal point of any room you install it in. Because the stone is translucent, it can be backlit, which will further highlight its coloring.
Average Cost: Between $75 to 250 per square foot
|Incredible beauty||Needs more care than many other stones|
|Can be backlit|
Glass countertops are another great alternative to natural stone. Not only are these surfaces pleasing to the eye, but they are also a very durable material. Glass is resistant to stains, scratches and heat – making it a terrific option for the kitchen. You will also not need to seal glass.
Average Cost: Between $50 to $70 per square foot
|Pleasing to the eye||Can show fingerprints, dust, etc.|
|Great for modern kitchens|
|Resistant to stains, scratches and heat|
Lastly, if you are looking for a truly breathtaking kitchen countertop, consider gemstone. Found in many different colors and styles, this rare material will bring a stunning pop of color to your kitchen. Gemstone is also very durable.
Average Cost: Start around $100 per square foot
|Can be found in different colors and styles||Require more care than many other materials|
What Are Some Other Kitchen Countertop Materials?
While the materials above are your best options for kitchen countertops, there are some other choices you can find. The alternatives are analyzed below.
Wood countertops are known to bring a warm feel to the kitchen. However, the surfaces are not the easiest to care for and can sustain damages.
Butcher Block Countertops
Butcher block is a similar material to wood. In fact, the material is made from strips of wood that are bonded together. These surfaces will require frequent care, including sanding and oiling.
Stainless Steel Countertops
Stainless steel countertops can be a great fit in a modern kitchen. On the flip side, the material is known for having a ‘cold’ look, can easily sustain various types of damages and is noisy to work on.
Laminate, commonly called by the brand name Formica, is well regarded for being inexpensive. While there are many different styles you can choose from, you will ultimately not end up with the highest quality option for a countertop. Laminate countertops are prone to many types of damage and often cannot be repaired.
Solid Surface Countertops
Solid surface countertops (often associated with the brand name Corian) are another alternative to stone. While they can mimic the appearance, do not be fooled into thinking these surfaces can match the quality of stone. Not only can solid surface countertops sustain many types of damages, but these countertops are not cheap either.
Concrete countertops are trendy. However, as with many other materials in this section, the surfaces can get sustain irreversible damages if you are not very careful around them.
Ceramic Tile Countertops
As with laminate countertops, ceramic tile countertops are often a common choice due to low cost. That said, you will need to put in some extra care with these surfaces, especially because of the grout lines you will have to deal with.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can You Install Your Own Countertops?
While some materials, like ceramic tile, can be a DIY job, you will generally need to hire a professional to install your new countertops (especially with stone). Many of the materials above are heavy and difficult to handle. Hiring a professional will significantly lower the risk of improper installation and ensure that you will not get hurt attempting to install the surface yourself.
How Can You Get a Good Countertop at a Low Cost?
There are several ways to find a high-quality option while keeping the cost low. The best way is to choose colors and styles that are common. For example, choosing a common type of white granite will be much less expensive than choosing a rare type of the stone that is blue.
Can You Put Hot Pots and/or Hot Pans on Your Countertop?
The answer to this question is that it will depend on which material you choose. Out of the ones described in this guide, granite is your best bet for a surface on which you can do this. However, while you can does not mean that you should. It is always a great idea to protect your kitchen countertop as much as possible by using trivets, hot pads, cutting boards, etc.
Regardless of which material you choose, you will want to carefully sort through all your available options before deciding on a new countertop. Reviewing the information in this guide can help you find a terrific new kitchen countertop that you can enjoy for years to come.