One of my jobs as an Interior Designer is to educate my clients to ensure the products and finishes we are choosing best suit the aesthetics of the house but also the finishes and materials.
This is especially important in the most used room of the house - The Kitchen!
I have put together a list of the top 10 most popular kitchen countertop materials (in no special order) and the pros and cons:
Granite is the one that is most familiar and has long been one of the most common kitchen countertop materials. Because it is a natural stone, it tends to go well with earthly aesthetics.
When taken care of properly, it can last for over ten years. If your kitchen is busy like mine, this is ideal for you. It has a high level of durability and strength. Granite is heat, stain, and scratch-resistant but must be properly sealed.
Susceptible to cracking
Can have an outdated look
Needs to be sealed due to it being naturally porous
Absorbs liquids that can lead to bacterial build-up
Granite Pros: (the pros may outweigh the cons)
Heat, scratch, and stain resistant
Does not contain synthetic resin
Marble is another popular choice for countertops amongst homeowners. It is an irrefutably stunning material that exudes elegance. The marble’s cool, smooth surface brings a touch of nature into your home.
Marble comes in a wide variety of colors and designs
Can increase in value over time equating to a great investment
Has a naturally cool temperature
Not a prominent conductor of heat
It is porous and needs sealing to prevent stains
Heavy and DIY installation is not possible
It is very delicate that can be prone to scratches and stains
3. Quartz (Engineered Stone)
Quartz is one of my favorites and is becoming very popular in the market because of its low maintenance and durability. Unlike other natural stones, quartz does not require sealing, oiling, or sanding, which provides a major convenience factor for homeowners. All you need to do is wipe it down with mild soap and warm water. Easy Peasy! It will go with most of your kitchen decor because there are various designs to choose from. Thanks to advances in technology, engineered quartz looks like natural stone. Let’s go over the pros and cons.
Quartz offers a wide variety of designs
Low maintenance, sealing, and sanding needed
It has superior durability
It won’t scratch, crack, or chip
Quartz may discolor over time
The resin and fillers are not susceptible to heat
It might not have a natural look as other natural stones
Soapstone is a natural stone that is more than likely dark gray in color and has a silky-smooth finish. It’s also been used as a substitute for granite. It is not as hard as granite; therefore, it is prone to scratches and damage. However, due to its softness, it can be carved in the style of your choice.
If you’re opting for more of a country-style kitchen with less warmth, the elegance of soapstone will definitely fit. Its dark color tones give it a rustic, elegant, and urbane yet require mineral oiling to keep its best appearance and develop a natural finish over time.
It is stain and heat resistant
It doesn’t need to be sealed
Can be recycled
Restricted range of color options
Soft and can be scratched and damaged easily
Concrete countertops could be a great alternative for you if you want your kitchen countertops to stand out from the crowd. You can use your imagination to create your unique texture and color. They are frequently cast in shapes directly in your kitchen due to their heavy weight.
The cement and sand mixture’s strength makes it particularly long-lasting. Although it is susceptible to cracking, there are new treatments that can help minimize this from happening.
Concrete’s porousness can be reduced with additives. A bonus to concrete countertops is that they are considered a premium material. They can increase the resale value in line with quartz and natural stone.
Difficult to scratch and resistant to heat
It can be customized in terms of size, design, shape, and texture
Prone to cracks
It needs regular resealing to avoid stains
It takes time to make a custom countertop
6. Butcher Block or Wood
Hardwoods like maple and oak are the most conventional types of wood used as countertops. Butcher block countertops give your kitchen a rustic feel and bring life to any space. It too comes in a variety of colors and finishes.
Wood requires a lot of effort and care, but the beauty is clearly worth it. It manages to achieve a natural look while having a modern touch. Butcher block countertops are even more enticing since they are built from reclaimed wood.
Butcher Block Pros
Adds beauty and warmth to your kitchen
With superior durability, it will not easily get scratch, crack, or chip
Butcher Block Cons
They need a lot of maintenance and care
Can be damaged due to overexposure to liquids
Requires proper sealing to avoid excessive bacteria build-up
7. Solid-Surface Material
If you want a totally seamless countertop, a solid surface may be the best option. It is available in many styles and closely mimics the look of natural stone. This is also appropriate for those with a tight budget who like basic colors and designs.
The word “solid” reinforces the sense that this is a very secure base. A solid surface is a uniform material that extends from top to bottom.
Solid Surface Pros
Impact-resistant and non-porous surface
Can easily be sanded out
Solid Surface Cons
DIY installation is not possible
Does not work well with strong chemicals
Not susceptible to heat and can easily scratch
This is my least favorite for everyday living but if cost is a huge factor, a laminate countertop may be the ideal option for your kitchen. If you’re an investor and will have different people often living in the space, this may work well for you. It comes in a variety of styles and is very simple to set up.
The laminate sheets are bonded to a particleboard core to create the countertop. Laminate countertops are available in preformed segments or can be custom-built to your specifications. Some homeowners say that laminates are not as durable as other materials. However, today’s laminates are far better than the old ones in terms of quality.
Cost-effective to homeowners and investors
Easy maintenance and several design options
Easy to install because of its lightweight nature
Prone to damage and dullness
Cannot be repaired or resealed
Can easily scratch and must not be exposed to direct heat
9. Stainless Steel
Traditional and modern kitchens alike can go with stainless steel countertops. While some people are afraid that it could appear grim-looking, several customization options can soften the design.
Stainless-steel countertops come in satin, mirror finish, brushed metal, and antique matte, therefore, offering a variety of finishes. If you’re concerned with fingerprints or smudges, a brushed finish is a way to go as it is soft and smooth.
Stainless steel has a combination of chromium and nickel that makes it robust, rust-resistant, and stain-resistant. They’re also non-porous, so no liquids or solids can get through. Bacteria isn’t something you’d have to worry about; it can’t grow on them.
Stainless Steel Pros
It is heat, stain, and rust-resistant
Resistant to any chemicals and liquids
Easiest to clean and maintain among all the materials
Stainless Steel Cons
It’s not as attractive as other materials
Can be scratched and dented easily
Stainless steel can be a bit noisy when you are working with it
Ceramic tile is one of the most commonly used materials for kitchen countertops. It provides a vast array of options as it relates to terms of cost and appearance.
You can easily make a custom design for your countertop. And, if you are a DIY enthusiast, there is no need for professional installation, unlike the others. One important thing to remember is that the grout must be sealed every year. The grout can stain and is difficult to keep clean.
It’s easy to clean, install and replace
It’s affordable when compared to the others
Huge variety of sizes, designs, and prices to choose from
Tiles are brittle and may crack easily
Grout can be susceptible to bacteria
Grout lines can stain and are difficult to clean
These decisions can be overwhelming and that is why it can be beneficial to consult with an Interior Designer to help you narrow down the choices and ensure you plan ahead for what works best for you.
If you are in the Houston, TX, or Sugarland, TX area, please contact me to learn more about how I can help and if you are outside of the area, I can also arrange a Virtual Consultation.
Thanks for reading,
Yulonda Buster, Designs by Duchess
Award Winning Home Stager and Interior Designer
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