Find Your Best Kitchen Countertop Material

If you’re a fan of home design shows -- or just a fan of beautiful homes -- you’ve probably got some strong opinions about kitchen design and layout. From kitchen lighting design to kitchen flooring, the kitchen becomes one of the most versatile spaces in your home. In the past, cookie-cutter kitchens were the norm, and American families have gone through every look, from the pink appliances of the fifties to the avocado appliances of the seventies and beyond. Through it all, kitchen countertop materials stayed pretty boring -- light-colored laminate that burned on impact if you touched it with a hot pot.


Over the past few decades, however, tremendous strides have been made in kitchen design, and old-school kitchen countertops have developed into one of the most prominent and carefully chosen elements of kitchen design. Whatever your style, today’s kitchen countertop materials boast more style, function, and easy-care options than ever before. Which countertop is right for the way you and your family live? Let’s find out. After all, there is no denying- the kitchen countertop is a core kitchen essential feature.


Evaluating Types of Kitchen Countertops

Because they take up so much space in the kitchen, the right kitchen countertop materials can totally change the look of your kitchen. With the popularity of open-concept floorplans, the look of the kitchen then impacts the look of the rest of the home’s living spaces. That’s why it’s so important to get the right style, color, and finish when choosing your countertops.


So, what should you consider when you evaluate different types of countertops?


Functionality– The functionality of the surfaces in your kitchen can play a big role in what and how you are cooking. If you are a professional cook in a restaurant you will want to choose a different kitchen countertop material than that of someone who only cooks on occasion.


Long-term Maintenance – Some kitchen countertop materials require less maintenance than others. Depending on your schedule and lifestyle, you will want to a kitchen countertop material that matches you.


Affordability – Price varies depending on the size, shape and material you choose for a kitchen countertop. If you know that your countertop will take a lot of abuse, consider going with a material that makes for more affordable countertops.


Perhaps no other material in the home takes the kind of punishment kitchen countertops do -- from dishes straight out of the oven to those straight out of the freezer. As the home of everything from heavy metal pots to the most delicate china, today’s kitchen counters have to be strong yet gentle, tough yet beautiful.


The Best Kitchen Countertop Materials

You have a wealth of options when it comes to choosing your new kitchen countertop material. Whether you are a gourmet chef and use your kitchen constantly or are a casual cook who wants an easy-care space with an emphasis on style, there’s a kitchen countertop option you’ll love.


1. Granite

Probably the most common and frequently sought-after material for countertops, granite has been in high demand for many years. What makes this material so beloved? Durability and function. Upon their introduction, granite countertops took the design world by storm, offering a massive improvement on the old, easy-to-damage plastic laminates.


Because it is a natural stone, there can be many variations in the look of different granite slabs, even if they are from the same quarry. When choosing granite counters, be sure to see the slabs in person rather than trying to look at them online.


Granite is incredibly durable and can take the punishment of hot pots and knife blades. However, the sealants which are used to make this porous stone stain resistant can be damaged by heat, so it’s best to use a trivet when possible. While your knife blades won’t scratch it, the hardness of the granite will definitely dull your knives!


In addition, because it is so inflexible, it is not a good idea to stand on a granite countertop, because it can crack from the pressure of too much weight. In addition, dropping something heavy onto the counters can cause small chips or cracks, so try to avoid this if possible. With all these benefits granite can range in price and tends to sit on the more expensive side versus other affordable countertop materials.


2. Marble

Marble has become one of the most popular materials for kitchen countertops, bringing a classic beauty and elegance to the home design. In addition, for avid bakers, the perpetually cold temperature of marble -- even in a heat wave -- means that baked goods like bread and pastry stay colder during the kneading and rolling processes, for optimal results. Depending on the quality and source, marble can sometimes be an affordable countertop material.


Like granite, marble is porous and requires sealing. It is essential to keep up with maintenance in order to preserve the beauty of the counters. Also like granite, you won’t want to cut directly on marble as it will dull your knives. Here too, while it is heat resistant, it’s probably safest to put very hot pots and dishes on a trivet or potholder.


3. Quartz

Quartz is a newer option in countertop materials and has quickly become a favorite of homeowners for its ease of use and durability. Unlike granite and marble, it is non-porous, so a spilled glass of wine won’t seep in and discolor it. In addition, because it is a manufactured stone, you’ll find more consistency in color and pattern with quartz than you will find in natural stone materials. Between Granite and Marble, Quartz tends to sit in between the two making it an affordable countertop sometimes and expensive at others. It really comes down to the quality of the quartz that dictates its price.


Quartz is not as heat resistant as granite and marble, so you will want to take care with hot pots and use trivets and pot holders to avoid damage.


4. Other: Wood, Stainless Steel, Concrete and Glass

There are many other interesting and beautiful materials to consider when it comes to kitchen countertops. A wood, butcher-block counter can make a highly functional and rustic countertop material. Stainless steel offers a more commercial-kitchen look for the true gourmet. Concrete and glass offer highly functional surfaces with a clean, contemporary look.


Which one is right for you?

Knowing what countertop surfaces works best for you requires you to think through your daily use of the space and your willingness to maintain the surface long-term. Don’t get caught up focusing on looks alone. Function is just as important as form when choosing your new kitchen countertops.



Contributed to Your Home blog by Christy Murdock Edgar

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Published 8.6.19

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