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10 Materials to Consider for Perfect Countertops

OceanFishing / iStock /

OceanFishing / iStock /

Of course, granite is one of the most popular options for kitchen countertops. But if you’re in the market for new countertops—whether you’re in for a full kitchen remodel, or just making a few upgrades—you’ll want to explore all the options available to you.

Several factors will come in to play when choosing the perfect kitchen counter. For instance, what type of cook are you? If you’re a passionate, aggressive cook—pots are flying, vegetables are being chopped on a timeline—you’ll want to opt for something durable.

Personal style matters, too: do you prefer classic? Industrial? Clean lines? Something with character? Finally, your budget will steer you in the right direction. With all of this in mind, here’s a look at some of the most popular countertop options available.

It’s impossible not to start with the extremely popular granite. There’s a reason it’s the number one choice for so many people: it has a classic elegance, it comes in a variety of natural-looking styles, it’s easy to install and it’s very durable.

Each slab of granite is unique: color, grain and presence of semiprecious stone will all effect the price of granite—but generally speaking, there’s an option for just about every budget.

If you find a particular slab you love, buy it—no two slabs are identical. If there are particular features of a slab that stand out to you, ensure that the area of choice is installed in a way that it can be showcased, and is not hidden away in a corner.

Engineered Quartz
Engineered quartz is actually a blend of quartz (usually between 90 to 95%) and resins. It’s a dense, tough, non-porous material, meaning it’s built to resist scratches.

This option is eco-friendly, non-toxic, and very hygienic. It’s available in many different styles—what’s not to like?

Well, the price, for one: it is one of the more expensive countertop options. Also, engineered quartz is not heat-resistant, so no throwing those hot pans onto the counter!

Chris Clinton / Photodisc /

Chris Clinton / Photodisc /

Solid (Better Known as Corian)
A solid (or Corian) countertop consists of a blend of minerals, acrylic, and polyester. The final concoction is heat-, stain- and bacteria-resistant, requires no maintenance, and is plain old solid.

Corian comes in many different colors, so you’ll definitely find something that fits your palette. Having said that, the plastic-looking finish is not everyone’s taste.

If your Corian countertop does scratch or chip, the good news is that it’s easy—and inexpensive—to repair, compared to its natural counterparts.

Plastic Laminate
Plastic laminate is another popular option. Above all, it is very inexpensive and easy to install, so budget-conscious shoppers will want to take note.

Laminate might not be as “fancy” as the other options, but at the end of the day, it’s dependable, versatile, and comes in many different colors and patterns (some that emulate the look of natural stones).

Laminate is not heat-resistant and is prone to chipping, staining and scratching, so if durability is your top priority, it might not be the right fit.

If you like a classic, country kitchen look, stone or ceramic tiles are an option worth exploring. Not only do tiles tend to be affordable, but you can also tackle them as a DIY project.

Tiles are a little more high-maintenance than other countertop types. The grout between the tiles will need regular sealing, though the tile pieces should stand the test of time without a problem. If you’re looking to exercise your creative bone, look no further than tile.

AnikaSalsera / iStock /

AnikaSalsera / iStock /

This natural stone is very high density, meaning it easily resists bacteria, stains, and chemicals—in fact, it’s often used in laboratories!

There are soapstone counters from the 19th century that are still standing today: that will tell you something about how durable this countertop can be. The material will naturally soften and round over time, so hard edges and corners won’t stick around forever.

Soapstone is not available in the variety of colors that some other countertops offer: if you go with soapstone, you’re going to get a medium gray finish that will darken naturally over time. Some pieces have a slight green tint to them: the more green there is, the softer it is. It’s also a more expensive option, but you when you consider that it can last a lifetime, it’s a pretty solid investment.

Marble countertops are a clean, classic and elegant option. If your priority is looks (and especially if you prefer a white color palette), marble might be a top contender for you.

However, marble is a little more demanding than many other countertop materials. It’s a softer material that is prone to scratching and staining. It’s also porous and requires fairly significant upkeep—plan to seal it twice a year. Marble tends to be on the higher cost end of countertop options.

Stainless Steel
If it’s good enough for professional chefs, why not implement it in your own kitchen? Stainless steel countertops have that cool industrial look and are stain- and heat-resistant, a cinch to clean, and perfectly hygienic.

It checks all the boxes on the function side, but if you’re all about the looks, know that stainless steel shows fingerprints, scratches, and even water droplets quite easily. It’s also a more expensive option.

artist-unlimited / iStock /

artist-unlimited / iStock /

Continuing with the industrial theme, concrete is quickly becoming a popular countertop option. From a looks perspective, the sky’s the limit. It starts off as a neutral gray/brown, but can be customized with colors and imbedded objects. You know that burning desire to press your palm into freshly poured concrete on a sidewalk, for instance? Well, you can do that with your concrete countertop, which is poured on the spot.

Concrete is not all looks: it’s heat-resistant and very durable. It will need to be sealed, and is somewhat expensive, but far from being the most expensive type.

If a warm, natural look is what you want, you simply can’t beat wood. The price will vary depending on the material you pick: cherry, oak, mahogany and walnut are all great options.

Classic yet contemporary, wood is low-maintenance, but can be prone to scratches and won’t hold up to excessive heat.

like downlinens