Choosing the Right Countertops

Which countertop material will work best in your kitchen? Compare the maintenance and cost of each.

Wood

Teak wood is great choice in a sink area. It is durable, withstands moisture and looks gorgeous. Maintenance: Treat wood countertops with mineral oil every month. Sand out stains and re-oil for a new surface. Photo courtesy of The Grothouse Lumber Company.

Stainless Steel

Stainless steel can take abuse from just about any kitchen utensil or hot pot, and scratches and marks imbue it with a warm, lived-in patina. Maintenance: Use a cleaner with a high alcohol content that dries quickly and does not leave a film. Buff scratches with a scouring pad, following the grain of the metal.

Natural Stone

Raised marble comes in a variety of beautiful colors and textures. Maintenance: Clean natural stone countertops with liquid detergent and water. Seal marble annually. Apply mineral oil to soapstone every other week for the first year to help the stone oxidize evenly; apply every other month thereafter. Jerusalem stone requires annual sealing.

Laminate

Laminates offer a variety of color options and patterns, best of all, they are very budget-friendly. Maintenance: Rinse after cleaning to avoid soap rings. Laminate is susceptible to heat and standing water. No sealing is required.

Granite

Granite is durable, timeless and scratch- and heat-resistant. While it's easy to clean, it does have to be sealed periodically to protect the natural stone. Maintenance: Granite countertops need to be sealed twice a year. Clean with warm water and liquid detergent.

Concrete

Concrete countertops work with any kitchen style from rustic to modern, and since they're custom made, they can be dyed any color to make for a truly unique addition to any kitchen. Maintenance: Wax concrete every six months and seal it annually. Wine, lemon juice and ketchup can stain, so clean up spills immediately. Companies like Sonoma Cast Stone have begun manufacturing stainless versions.

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