While there are certainly a wide range of countertops that can be used in a kitchen, there are a few that stand out as the all-stars of the bunch, including granite, stainless steel, marble, tile, concrete, quartz and wood.
A solid glass countertop by Glassworks, Inc., looks almost like ice, lending a cool, chic feeling to this contemporary kitchen. Although it's more expensive than other countertop materials, glass is growing in popularity for its stain resistance and sleek, dramatic style.
Say Yes to Soapstone
Soapstone countertops, like the ones in this kitchen by Jarrett Design, offer a soft look but can also look great in a sleek, modern space. Though pricier than some other countertop options, soapstone is environmentally friendly and durable, offering significant value.
Stainless steel countertops aren’t just for sleek modern spaces. Here, Dave Vogt of Case Design/Remodeling, Inc., used the metal in a country-style kitchen, where the gleaming surface contrasts beautifully with exposed brick and the well-worn bottoms of the homeowners’ cookware. Over time, the counters may scratch and show wear – but that’s part of their charm in a space like this – and they are super durable.
Clean and Streamlined
Developed specifically for countertops, Granicrete has the great modern look of concrete, but is seamless and is certified by the National Sanitation Foundation as being bacteria-proof and stain-proof. The waterfall edge here creates an especially sleek look, without the weight and cost of poured concrete.
Count on Copper
A custom copper countertop and backsplash add warmth and glamour to this bar area designed by Anthony Carrino and John Colaneri of HGTV's Kitchen Cousins. Copper countertops are highly germ resistant but are prone to dents and scratches. Polish it weekly to maintain its shine, or allow it to develop a patina of a burnished brown-black with green flecks.
Counters of Calacatta Gold marble with a polished top function as beautifully as they look. While marble has a rep for being high maintenance, it can age beautifully with a little care – and nothing beats it for rolling out pastry dough.
Wood on White
Dark-stained wood adds contrast and a country feel to this white country kitchen by Historical Concepts Architecture & Planning. Like natural granite, wood counters can vary widely in the uniformity and graining of their patterns. That variation is part of their appeal.
A Twist on Granite
Love the durability of granite, but searching for a new look? The stone takes on a more modern appearance when it’s cut so that the backsplash continues the countertop pattern. “We chose this piece because it looks like a watercolor painting of the home’s exterior wooded landscape,” says Ines Hanl of The Sky is the Limit Design in Victoria, BC.
A Growing Trend
One of the most popular countertop surfaces today, engineered quartz is versatile and durable. Its nearly endless range of color options allows you to visually tie an open kitchen to the surrounding living spaces, as designer Lori Dennis did here with dark blue tones in a kitchen by SoCalContractor.
Two countertops? Twice as nice! A center island topped with quartz by Cambria is a functional focal point in this kitchen by Denise Wenacur of DW Design & Decor, and the countertops around the room’s perimeter are solid black granite. “That mix – and those materials – represent the most current countertop trends,” Wenacur says.
Smorgasbord of Surfaces
And why stop at two surfaces? In this gorgeous space, perimeter countertops are Taj Mahal Quartzite, and the island combines 3-inch-thick walnut butcher’s block with 14-gauge stainless steel topped by Silver Waves marble.
Granite is a durable, timeless and scratch- and heat-resistant countertop surface. It's easy to clean and is solid throughout, making it the perfect option for a heavily used kitchen area. Be sure to periodically seal a granite surface in order to preserve its natural design.
Stainless steel is another top countertop choice that works with a variety of kitchen styles. Since it's a nonporous metal, it doesn't have to be sealed and is naturally antibacterial, making food preparation and cleanup a cinch. Another bonus is that stainless steel is easy to clean with soap and water; dry it with a clean cloth to reduce water spots. For tough stains or scratches, stainless steel cleaner is available.
Marble is a gorgeous and luxurious countertop choice, and bakers love the surface because its cold temperature provides the perfect workspace for kneading dough. It can, however, chip easily, so it is important to periodically seal it.
Tile is also a popular choice for people who are seeking a versatile and budget-friendly countertop. Tiles are heat- and stain-resistant, and they're available in a number of colors, materials, sizes and patterns. Consider keeping a few extra tiles on hand in the event that one chips and needs to be replaced.
Concrete, quartz, wood and tile are also some of the best kitchen countertops available at home and kitchen improvement stores. Ask if samples are available to purchase or borrow, and hold them next to your cabinetry to see if they will work in your kitchen space.
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