Kitchen Island Countertop Considerations

Perhaps the most important aspect of choosing a kitchen island is the countertop. Decide what material and shape will work best for your area.
Kitchen Island Bar

Kitchen Island Bar

New kitchen in a modern home

Photo by: Dmitry Pistrov

Dmitry Pistrov

Whether your kitchen island countertop is an extra space for food preparation or an area for casual dining, the style and materials you choose will play a large part in your overall design.

Kitchen Countertop Alternatives

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Glowing Glass

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.

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Photo By: Right Angle Productions; Design By: Glassworks, Inc.

The Eco Edge

Countertops made of recycled glass are colorful, eco-friendly and durable. The artisan who fabricates these particular countertops, Dakota Surfaces, makes a weekly run to IKEA to collect broken glass from damaged furniture and housewares.

Photo By: Steve Silverman; Design By: Mackmiller Design+Build

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.

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Photo By: Matt Villano Photography; Design By: Jarrett Design

Steely Resolve

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.

Photo By: Kate Warren; Design By: Case Design/Remodeling, Inc.

Auto? Correct!

How’s this for new and different? It’s glass, back-painted with blue automotive lacquer and set into a stainless-steel border by cabinetmaker Zee Design.

Photo By: Works Photography; Design By: Ines Hanl of The Sky is the Limit Design

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.

Photo By: Jill Greer

Engineered for Beauty

Granicrete is also available in stone-like patterns like the one featured here, perfect in a more traditional kitchen. The surface never needs resealing as “real” concrete would.

Photo By: Jill Greer

Square Deal

Tile designer Vicki Morrow lined the countertops in this kitchen with her own, handmade ceramics. You could, of course, use purchased handmade ceramics – or even off-the-shelf squares from your local big-box store.

Photo By: Vicki Morrow

Paper Works

As its name implies, Paperstone is made of compressed paper – yet is surprisingly durable. Designer Mollyanne Sherman used it to give this colorful kitchen an eco-friendly design.

Photo By: Treve Johnson; Design By: Mollyanne Sherman

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.

From: Anthony Carrino and John Colaneri

Photo By: Emilee Ramsier

Magnificent Marble

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.

Photo By: Richard Leo Johnson; Design By: Historical Concepts Architecture & Planning

Blonde (Wood) Ambition

A lighter wood finish complements the midcentury look of this kitchen by Ines Hanl. The space also features gleaming stainless steel for a great modern look.

Photo By: Works Photography; Design By: The Sky is the Limit

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.

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Photo By: Works Photography; Design By: The Sky is the Limit Design

Leather or Not

Leather-textured granite gives the sexy look of skin with all the durability of stone. The look is edgy and of the moment without being in-your-face.


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.

Photo By: Stephen Busken; Design By: Lori Dennis and SoCalContractor

Double Vision

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.

Photo By: Nick Daunys; Design By: DW Design & Decor

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.

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Photo By: Robert Radifera; Design By: Jim and Kay Rill of Rill Architects and Nadia and Richard Subaran of Aidan Design

Materials for kitchen island countertops come in a range of surfaces, including marble, stainless steel and wood. Marble is a gorgeous countertop choice, but it tends to be prone to staining, which can make it a poor option for a surface that will be used as an active cooking area. If you are seeking a solid material that can withstand cooking activity, then you may want to consider granite. On the other hand, a wood butcher's block is an ideal surface for chopping, slicing and other food preparation activities. Stainless steel would also work well in this case, acting as an easy-to-clean surface.

When it comes to deciding on the shape and style of your kitchen island, it is important to consider the size of your kitchen in addition to the main purpose the island will be serving. While some homeowners opt for a traditional rectangular island style, others choose a T-shaped or L-shaped island to create a multi-purpose area. For example, T-shaped islands can be useful for prepping food at one end, while seating guests and family members at the other end.

Be sure to also consider the countertop height and whether or not you want to leave room for certain accessories, like a sink, when choosing your countertop style.

Kitchen Countertops

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