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

By: Caroline Shannon-Karasik

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

See All Photos

Engineered Beauty

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 like designer Caitlin Murray did here.

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.

Tags: 
  1. kitchens

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

Butcher Block

For a warm, cottage kitchen look, opt for butcher-block-style wood countertops. Both decorative and functional, this hardworking surface is ideal for food prep — properly sealed, wood countertops are sanitary even for chopping meat. Unlike other budget-friendly options, like laminate, wood is highly heat-resistant so you don't have to worry about putting hot pots and pans on the surface.

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

Magnificent Marble

Counters of Carrara 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.

From: Renewal Design-Build

Green Marble

A stunning twist on the traditional, the green marble finish in this renovated farmhouse kitchen extends to the deep apron sink, creating a continuous line that's echoed on the insides of the window casings. The overall effect is crisp and fresh, giving the space modern punch that ties in with the home's contemporary flair.

Paint It

Giani stone paint is a sealant that completely and totally overhauls the look of any countertop. It can be used on anything from laminate to butchers block to primed and painted wood, and because it is a finish itself, it should only have to be redone if the surface is ever chipped or damaged.

Tags: 
  1. kitchens

Photo By: Giani

Cool Concrete

Concrete countertops are highly customizable — you can choose any stain color and texture. Concrete mixes well with many different materials, such as glass, tile and marble to create a one-of-a-kind look. Aside from its eye-pleasing appearance, it is energy efficient — when the temperature in your home rises, concrete captures the heat and releases it when the temperature cools down.

The Eco Edge - Recycled Countertops

Countertops made of recycled glass are colorful, eco-friendly and durable. See more of this recycled kitchen update >>

Photo By: Lincoln Barbour

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

Say Yes to Soapstone

Soapstone countertops 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. Unlike other natural stones, it doesn't require yearly sealing but regular applications of mineral oil will help to disguise any surface scratches, add sheen and deepen the stone's color over time.

Square Deal

Tile countertops are a great choice if you want an inexpensive material that's easy to maintain. Opt for handmade ceramics or even off-the-shelf squares from your local big-box store.

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.

Glowing Glass

A solid glass countertop looks almost like ice, lending a cool, chic feeling to this energetic kitchen. Although it's more expensive than other countertop materials, glass is growing in popularity for its stain resistance and sleek, dramatic style.

Photo By: Jean-Marc Giboux/Getty Images

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

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.

Photo By: BREVIN BLACH

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

Wow With Walnut

Here, designer Amy Darooge used rustic materials to create a coherent style throughout. She chose distressed wood cabinetry, a copper sink and faucet, and “the material on the counter is walnut with a live ledge,” she says.

Photo By: Ashley Avila; Design By: Amy Darooge, Villa Decor

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

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
Keep Reading

Next Up

Kitchen Cabinet Components

Get the information you need on the different components and accessories available for custom kitchen cabinets.

Kitchen Cabinet Door Accessories and Components

Dive into the range of available kitchen cabinet door accessories and components, and create a kitchen with style to spare.

Kitchen Islands

Learn about different types and use our checklist to see if this independent structure will work for you

Outdoor Kitchen Island with Concrete Countertop

A sturdy cooking center turns a plain barbecue area into a stylish outdoor kitchen.

Kitchen Countertop Prices

What should you expect to pay when upgrading and installing new kitchen counters? HGTV uncovers the most cost-effective materials.

Small Kitchen Island Ideas

Even small kitchen islands can make a big impact.

Kitchen Island with Stools

Adding stools to one side of a kitchen island is a simple way of creating a casual dining space.

Follow Us Everywhere

Join the party! Don't miss HGTV in your favorite social media feeds.