Kitchen Island Countertops

What you need to know to choose the best surface for your kitchen island.

Concrete, Wood and Steel Kitchen Island Detail

Concrete, Wood and Steel Kitchen Island Detail

This kitchen island is made of welded steel and silvered alder wood, topped with a concrete work surface. In the background are slate gray cabinetry and black and white tile in a basketweave pattern.

What's the best material for your kitchen island countertop—granite, butcher block, stainless steel, laminate or concrete? While maintenance, durability and budget should be top concerns, you should start with the basics.

Consider the Island Base

First, is the island base sturdy enough to accommodate a weighty countertop? Granite, for example, is a heavy surface; when placed atop an older island (or one made of composite wood), those bases may not be able to tolerate the extra weight.

What Tasks Will You Perform?

Second, consider the island's most important functions. If its main purpose is extra work and prep space, consider butcher block; many of its finishes and wood grains can withstand chopping, slicing and dicing directly on its surface.

Matchy-Matchy Isn't a Requirement

Finally, as many certified kitchen designers will tell you, kitchen island countertops don't necessarily have to match other countertops in the space. Use this as an opportunity to differentiate the two surfaces; let a butcher-block top, for example, warm up a kitchen with concrete counters, or allow a stainless steel top to introduce a new, shiny material into a space with mostly wood surfaces.

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