Our 17 Favorite Kitchen Countertop Materials
Choosing the right kitchen countertop can be tricky (and expensive!). Before splurging on such a big update, check out the pros and cons of the top kitchen countertop materials to help you select the right one for your space.
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Practically maintenance free, engineered quartz countertops are stain, acid, scratch, heat and impact resistant and, thanks to their non-porous surface, don't need to be sealed like natural stone countertops. Available in a wide range of colors and patterns, quartz typically ranks close in popularity to the perennial top choice: granite.
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Polished Granite Countertops
Still the top choice of most homeowners, traditional granite countertops offer a high-end look that adds to your kitchen's value while providing a durable prep surface. Because granite is a natural material, variation in the stone's pattern is common and, for most people, adds to its appeal but can make matching up slabs tricky. In most regions, the cost of granite and quartz are comparable but natural granite requires a bit more care than manufactured quartz to keep its good looks — wipe up all stains quickly, especially oils, wine, acids and soda, and follow a regular sealing routine — typically once a year.
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By far the most budget-friendly option, laminate countertops are enjoing a resurgence in popularity thanks to new patterns that resemble natural stone, wood or even quartz at a fraction of the cost. Retro, mid-century looks like the ubiquitous boomerang and bright, saturated colors are other trendy choices to consider.
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The current darling of the design world, the gray-toned veining in Carrara or Calacatta marble isn't just aesthetically pleasing, it also helps to disguise wear and hide light stains. With timeless appeal, this stone gives any kitchen a decidedly high-end look and, although the cost is comparable to some granites, marble is porous so staining can be a problem. Regular sealing and special care with anything acidic to prevent etching will keep the creamy surface looking its best.
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Honed Granite Countertops
Stainless Steel Countertops
Stainless steel lends a modern, industrial look to this stylish kitchen designed by Andreea Avram Rusu. The metal surface coordinates with any color and is one of the easiest countertop materials to clean — just wipe off stains with a cloth and mild soap. The most appealing characteristic of this material is its ability to inhibit bacterial buildup, making it the most hygienic countertop available.
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Aside from its sleek, streamlined appearance, glass countertops have many benefits. Glass can be cut into any shape and texture and the color options are endless. Although it's a pricier option, the popularity of glass countertops is on the rise thanks to its modern look. It's easy to keep clean and its non-porous surface makes it stain-resistant and one of the most hygienic countertop materials available. For durability, choose glass that's at least 1 inch thick and tempered.
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A thick concrete countertop is the focal point in this modern kitchen designed by Rebekah Zaveloff. 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.
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Highly stain and bacteria resistant, soapstone is a non-porous natural stone that's available in a range of gray tones from light to dark, all with subtle veining. 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.
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A creamy travertine countertop lends a classic Old World look to this neutral kitchen designed by Lisa Stanley. If you don't fill and seal its pitted surface, it can trap food and bacteria and absorb liquids, which makes it more high maintenance than other countertop surfaces. Despite its high maintenance, this material is one of the most aesthetically pleasing choices and brings a warm, inviting feel to any kitchen design style.
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Tile countertops are a great choice if you want an inexpensive material that's easy to maintain. It's simple to coordinate with or mix and match with different design styles. Best of all, if you're handy, a tile kitchen countertop is a do-it-yourself project that you can tackle in a long weekend.
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Engineered stone countertops come in a wide range of colors, from subtle and natural to bright and bold. Ideal for modern and contemporary kitchens, these vibrant Silestone countertops are scratch-, stain- and heat-resistant and contain Microban, an antimicrobial product, for increased protection against bacteria. Image courtesy of Silestone by Cosentino North America
Learn More : Corian vs. Silestone: Pros and Cons
Quartzite and Walnut Counters
In this light-filled blue-and-white kitchen, a mix of materials helps break up the large expanse of the central island and define its multiple functions. For the prep zone, designer Kathleen Walsh chose Vermont White Quartzite while watershed-finished walnut warms up the breakfast bar area.
When a family of seven decided to update their kitchen, the homeowner's one requirement was that the new space feature Cosentino's Concetto surfacing, an innovative and dramatic material made from semi-precious stones. Designer Karen Kassen highlighted the eye-catching product by restricting it to a curving breakfast bar and using a pure-white quartz on the remaining surfaces.
Brazilian Blue Stone Countertop
In the course of adding a two-story addition to a landmarked Brooklyn townhouse, architect Ben Herzog, working in conjunction with interior designer Elizabeth Cooke-King, added a large, light-filled kitchen to the home. As a fitting focal point for this dramatic space, the design team chose beautiful Azul Macauba, a blue stone from Brazil, to top the Shaker-style white cabinets.