Choosing the perfect countertop material for your kitchen and bathrooms helps you customize your home and add functionality
When you first start countertop shopping, it’s easy to get caught up in pretty colors and designs. Aesthetics are important, but practicality should also drive the search. You’ll need to consider your dream design, budget, and time spent using counters to pick the best countertop materials for your home. There’s no one-size-fits-all solution for matching types of countertops to your kitchen and bathroom, but let’s break down some choices that meet most buyers’ standards.
A go-to for decades, granite adorns millions of countertops because of its durability and style. Granite is a heat-resistant natural stone that only needs soap and water to clean and possibly a protective sealant every so often if you choose a porous granite slab.
Granite slabs come in various colors, often with flecks of complementary colors inside. Professional countertop installers in your area can shape the granite’s edges (square, beveled, ogee, or half and full bullnose) for a custom look. The average cost of granite countertops is $3,250.
Quartz countertop prices range from $3,000 to $7,500. Quartz attracts a wide variety of fans, especially home cooks. When comparing quartz to granite, quartz is actually more durable while still providing the sought-after look of natural stone. They’re extremely hard, so watch your knife blades.
Quartz countertops consist of composite stone derived from quartz and added to a resin binder. It’s nonporous, so there’s no need for a sealant. Another quartz countertop bonus: Before installation, you can add colorants and change the shine finish from matte to highly polished.
Everyone loves marble’s pretty, clean, white color with veins of blues, grays, and greens. But it also comes in other primary colors, such as gray and taupe.
Hobbyist bakers and professionals prefer marble countertops because they keep a low temperature perfect for pastry dough. However, everyday homeowners might have trouble with marble’s tendency to absorb liquids that quickly stain—so you might want to pour your red wine over the sink. Also, invest in a collection of cutting boards because marble scratches unless you purchase a slab with technologically-advanced sealants. The average cost of a marble countertop is $3,000 for 50 square feet.
4. Stainless Steel
You’ve probably seen stainless steel countertops on cooking shows. They’re traditionally the number one pick for commercial kitchens, but as of late, stainless steel has found its way into homes because it instantly invokes the industrial aesthetic that’s oh-so-popular.
Stainless steel counters are also nonporous, long-lasting, and need only soap and water for cleanup (unless you’d prefer a solution specialized for stainless steel). But take note: you will notice everyday fingerprints, dents, and scratches. Stainless countertops cost $4,500 for 30 square feet.
If talking about laminate countertops makes you think of your grandma’s kitchen, you're not alone. Laminate countertops were exceptionally popular about 30 to 40 years ago because they were stain resistant, inexpensive, and didn’t require maintenance. But they weren’t the most attractive choice (think harvest gold and avocado green countertops).
While countertop shopping, don’t discount today's laminate options; they’ve vastly improved and are wallet-friendly. The average laminate countertop installation costs between $790 and $1,620.
Now, laminate countertops mimic high-end choices like natural stone or even wood. Laminate could be the perfect choice for saving money in secondary kitchens and bathrooms or high-occupancy rentals. But, like everything, there are pros and cons to laminate countertops. For instance, heat is laminate’s kryptonite. Always use a trivet or pot holder to prevent burning the surface.
Soapstone gets its name from its feel—it’s soft like a bar of soap because of the talc in its composition. Soapstone damages more easily than granite or quartz, and it needs monthly maintenance during its first year to achieve the unique patina homeowners covet.
One benefit of soapstone countertops is that they’re nonporous, meaning they’re resistant to stains, bacteria, and heat. But many homeowners choose soapstone because of its one-of-a-kind look. Soapstone has veins like marble; its main colors are blue, grey, and green. Soapstone also looks more lovely as it ages, thanks to the refined patina. Expect to pay between $2,700 to $4,200 for the price of a soapstone countertop.
7. Butcher Block or Wood
You’ve probably seen butcher block countertops all over Pinterest, Instagram, and kitchen design blogs. Butcher block's charm and warmth are perfect for the heart of the home. Homeowners also love it because it's cost-effective and highly customizable; you can choose from many wood sources like oak, walnut, cherry, and maple, in addition to an assortment of stain colors to match your kitchen.
Butcher block is porous, so you’ll need to seal it to prevent water damage, stains, and bacteria. The average cost of butcher block counters is $3,500.
If you’re always keeping up with the latest trends, consider a concrete countertop for your kitchen or bathrooms. Concrete countertops are more popular than ever and offer benefits that other materials don’t. If you’re into DIY projects, you can purchase a kit and install it by the weekend. Or, hire a professional and pay the average cost range for concrete countertops—between $5,000 and $10,000.
As you can guess, concrete countertops have pros and cons, too. They’re exceptionally durable, resist chipping, and you can even color the concrete to ensure you have a unique feature in your home. But concrete can crack if the corners bear too much weight or the house shifts or settles, though the repairs are relatively easy. You will also have to seal the concrete regularly to make it easy to clean and resistant to stains.
9. Solid Surface
You might know solid surface countertops as manufactured stone. People also commonly refer to them as Corian countertops, even though that’s a brand name (call it the Xerox or Kleenex effect). This type of countertop consists of a mix of acrylic-based or polyester resin, mineral dust, and pigment. DuPoint originally introduced solid surface in 1967 as an alternative to stone; today, it’s a modern staple available from numerous brand names.
The big draw to solid surface countertops is that they’re usually more budget-friendly than natural stone. Solid surface countertops cost about $1,900 to $4,900, according to HomeAdvisor. Thanks to being a manufactured material, these countertops have a virtually seamless look. It’s also got a huge range of options, but fair warning, solid state countertops are not heat resistant.
Tile countertops may seem like a relic from the 1970s, ‘80s, and ‘90s, but this vintage look is making a true comeback. It’s particularly popular in bathrooms, but it’s also one of the best countertops for kitchens if you want a Mediterranean or rustic look. Trendy homeowners have even gravitated towards hexagonal tiles that feel both fresh and exciting.
Though most tile countertops are either porcelain or ceramic, you can also find natural stone tiles made from granite, quartz, or marble. These are significantly less expensive than a natural stone slab. For example, granite tile for countertops costs $20 to $25 less per square foot than modular pieces of the same material. A typical porcelain tile installation costs $1,930, which is much more cost-effective than other countertop options.
Which Countertop Material Is Best for You?
The best countertop for your kitchen or bathroom really depends on your overall goals. For example, laminate may be budget-friendly, but some homeowners prefer a higher-end look. Similarly, depending on your cooking habits, you may need something more scratch or heat resistant. This chart helps break down your options.
|Category||Type of Countertop|
|Best for Budget||Laminate, Tile|
|Most Versatile||Laminate, Granite|
|Best for Overall Durability||Quartz, Granite|
|Most Stain Resistant||Quartz, Stainless Steel|
|Most Heat Resistant||Stainless Steel, Granite, Ceramic Tile|
|Most Scratch Resistant||Concrete, Quartz|
|Easiest to Repair||Tile, Soapstone|
|Trendiest||Butcher Block, Concrete|
|Best to DIY||Laminate, Tile|
|High End||Marble, Concrete, Stainless Steel|