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8 of the Best Countertop Materials for Any Home

Dawn M. Smith
Written by Dawn M. Smith
Updated August 16, 2021
Modern farmhouse kitchen with white marble counters and cabinets

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Choosing the perfect countertop material for your kitchen and bathrooms helps you customize your home and add functionality

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When you first start countertop shopping, you’re naturally drawn to pretty colors and designs. And while aesthetics are important, practicality should also drive the search.

So, how do you know which kitchen or bathroom countertop material to choose? There’s no one-size-fits-all solution, although there are choices that meet most buyer’s standards. You’ll need to consider your budget, time spent using the countertops, and design features to pick the perfect countertop for your home.

1. Granite

Kitchen island with granite counter

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A go-to of homeowners 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 granite slab that is porous. 

Granite slabs come in a huge assortment of colors, often with flecks of complementary colors inside. Professional countertop installers can shape the granite’s edges (square, beveled, ogee, or half and full bullnose) for a custom look. Granite countertops cost $3,250 on average.

2. Quartz

Kitchen with quartz counterop

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Quartz countertop’s prices range from $3,000 to $7,500. Quartz attracts a wide variety of fans, especially home cooks because they’re more durable than granite (they’re extremely hard, so watch your knife blades) and have the sought-after natural stone look. 

Because quartz countertops are made from composite stone derived from quartz added to a resin binder (making it non-porous), 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.

3. Marble

Kitchen with marble counter

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Everyone loves marble’s pretty, clean, white color with veins of blues, greys, and greens. But it comes in other primary colors, such as grey and taupe, too. 

Hobbyist bakers and professionals alike 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, unless you’ve purchased a slab with technologically advanced sealants, marble scratches. The average cost of a marble countertop is $3,000.

4. Stainless Steel

Kitchen with stainless steel countertop

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You’ve probably seen stainless steel countertops on TV 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 they instantly invoke the industrial aesthetic that’s oh-so-popular. 

They’re also non-porous, 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. The typical range for a stainless countertop is $4,000 to $11,250, depending on square footage.

5. Laminate

Modern kitchen with laminate countertop

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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 affordable, stain-resistant, and didn’t require maintenance. But they weren’t the most attractive choice (think harvest gold and avocado green countertops). 

While you’re countertop shopping, don’t discount today's laminate options; they’ve vastly improved and they’re affordable! The average laminate countertop installation costs $1,200.

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 potholder to prevent burning or scalding the surface.

6. Soapstone

Kitchen with soapstone countertop

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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 is that it’s non-porous, meaning it’s resistant to stains, bacteria, and heat. But why many homeowners choose soapstone is because of its one-of-a-kind look. Like marble, soapstone has veins, and its main colors are blue, grey, and green. Soapstone also looks more lovely as it ages, thanks to the refined patina. You can expect to pay between $2,700 to $4,200 for a soapstone countertop.

7. Butcher Block or Wood

Modern kitchen with wooden countertop

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You’ve probably seen butcher block countertops all over Pinterest, Instagram, and kitchen design blogs. The charm and warmth butcher block exudes is perfect for the heart of the home. Homeowners also love it because it's affordable 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.  

To prevent water damage, stains, and bacteria, you’ll need to seal your butcher block because it's porous. You’ll pay an average of $3,500 for butcher block counters.

8. Concrete

Modern kitchen with concrete countertop

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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 have benefits that other materials don’t, especially if you’re into DIY projects—just order a kit online and you’ll install it by the weekend. Or, hire a professional and pay between $5,000 and $10,000.

As you can guess, concrete countertops have pros and cons too. They’re exceptionally durable and 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 if 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.

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