Our 13 Favorite Kitchen Countertop Materials
Eric Perry 2014, Scripps Networks, LLC. All Rights Reserved
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.
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.
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.
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. Anthony and John, the Cousins on Call, installed wraparound wood countertops in this cozy kitchen, but most homeowners choose to mix wood countertops with other surfaces like natural or engineered stone to provide a variety of prep surfaces.
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.
Honed Granite Countertops
A twist on popular polished granite, honed granite gives a soft, matte finish instead of the traditional glossy look. Like polished granite, honed granite is just as resistant to scratching, chipping, cracking and heat, making it one of the most durable kitchen countertop options around.