Pros and Cons of Common Kitchen Countertop Materials

Remodeling your kitchen is an exciting project – all new appliances, work surfaces, and flooring can make a huge difference in how much you and your family enjoy the space. Countertops are the most heavily used area of the kitchen, so making the right choice means avoiding quick wear, cuts and burns, and stains that can be impossible to remove. There are a number of great choices, each with their own benefits and drawbacks. As far as price, most run in the same general range, anywhere from $40-$150 per sq. ft. installed, with the exception of laminate, which can be as cheap as $10 per sq. ft.

Granite – this is one of the most popular counter materials, and it’s surprisingly comparable in price to other options, at $40-$100 per sq. ft. Granite is durable, resistant to cuts and abrasions, and most stains don’t stick. It does have to be resealed occasionally (sprinkle a few drops of water onto the surface – if it absorbs and darkens within four minutes, it’s time to reseal) and chips on the edges and corners should be fixed by a pro.

Recycled glass – as the popularity of eco-conscious home materials spreads, you may be looking at recycled options. Glass looks fantastic – the shards create an eclectic, colorful look. It’s a bit above average in price, at $60-$120 per sq. ft. It resists cuts, scratches, and heat damage, however stains and nicks can be an issue, and one brand – Cosentino Eco – did develop a hairline crack in Consumer Reports testing.

Marble – you’ll pay $50-$150 per sq. ft. for this classic countertop material, and you’ll need to consider whether you think of the patina it develops as a sign of character or weakness. Scratches and small nicks may be polished out, and stains tend to wipe away easily. Chips can be a problem and marble must be resealed from time to time.

Concrete – you may be tempted to go with this trendy material for your countertops, just keep in mind that because it is custom made there can be large quality variations. At $60-$120 per sq. ft. it’s not cheap, and it can crack over time. You can topically seal it, which helps with stains but not heat, or deep seal, which mitigates heat damage but not stains.

Bamboo – another environmentally friendly choice, and affordable at $40-$100 per sq. ft., bamboo does bring a warm look into your kitchen. Stains, nicks, and heat damage easily affect this material, and it’s best used on an island or other segregated area away from the sink, as moisture can cause warping.

Limestone – coming in at $50-$100 per sq. ft., this aesthetically pleasing countertop material does well with heat, but it scratches and nicks easily. Sealing doesn’t stop stains, so they should be cleaned up immediately.

Laminate – this throwback to the 1940s is still commonly used today, particularly in budget applications due to its attractive price point – $10-$40 per sq. ft. It handles stains and heat very well, however watch out with those knives because you can’t fix the cuts.

Quartz – at $40-$100 per sq. ft. the price is average, and this durable material was a clear favorite in Consumer Reports testing. It looks great – with a stone-like appearance – and works wonderfully in a busy kitchen, resisting heat, cuts, abrasion, and stains.

You may think you’ve already made up your mind, but it’s best to go to a showroom in person and touch, feel, and test out the various kitchen countertop material choices. You may be surprised which ones quickly become your favorites and which fall off your short list completely.