Picking the finishes of your kitchen is one of the most exciting parts of a remodel. But, it can be one of the most nerve-wracking elements as well. After all, you also have to pick the right cabinets, backsplash, flooring, and fixtures to go along with those countertops, and the cumulative effect can be a bit overwhelming. The best way to decide on every component of your kitchen upgrade is to do your research and narrow in on what is most important to you.
When it comes to countertops, the options for materials come in a wide variety of styles and price points, so it all comes down to your personal preference and budget. Consider your habits—do you cook dinner every night, or are you more of the takeout kind? Do you appreciate natural imperfections, or would you rather have a pristine countertop?
To help you narrow in on the right countertop for your kitchen, we've outlined the most popular types here. From cost to durability to style, here's what you need to know about laminate, quartz, and everything in between.
There's a reason granite has been a popular choice for countertops for years—it is durable, affordable, and looks great in nearly any style of kitchen. As it's a totally natural material, no two pieces of granite look alike, so it provides a unique design for every home.
- Granite is one of the most affordable options for a higher-end look.
- There are endless colors of granite to choose from, so you can customize your choice.
- The material holds up well to heavy use.
- If your granite isn't sealed properly, it will absorb moisture.
- Granite often has a lot of variation in color and texture, so you won't get a solid look.
- It will likely require seams to connect multiple pieces of granite in a large kitchen.
Granite is a classic choice for many homeowners. It can be relatively affordable, starting at around $40 per square foot, and comes in a variety of styles so you can customize it to your taste. If you want a workhorse countertop that still looks modern, this is a good option.
Marble is an incredibly popular choice for high-end countertops. It lends a sense of elegance and grandeur to any space, and is perfect for anyone who wants to add a luxury feel to their kitchen. That said, there are some notable drawbacks to this beautiful stone material.
- Marble offers a luxurious, on-trend feel.
- It is a natural material that is easy to find.
- Marble is heat resistant.
- Marble can be cost-prohibitive, depending on the style.
- It is a high-maintenance surface that can stain easily and needs to be resealed.
- It can chip or crack.
If you're deciding between marble and another surface, it all comes down to budget and aesthetic. Marble will offer one of the most elegant looks for any kitchen, but it will cost more than granite, for example, as its often around $60 per square foot. If you can afford it and you are willing to put in the effort to make your marble last, it is a great investment.
With the rise of the minimalist, Scandi decor style, we've seen more and more homeowners opt for butcher block in their kitchen. Butcher block is an affordable countertop option that offers more of a rustic, pared-down look. That said, it's not for everyone.
- Butcher block offers a modern, natural look.
- It is one of the most affordable options for countertops.
- You can cut food directly on the surface as long as it is treated.
- It is very easy to stain and susceptible to water damage.
- Must be treated at least twice a year.
- It typically only suitable for an island or prep station.
Butcher block is a great budget-friendly countertop choice, coming in at around $20 per square foot. It comes in all types of finishes, though oak or walnut are the most popular.
While you can use butcher block for your entire kitchen, many opt to use it for an island or coffee bar only due to its lack of durability.
Quartz offers an elevated look that is durable and long-lasting. It is an engineered material that resembles marble or granite.
- It is incredibly durable—it won't chip or crack easily.
- Quartz comes in a wide variety of colors and styles.
- It isn't porous, so it is easy to keep clean.
- It is man-made, so you won't get the uniqueness of natural stone.
- It is much more expensive than most other options.
- Installation can be difficult and is not for the novice DIYer.
Quartz is definitely one of the most popular countertop materials out there, especially over the last few years. It offers unbeatable durability and is essentially maintenance-free. That said, mid-range quartz can cost you around $100 per square foot, so it is not for the budget remodeler unless you have a very small kitchen.
Soapstone is another gorgeous natural material that offers a rich, unique look in a kitchen. It is a classic option and has been used for hundreds of years in kitchens and bathrooms.
- Soapstone offers a unique and timeless look.
- It is heat resistant.
- Soapstone comes in a variety of shades of gray and black.
- It can easily knick or dent if you drop something heavy.
- The material doesn't come in lighter colors.
- It can be expensive to install.
Soapstone is a great choice if you love deep, dark countertops and you want to make a statement in your kitchen. It starts at about $70 per square foot—though it is not a budget choice, it will definitely elevate your kitchen design.
If you're a hardcore cook, you may want to consider stainless steel countertops. There's a reason restaurant kitchens always have stainless steel—they're durable, easy to clean, and can be beautiful in your home kitchen.
- Stainless steel is resistant to water, heat, and nearly any other element.
- It it easy to clean and won't hold bacteria.
- It offers a modern, contemporary look.
- It can scratch and dent fairly easily.
- Stainless steel can be noisy when you are cooking.
- It requires frequent cleaning due to smudges.
Stainless steel is a smart choice for anyone who cooks often and wants a surface that will hold up to consistent use. Stainless steel countertops often need to be custom made, and can run you anywhere from $70 to over $100 per square foot.
Thanks to the rise of the modern farmhouse look, concrete has become a trendy choice for kitchen countertops. This rustic option offers a unique and eye-catching look for anyone who loves a more lived-in aesthetic.
- Concrete is nearly impossible to damage, though it can crack.
- Patinas over time to add more charm to your kitchen.
- It is fairly affordable for a trendy look.
- It can crack over time, though it can be fixed.
- Concrete can gradually stain.
- It can take over a month to cure, so installation takes longer.
If you're into a more rustic, understated look, you should consider concrete countertops. They offer a unique and chic look and feel, though at roughly $90 per square foot or more to install, they can be a pricy option.
You may consider laminate the material of the past, but it's actually having a renaissance as of late, and is a great low-cost option for countertops. Today's laminate countertops are made of a much more durable and attractive material than the Formica of your grandma's house.
- Laminate is an affordable countertop material.
- It's a great option if you're DIYing a kitchen.
- It comes in many shades and styles.
- It is not as durable as stone options.
- Laminate won't last as long as granite or marble.
- Some shades and styles can look dated.
If you are doing a kitchen renovation on a budget, or you want to save your money for other higher-end finishes, laminate countertops are a great choice. They cost as low as $5 per square foot, and even novice home renovators can learn how to install themselves.
Laminate can lend quite the retro vibe to your kitchen or bathroom.
Tiled countertops were incredibly popular in the '70s and '80s—but they're having a comeback. A tiled countertop can offer an incredibly unique and custom look, and is great if you want a more offbeat, retro feel.
- There are endless options you can customize to your taste.
- It's simple to replace a single tile if you have damage.
- Tile is heat resistant, so they won't burn or scorch.
- Tile can easily chip or crack if you drop something.
- It can be difficult to DIY.
- The grout lines can become stained.
If you are hunting for a countertop idea that works well in a farmhouse or country chic kitchen, tile is worth considering. It lends a throwback feel and costs as low as $30 per square foot installed.
Solid surface countertops are a made-made alternative to marble and offer a slightly higher-end look and feel than laminate. They are reasonably priced and durable, so they're often used in place of a more expensive option such as quartz.
- It is almost non-porous material helps to reduce bacteria.
- It's easy to repair if you have a crack or a dent.
- They are fairly affordable to install.
- They are not heat resistant,
- Some chemicals can ruin the finish.
- They are not difficult to damage, though they can usually be fixed.
Solid surface countertops offer a seamless, modern look at a lower cost than quartz or granite. You can typically get solid surface countertops installed for $45 per square foot and up.