Find out about 13 different kinds of countertops for you kitchen.
Most people imagine elegance and luxury when they think of marble; after all, it is one of the pricier countertop options. Marble is a type of natural metamorphic stone that is commonly found throughout the American continents, Asia and Europe. It is made by physically and chemically altering sediment with heat and pressure. The end result is a polished rock with veins and mineral deposits.
Marble is a type of natural stone that is porous in nature. This means it easily absorbs liquids, making it prone to staining and sensitive to acidic chemicals even with a sealant. However, marble is also extremely heat resistant and less prone to chipping and denting than other countertop options. It comes in natural-stone colors such as white, black, gray, yellow, green and pink. It can either have subtle patterns or dark prominent veins.
Pros: Natural material; natural look; heat-resistant; scratch-resistant; smooth surface; water-resistant; elegant
Cons: Costly; high-maintenance; requires periodic resealing; susceptible to stains; sensitive to acidic chemicals
Granite is a much stronger natural stone than marble and has become popular because of its low maintenance. Granite is an igneous rock made of interlocking crystals that have grown into each other, making it stronger and harder than marble. Because of the various crystals, granite comes in natural-colors such as white, gray, black, pink, orange, green, brown and blue.
Although granite is much stronger than marble, it is not indestructible. Granite is very resistant to heat, scratches, cuts and stains but still requires a sealant because of its porous nature.
Pros: Natural material; natural look; heat-resistant; scratch-resistant; stain-resistant; water-resistant; durable
Cons: Costly; high-maintenance; requires periodic resealing; heavy
Soapstone is also a natural porous stone that happens to be even softer than marble. Because of its soft nature, soapstone scratches and stains easily, although it does resist heat fairly well. This stone does need to be polished with oil frequently to prevent damage. Because of how soft the stone is, any nicks cuts and other imperfections can always be sanded away. With time this stone tends to take on a darker shade and does tend to crack.
Pros: Natural look; durable; blemishes can be sanded away; heat-resistant
Cons: Darkens with time; susceptible to stains; susceptible to scratches; high-maintenance
These new and durable countertops are made from quarried natural volcanic rock that is cut into slabs, glazed with enamel and heated to 1,300 degrees. The result is a smooth crackled countertop that is essentially indestructible. Although considered a natural stone, lavastone is non-porous which means it does not require a sealant or treatment because it will not absorb liquids.
Because of how this stone is manufactured, it is extremely resistant to heat, scratches and stains. However, these countertops are currently only produced in France, making it expensive to acquire. Because these countertops are fairly new to the industry, it is difficult to gauge what its lifetime and durability.
Pros: Heat-resistant; heat distribution/dissipation; stain-resistant; scratch-resistant; low-maintenance; smooth surface; variety of color and finish; no sealant or treatment required; hygienic
Cons: Costly; currently only produced in France
(Silestone, Limestone, Sandstone, Quartz, etc.)
Whereas marble and granite are made from natural stones found in the ground, engineered stones are made from color-tinted quartz crystals held together with a resin binder. Engineered stones tend to mirror the look and feel of natural stone countertops except they are more consistent in their pattern and require less maintenance.
Engineered stone countertops come in a larger variety of colors than natural stone countertops because they are not necessarily limited to the color of the stone. These countertops are often just as strong as granite when it comes to resisting heat, scratches and stains. Because the material is not a natural porous stone, the countertop will not absorb liquids as easily, making clean-up and maintenance easier than with natural stone countertops.
Pros: Low-maintenance; durable; heat-resistant; scratch-resistant; stain resistant; consistent pattern; variety in color; easy clean-up
Cons: Costly; “unnatural” look
This type of countertop is made from acrylic and polyester, providing a smooth and seamless surface that is available in a variety of vibrant colors. Its seamless layout means there are no cracks or crevices for debris and dirt to become trapped in. This material can also be made to imitate concrete and marble countertops. Because this countertop option is not made of a porous material like stone countertops are, it does not require a sealant or special maintenance. Although it can be prone to scratches and burns, any damage can be easily sanded away.
Pros: Low-maintenance; durable; variety in color; smooth surface; stain-resistant
Cons: Susceptible to scratches; susceptible to burns; artificial look
This countertop is made of steel and is rust- and corrosion-resistant because of the amount of chromium in the metal. It is manufactured in various grades that can be mixed with other metal alloys to make it stronger. For example, type 304 contains a high amount of chromium and nickel and is the most popular type because of it heat- and stain-resistance. These countertops can also be manufactured in a variety of gauges, or thickness.
Each stainless steel countertop must be custom made for your kitchen. This is the most popular type of countertop in industrial and commercial kitchens because of its durability, cleanliness and its anti-bacterial nature.
Pros: Custom design; durable; anti-bacterial; heat-resistant; stain-resistant; water-resistant; low-maintenance; easy clean-up
Cons: Susceptible to dents; susceptible to scratches; loud; susceptible to color change from chemicals; fingerprints visible
The wood/butcher block countertop has begun to gain some popularity over the last decade because of the warm and natural feel it brings to kitchens. These countertops come in a variety of woods including maple, cherry, oak, birch and teak. Since wood is easy to manipulate there are many different options for the edges of these countertops and style options include butcher black, parquet, face grain or end grain planks, panels and other designs. Because wood can be stained, this option allows for a wide range of colors.
However, because wood easily absorbs liquids, this countertop option is susceptible to stains if not treated with mineral oil or any other sealant. This also results in the wood absorbing and retaining bacteria if not constantly cleaned and disinfected. Since wood is also a much softer material than other countertop options, it is also more susceptible to scratches. However, the good thing about this countertop is that it can be sanded down to remove any damages and can be easily stained again.
Pros: Customizable; durable; variety of colors; natural look; can be sanded down and stained multiple times
Cons: Susceptible to stains; susceptible to scratches, susceptible to burns; requires frequent disinfecting; requires periodic resealing
(Ceramic, Porcelain, etc.)
Tile countertops tend to be one of the most cost-effective countertop options. There are two kinds of tiles you can use in your kitchen: ceramic and porcelain. Ceramic tile is made of natural clay, sand and water and tends to be cheaper than porcelain. Porcelain tile is a type of ceramic tile but is made from finer dry clay that is compressed and heated for an extended period of time to make it denser and stronger than regular ceramic. Porcelain tiles are the preferred choice of tile for outdoor kitchens because they are less absorbent and stronger than their counterpart.
Both ceramic and porcelain tiles offer a wide range of color, patterns, textures and styles. Some tiles can even appear like wood or stone. This countertop most often requires some type of grout in between the tiles that also comes in a variety of colors and textures. The nature of this countertop makes it heat-, stain- and scratch-resistant, but tiles can be broken if struck with enough force.
Pros: Durable; stain-resistant; heat-resistant; scratch-resistant; easy to replace broken tiles; low-maintenance; easy to clean, easy to install; variety in color and style
Cons: Can break or crack; grout can stain and harbor bacteria; unsmooth surface, grout can chip away
These extremely durable countertops are made from concrete, but they are not as bland as you might think. This countertop material can be pigmented and stained with any desired color and shade. Concrete countertops can even be made to imitate the look of natural stone countertops like granite and marble. They can also be texturized and embedded with things such as tile, glass, shell and other materials to add a unique look to your kitchen.
Pros: Durable; customizable; heat-resistant; scratch-resistant; smooth surface; variety is design, color and texture;
Cons: Costly; requires a sealant; susceptible to stains if not sealed properly; can develop cracks and chips with time;
Glass countertops are not as fragile as one might think. These durable countertops are actually one of the most versatile materials to work with as it can be made in a variety of colors, styles and textures. Glass countertops will not age with time or become discolored. They are extremely heat- and stain-resistant. Clean up is easy making this countertop hygienic, and spills won’t soak into the material.
Glass can be tempered, meaning it can be heated while being manufactured to make it stronger. Glass also comes mostly in three different types: Float (sheets of glass that have uniform thickness), Slump (heated glass that becomes softened and takes the shape of a mold) and Kiln-fired (melted glass remnants mixed into kiln). Speak with your general contractor or distributor to discuss which is best for your kitchen.
Pros: Cost effective; variety in color, shape and texture; heat-resistant; stain-resistant; does not age or become discolored
Cons: Susceptible to scratches, cracks, chips and fingerprints; non-repairable
This countertop is made of layers containing paper blended with resin and fused to particle board. For decades, this was the standard countertop for kitchens, but over the years lost its popularity because of its lack of style. Laminate can now be made to imitate the look of stone and wood countertops.
Pros: Cost-effective; low-maintenance; easy to clean; stain-resistant; variety of colors;
Cons: Susceptible to scratches and cuts; susceptible to burns; layers can peel with time; can’t be used with undermount sinks; difficult to repair; doesn’t add resale value to home
Bamboo & Paper-based Composite
Similar to laminate and very ecofriendly, this countertop is made from paper fibers mixed with resin. It is surprisingly stronger than wood, but is not very stain- and heat- resistant. Although bamboo is technically considered grass, it essentially has the same properties of paper.
Pros: Eco-friendly; durable; imitates solid surface
Cons: Susceptible to stains, scratches and damage from chemicals; susceptible to burns; darkens with time; requires periodic sealing; limited colors