Choosing the perfect countertop surface material for your kitchen is the first step to a practical kitchen. After all, the counter is where all the cooking happens. But it’s not just about having a functional countertop now, is it? Counters are the main attraction of the kitchen. That said, the materials you choose, whether durable granite top or butcher block, are for style as much as they are for utility. Here are some of the best countertop materials for the kitchen.
This post will explore everything you need to know about countertop materials and how to choose the right one for a modern kitchen. Before you dive into your countertop quest and fall in love with any of them, here are a few things to keep in mind regardless of which material you choose:
- Design and Color (The statement you want your kitchen to make)
- Size of the Material (Length, thickness, and edge style of the countertop)
- Integration With House Design Including Cabinets and Lighting (Do you want the materials to match the house’s original design?)
- Durability and Maintenance
- Cumulative Cost of Ownership (Initial & future maintenance cost)
Types of Countertops for the Kitchen
Ideal for those who want to go wild with colors and patterns, this impervious material comes with limitless looks. New technology has made it tougher. The material can now take any shape and fit into any design concept. It’s an excellent option for people with a limited budget. The downsides? Laminate doesn’t hold up to heat, so avoid putting hot pans directly on it. It may chip or peel over time.
Quartz doesn’t require any sealing or polishing and has twice the shock resistance of natural stone. However, like laminate, it’s still a bit sensitive to heat. The blend of natural stone and synthetic resins that make up quartz countertops is more resistant to household cleaning cleansers and chemicals than natural stones. (So, you can keep spraying Lysol on it to keep it clean and glisten at all times). As for cost, some high-quality quartz materials can be just as costly as natural ones.
Terrazzo is a blend composed of chips of quartz, marble, granite, and glass that are then poured into a chemical resin cast. Terrazzo was super trendy in the 80s and saw a resurgence in late 2017, proving to be a surprisingly timeless trend. It’s excellent as a connected material extending from the countertops to the floor. Terrazzo also comes in tiles, some bigger and more complex than others.
Less popular than other countertop materials on this list but unquestionably on the rise, copper countertops are something special. Helen Parker, creative director at deVOL Kitchens, says they “add a certain something that can’t be replicated in any other material, a feeling of having something quite special and practical all in one.” Made to order, this kind of material can be expensive, but not as much as natural stone.
A butcher-block countertop is ideal for those who enjoy cooking and need all the space they can get. Food can be prepared directly on the surface of a butcher-block counter, which is, for some, pretty convenient. Occasional oiling is worth it if you love the rough, rustic look. Apply a proper finish to make the surface more water- and heat-resistant.
Quartzite is a precious and covetable natural stone that is similar in look to marble (not to be confused with quartz). Often referred to as “engineered quartz” or “engineered stone,” quartzite is one of the more heat- and scratch-resistant natural stones on this list. The downsides? Quartzite countertops can be quite pervious, so they aren’t always the most suitable option for busy kitchens.
One of the hardest natural stones, granite countertops, can be on the pricier side (about the same price as high-quality quartz). Granite is the most durable, making it excellent for family kitchens that get a lot of action but still want the element of luxury. It’s also one of the more heat- scratch-resistant natural stones available. The downsides? Granite needs to be resealed frequently to preserve its durability.
Interestingly, marble is a composite of minerals, including graphite, calcite, and more. Marble has pretty much become compatible with every type of natural stone (or manmade composite) available. But it’s pretty specific. It’s one of the softer natural stones, making it less durable and prone to scratching. However, there’s no denying the luxurious look of a marble top.
Solid surface countertops are low maintenance, non-porous materials made up of alumina trihydrate, epoxy or polyester resins, acrylic, and pigments. They’re an affordable countertop option that provides a clean look and feel. Solid surface countertops can simulate the appearance of marble, granite, and other natural materials. The downsides? This material may lack the depth of detail that natural stone offers.
Ultra-Compact and Porcelain
Porcelain is a manmade material made up of ceramic clay that contains various minerals, including kaolinite and silica. Similarly, ultra-compact surfaces are made of raw materials that combine quartz, marble, porcelain, and glass. Both surfaces are one of, if not THE MOST, DURABLE materials available today. Porcelain surfaces are quite resistant to heat, scratching, stains, and UV. These tops are perfect for an outdoor space as they can be in direct sunlight without enduring critical sun damage.
Another reason why porcelain has become the first choice for homeowners in recent months is due to its ability to keep bacteria and germs away. As a non-porous material, porcelain does not absorb leftover foods or fluids, making it a highly sterile surface.
When designing or remodeling your kitchen, it’s easy to get bewildered by the abundance of options you have and the number of decisions you need to make.
Many find it helpful to start the design process with the countertop selection, but unfortunately, that can lead to even more questions. What material do I really like? What is the best material for my home? What about maintenance? What is my style? Although the questions seem unending, the primary question you should ask is: what material will give me the best balance between style, functionality, and maintenance? Hopefully, the countertop materials above will help you decide on the right countertop material for your kitchen.