9 Popular Kitchen Countertop Materials

August 16, 2016

Finding the right countertop for your kitchen takes time, patience, and a lot of consideration. Unlike furniture, painting a room, or changing the curtains, a countertop is a bigger and more permanent investment. Changing your kitchen countertop will require remodeling, so you want to make sure you like the material. To make sure you adore what you choose here are a few of the most popular kitchen countertop materials:

1. Soapstone

Soapstone is incredibly smooth to the touch and often has a deep gray tone. It is often used in laboratories and commercial kitchens because it is resistant to chemicals and stains, easy to clean, and durable. It’s non-porous, so spills tend to wipe right off.

This material is also very natural-looking and can often be used as a heat sink for hot pots and pans because of its constant cool temperature. There are pros and cons of soapstone countertops; but, if you want something that is simple and multifunctional, soapstone could be the perfect countertop for your home.

Although it is a durable countertop material, soapstone is “softer” than some other countertops, which means it can sustain dents, scratches, and chips more easily. If you invest in soapstone, be aware that it will show its character and age as you use it more and more. However, yearly oiling and simple sandpaper can help to repair and maintain this surface.

2. Granite

Since durable countertops are one of the kitchen must-haves, it’s no surprise that granite is one of the most popular kitchen countertop materials. Granite is considered one of the more luxurious countertops on the market.

Its durability is as long as your house’s when maintained properly. It has a staggering range of colors to customize with any palette. In addition, it’s available in five grades of thickness to fit into variable-sized fixtures. Granite is a natural product, so it displays more irregularity and veining for a unique look. This is why it is often also a popular option for kitchen backsplashes.

As long as granite countertops are installed with care and sealed well, they will be crack-free and resistant to absorption. They do require some maintenance. Since granite is a more porous material, it does need to be washed daily using the proper way to clean granite countertops and oiled once a year. It can also be susceptible to mold in more humid climates. However, granite is impervious to stains and heat.

Granite and quartz are often pitted against each other when choosing a countertop material. If you’re down to granite vs quartz countertops as your final options, knowing the pros and cons of each can help you determine the right choice for you.

3. Copper

Copper is a beautiful, unique countertop that will only become more stunning with time. Copper will naturally dent, cut, and change colors as you use it. There are pros and cons of copper countertops, but they are definitely one-of-a-kind countertops that will make your kitchen look magnificent and rustic.

Copper countertops are unfortunately fairly expensive and will quickly become dented and discolored with time if they are unsealed. While some people find copper accents and this type of rustic character beautiful, it is not for everyone.

4. Marble

Marble is a beautiful, soft stone that invokes thoughts of elegance, luxury, and classic design. Marble is a stunning countertop that is durable and stands the test of time when properly cared for and installed. Opting for this material as a kitchen countertop is one of the ways to incorporate marble into your interior design.

Marble comes in two types: Carrera and Calcutta. Carrera is blueish-gray or white and Calcutta is white with taupe. Each has distinctive veining and can have color variations, like black, pink, and green. There are pros and cons of marble countertops. Marble also absorbs heat naturally. This is perfect for baking or placing hot pots and pans on the counter without worry.

It may not be the perfect answer for clean freaks. Unfortunately, because marble is more porous than granite, it stains easily and is more susceptible to chips, dents, scratches, and other damage than more durable materials like granite or quartz. Marble must be re-sealed periodically to keep it protected.

You can finish your marble countertops once or twice a year to keep the shine and look of marble longer. Be sure to only use gentle cloths, warm water, or specific marble cleaners to wipe down the counters. Otherwise, this could diminish their sheen. So, if you adore the look of marble, you must embrace the inevitable impurities or look at other options.

5. Quartz

Quartz is another one of the popular kitchen countertop materials and it is luxurious. It often jockeys with granite for the title of “most popular countertop material” and is one of the modern kitchen design ideas.

Because quartz is a manufactured product, it is more consistent and displays fewer irregularities with fewer veined options than granite. Though granite offers a few more natural options, quartz is a very customizable material. Quartz is a good material for countertops and also for sinks. Many of the pros and cons of quartz sinks are similar for quartz countertops.

Quartz requires no maintenance whatsoever, aside from the occasional wipedown. It does not need to be sealed and is just as durable as granite. Because quartz is not as porous as granite, it is not as susceptible to mold. So, it is often a good choice for humid climates. Although it is impervious to stains, quartz countertops can sustain damage over time from hot objects.

6. Tile

Tile offers a lot of creativity for many people, which is why there are so many ways to incorporate tile into your custom home design. Tile countertops can create beautiful, elaborate mosaics that are durable and will last a lifetime.

However, tile can be difficult to clean after installation and can show wear and tear relatively quickly. Evaluating the pros and cons of tile countertops and comparing them to other countertop materials can help you determine if they are the best choice for you. 

If you are confident in your DIY skills you can even install it yourself and give your kitchen a complete facelift. This is also the economic answer to replacing your countertop. The tiles only cost $10 to $50 per square foot. But, you’ll want to be confident in your skills as anything less than great installation will quickly cause issues.

7. Laminate

Laminate countertops have endured a bad reputation for quite some time. Initially, people tended to prefer a single, solid surface as opposed to a layered one. Since their first construction, laminate countertops have gone through several changes to make them more environmentally friendly.

They have also been adapted for easier installation, and have become one of the most inexpensive countertops on the market. They are also a flooring option and many of the pros and cons of laminate flooring are similar to those for laminate countertops. As such, this countertop surface has become one of the popular kitchen countertop materials and is a mainstay of kitchens the world over.

Laminate, often referred to as Formica, consists of synthetic material with a plastic coating. It’s available in an array of colors and patterns to fit any home. Laminate is simple to clean and very inexpensive. However, it is easily damaged and can become scratched fairly easily.

8. Wood

A classic, homey surface, wood has been in use for centuries as a countertop material. There are many types of wood to choose from, like Oak, Birch, Bolivian Rosewood, Maple, Bamboo, and Mesquite. In addition to the type of tree, there are also hundreds of finishes to choose from for a custom home.

Wood is easier on dishware and absorbs sound for a pleasant noise reduction in the home. But, wood is also damaged very easily. Of the countertop materials listed, wood tops have the highest potential for damage and also can stain much easier than other options.

When damaged, it can be sanded and refinished. However, this can warp your countertop over time if it sustains a lot of damage. Wood also requires monthly oiling and regular maintenance to retain its strength and beauty.

9. Solid Surface

A solid surface kitchen countertop is manufactured with three main elements – a bonding resin, the mineral particles, and the pigments that are added. The resins used to make solid surface countertops can be made from polyester, dense acrylic, or both.

Acrylic-based solid surface countertops are durable. They have a seamless matte appearance. Polyester-based solid surface countertops are durable, but are slightly more brittle than acrylic-based ones. They have a glossier appearance and are UV-resistant. Because they are not likely to fade because of sun damage, polyester-based solid surface countertops tend to be a better choice for vibrant colors.

Countertops where the resin is both acrylic and polyester are the most common. These solid surface countertops are durable, UV-resistant, have a glossy, seamless appearance, and can be a good fit for any color. They can even be made to look like natural stone or other materials. As with any kitchen countertop material, there are pros and cons of solid surface countertops too.

They are sturdy, durable, and nonporous, so they do not collect moisture or harbor bacteria. They are also easy to clean and do not need to be resealed. This makes them one of the popular kitchen countertop materials, but also popular in showers, on walls, as bathroom wall options, and around sinks, especially in healthcare facilities.

However, solid surface countertops are sensitive to heat and can be damaged and stained by hot objects. One of the benefits is that they are easy to repair, but you still don’t want to be careless with hot pots, pans, etc.

These are just a few of the most popular kitchen countertop materials; several of which also make great bathroom countertops. As one of the most-used rooms in a home, it’s important to get the kitchen design right. When it comes to a custom home, there are a lot of details and options to consider.

Partnering with an experienced custom home builder that has an in-house design/build process can make the entire journey a lot easier and ensure you end up with a custom home you love. If you’re ready to start bringing your dream home to life, contact Custom Home Group at 717-284-4090!