Choosing the Right Countertop for Your Household

A breakdown of various popular kitchen countertop materials, the pros and cons, price point and maintenance.

Choosing the best countertop for your home can be difficult. With so many different options, prices and maintenance routines, it can be hard to pick! Check out 8 popular countertops and learn a little bit more about which one may be the best fit for your household! 

Quartz - $$$

Quartz is an extremely beautiful and durable material, so you’ll be sure to find something to match your home. One of the biggest differences between quartz and other materials like granite or marble is that it is an engineered product. Quartz countertops are mostly made of quartz, a natural material, but they also contain other things like binders, colors and other reflective materials. Because these are manufactured countertops, you can find them in a large range of colors as well as with different textured finishes, providing you way more options that a natural stone countertop. 

The great thing about quartz is that it is relatively low maintenance, unlike 100% natural stone, you do not need to worry about sealing the countertop as it will naturally be resistant to staining, scratches and bacteria; however, quartz is not as heat resistant as other countertops. 

Quartz is perfect for busy families who do not want to worry about maintaining the integrity of their countertop with sealers and cleaning regiments. It’s best for those planning to live in their home for a long time as this will make up for the initial investment.

Granite - $$$

Granite is a natural stone that has become a very popular kitchen countertop option. This stone is beautiful and extremely strong and durable when cared for properly, and are able to withstand scratches and heat damage. Despite their durability, these countertops also require a little extra love and must be sealed initially as well as resealed at least once a year, if not more frequently. Sealing the stone helps prevent staining as well as bacteria. You can also avoid any staining by quickly cleaning up any spills or messes, as well as cleaning with products specially formulated for granite (and the sealers that are used to protect it). 

Because this is a natural stone, chalk full of different minerals, each slab will have its own unique appearance. When selecting granite in store, it’s important to remember to choose slabs from the same original stone to make sure that the color and veining are similar.

This type of countertop is best for a household who will be willing to put in the little bit of extra time and effort to maintain their beautiful counters. If you plan on living in your house for years to come, the initial investment will pay for itself over time. 

Marble - $$$$

Marble can be found in some of the most luxurious and premium homes. There are many different variations of marble and the appearance of the veining and color will vary depending on the location the stone was sourced from and its grain. In addition, there are also 3 different typical finishes to choose from, each with their own pros and cons. 

Marble, in general, is a softer stone and is, therefore, more likely to scratch and will require some extra care to keep it looking like new. This includes sealing and resealing at least annually along with continuous cleaning.

Marble countertops are best for households that are looking for the ultimate when it comes to luxury. While these countertops can be laborious to care for, when done properly they provide a deluxe addition and feel to the home.  

Laminate - $

Laminate countertops are probably one of the most popular options due to their great price. In addition, laminate countertops are available in the widest range of colors as well as options that mimic natural stone countertops. Laminate, also known as plastic laminate, is made up of a hard particle board center with layers of plastic laminate on top of it. 

These are some of the easiest countertops to clean. Since they do not have a porous surface, you don’t need to worry about what you clean them with. However, because laminate is made of plastic, the material is more susceptible to scratches as well as heat.

Laminate is perfect for new homeowners or families that are budget conscious. Homes are expensive and laminate helps eliminate some of the initial investment while providing a great solution for families prone to messes and spills. 

Recycled Glass - $$$

Recycled glass countertops are just that, countertops made up of recycled glass. They are made up of about 80% to 90% glass and held together with a cement binder. These countertops have a very unique and custom look which can either be more modern or traditional depending on the type, color, size and shape of the glass used. 

Because they are made from post-consumer glass and cement binder, these countertops are extremely strong and durable, resistant to scratches, chips, and heat. However, the material can be finicky during installation, and if pressure points are created while it’s installed, the slabs are known to crack. So, make sure you're hiring a professional who has worked with recycled glass before. Depending on the glass variation they may also show water spots and fingerprints. 

These types of countertops are best for households who are environmentally conscious and have the money to spend on quality material and labor, as well as those who are looking to add a pop of color or unique look to their kitchen. 

Butcher Block - $$ to $$$$

Butcher block countertops are another very popular option for the kitchen.They can add some warmth and dimension to an overall plain kitchen. The countertops are made up of different pieces of wood that are glued, sanded and sealed together. This means that you are able to get a variety of different colors as well as reclaimed wood if you like. However, the variety of wood type also creates a large range in price point. The block hides scratches well, but any that can be seen only add to the character of the countertop. The surface can also be re-sanded and sealed at any time.

These types of counters require some TLC. They must be sealed properly when they are first installed and will need to be resealed periodically over the years. In addition, it’s extremely important to not let water sit on them over time. If improperly sealed, water can cause the wood to warp and separate as well as harbor bacteria. Some suppliers recommend oiling the butcher block every 1 to 3 months to avoid this type of damage. 

Butcher blocks are perfect for households who crave a little warmth and functionality in their kitchen. They are great for bakers and those who enjoy and will do a lot of food prep.

Solid Surfacing - $$ to $$$

This is a newer type of material being used for kitchen countertops. Solid surfacing is made from a sturdy synthetic material, acrylic, and has many of the advantages of laminate while being of slightly higher quality. For example, solid surface comes in many different colors and variations, including natural rock lookalikes, and is extremely easy to clean and care for while also being a little more heat resistant than laminate. In addition, surface scratches can be buffed out by a professional. 

These types of countertops are best for busy households who are looking for a slightly higher-quality alternative to laminate. Solid surfacing is extremely easy to clean and can be best for households prone to spills. 

Concrete - $$$

Concrete countertops are one of the newest types of countertops being offered. This is mainly due to the advances made in concrete which have allowed for a thinner and lighter formula that can be produced in a variety of different colors. Concrete countertops are custom and are typically poured and created right in the homeowner’s kitchen. They can be further personalized with different stamping and staining techniques or the addition of tiles, colored glass or stones. 

While extremely durable, they do require a certain amount of maintenance. Countertops should be sealed and periodically resealed to avoid staining and to make cleaning easier. In addition, large amounts of weight on the corners have also been known to cause cracks.

Concrete is best for a household that is looking for something completely unique and custom for their home and is not concerned with how potential resale value could be affected. These counters are also best for a household that will be willing to provide the property care to maintain the material.