The Many Different Types of Countertop Materials: Properties and Pros & Cons of Each
From marble to laminate, the dizzying array of options available for countertop materials can be overwhelming, and there’s a lot riding on your decision. The countertops that you choose for your kitchen will help shape the overall feel of the room. This guide to the types of countertop materials can help you narrow down the selection.
An up-and-coming trend among homeowners, quartz is a man made stone that is comprised of pieces of quartz, rock, glass or other materials. These aggregates are held together with a resin binder.
Quartz countertops come in a wide variety of colors and patterns. Some resemble natural stone countertops, and others have a distinctive look all their own.
Because this is a manmade product, it’s possible to achieve color consistency between product batches, which can help when it comes to finding an exact match for your kitchen. Furthermore, it requires less maintenance than natural stone and won’t easily stain or scratch.
However, quartz is known to chip, particularly along the edges. Its price is fairly comparable to that of granite, so it won’t necessarily save you money over a natural stone option.
There are a number of types of natural stone that can be used for kitchen countertops, and they are some of the most popular choices for high-end kitchen designs. As a general rule, these materials are both beautiful and durable, but each type has its own strengths and drawbacks:
- Granite: Available in about 20 shades, granite is one of the most popular types of countertop materials. It can handle heat and doesn’t scratch easily, but the edges sometimes chip. You must regularly treat granite with sealant. Granite is available in both honed and polished varieties.
- Marble: This material is renowned for its elegant beauty. Color choices can include white, pink and green. Marble can stain or etch, so you must treat it with care.
- Soapstone: One advantage of soapstone is that you can have a sink made to match your countertop. Color choices for soapstone are limited, and it can scratch easily. However, soapstone stands up to heat well.
- Slate: Available in a few basic colors, slate is easy to care for. Scratches are not uncommon, but buffing the surface can reduce their appearance.
You can learn more about the advantages of natural stone in the following video:
Also known as butcher block countertops, wood countertops are versatile because you can cut and chop directly on them. Even if you don’t want wood countertops throughout your kitchen, you could consider using this material in one designated prep area. Studies have shown that wood countertops don’t harbor bacteria.
Regular maintenance is essential for wood countertops. You must seal them every few years or oil them every few weeks.
Available with a smooth or patterned appearance, glass countertops are gaining in popularity. This is a strong, durable building material, and it can hold its own against stains, heat and scratches.
A glass countertop can give your kitchen a distinctive look that feels light and open. With glass, you have the option to choose a tint that matches the color scheme of your kitchen. Glass also allows you to light your countertops from underneath.
However, glass can be an expensive material to use for your kitchen counters. It also shows fingerprints easily and has the potential to crack.
An alternative to a solid glass countertop is one made with recycled glass. This involves small glass particles that are held together with a binder.
On the low end of the countertop price range sits plastic laminate. The main materials used to manufacture laminate countertops are kraft paper, resin and particleboard.
Plastic laminate has been used for countertops for many years, but recent advances have improved the look and feel of this option. It is available in a wide variety of colors and patterns.
Laminate does a good job of standing up to stains and heat, and it doesn’t usually chip. However, you should not cut directly on this surface.
Popular in commercial kitchens, stainless steel countertops also find a place in some home kitchens. This is a durable, rugged material, but it usually comes with a high price tag.
Giving your kitchen this all-metal treatment can lend it a thoroughly modern, industrial feel. It can also convey a retro vibe, particularly when paired with vintage-style appliances.
Stainless steel countertops match many kitchen appliances, and it’s easy to keep them sanitary. However, for most kitchens, they don’t lend a sense of warmth and comfort.
A fabricated product comprised of acrylic or polyester, solid surface countertops are gaining in popularity. This material is available in a wide array of colors, and you can purchase patterns that resemble stone surfaces. Solid surface countertops are often more expensive than laminate but cheaper than granite or quartz.
You need to use a moderate amount of care with solid surface countertops. Setting a hot pan on it can cause damage. Scratches are possible too, but these can often be sanded smooth.
When used for countertops, concrete is usually poured and formed right in your kitchen. This type of concrete is smooth and polished, and it’s usually not as heavy as you might imagine.
Concrete countertops are strong and durable. They can be produced in various colors, and you have the option accessorize them with add-ins.
Although concrete usually resists chips fairly well, there is always a chance that it could crack. Also, regular care must be taken to keep the surface smooth and sealed.
Just as you can use tile to cover a wall, a floor or a backsplash, you can also use this material on your countertops. Tiles are available in a wide range of colors or patterns, and this can be a great way to inject personality into your kitchen design.
Tiles used for countertops are typically made out of ceramic, but glass and porcelain tiles are also available. To ensure a sturdy surface, they need to be thicker than the type of tiles that are used on walls.
Tile countertops usually wipe clean with ease. Regular grout sealing is an important maintenance step.
Could you use more help in selecting one of the many types of countertop materials? The experts at NDA Kitchens can help you find the right countertops for your remodeling project. Check out the many photographs in our design galleries, or call us to schedule a personal design consultation.