There are so many details to get just right when you plan your kitchen renovation: You have to pick your flooring, your cabinets, your backsplash … and your countertop.

With the range of options available, how do you know where to start?

This guide to kitchen countertop materials will help you choose the perfect counter to tie your whole kitchen together – and give you the usable space you need!

What Is the Best Countertop for a Kitchen?

You may not be surprised to learn that different kitchen countertop materials work best in different kitchens. Style, function, maintenance requirements, durability and cost all factor into making the right choice for your space.

For example, a sophisticated kitchen (for making dinner three times a week) will probably have a different countertop than a practical kitchen for an avid home chef.

To help you narrow down your options, let’s go over each kitchen counter material’s pros and cons.

The most often installed kitchen counter materials:

Marble

Marble kitchen countertops have a high-end, sophisticated look. They’re made of natural stone, often cut to display stunning natural mineral veins. Choose between honed marble with a matte finish and porous structure and polished marble with a shiny finish.

Marble countertop pros and cons:

Pros

  • Looks beautiful.
  • Turns your kitchen into a luxury space.
  • Resists heat well (hot pots and pans won’t melt or warp your counter).
  • Is generally durable and long-lasting. They can last over 50 years with routine care.
  • Adds to your home’s resale value as a beautiful desirable kitchen feature.
Cons

  • Can be very expensive.
  • Requires constant care, from daily wipe downs with marble-safe cleaners to annual sealing.
  • Without regular sealing, is prone to etching (dull marks on the stone), scratches and acid stains.

 

You can reduce your marble countertop cost by opting for marble tiles over whole slabs. Faux marble countertops won’t provide the same natural beauty and high durability, but you’ll lower the price tag.

Granite

Another beautiful natural stone option, many elegant kitchens feature granite slab countertops. Granite tends to have a more striking pattern than marble, with more intense colors and smaller, tighter mineral deposit patterns.

Granite countertop pros and cons:

Pros

  • Durable natural stone lasts decades (up to a century!) with proper care.
  • Offers unique, eye-catching looks in a variety of patterns and colors to match a variety of aesthetics.
  • Resists heat well (hot pots and pans won’t melt or warp your counter).
  • Resists scratches and chips that could diminish the look of a softer material, like synthetic counters or even marble.
  • Costs less than marble.
  • Adds value to your home as a desirable kitchen upgrade.
Cons

  • Granite countertop installation MUST be done by a professional because of how heavy the slabs are.
  • Costs more than most synthetic counters.
  • Requires resealing every one to five years to protect it from stains that can seep into the porous material.

 

 

Quartz

Quartz countertops are synthetic or “engineered” stone made from a mix of resin and crushed waste rock from industrial processing. It offers a high-class, highly customizable look, perfect for getting the aesthetics of your kitchen just right.

The pros and cons of quartz countertops:

Pros

  • Highly durable.
  • Highly stain resistant.
  • Offers lots of customizability and can be custom-made to perfectly match your dream kitchen.
  • Adds value to your home as a desirable kitchen upgrade.
  • Can be upgraded to include bacteria-resistant materials during creation.
  • Doesn’t require regular sealing.
  • Low maintenance and easy to clean.
Cons

  • Just as expensive as natural stone.
  • Not heat resistant: can melt or warp if you absentmindedly set a hot pot on your counter.
  • Color can fade over time in direct sunlight.
  • The hardness of the material often requires professional grade cutting tools and cannot be installed yourself.

 

Solid Surface

Solid surface countertops are wholly or mostly synthetic, made of a blend of acrylic and polyester materials and resin. Some varieties have small amounts of natural stone dust mixed in. They offer a natural stone (marble or granite) look without the natural stone price.

Solid surface countertops pros and cons:

Pros

  • Costs less than other high-end options, including the natural stone it’s modeled after.
  • Highly customizable in look and shape.
  • Ideal for larger kitchens or kitchens with odd counter layouts.
  • Easy to clean.
  • Easy to buff out minor scratches.
  • Doesn’t require regular maintenance or resealing.
  • Experienced DIYers can install solid surface counters themselves, though it’s not recommended for beginners.
Cons

  • The relatively soft material of solid surface counters is prone to cracks and scratches.
  • Susceptible to heat damage and discoloration from harsh chemicals.
  • Less long-lived than granite, though it can last longer than quartz or marble, especially if you don’t have the time to invest in upkeep for marble, granite or quartz.
  • Solid surface countertops tend not to add any or much value to a home during resale.

Butcher Block

Butcher block countertops add an element of warm, rustic beauty to a kitchen renovation. A kitchen with butcher block countertops offers a versatile take on natural beauty. These countertops are made by binding several pieces of wood together with glue to form a slab. Many kitchens use butcher block as an accent feature for one section of countertop rather than outfitting the whole kitchen in wood.

The pros and cons of butcher block countertops:

Pros

  • Add natural beauty to your kitchen.
  • Are customizable with tons of finishes available to match or contrast with your cabinets, tile and flooring.
  • Can be made with reclaimed wood, making the counters more environmentally friendly.
  • Options range from budget-friendly to high-end luxury.
  • Small imperfections from time and use can be sanded out or left to add character.
Cons

  • Can stain easily, depending on the quality of the finish used.
  • Require food-safe butcher block oil or board cream every two weeks (with heavy use) or month (light to moderate use) to prevent stains and cracking.
  • Wood is much softer than stone, so it’s easier to cut, nick, dent and scratch.
  • Sealed butcher block isn’t recommended for direct food prep, since the sealing chemicals can leach into food.

Other Materials

With a completely custom kitchen renovation, you can expand your horizons beyond the usual options. Concrete kitchen countertops offer a durable, industrial look while live-edge wood slabs provide rugged, natural beauty.

Though granite and marble are the most popular choices, other natural stone countertops offer a unique – if maintenance-heavy – aesthetic. Soapstone, quartzite, limestone, and even river rock can be made into kitchen counters, among other options. You can even choose to tile your countertop in any pattern or color you like for personalized flair.

Let Us Help with Your Kitchen Renovation: Countertops and All!

The expert designers at Daniels Design and Remodeling can help you pick out all the perfect details for your Northern Virginia kitchen renovation.

Let us help you design your new kitchen, including countertops, for a flat design fee (not a percentage of your budget). We’ll recommend the best counter material to tie together your kitchen and provide you with the functionality and benefits you value the most.

And then we’ll provide the expert renovation itself, including the countertop ordering and installation. Get started designing the perfect kitchen today when you schedule a conversation today.