Types of Kitchen Countertop Materials

white kitchen countertop with marbled and white backsplash

Written by KS

April 28, 2022

Not long ago Houzz released their annual US Kitchen Trends Study.  And we learned that 9 out of 10 Americans are updating their kitchen countertops.  However there are many types of kitchen countertop materials.  From eco-friendly and natural stone to man-made, there’s something for everyone.  And they each have their pros and cons.

Types of Kitchen Countertop Materials:  Eco-Friendly

There are several eco-friendly countertops to choose from.  Although I only cover three.  And the things they have in common are their durability and custom looks they can give your home.

Bamboo

Thin rectangles of bamboo are glued together like butcher block.  And since bamboo grows fast, it’s renewable and affordable.  Other pros to having bamboo as a countertop include:

  • They’re naturally antibacterial
  • Some bamboo can be harder than woods like maple or oak
  • Can be refinished by sanding and resealing
  • And you get a custom look

Cons to bamboo counters:

  • Not stain, water, or heat resistant
  • Limited color options
  • And requires a sealant

Recycled Glass

This is another environmentally friendly choice.  In addition, each piece is one of a kind and beautiful.  Other benefits are:

  • They’re very resilient
  • Heat and stain resistant
  • Easy to clean

However, the cons to having glass counters are:

  • They can be very expensive
  • Acidic foods or harsh cleaners can damage the surface
  • And professional installation is recommended

Reclaimed Wood

Reclaimed wood countertop with spice rack and home decor pieces on it

Photo by Taryn Elliott on Pexels.com

Salvaged wood from old barns and etc has been popular since the 1980s.  Although recently we’ve seen an increase with its use in renovations.  Some advantages of reclaimed wood include:

  • It’s sustainable
  • Environmentally friendlly
  • Beautiful and aged look
  • Can be used in every style of home
  • Will give your home a distinct appearance
  • Strong material

The disadvantages of reclaimed wood counters are:

  • They’re expensive
  • Could contain VOCs
  • And if not sealed well, they’ll hold bacteria and viruses
  • Also, wood doesn’t go well with heat; so re-sanding and sealing will need to be done again regularly

Types of Kitchen Countertop Materials:  Natural Stone

There are several more options to choose from in natural stone countertops.  And they can be either very expensive to more affordable.  Further, most of the choices are heat and stain resistant.  Additionally, they’re very strong and come in unique looks, no matter which one you choose.

Lava Stone

This is probably the most durable and unique of all the countertops I’ve researched.  And the most expensive as well.  Also, that would be its main drawback.  But its pros include:

  • Kid friendly
  • Heat and stain resistant
  • And an unlimited choice of colors and styles

Marble

texture of light marble

Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

With its distinguished looks that come in a range of colors, marble promises to lend your home a distinct appearance.  Other benefits include:

  • Water resistant
  • Heat resistant

The cons to this type of countertop are:

  • It requires a lot of maintenance
  • The surface can scratch, and chips can occur
  • Requires professional installation
  • Surface is sealed, but it needs to be resealed every few years
  • And it’s expensive

Quartzite

This material has a classic and beautiful appearance like marble.  And it’s easy to clean.  Quartzite’s other benefits are:

  • Resistant to stain, scratches, and etching
  • Heat resistant, BUT the sealer might not be.  Thus it’s best to use pot holders or a trivet, so the sealer doesn’t crack

The cons to quartzite include:

  • It requires regular resealing
  • There aren’t many color choices
  • And it’s considered expensive

Granite

close-up of pink granite countertop with stainless steel toaster

This is the most common natural stone countertop used.  Its pros include:

  • Scratch and stain resistant when sealed properly
  • Heat resistant
  • Strong material
  • Wide variety of shades to choose from

The cons of granite counters are:

  • Requires some maintenance, like regular resealing
  • If you spill something, it needs to be wiped up quickly
  • Also, it is considered expensive

Soapstone

black and white marbling counter with white stools

Photo by Max Vakhtbovych on Pexels.com

This is naturally quarried stone.  Additionally, it sometimes is confused for slate.  And it has some white marbling throughout, which is talc.  The advantages of soapstone are:

  • Heat and chemical resistant
  • Easy to maintain, but more prone to scratching
  • Easy to clean

And the only negative is that it isn’t as hard as granite, but it won’t crack from stress or weight.

Slate

This is a metamorphic rock compressed from clay and silt sediment, comparable to other natural stone counters.  But most slate counters can be muted grays.  However others can come in striking colors and finishes.  The pros to having slate countertops are:

  • Non-porous, so easy clean-up and stain resistant
  • Heat, scratch, and chip resistant
  • More affordable than recycled glass, quartz, and concrete counters
  • Styles are muted compared to other options; though if you have a lot of color in your kitchen, slate might complement your design, rather than hinder it

And the only real con is that the corners can be brittle and sharp.

Types of Kitchen Countertop Materials:  Engineered Stone

white quartz countertop with white cabinets

Quartz, or engineered stone, is made from quartz crystals held together with a resin binder.  And it’s similar in appearance to natural stone, but there are more colors available.  More benefits include:

  • Very durable–won’t crack like granite or slate
  • Scratch and cut resistant, but it’s still recommended to use a cutting board
  • Easy to clean
  • And less expensive than quartzite and granite

The main drawback to quartz is that it’s only heat resistant to 300°, so trivets and pot holders are a necessity!

Types of Kitchen Countertop Materials:  Tile

Tile counters include porcelain, glass, natural stone, and quartz.  Ceramic and porcelain are usually less expensive, but more labor intensive.  Also, porcelain and ceramic tiles are durable, easy to clean, heat, scratch, and stain resistant.  However, if the grout isn’t sealed properly, it will stain and end up damaged due to moisture.  Further, that can harbor bacteria.  In addition, grout is very difficult to clean.  And if you let the grout absorb moisture, bacteria can get trapped inside.

Granite tiles are a popular choice.  However they have to be sealed regularly.

Meanwhile, quartz in an excellent choice for consistent grain, smooth and even surface, strength and long lasting tiles that don’t require sealing.  But repairing quartz tiles is difficult.  Also, there are not a lot of color choices in quartz.

Types of Kitchen Countertop Materials:  Butcher Block

butcher block countertops with white cabinets and white backsplash

Photo by Dmitry Zvolskiy on Pexels.com

One of the main benefits of having butcher block countertops is that they can be paired with many looks and materials.  Other benefits include:

  • Can be comparable in cost to other options, depending on materials
  • When sealed correctly, ideal for prepping food
  • Can be sanded and resealed to maintain the look
  • Goes with many styles

Cons with this type of material:

  • If you use butcher block as a cutting board regularly, your countertops will look worn out
  • Requires regular sanding and resealing; unsealed wood harbors germs
  • Longterm exposure to water isn’t good for wood; also, manufacturers recommend oiling butcher block every 1-3 months to protect from water and mold
  • And can crack if not maintained

Types of Kitchen Countertop Materials:  UltraCompact Surface

Ultracompact surfaces is a pretty new material, that come from natural materials.  Though it can’t be classified as a natural stone countertop.  And since it contains no resins, it can’t be classified as a resin either.  Thus, it belongs to its own category for now.  The pros of ultracompact surface counters include:

  • Extremely durable
  • Stain and crack resistant
  • Heat proof
  • Indoor and outdoor use
  • Many colors and patterns to choose from
  • Come in large slabs

And the cons to these types of counters are:

  • Limited availability
  • They’re expensive
  • And professional installation required

Types of Kitchen Countertop Materials:  Synthetic

The last four types of kitchen countertops I discuss are made out of synthetic materials.  And they range in price point as well as styles.

Concrete

This is not your concrete of the past.  But neither is it the concrete you see on the sidewalk, because it’s lighter and comes in an array of colors.  Also,

  • It can be used inside or outside
  • Can be framed and poured on-site and can also be personalized
  • Heat and scratch resistant

Cons to concrete counters include

  • Pricey
  • Requires maintenance and regular sealing to make cleaning easy
  • Putting a lot of weight on a corner could cause the counters to crack
  • And professional installation is required

Stainless Steel

stainless steel kitchen with pots and pans out

Photo by Skylar Kang on Pexels.com

This material has grown in popularity.  Further, it can go with a variety of styles.  More benefits are:

  • Heat, stain, and rust resistant
  • Industrial strength
  • Easy to clean and maintain

Negatives to stainless steel countertops are:

  • They’re not scratch or dent resistant; however, brushed stainless steel finish or higher grade is more forgiving
  • Fingerprints show a lot more
  • Expensive
  • And cooking can get noisy with the clanging of pots and pans

Laminate

laminate counter with white stove and oven

Also called plastic laminate, this material has been around for decades.  Although, they’ve changed a lot, such as more options, and

  • They’re very inexpensive
  • Easy to install
  • Easy to maintain
  • Stain and heat resistant

But they aren’t scratch resistant.

Solid Surface

white counter with a stainless steel faucet

The solid surface countertop has almost been around as long as laminate.  They’re durable, come in many patterns, similar to granite or quartz.  More pros include

  • Easy to clean and maintain
  • Stain resistant
  • Not as pricey as quartz, concrete, or others

And the cons are

  • Not heat resistant
  • Can get scratched; however, surface can be sanded lightly

In Conclusion

There are many different types of kitchen countertop materials that fit a variety of styles and budgets.  Natural stone, eco-friendly, tile, or wood, there are a lot of good options.  And even though most of them require professional installation, some of them are DIY friendly.  Which countertop material is your favorite?

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