How to Choose Kitchen Counters
A Countertop for Every Style and Budget
Countertops help define the functionality and style of your kitchen. Whether renovating or building a kitchen from scratch, you can choose from a wide selection of natural and synthetic materials in a variety colors, finishes, and designs with a prices ranging from expensive to budget-friendly. We've compiled a list of the most popular types of countertops to take the guess work out of your decision and help you find the perfect fit.
A beautiful natural material that comes in a variety of colors and patterns, marble has a smooth surface bakers love. It resists heat well, but can be scratched, stained, or etched by acidic substances. Marble requires sealing and has a hefty price tag.
Average price range: $100-$400 per square foot. Prices range based on quality, grade, and origin of stone.
Strong, heat-resistant, and easy to maintain, granite is a popular choice in many kitchens. As a natural stone, it comes in a variety of colors with no two pieces exactly the same. It can be honed for a soft matte finish or highly polished for a shiny look. Granite counters do require periodic sealing to maintain its appearance.
Average price range: $30-$200 per square foot. Prices range based on quality, grade, and origin of stone.
A soft, natural stone with a smooth feel and grey color, this material is somewhat resistant to stain and acids. Softer than granite, soapstone may scratch, chip, or crack. Minor scratches can be easily sanded out or oiled away with mineral oil. It does require regular maintenance, and the color may darken over time.
Average price range: $75-$150 per square foot. Prices range based on quality, grade, and origin of stone.
Made of plastic resins, this engineered material is virtually seamless and can integrate a sink and backsplash in its design. It comes in a wide range of colors and patterns that can also imitate the look of stone, concrete, or marble. Though durable, it is does not resist heat as well as natural stone. Scratches and minor surface stains can be sanded out, and it does not require any sealing.
Average price range: $25-$140 per square foot. Prices range based on brand, finishes, and custom edge profiles.
Solid Surface Countertops
The natural beauty of wood countertops add warmth to a kitchen's look. Scratches can be sanded or buffed out, though care should be taken to avoid deeper marks from knives and sharp objects. Wood has a give to it, making it gentle on delicate china and a good choice for chopping and food prep surfaces. Butcher block does require regular sealing to maintain it, and it's prone to heat or water damage.
Average price range: $18-$120 per square foot. Prices range based on location and wood grade.
Butcher Block Countertops
The antimicrobial, easy-to-clean, and heat-resistant properties of stainless steel make it the choice of commercial kitchens and professional chefs. It looks great in many high-tech and contemporary style kitchens and any scratches it gets over time create a beautiful patina that adds to its appeal. The shiny surface does show fingerprints so be prepared to wipe it frequently.
Average price range: $30-$100 per square foot. Prices range from grade, gauge size, and customization.
Stainless Steel Countertops
Concrete is not just for floors. Used in countertops, this versatile material has an edgy, industrial chic look. Concrete can be cast in any shape, custom tinted in a variety of colors, and be inlaid with other materials. It withstands heavy use, but is not as heat-resistant as stone or stainless and requires frequent sealing to prevent staining. Heavy concrete can settle over time and develop small cracks so it needs extra strong support beneath it.
Average price range: $45-$170 per square foot. Prices range based on customization factors.
Modern laminates have improved in quality and appearance with more colors, patterns, and profiles available than in the past. Laminate counters are stain-resistant, waterproof, low maintenance, and inexpensive. However, they can be scorched by hot pans, and be scored by knives. Seams will be noticeable and damage is difficult to repair.
Average price range: $10-$70 per square foot. Prices range based on brand, design, and region.
Kitchen Counter Comparison
|Marble||Granite||Soapstone||Solid Surface/Quartz||Butcher Block/Wood||Stainless Steel||Concrete||Laminate|
|Wide range of colors available||●●●●||●●●●●||●●||●●●●●||●●●||●●||●●●●●||●●●●●|
|Easy to maintain||●●||●●●●||●●●||●●●●||●●||●●●●||●●●||●●●●|
|Easy to repair||●||●||●●●●●||●●●●●||●●●||●●●●●||●●||●|
|Requires periodic sealing||YES||YES||YES||NO||YES||NO||YES||NO|
● Poor | ●● Below Average | ●●● Average | ●●●● Above Average | ●●●●● Excellent
$ Least Expensive | $$$$ Most Expensive