12 Kitchen Countertop Options: A Pros and Cons Guide

Homeowners can easily become overwhelmed by the dozens of kitchen countertop options fanning out before them. When choosing to redesign your kitchen (or building a new one from the ground up), countertops can often become a sticking point.

Why?

Because, like every other aspect of your kitchen, the countertops are expected to look great, handle any workload you can throw at them, and stay dependable for decades. It’s not an area of your kitchen to skimp on. It’s an investment.

So to help make sure you’re making the right investment for your home and your family, here is a list of 12 different types of countertops, and the pros and cons you should consider for each.

 

Granite

Granite Countertop

Pros

  • Many different colors and grains are available, meaning a granite countertop would match any kitchen.
  • Highly durable material when well maintained.
  • Widely available and often affordable. Some types of granite might cost as little as $50 per square foot.
  • Timeless looks. You won’t have to worry about this natural stone looking “dated” in 10 or 15 years.

Cons

  • Granite countertop prices can be all over the place. While it’s true that many people find great deals, some of the more exotic pieces of granite could easily climb to $250 per square feet or higher.
  • Yearly maintenance is recommended. Granite is porous, so spilled coffee or wine might become permanent stains if you don’t reseal your countertops regularly.
  • Durable but not indestructible. Heavy objects dropped onto granite might cause chips or cracks.

 

Wood

Wood Countertop

 

Pros

  • Wood is a very attractive material that instantly adds a warmth and natural look to any kitchen.
  • There are a wide variety of colors, stains, and grains available to help customize your desired look.
  • Wood makes for an excellent work surface. Assuming it is properly sealed, it can stand up to knives, pots and pans, and all the other goings-on of a typical kitchen.
  • Wood countertops can blend right in with any design style, from ultramodern, to rustic.

Cons

  • Scratches and dents can occur more readily on would than on some harder surfaces.
  • Water damage can creep in if the countertop is not properly maintained. Sealing is required, as are regular oil treatments.
  • They may show wear over time. Just like any other wood surface, it may require refinishing after several years.

 

Marble

Marble Countertop

Pros

  • Marble can add a stately and distinguished look to your kitchen.
  • Marble surfaces do not conduct heat, meaning you can work better with cool or cold ingredients.
  • Marble is widely available, and the more common types are very inexpensive. In fact, marble may be the most affordable natural stone countertop.

Cons

  • As with other natural countertops, proper sealing and maintenance is essential to help avoid permanent stains.
  • Marble can be vulnerable to acidic substances. Allowing a slice of citrus fruit to stay on the countertop overnight might lead to a permanent dull spot.

 

Soapstone

Pros

  • Amazing design versatility. You will find soapstone countertops in everything from traditional country kitchens, to modern-day science labs.
  • Soapstone is not porous like granite or marble, so it is significantly easier to clean. You also do not have the staining issues that you might have with other types of stone.
  • Naturally bacteria resistant.

Cons

  • Soapstone is a softer material than granite or marble. It can be cut by sharp knives, so be sure to always use a cutting board.
  • Dropping a heavy object like a cast iron pan could dent the material.
  • Not as much natural color variety as other stone countertops.

 

Copper

Pros

  • Copper has a very striking and bold look that instantly warms up any décor. Your copper countertop will always be a conversation piece.
  • Copper is naturally antimicrobial. The surface doesn’t allow bacteria or viruses to thrive and spread.
  • Soap and water is all you need to thoroughly clean your counter.

Cons

  • Cost. There is no getting around it; copper is pricey. In some cases, it may also be difficult to obtain.
  • It’s will react to acids and other substances. Copper is a metal and it can tarnish or oxidize under certain conditions. The way your countertops look today might be different from the way they look in a week.
  • It requires regular sealing.
  • It’s susceptible to dents and scratches.

 

Zinc

Pros

  • The metal is easy to work with, so if you were looking to include some decorative edges, you might really be impressed with zinc.
  • Because zinc reacts to the environment, a patina will form over time, meaning you don’t have to worry too much about maintaining a perfectly uniform looking surface. Imperfections are part of the charm.
  • Naturally antibacterial, and easy to clean.

Cons

  • Zinc is more heat sensitive than other materials. The material can warp if a hot pot or pan is set down on it.
  • You won’t want to do any cutting directly on the counter, as scratching happens easily.
  • This is a pricey choice. The average cost is somewhere between $150 – $200 per square foot.

 

Concrete

Pros

  • Concrete countertops can be cast in any shape, and can easily conform to any space. Decorative edges are widely available.
  • There are endless color varieties available, meaning concrete can blend seamlessly into any décor, or act as an accent piece.
  • Concrete is resistant to high heat.
  • This material can accept inlays or other design details including accent tiles.

Cons

  • The material can stain easily if not properly sealed. Yearly maintenance is required.
  • The more elaborate your design, the higher your costs will go. Some elaborate concrete countertops can be cost prohibitive.

 

Plastic Laminate

Plastic Laminate Countertop

Pros

  • Often, laminate countertops are the least expensive option of all. Homeowners looking to remodel their kitchen prior to putting their house on the market may prefer to go with a plastic laminate, as it makes more financial sense.
  • The relative inexpensiveness of plastic laminate also means there is less commitment. If you come up with new kitchen counter ideas every few years, this is easier to swap out.

Cons

  • Plastic laminate countertops are prone to damage from sharp objects, and from heat. The surface of the counter can be cut or scratched by knives, and a hot pan could potentially melt an area of the counter.
  • Generally speaking, plastic laminate does not add any resale value to your home. Although, it may become a non-issue if it is installed as part of an overall kitchen upgrade.

 

Engineered Quartz

Pros

  • Because this is a man-made material, it is usually available in every color imaginable.
  • By combining several durable materials together, engineered quartz can stand up to just about any challenge. It will not break or chip as easily as marble or granite.
  • It resists stains, and is easy to clean, thanks to a nonporous surface.

Cons

  • Engineered Quartz could probably be considered mid-range in terms of price. You are likely to spend more on this material then some forms of granite or concrete.
  • The look of the material is very contemporary, and it may not blend well with more traditional kitchens

 

Recycled Paper Composite

Pros

  • Paper-based, composite countertops might sound like a terrible idea, when in fact the material is stronger than wood, yet more forgiving than stone.
  • This is one of the least expensive options out there, but it doesn’t look “cheap.” Paper-based countertops have the look and feel of soapstone at a fraction of the cost.
  • This is an eco-friendly material, ideal for those looking to build a greener kitchens.
  • The material is very light weight and easy to work with. This can be a good option for DIY projects, or it can allow for extra customization without costing too much.

Cons

  • Despite the fact that these counters are made from recycled material, they are not themselves recyclable. This is because resin is added in to the recycled paper.
  • These counters are heat resistant, but only up to a point. 350 degrees or more could cause the countertop to scorch.

 

Recycled Glass and Cement

Pros

  • This blend of cement and colorful glass shards can add a wonderful mosaic look to your countertop.
  • This is another very eco-friendly option, as all of the glass used in these countertops are post-consumer recyclables.
  • The material is very durable, and can often last for upwards of 50 years, if well-maintained.

Cons

  • These counters combine a nonporous surface (glass) with a porous one (concrete). The concrete is as susceptible to staining as ever, and requires continual sealing.
  • These counters are not to be considered a knife safe. Always use a cutting board.
  • This option can be quite expensive. The average cost per square foot is well north of $100.

 

Stainless Steel

Pros

  • Stainless steel countertops are the real workhorses of the kitchen, which is why so many professional chefs prefer this material.
  • A stain resistant, easy to clean, and nonporous surface means that these counters are very safe for food preparation.
  • More affordable than many stone counters. The average price per square foot is somewhere around $80.

Cons

  • If you have stainless steel appliances, then you already know how easily the material shows fingerprints.
  • The material can be scratched and dented if not treated with appropriate care.
  • The sound of utensils or plates clanging against the stainless steel countertop can be a little too loud for some homeowners.

Hopefully this list has allowed you a chance to weigh the benefits and drawbacks of each option. It can be frustrating to have so many good choices before you, and not know which one to go with. The perfect countertop for one home might be a terrible idea for another.

If you found this list helpful, be sure to share it on social media – especially if you have friends or If you found this list helpful, be sure to share it on social media – especially if you have friends or family members looking to update their kitchens.

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Niv Orlian

Co-Founder at Do Online Marketing
Niv Orlian is an online marketer and the Co-Founder of DO Online Marketing, a Chicago based company that helps local businesses acquire, manage, and retain local customers online.
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