Whether you’re renovating your existing kitchen or you’re building one from scratch in a newly constructed house, there are a lot of factors that need to be taken into consideration and decisions that need to be made.
After all, the kitchen is one of the most important rooms in your home, and as such, you want it to be both aesthetically pleasing and durable.
Of all the elements that you need to choose for your kitchen, the countertop material is one of the most important.
Next to the floor, the countertops take up the most square footage in your kitchen, so they have a huge impact on the overall look and feel of the space. Plus, they see a lot of activity; dicing, slicing, pureeing, beating, decorating, eating… so they need to be able durable so that they can withstand constant wear and tear.
And then there’s the cost factor. High-end, premium-quality countertop materials can cost a bundle, make up a large percentage of your overall kitchen design project. There are so many different types of materials that can be used for kitchen countertops, too, which can further compound the decision making process.
Yes, choosing a material for your countertops is one of the most important decisions you’ll have to make for your kitchen design.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed or just don’t know where to get started, you’ve come to the right place. In this guide, we provide an overview of some of the most popular kitchen countertop materials available, including the construction of each material, as well as the pros and cons.
Let’s start with one of the most popular materials used for kitchen countertops: granite slab. For years, it’s been the go-to countertop material.
Granite is a naturally occurring stone. To be more specific, it’s a type of igneous rock and is primarily composed of feldspar and quartz. That mixture of minerals gives granite its hallmark stippled appearance, though there are some varieties that appear more solid in color.
Slabs of granite are quarried, cut, and finished according to specifications and are installed by professional craftsmen.
- Considered a very durable stone, as it’s both dense and acid-resistant, which means it’s less prone to scratching, etching, and stains (however, that doesn’t mean that imperfections can’t occur.)
- Since granite is naturally occurring, each slab is completely unique, which means your countertop will truly be one-of-a-kind.
- It’s available in a wide variety of colors and finishes, including jet black, spotted gray, creamy white, and even soft pink and brilliant blue.
- It’s usually possible to achieve a seamless installation, meaning that your countertop will be one continuous piece with no breaks.
- Because it’s labeled a premium building material, it granite slab countertops usually boost the resale value of a home.
- It can be quite pricey, with larger slabs and less common colors more expensive than smaller slabs in more commonly seen hues.
- Since it’s a natural stone, it does have to be resealed every few years, otherwise it can stain.
- It needs to be installed by a professional, which can add to the price.
Of all the different natural stone materials that are used for kitchen countertop construction, granite slab is definitely the most popular. With its durability, uniqueness, and timeless elegance, it’s easy to see why.
If you’re thinking about granite for your countertops, slab is much better than granite alternatives, such as granite tiles and modular granite, which are more affordable and are easier to install, but aren’t as durable and don’t provide the same polished look.
Marble is another natural stone material that has been used for kitchen countertops for a very long time. Marble offers a timeless, sophisticated, and clean look that can’t be denied; however, there are some limitations to the material.
It’s a metamorphic rock that is comprised of recrystallized carbonate; typically dolomite or calcite and features unique veined patterns and can come in a variety of colors, and like granite, no two marble slabs are the same.
- It offers a truly distinctive appearance, as marble is available in a wide variety of colors with unique veining patterns and hues, including cream, beige, brown, bronze, pink, white, and even yellow, red, and purple.
- It’s heat-resistant. You can set hot pots and pans right on top of marble without having to worry about scorch marks. It’s also ideal for backing, as you can easily roll out pastry on the surface with ease.
- If properly cared for, it can last for years to come.
- Though marble can be long-lasting, it is quite porous, which means that it stains easily if it isn’t sealed with a high-quality sealant on a regular basis.
- Marble is also pretty soft, so it can be scratched easily by knives and other utensils.
- It can be pretty pricey, especially larger slabs and more exotic colors.
While marble is undeniably beautiful, it does require extra care and can be expensive. If you opt for marble, make sure that you adhere to proper maintenance.
Soapstone is another naturally occurring material, though it isn’t as commonly used for kitchen countertops as granite and marble.
It has a natural appearance that will tie in beautifully with other design elements in your kitchen. While it’s beautiful in its own right, soapstone won’t steal the spotlight.
Soapstone is a metamorphic rock that has been quarried for thousands of years for its incredible heat-resistant properties.
In fact, Native American tribes used soapstone as cooking slabs and pipes. In terms of hardness, this natural stone lies somewhere between granite and marble; it’s not as hard as granite, yet it isn’t as soft as marble.
Unlike other types of mineral stones, the colors are pretty limited, with black, gray, and green being the primary options. Though it does feature veining, it isn’t as defined as granite or marble.
- It has a warm appearance, thanks to its milky-like finish, which is due to the high levels of talc.
- They offer a one-of-a-kind, almost antiqued look.
- Since it isn’t used as frequently as granite and marble, soapstone really does make a statement.
- It’s incredibly heat-resistant and does not burn. In fact, it is often used to line the walls around wood-burning stove, fireplaces, and hearts.
- Since it isn’t as porous as other types of natural stones, it isn’t as prone to staining and it can be cleaned pretty easily.
- Though it is pretty hard, soapstone can be scratched and gouged.
- The color options are limited.
- It’s quite costly; sometimes, it’s more expensive than granite.
- Soapstone countertops do need to be oiled to maintain their patina finish.
Since it isn’t commonly used for kitchen countertops, soapstone will definitely make a statement; however, that also does mean it can be a pretty pricey countertop material.
However, the uniqueness of this stone will certainly add to the visual appeal of your kitchen.
Rounding out the natural stone materials that are often used for kitchen countertops is slate. It’s a metamorphic rock that is derived from the shale-like sedimentary rocks that are composed of volcanic ash and clay.
After it’s quarried and cut into slabs, the surface is grinded to give it a matte finish. Since it isn’t very porous, it’s relatively stain-resistant (though that doesn’t mean it can’t stain). It’s also very dense and won’t scratch or chip easily, and it stands up to heat well.
It features delicate veining, but not as pronounced as marble, and it lends a natural look to a kitchen. While black and gray are the most common colors, slate can also feature hints of pink and green.
- As a non-porous material, it is relatively stain-resistant.
- It’s very dense and can withstand scratches, couches, chips, and heat well.
- Slate is very resistant to bacteria, so your kitchen will be a healthier space.
- It isn’t as costly as other natural stones, including soapstone, granite, and marble.
- The matte, gritty texture of the surface may not be suitable for some types of food preparations, such as rolling out dough.
- The color options are limited.
If you’re looking for a unique countertop material that’s durable, beautiful, easy to maintain, and relatively cost-effective, slate would be a great option to consider.
Ceramic tile is one of the most commonly used kitchen countertop materials. It’s comprised of a mixture of clay, water, and sand, which is then fired in a kiln and glazed to create different designs and colors on the surface.
Ceramic tiles are available in a wide variety of colors, patterns, shapes, and sizes, it’s cost-effective, and it’s easy to install yourself.
However, it isn’t very dense and can easily chip and crack, and the countertops will have grout lines, which can become stained and harbor bacteria which is why it’s best used for back-splashes.
- Ceramic tiles are very cost-effective.
- They come in a wide variety of colors and designs.
- Ceramic tile countertops are easy to install and can be done as a DIY project.
- Ceramic is brittle and can crack and chip easily.
- It’s difficult to repair a damaged ceramic tile; usually, the entire tile needs to be replaced.
- Grout lines can become stained and are difficult to clean.
If you’re looking for a cost-effective kitchen countertop material that you can install yourself and that comes in an assortment of color and design choices, ceramic tile might suit you well.
However, do be advised that ceramic tiles damage easily and the grout lines can stain and harbor bacteria.
Quartz is a very popular man-made option which comes in a wide variety of colors and styles and can mimic the look of natural stone. Because it is man-made it can be shaped to any size and shape which offers some interesting options such as curves and wrap-arounds.
- Beautiful Finish
- Can add value to your home
- Many different styles and colors available
- Very heavy material
- Can be costly
- Needs to be installed by professionals
Quartz offers the best of both worlds – a beautiful look of natural stone with the flexibility of man-made materials.