There are many types of kitchen countertops, and each has its particular pros and cons, including the price. Since this surface can have such a big impact on how a kitchen looks, you might be wondering: What's the best kitchen countertop for your home?
That depends, of course, on your sense of style and your cooking proclivities. So whether you're looking to renovate your kitchen or are shopping for homes and wondering whether you'll love or hate the counters you see , here's a guide to the various types of kitchen countertops and how to figure out which one's right for you.
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Price: $60 to $100 per square foot
Pros: Granite countertops are one of the most popular kitchen features, and they often make top 10 lists of desirable features among builders surveyed by the National Home Builders Association.
Made from a naturally occurring composite of quartz, mica, and feldspar, each granite countertop is unique with its materials coming straight from nature. Another bonus? These countertops are hard and resistant to scratches.
Cons: Granite countertops are expensive relative to other options—and if you have funky colors in mind, forget granite, since it comes only in natural colors. Like other natural stones, these counters need to be treated with a stone sealer on a regular basis. It's also difficult to repair a chip to a granite countertop, so homeowners should be careful not to drop anything heavy on these counters.
Price: $10 to $40 per square foot
Pros: Laminate countertops are sometimes called Formica, which is technically a brand name for a combination of paper and resin that's bonded together with high heat and pressure. They're a lot cheaper than their stone counterparts, and you can find a variety of designs that mimic a wood look or the design of more expensive stone.
Cons: Because they're inexpensive, you get what you pay for. Easily scratched and chipped, laminate countertops do not stand the test of time.
Price: $40 to $65 per square foot
Pros: Corian countertops (another brand name, this time from DuPont) are a fusion of acrylics and polyesters. Made in a variety of colors but crafted to look like natural stone, Corian countertops are nonporous and easy to clean.
Cons: Corian can scratch more easily than stone and is also less resistant to heat. Leaving a hot pot on the counter can cause it to warp.
Price: $100 to $150 per square foot
Pros: Pulled right out of the ground, marble makes for a gleaming surface and adds polish to your home. These countertops go well with almost any decor.
Cons: Because marble is porous, these countertops are considered "high maintenance," requiring sealing every few years. They likewise chip and stain easily. Even a few drops of wine or other acidic liquid can etch the surface, while a bracelet or belt can scratch the marble's beautiful finish.
Butcher block countertops
Price: $45 to $100 per square foot
Pros: Butcher block countertops are another name for thick, fancy wood. If you're looking to green your living space, using a renewable resource for your counters may be a hit. Wood is sustainable, and it offers a rustic, homey feel.
Cons: Wood requires high maintenance. If these countertops are not resealed regularly (about every six months), mold and bacteria can take over, and the countertop will need to be replaced. The necessary upkeep often lowers the resale value on this type of counter, as buyers can be turned off by the hard work they see ahead.
Price: $75 to $100 per square foot
Pros: Don't let the name fool you. Although quartz is one of the most commonly found minerals, quartz countertops are not mined from the earth. Instead, these countertops are "engineered stone," meaning they're created in a factory. This creates a countertop that has the advantage of being hardy but also requires less maintenance than natural stone. The surface is nonporous, making it stain-resistant, and most spills can be cleaned with mild dish soap and water.
Quartz countertops (which may be known by brand names such as Caesarstone) are known for having excellent resale value when you're looking to sell your home, says Abigail Guignard, owner of Neoesque Designs of New York, NY.
Cons: If you have a habit of putting your hot pots directly on your countertops, beware, since this can cause permanent discoloration. Quartz is resistant to chips and scratches, but if they do happen, you will likely need to call in a professional to fix them, as special tools are required.
Price: $50 to $100 per square foot
Pros: Soapstone countertops are made from a gray or black stone that has a white-veined look and a soft, "soapy" feel (hence the name). Popular with professional chefs, they add a warm, homey feel to a kitchen and are perfect for a rustic design but translate just as easily into a modern or contemporary space.
Cons: Because the stone they're made from is soft, soapstone countertops are even easier to chip than hardier granite or quartz.
Price: $65 to $130 per square foot
Pros: Yes, concrete countertops are all the rage, thanks in part to "Fixer Upper" star Joanna Gaines. Since these countertops are custom-poured, homeowners can add everything from unique stones to embedded glass or tile, incorporating a piece of themselves into their kitchen design. Sturdy and resistant to chipping and scratching, concrete countertops do crack, but the cracks are easy to fix precisely because more concrete can be mixed up and poured in.
Cons: Concrete has to cure, which means you'll have to wait a while before you can use your counters. If you want something that can be installed in a day, steer clear! Concrete is also porous, which means these counters can stain easily and require regular resealing.
Price: $65 to $95 per square foot
Pros: Although they're more commonly spotted in commercial kitchens, stainless-steel countertops can easily be incorporated into your home. They offer up a surface that's extremely durable and very easy to clean—exactly the reasons they're popular in pro kitchens.
Cons: Because stainless steel is uncommon in residential kitchens, you may take a hit on the resale value, Guignard warns, as it may not be something your buyers like. These counters also tend to be cold to the touch, which may detract from the ambiance of a warm, homey kitchen.
Lisa Gordon contributed to this post.