Whether your goal is to give your kitchen a small upgrade or a complete makeover, countertops are a crucial part of the overall look, and making a decision about which countertop to install can be a perplexing issue. There are so many different materials to choose from like marble, granite, concrete, and stainless steel. All with their individual pros and cons. Therefore, it is important to be informed and do your homework before making a final decision.

Keep in mind, that bathroom counters usually experience less wear-and-tear than kitchen countertops. So don't get the two confused when making your choice. It is unlikely that you will be chopping onions in your bathroom! The best thing to do is forget about your bathroom altogether when choosing materials for your kitchen countertop. Take into account materials that will resist chips and stains.

You may want the new look of your kitchen to be dynamic, but you also have to be practical. The good news is if you have your heart set on a particular décor, and the material you had in mind does not complete the look, there's another material that can work. For example, if you have your mind set on granite, but can't find the color you prefer in that material, perhaps quartz, marble, or soapstone will do.

Here are some of the most popular kitchen countertop choices and their pros and cons.

MOST POPULAR  KITCHEN COUNTERTOP MATERIALS

Granite

Positives: Granite's attractive markings and the many colors and patterns that are naturally ingrained in the material make each piece unique. Granite is resistant to heat, cuts, splashes, and the usual wear-and-tear.


Negatives: Granite must be sealed from time to time like most stone to prevent stains. It is a heavy material as well, therefore, you need really strong cabinet boxes to hold the weight.

Marble

Positives: Marble is about as elegant as you can get when it comes to kitchen countertops. Marble is not only glamorous, it withstands heat well and remains consistently cool. If you like baking pastries and the like, marble is an ideal choice.

Negatives: Marble can easily stain, even with sealing. Therefore, it is best not to use this material in an entire kitchen. Use it in a couple of small areas instead. Surprisingly, marble is somewhat sensitive and can chip and scratch.

Butcher Block

Positives: Butcher block kitchen countertops are very popular with homeowners. It has a warm, natural look and multifaceted wood shades. Though it scratches easily, the effect is appealing to most people. However, scratches can be sanded down with minimal fuss.

Negative: Wood expands and contracts when damp and butcher block is no different. In addition, the material is a haven for bacteria and should be disinfected frequently. Use oil to protect the surface and to fill in gashes and scrapes.

Quartz

Positives: Quartz can endure a plethora of cutlery, spills, and heat. There's no need to seal it for stain protection either. Quartz is water-resistant so it works well with an under-mounted sink.

Cons: The material can appear somewhat monotonous. Manufacturers are experimenting with producing a more random pattern similar to natural stone. Nooks and edges can break-up too, which will require an expert to repair it. Rounded corners are a more practical choice.

Laminates

Positives: Laminate is fantastic for resisting stains, blunt force, heat, and abrasions. It is relatively cheap, easy to clean, and no problem to install.

Negatives: Most types of laminate consist of a hued surface on top of a dark center that is disclosed at the border. Water can ooze through seams or between the backsplash and countertop, which in turn causes the material to weaken underneath or create lifting. Unfortunately, laminate cannot be repaired when damaged. Therefore, using a cutting board is imperative. If you like the appearance, install a laminate material with a textured finish. 

UNIQUE KITCHEN COUNTERTOP MATERIALS

Paper Composite

Positives: Paper composite kitchen countertops have the appearance of a solid surface with a warmer esthetic appeal. The material is manufactured from fibers amalgamated with resin. The surface is environmentally friendly and quite durable.

Negatives: The material is vulnerable to chemical impairment and scratches. A massage with mineral oil is recommended. Sanding can help as well. Installation can be expensive. 

Stainless Steel

It's no surprise why stainless steel is installed in restaurants. It is almost indestructible and withstands heat and bacteria. Stainless steel creates a modern look regardless and easily blends with various décors. It mixes well with any color and numerous kitchen styles too.

Negative: It's the old fingerprint problem, which can look unsightly. This material requires frequent wipe downs with a non-abrasive cloth. It can be noisy when utensils clangor with the surface and the color can be affected by chemicals. Stainless steel can be costly because of its distinctive fabrication.

Soapstone

Positive: Soapstone is naturally soft and works well with rustic style kitchen decors. The material will darken over time; however, not everyone will find the color change impressive.

Negatives: To keep up its unique appearance, soap stone should be polished with oil. Cracks can appear. Therefore, using a chopping board is recommended if you want to preserve the appearance. The material is a bit abrasive and can scratch sensitive dishware like china.

Concrete

Positives: Concrete is very adaptable. It can be molded into any form and produced in any shade you desire. It's easy to have fun with concrete by adding rock, shells, glass, and other materials. Concrete is durable but not very heat resistant. 

Negatives: Due to its porousness, concrete requires frequent sealing to prevent staining. After a while, cracks may develop. Concrete is tremendously heavy and requires a powerful base. Custom concrete, similar to stainless steel, can be costly.

How About Mix-And-Match

If you find yourself in love with more than one material for your new kitchen countertop, how about mixing-and-matching different materials. For example, install a durable material like butcher block for certain tasks and the rest of your countertop in concrete. Prior to deciding on your kitchen countertop, talk with an expert to make sure you don't make a decision you will regret later.