With all the kitchen countertop options out there, it can be hard to pick the one that’s right for you. Manufacturers of every countertop type will try to present theirs in the best light, offering convincing arguments to build their case.
In this article, we’ll give you an overview of all the facts and provide some insight as to what scenarios each material is best suited for.
10 Kitchen Countertop Options
#1. Solid Surfaces
Cost: $50 to $120 per square foot
In the world of countertop options for kitchens, the term ‘solid surface’ refers to countertops made entirely from dense inorganic acrylics and/or polyesters.
Although solid surface countertops have made a resurgence in popularity lately, they are nowhere near as desirable as they used to be.
Solid Surface Downsides
Solid surface countertops are essentially made from plastic. As such, they’re not resistant to the temperatures you are likely to expose them to in your kitchen like other kitchen countertop types are.
Additionally, solid surface countertops scratch and dent remarkably easily and are most are not environmentally-friendly.
Solid Surface Countertop Advantages
Solid surface kitchen countertop options are many; you can find surfaces that resemble other kitchen countertop types, such as marble. Still, you have other, better, options if this is your goal.
#2. Laminate Countertops
Cost: $25 to $40 per square foot
Of all the countertop options for a kitchen, laminate is by far the cheapest. This makes it the de facto choice for budget-conscious homeowners who may not be aware of the better value options out there that will actually save them money in the long run.
Laminate Countertop Downsides
Of all the kitchen countertop types, laminate is by far the cheapest — but you get what you pay for. Most laminate countertops are unattractive; manufacturers attempt to emulate other materials by printing patterns directly on the top-most surface.
This results in a look that resembles more of a cheap imitation than a genuine emulation.
Additionally, laminate countertops are prone to warping; water can get between the layers and separate them, causing hideous effects like bubbling.
Laminate Countertop Advantages
They’re cheap — and you can get more convincing-looking emulations of other materials. However, these premium laminate countertops are priced within the range of better materials, reducing the value proposition.
#3. Quartz Countertops
Cost: $40 to $100 per square foot
Of all the countertop options for a kitchen, quartz represents the best value. It is produced using loose quartz rocks combined with resins and pigments. The blend is placed in a mold to create slabs of standard size.
This is of course a simplified version of the quartz countertop manufacturing process but it should give you some insight into what separates them from other kitchen countertop options.
Particularly, they combine the beauty of natural stone with a whole host of customization options that natural stone alone does not offer.
Quartz Countertop Downsides
Quartz countertops aren’t as cheap as laminate. You also need to be careful about who you buy your quartz countertops from. There are many low-grade manufacturers attempting to pass off cheap quartz as a premium material.
Quartz Countertop Upsides
We already discussed the wide range of quartz countertop options, so we won’t go into much further detail; click more info if you’d like to explore further.
Aside from offering a greater range of visual options than any of the other kitchen countertop types, quartz is remarkably durable. It does not require frequent resealing like natural stone and it offers more heat and scratch-resistance than you’ll probably ever need.
Cost: $40 to $60 per square foot, $200 or more for exotic woods
Wood (also known as ‘butcher’s block’) is one of the oldest kitchen countertop options out there. Since man began preparing food some several hundred thousand years ago, tree rounds have been used as work surfaces.
Of course, they’ve gotten significantly more refined in recent times. Today’s wood countertops are polished slabs that offer a very unique look.
Wood Countertop Issues
If you’ve ever worked with wood, you know instinctively that it has two properties that make it difficult to work with: it’s susceptible to moisture, and it stains.
Wood countertops can swell and rot in the presence of moisture, leading to unsightly gaps between them and whatever you’ve mounted them on. They will also soak up liquids like a sponge.
As such, wood countertops are one of the more impractical kitchen countertop options for most homeowners.
Wood Countertop Advantages
Wood countertops do excel in one area — professional kitchens. Wood is soft and will not damage knives when used as a direct cutting surface. There’s a flip-side to this, of course; wood will collect nicks, dents and scratches.
In a professional kitchen where the only presentation that matters is that of the plates making their way outside to diners, this isn’t a big deal. For your home? It’s a big deal.
#5. Natural Stone Countertops
Cost: $40 to $200 per square foot
Natural stone countertops (particularly granite) were all the rage from the 1980s to the 2000s. In recent times, however, they’ve been overtaken by other countertop options for the kitchen, thanks in large part to the following major downsides.
Downsides of Natural Stone Countertops
Perhaps the primary downside that is unique to natural stone countertops is the need for frequent resealing. Some natural stone countertops, like quartzite, require resealing multiple times a year.
If you don’t maintain the seal on natural stone countertops, you’ll find that their porous nature causes them to stain remarkably easily. This leads to expensive repairs down the road.
Another downside of natural stone countertops is that they’re limited in aesthetic options; nature has only produced so many variants of marble, granite, quartzite, and other stones.
Natural Stone Countertop Advantages
Still, this limited aesthetic range has its appeal; natural stone countertops are undoubtedly stunning as long as you’re dedicated (read: spend lots of time and money) caring for them.
#6. Stainless Steel Countertops
Cost: $75 to $150 per square foot
Stainless steel countertops are another popular option among chefs that has made its way into homes in recent years.
Disadvantages of Stainless Steel Countertops
Unless you’ve been living in a cave for your entire life, you’ve certainly owned something made of stainless steel. You have an instinctual understanding, then, of stainless steel’s major downside: it collects scratches and smudges with greater ease than just about any of the other kitchen countertop options.
Stainless steel scratches appear especially harsh under light, both natural and artificial. That’s not something you want with countertops that cost between $75 and $150 per square foot.
Advantages of Stainless Steel Countertops
Scratches aside, stainless steel countertops are durable and resistant to heat as well as staining. If you like their appearance (which can be cold and surgical to many), there’s nothing out there that resembles them.
#7. Ceramic Tile
Cost: $1 to $220 per square foot
Of all the kitchen countertops options and ideas on this list, ceramic tile has perhaps the widest price range. That’s because they’re dirty cheap to do poorly but ultra-expensive to do right.
Downsides of Ceramic Tile
Ceramic tile countertops contain seams that are more than just unsightly; they also collect dirt and debris, making them unhygienic. The tiles also tend to be very thin and brittle, cracking and chipping with ease under the normal rigors of life.
Advantages of Ceramic Tile
Ceramic is heat resistant and tiles made from it come in many different shapes and sizes.
#8. Concrete Countertops
Cost: $65 to $135 per square foot
Among the various kitchen countertops options and ideas, concrete is a very utilitarian choice.
Disadvantages of Concrete Countertops
It goes without saying that concrete (the foundation of all modern structures, from houses to skyscrapers) is durable. That said, the concrete that makes up kitchen countertops has a number of weaknesses that make them more prone to hairline cracks.
This is particularly true of concrete countertops that are poured in place.
Including elements like fibre and rebar can strengthen concrete countertops but this adds to the cost.
Concrete also does not hide flaws well. This isn’t a huge deal for skyscrapers where the concrete foundation is buried out of sight but over time concrete countertops will accumulate stains and scratches that give them a particularly rough appearance.
Advantages of Concrete Countertops
As mentioned earlier, quality concrete countertops are very strong. Up until recently, using concrete was also the only way to achieve the look of concrete countertops. Today, materials like quartz can produce a similar look with greater stain resistance.
Cost: Roughly $100 per square foot
Glass countertops are particularly popular in commercial applications, such as in shopping mall restrooms.
Disadvantages of Glass Countertops
Glass chips, dents, and cracks easily. If you ever happen to drop a pot or bang a hard object up against your glass countertop, you’ll be in for a very expensive repair.
Glass is also not resistant to acidic materials and water staining. If environmental-friendliness is an important consideration for you regarding kitchen countertop types, glass is not for you.
Advantages of Glass Countertops
Even ultra-versatile countertop ideas for a kitchen cannot accurately emulate the look of transparent glass. As such, glass countertops are very distinctive.
You can also use recycled glass for countertops, which may compromise some aesthetics but still, it’s worth mentioning as an eco-friendly option.
#10. Paper Composite Countertops
Cost: $30 to $80 per square foot
While glass countertops are not particularly eco-friendly, paper composite is about as eco-friendly as they come.
Disadvantages of Paper Composite Countertops
Paper composite countertops are very easily damaged. Temperatures above 350 degrees will scorch them severely. Paper composite is also not a particularly premium countertop option. It darkens over time because of exposure to various elements in your kitchen.
Advantages of Composite Countertops
As mentioned earlier, paper composite countertops are eco-friendly. This is the primary reason those who choose them pick them over the other kitchen countertop types.