What’s the Best Kitchen Countertop Material?

Picking your countertop is a big deal. We get that! You need the perfect blend of form and function, style and performance. Don’t worry: the ideal option is out there. We promise.

The first step toward finding that ideal material is to lay out your options, comparing each one by the metrics that matter most to you. Are you looking for something decorative, or a workhorse? Do you want something trendy, or are you looking for a timeless choice?

Let’s take a closer look at a few of your top options.

Granite

granite countertop

Pros:

Granite has been a staple of quality kitchens for decades, offering a durable, classy look. As a material, it really never goes out of style either (color is a different story, but we’ll touch on that below). As an added benefit, it’s also heat-resistant, making it an extremely functional choice for busy kitchens.

Cons:

Granite is easy to find in warm colors, like brown and yellow, but those just aren’t very stylish these days. White and grey are harder to come by, and it’s impossible to find granite with veining (those gorgeous, thin lines that trace their way through marble). In other words, granite is a great option, but you may have trouble finding the aesthetic qualities you’re looking for.

Marble

marble countertop

Pros:

Marble is the point where elegance and functionality meet. Not only does it boast the beautiful veining that is so popular these days, but it also has a translucent quality that gives it unparalleled depth. Similar to granite, it’s also heat-resistant, making it a practical choice for busy kitchens.

Cons:

Do a little bit of marble countertop research and you’ll likely find concerns about staining. Honestly, that’s a non-issue if you’re reasonably quick to clean up a spill. The larger concern is etching, a corrosive chemical reaction that occurs when an acidic substance is given the chance to eat away at the top layer of the marble. This can be avoided with a little caution, and knowing what type of cleaners to avoid. Before you run with marble, make sure you’ve done your homework.

Quartzite

Pros:

Not to be confused with quartz (more on that below), Quartzite is a natural stone that is mined and cut to the desired size/shape. It looks a lot like marble, but is easier to clean and maintain, making it an attractive alternative. No need for specialized cleaners, as long as you jump on spills quickly to avoid any kind of staining/etching.

Cons:

Quartzite is a bit more dense and rugged than marble, but not quite as ultra-durable as granite, and it doesn’t withstand direct heat well either (don’t forget your potholders!). Color choices are also limited to the white and gray family. While that may be a “con” for some, for most it’s a non-issue since that’s a very desirable color option anyway.

Quartz

Pros:

Unlike quartzite that’s naturally occurring, quartz is an engineered material (man-made), created by binding quartz chips in resin, polymers, and pigments. The results are beautiful and ultra-durable; in fact, quartz is almost indestructible. As an added benefit, its dense nature makes it just about impervious to bacteria, translating to a super clean and easy to maintain surface.

Cons:

Quartz is often promoted as being heat-resistant, but that’s only partially true. The ground quartz chips may be, but the resins aren’t. If the surface is exposed to intense heat (like a hot pan) it can actually melt, causing discoloration and damage. So, how about from an aesthetic perspective? Since it’s engineered, it lacks that natural charm offered by real stone. Also, while it may look a lot like marble from a distance, you’ll miss the translucent depth that true marble is known for.

Price Considerations When You’re Choosing Kitchen Countertops

While some materials are certainly less expensive than others, it’s hard to say conclusively because price is dictated by the quality and color of the individual piece. If it’s a more desirable sample with excellent veining, that will be substantially more expensive than the same material with less desirable qualities.

What’s the Takeaway?

It’s important to not just consider price or aesthetics as you choose your countertop material, but also how you need it to perform. And, don’t forget to consider maintenance too. Some options require a lot more upkeep and specialized products, while others require very little.

In other words, don’t just fall in love with one particular style and miss the other factors along the way. You’re making a long-term commitment. This is yet another reason to collaborate with an experienced kitchen design professional who can help you navigate your specific options.

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