Kitchen-Countertops: A Comparison of Nine Popular Materials

Kitchen-countertops are probably the most used and abused part of your home. They need to look good and yet be able to handle everything from knocks and scratches to corrosive substances and boiling water.

Here is a comparison of some of the most popular countertop-materials used in kitchen-countertops that will help you choose the surface that best suits your needs and budget.

Man slicing bread on a tiled kitchen countertop

Ceramic Tiles

An excellent option if you want a surface that can be installed quickly and easily without much disruption to your kitchen, ceramic tiles provide a hard wearing surface at a modest price.

They can be laid over existing surfaces and are perfect for do-it-yourself renovations.

There is a virtually unlimited range of designs available so you can give your kitchen a modern or traditional feel or create something that is entirely unique.

Composite Kitchen-Countertops

Manufactured from a mixture of recycled materials, often paper or woodpulp with acrylic and polyester, composite kitchen-countertops have a stone-like appearance that is scratch and stain resistant and relatively easy to repair if damaged. They can be made in almost any shape and color and can be put together with seamless joints. Tough and attractive, they are usually modestly priced.

Richlite Composite Kitchen Countertop Brownstone DC
Richlite Composite Kitchen Countertop Northwest

Concrete Countertops

Concrete has become a popular choice for kitchen-countertops because it gives the appearance of natural stone but is far less expensive than materials such granite and marble. Concrete countertops can be made in almost any shape or color and are now usually pre-cast off site so that they are cleaner and quicker to install than they used to be. Once prone to cracking, they are now reinforced and, when sealed, provide a hardwearing surface that has a smooth, stain resistant finish.

Custom concrete kitchen countertop in a modern kitchen
Concrete kitchen countertop

For more great concrete kitchen countertop inspiration visit the ConcreteNetwork

Granite Countertops

A popular choice in modern kitchens because of it good looks and durability, granite is among the most expensive of materials used in kitchen countertops. It is the second hardest naturally occurring material and offers excellent resistance to heat and scratching. However, it does need to be sealed to prevent staining. Granite is available in a wide range of colors, from white to brown and is very long lasting so the expense can prove cost-effective in the long term.

Granite Kitchen Countertop in Baltimore Brown
Light Colored Granite Kitchen Countertop

Laminate Countertops

Kitchen-countertops produced from laminates are among the cheapest and yet are still attractive and, depending on quality, can be very tough. They usually comprise a polymer laminate glued over a wooden frame and are available ready made or made to order in almost any shape, texture and color.

Laminate Countertop from Wilsonart

Laminate countertops are often available with a variety of edges from which to choose. To the right are six of the most common.

Marble Countertops

Marble countertops are perfect in both contemporary and traditional kitchens. White is particularly popular though other colors are available. Like granite, it is a natural material but it is usually less expensive and has a smoother look. It is, however, comparatively soft, which means that it marks more easily (though the softness also means that marks can be polished or honed out).

White Marble Kitchen Countertop
White Marble Kitchen Countertop

Marble is also susceptible to scratching and chipping, and is hard to repair. But the major problem with marble is that acidic substances like lemons and fruit juices can etch into the surface if not cleaned off reasonably quickly, say within an hour or so. In the long term, therefore, marble can develop a patina that some might find unattractive.

Metal Countertops

Metal countertops look stunning in contemporary kitchens with their clean lines and reflective surfaces.  The most common are stainless steel or copper, which match beautifully with today's kitchen appliances. Because they are hard wearing and very easy to clean, metal countertops are popular in professional kitchens. Apart from cost, their main drawback is that they scratch relatively easily, which can spoil their appearance over time.

Stainless Steel Kitchen Countertop
Copper Kitchen Countertop

Quartz Countertops

Quartz countertops are a man-made product formed by combining ground quartz with various resins, polymers and pigments. The appearance of the tops depends on the how finely the quartz is ground and the color of the pigment used. The process results in an easy-to-clean hard surface that is stain resistant and not susceptible to cracking. Its main drawbacks are that it is not heat tolerant and is quite expensive.

Quartz Kitchen Countertop
Slate Gray Quartz Kitchen Countertop

Visit the Cambria USA Inspiration Gallery for their complete line

Wood Countertops

The most traditional of all materials for kitchen-countertops, wood gives a hard wearing surface that is very attractive. The woods mostly used are maple, oak, walnut and teak; each has its own unique characteristics.

Wooden countertops are produced in three main ways: planks glued together at the edges to give a wide plank surface (popular, but susceptible to warping and cracking); strips glued in such a way that the edges form the work surface; and, blocks glued together vertically so that the end grain is exposed.

Wood kitchen-countertops can be protected with a polyurethane sealant or kept natural by using mineral oil. As a material, however, wood is losing favor because it needs a lot of maintenance and because some people incorrectly believe that it harbors bacteria (not so if you keep it clean).

Wood Kitchen Countertops
Beech Wood Kitchen Countertop

When you are ready for estimates for your kitchen-countertops or for that matter, any home improvements, just use our handy "Find Local Pros" tool to the left. Once you submit your information, you'll be connected with top quality, well screened professionals.

Please leave us your comments on this page below and what countertop choices you made for YOUR kitchen, and please LIKE our page. Thanks for that!

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