A Helpful Comparison of Kitchen Counter Materials:

When you remodel your kitchen, there will be lots of choices to make: selecting appliance options, picking cabinets, and deciding fixture styles. It’s a lot of fun imagining how it will look when it’s done.

Even though many of the decisions only require choosing what you love to look at, for others you’ll probably want to do some research and get expert advice. Kitchen countertop material selection is one of those areas that can be confusing. We can help guide you to the choice that’s best for your taste and your needs.

Various kitchen counter materials

Custom Kitchen by Metro Building & Remodeling

Engineered Quartz

The first choice for kitchen surfaces used to be granite, but now we get many more requests for quartz. Quartz is engineered stone, a man-made material made up of 90-95% crushed natural stone mixed with resins and pigments. The material is tough, nonporous, and resistant to stains and scratches. It requires less maintenance than granite and you can find a range of colors and patterns from subtle to bold. Quartz has less color variation than a natural stone slab. That means that when you see a sample swatch of the material, you’ll have a very good idea what your counter will look like.

Quartz countertop material

Custom kitchen with quartz countertop by Metro Building & Remodeling

Even though it’s a man-made material, quartz is considered more environmentally friendly than granite because its production doesn’t involve mining and shipping large stone slabs. Engineered quartz is more expensive per square foot than granite, though homeowners usually find the advantages make it worth the cost.

Granite

Granite countertop material

Custom kitchen with granite countertop by Metro Building & Remodeling

For many years, granite was the most popular countertop choice for updating a kitchen and it is still held in high regard by many homeowners. After all, granite is beautiful, natural, and very durable. One feature that people love about it is the natural variation found in the stone’s appearance. That also means, however, that the color and pattern of the granite will not be uniform from slab to slab or even within a single slab.

Countertop slab with red outline

Counter slab with actual layout for cutting outlined for client approval

We make a point of showing our clients a photo of their exact granite slab with the counter layout outlined so they can see how the vein pattern and coloration show up on their counter. We make sure that you approve the stone you’ve selected, knowing it will meet your expectations. The cost per square foot of granite varies depending on factors like the stone’s origin and color.

Marble

If you choose the classic look of a marble countertop, you need to be prepared to maintain it carefully and seal it regularly. Marble is softer than granite or quartz and will stain and scratch easily, though it is a lovely choice that never goes out of style. Its cool surface is a terrific choice as a pastry-making surface, so homeowners who love to bake often use it in a small area for a baking station, with a different material for the rest of the counter surfaces.

Marble countertop material

Marble baking station photo courtesy This Old House

Wood

Natural wood gives a lovely warmth to a kitchen, though it can be tricky to use for kitchen counters. A wood countertop requires proper sealing and quick attention to spills but completes the look of a farmhouse kitchen. If you’d like less upkeep, try a small butcher block area that can be sanded down and refinished if it is damaged during food prep. You might consider adding natural wood for a breakfast bar counter or a butler’s pantry staging area, finished like fine furniture and not subjected to the hard use and moisture of the area around the sink.

Soapstone

Soapstone is a very dense natural stone that is impervious to heat, stains, and bacteria. The color is limited, however, to medium-to-dark gray. Its higher price tag makes it an investment-grade surface that will last for years.

Looking for an Out-of-the-Ordinary Choice?

Stainless steel counter

Stainless steel countertop photo courtesy Jenn-Air

If you’d love a unique look and don’t mind extra maintenance, there are other alternate countertop materials that look great but need to be treated with care. Stainless steel gives the look of a professional chef’s hardworking kitchen and is heat resistant but isn’t for you if you are bothered by water spots, fingerprints, and scratches. Concrete is customizable and has a modern industrial vibe. It’s extremely durable though it can develop hairline cracks and needs to be properly sealed so it won’t stain. Glass is an eco-friendly counter material, made from post-consumer recycled glass mixed with concrete and pigment. It’s colorful and durable but you’ll need to keep it sealed and be careful with knives and harsh abrasives which will damage the surface.

We’re happy to help you decide what countertop material is best for you, your lifestyle, and your budget. Let’s talk about your kitchen remodeling project!