12 Options For Kitchen Countertop Materials

This page is part of the affordable kitchen remodeling series, created to help homeowners design an elegant kitchen that fits their budget. You can access the entire series here.

I'm going to quickly break each of the most popular types of kitchen countertops for you, but you can always click the "learn more" links below each description if you'd like to find out more.

Stainless Steel

A modern kitchen with stainless steel countertops.
This high rise in NYC uses stainless steel countertops to compliment its' modern design.

Professional chefs use stainless steel in their restaurants because it's the easiest to care for and to sanitize. The surface does scratch easily and over time the entire countertop does take on a patina of scratches.

Learn more about stainless steel.


Concrete countertops being used in a marketplace kitchen.
This showroom kitchen features concrete countertops with black cabinets and open shelving. Image Credit

If you're willing to go the DIY route concrete countertops are very affordable. They have all the benefits of natural stone without the high price tag, but that's only if you make them yourself. If you hire a contractor to make them for you they'll cost just as much as granite or engineered stones.

Learn more about concrete.


Granite countertops in a seashore inspired home.
This kitchen island is built with shaker style cabinets and topped with a brown granite called venetian gold. Image Credit

Put granite at the top of your list of countertops to consider. It's heat proof, easy to maintain, and unless you're absolutely careless, nearly impossible to stain.

Learn more about granite.


A white kitchen with soapstone countertops.
These soapstone countertops have been freshly oiled which highlights the stones natural color variations.

I'm a huge fan of using natural stone in the kitchen and soapstone is one of my favorites. It's just about impossible to stain and incredibly heat resistant as well, which makes it an excellent choice for a busy kitchen. The only drawback is the price; you won't find many inexpensive slabs of sopastone for sale.

Learn more about soapstone.


A newly remodeled kitchen with laminate countertops.
This laminate looks a heck of a lot like granite but costs a fraction of the price. Image Credit

If there's no room in the budget for natural stone than laminate countertops are your best option. They can't take nearly as much abuse as natural stones like granite and soapstone can but they are incredibly cheap and easy to care for.

Learn more about laminate.


A kitchen peninsula with a tile countertop.
For about $50 you could probably tile a small peninsula like this in an afternoon. Image Credit

If you want a DIY countertop project that will save you the most money than you can stop reading right here. Tile is the cheapest type of kitchen countertop and it's very durable too. It's most susceptible at the grout seams so larger tiles are better.

Learn more about tile.


A carrara marble kitchen countertop.
Natural marble, like this carrara variety, is one of the most beautiful stones you can put in your kitchen.

Marble is a beautiful stone but it does etch easily. If you cook with acidic ingredients you have to be careful about keeping them from coming in contact with it.

I'd love to have marble in my own home but it requires a higher level of maintanance than any other kitchen work surface and I know I can't be trusted to keep up with it.

Learn more about marble.

Solid Surface

A solid surface kitchen island.
This solid surface kitchen countertop is made to look like marble.

I'm not going to sugar coat my bias against using solid surface in the kitchen. I don't like it at all because it costs just as much as natural stone but it's an inferior product.

The biggest problem is how easily it burns and scratches. It does resist staining and moisture very well, making it a good choice for bathrooms.

Learn more about solid surface.


Light wood countertops in a farmhouse style kitchen.
Wood countertops give this kitchen warmth without sacrificing performance.

When granite became popular wood fell out of favor, but it's a great choice for a countertop. You do need to protect it from heat and scratching but it's incredibly resilient and minor damage is easy to repair.

Learn more about wood.


A quartz worktop paired with birch cabinets.
Usually when we talk about engineered stones we are talking about quartz like this one.

A great use for quartz, often referred to as engineered stone, is to install it as an alternative to marble. The resin its' made with makes it just about impossible to stain or scratch but it is susceptible to damage from heat.

Quartz can take a lot of abuse, but because it can't handle heat the way natural stone can it's better suited for commercial applications such as bartops and office building break rooms than it is for residential kitchens.

Learn more about quartz.


Fantasy brown quartzite kitchen countertops.
Fantasy brown is one of the most popular colors of quartzite countertops. Image Credit

Don't confuse quartz and quartzite, they are very different building materials. While quartz is made with a resin, quartzite is a completely natural stone.

Quartzite is one of the durable countertops you can buy. It's heat proof and tough to stain but does require occassional sealing.

Learn more about quartzite.


A Dekton kitchen work surface in the color trillium.
This is trillium, the most popular color of Dekton.

Dekton is another type of engineered countertop. It's manufactured by the same company that makes Silestone. Dekton is not better than natural stone but some of the colors and patterns are very interesting.

Learn more about Dekton.

Would you like to design an elegant kitchen that fits your budget?

Here are a few articles I wrote that can help.

  • 10 sly but simple cheats that save more money than buying stuff on sale
  • How to cut the cost of cabinets by 20% or more
  • Get the lowest price on countertops, flooring, lighting, and appliances

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Page Last Updated On April 10, 2019 by Scott Jenkins