When renovating the most functional rooms in your home, such as your kitchen or bathroom, decisions need to be made carefully when it comes to the elements that will be heavily utilized as well as being focal points of the room. Countertops are incredibly important in your kitchen since they are a key ‘work area’ for practically every activity that this room is used for. They are also among the most expensive pieces in these renovations so it’s crucial to make sure the investment in your particular choice is a wise one.
If you would like some personalized advice, you can speak to a Reno-Assistance Renovation Advisor free of charge on 1-888-670-9742 or submit the details of your project online and we can get in touch. We also have dedicated pages for more general tips regarding kitchen and bathroom renovations.
In this article, we compare the pros and cons of the most popular countertop materials for kitchens to help guide you in making the best choice.
Price: $80 – $100 / sq ft
Easily one of the most popular choices for both kitchen and bathroom countertops. A natural stone that is incredibly durable. It is normally sealed with a glossy, polished finish but can also come in a matte appearance.
Granite immediately provides a more modern look for the kitchen with its sleek appearance. It also comes in an endless variety of colours and grains so it will leave you with countless stylistic choices. No two pieces of granite are the same. It’s also very resistant to heat and stains.
Depending on the quality of granite, granite can be relatively expensive – around $100 per square foot for high-grade. While durable and strong, the corners and edges can chip with enough force. Sealing and resealing periodically is necessary to ward off stains from oil and grease.
Price: $80 – $120 / sq ft
Marble stands apart as a natural stone with a timeless, elegant appearance. For a classic and luxurious look, it’s hard to look past.
Widely available and comes in a variety of colours and styles. Marble is heat resistant and tends to be cool, making it perfect for working with pastry. When properly sealed, it is resistant to stains.
Can be relatively expensive to initially purchase, can chip easily and also requires periodic sealing to prevent stains. In short – it’s more complex to maintain.
Price: $60 – $80 / sq ft
Quartz has become more popular in recent years due to its versatility. It’s an engineered stone which mimics the look and feel of natural stone such as granite but with increased durability and stain resistance.
Whilst most comparable to granite, quartz tends to be stronger so is less likely to chip or scratch. It doesn’t require sealing so maintenance becomes a lot cheaper and less time consuming as stains are very unlikely to penetrate the surface. When it comes to the best value of practicality and style – quartz tends to be the most recommended.
Pricing is similar to that of natural stone so it’s not the cheapest material. It also loses it’s prestigious, unique connotation since the design and colour are manufactured as opposed to the naturally occurring unique appearance you’d find with marble and granite. The edges can get a little weak and in the event of damage will require a professional to fix them. Rounded edges can help prevent this.
Price: $60 – $100 / sq ft
A wooden countertop, often installed as part of the total countertop area in combination with another material. It is the ideal material for chopping and slicing as it replicates the attributes of a chopping board. It is made by bonding together strips of wood for use as a work surface. Butcher blocks are usually made from maple due to its density and strength, however, oak, walnut, teak and cherry wood are sometimes used.
It does provide extra functionality to your kitchen workspace to have a permanent area dedicated to chopping and slicing. It also provides a more genuine look to the kitchen, creating the appearance of a kitchen with unlimited potential for dishes to be prepared properly.
As you can expect with using sharp instruments on wood, butcher blocks are susceptible to scratches so don’t expect them to appear polished their whole lives without periodic maintenance. Pricing is also similar to that of natural stone so, again, it usually not the cheapest material. Varnished wood tends to be very stain resistant however not heat resistant. On the other hand, oil-finished wood could handle the heat but stained gather permanent stains very easily. Not ideal for a sink area or for oil.
Price: $20 – $40 / sq ft
The most common ‘budget’ option – laminate countertops come in a variety of styles and can easily replicate the look of stone, usually not convincingly but still provides the appearance from afar.
Practical and very good value. It’s a good option for someone looking to give the kitchen a facelift without breaking the bank. It’s good for those who perhaps would like to prioritize other features in the kitchen such as new appliances. While not as heat resistant as natural stone, it tends to do the job for most practical purposes and is almost just as resistant to stains.
With cheaper materials, there are always going to be drawbacks. Cutting directly on this surface is likely to cause scratches and the general durability of leaves it subject to wear and tear much sooner than stone. Depending on the quality of the laminate, it can have a “cheap” appearance compared to polished stone. For the amateur chef, it’s not the ideal material.
Price: $120 – $140 / sq ft
While not very common in residential kitchens, stainless steel is usually the preferred choice for commercial kitchens i.e. restaurants, bars, etc. It is associated with a professional kitchen as it is designed for functionality and practicality to withstand heavy use in lieu of style.
The surface is very durable and incredibly resistant to heat as well as stains. It is generally easy to keep clean which is a major benefit for kitchens under heavy use. Practical and very good value. It’s a good option for someone looking to give the kitchen a facelift without breaking the bank. You can also find countertops made from recycled steel if you are looking for a ‘green’ option.
As these countertops are often made with a relatively thin layered surface, they are susceptible to dents which are basically impossible to fix. It does take quite a force to dent them, however, moments in the kitchen can sometimes be unpredictable. Steel is often associated with an industrial look so it doesn’t suit all tastes, however, with a creative design, it can provide an interesting unique look that really ties the room together. Whilst it is easy to maintain and keep clean, it will definitely gather light scratches and scuffs over time, reducing its polished look and shine.
Get more information and free advice from Reno-Assistance.
To get more ideas for your new kitchen design and their associated price tags, you can visit the kitchen section of our tool Reno-Inspiration to see our past customer’s kitchen renovation projects completed by our 360° Verified Contractors. For an analysis of average total cost for complete kitchen renovations in Toronto and Montreal, we suggest reading our article What is the Cost of a Kitchen Renovation?.
Renovating your kitchen can give an 85% return on your investment.
If you are looking to get started with your kitchen renovation or would simply like some more information or advice, you can speak to one of our renovation advisors free of charge. Our renovation advisors will also be able to refer you up to three specialized local kitchen contractors to meet with you to provide competing estimates to compare and make sure you get the right price. All of our contractors have attained our 360° Verified stamp of approval so you know that they are among the most reputable in the industry.
Give us a call today on 1-888-670-9742 to speak to an advisor or submit your project online and we’ll get in touch so you can get your renovation started on the right foot. There’s no charge for our service and no obligation to choose any of the contractors we refer.
Happy renovations start here!