The kitchen is one of the most functional and central rooms in your home, so decisions about its most utilized materials should be made with careful consideration. Countertops are incredibly important in your kitchen, since they are a key work area for practically every activity that it’s used for. They are also among the most expensive pieces in a kitchen renovation, so it’s crucial to make sure the investment in your choice is a wise one.
While there are many materials you are likely familiar with, there are even more new and innovative ones you may not be. Finding the best countertop choice for your needs and your budget can seem confusing, but we’re here to help!
Types of kitchen countertop materials
When giving our kitchen a makeover, the countertops are usually the first thing we think of as being the focal point of ‘beautifying’ the space, besides the cabinets. With so many colours, finishes and materials available, the possibilities are endless.
Laminate is the most popular budget-friendly material. It’s a good option if you’re going for a simple and affordable material, with a somewhat similar look to stone.
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 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.
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 no two countertops will look the same. It’s also very resistant to heat and stains. It is also considered a premium material, which is essential if you’re going for a more high-end kitchen project.
While durable and strong, the corners and edges can chip with enough force.
Marble stands apart as a natural stone with a timeless, elegant appearance. For a classic and luxurious look, it’s a natural choice.
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.
Marble requires periodic sealing to prevent stains, making it a high-maintenance choice.
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.
Being more durable and than granite, quartz is a more practical option, with less need to worry about chipping, scratching, or staining. 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.
As it is an imitation stone, it does not have the prestige of natural stone, with its unique and naturally occurring veining. It is also not as heat resistant as natural stone like granite, so dishes straight from the oven can discolour quartz if put directly on the countertop.
A wooden countertop is 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 cutting 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, as a space where cooking is done, rather than just a space ‘for show’.
As you can expect with using sharp instruments on wood, butcher blocks are susceptible to scratches. They will therefore require period maintenance to keep a polished look.
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.
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 heavily used kitchens. You can also find countertops made from recycled steel if you are looking for a ‘green’ option.
Though it takes a great deal of force to dent them, damage done to stainless steal countertops is practically impossible to repair. While it is easy to maintain and keep clean, it will likely gather light scratches and scuffs over time, reducing its polished look and shine.
4 innovative kitchen countertop materials to discover
Sintered stone is an innovative manufacturing process with the goal of combining all the positive traits of various natural stones and elements to produce the most resistance, durable surfaces with a wide range of aesthetic possibilities in grain, shade and colour. They have gained in popularity in the last few years, as they offer a variety of advantages over traditional materials.
The manufacturing of Dekton’s sintered stone involves a sophisticated blend of raw materials used to produce the latest in glass and porcelain as well as the highest quality work surfaces.
“We are in a period when there are a lot of new products,” says Jean-François Aubry, CEO of Groupe 3R, which designs and manufactures kitchens and bathrooms. “Since we do not know how some will age, we are very cautious. We did some projects with the Dekton, seduced by the fact that nothing can spoil it and reassured by the guarantee offered by the Spanish manufacturer. The material takes centre stage in the kitchen of designer Manon Leblanc in the company’s showroom. Its price is high, however: around 20% more than the most expensive quartz.”
Lapitec uses their Bio-Care technology to manufacture a sintered stone designed and developed to be resistant to staining, mould and bacteria. To achieve this result, this line is produced by incorporating a form of Titanium dioxide (TiO2) during the production process. Titanium dioxide is a catalyst which degrades organic matter through oxidation, thanks to the reaction to natural sunlight or artificial lighting (photocatalysis).
Titanium dioxide also promotes a washing effect to remove the polluting particles from the surface. This important feature allows Lapitec to describe their Bio-Care line as “self-cleaning”. Scientific research has also demonstrated how powerful oxidation properties of Titanium dioxide actually are. It destroys bacteria (as Escherichia coli and Staphylococcus) and mould, fungus and microorganisms, reducing the unpleasant odours produced.
Like Dekton and Lapitec, Geoluxe strives to be distinguished by its durability and resistance to chemicals, scratches, heat, and frost. It can be installed indoors or outdoors. Inspired by marble, the flooring made of the same material attracted attention in January when it was launched in North America at the 2017 Kitchen & Bath Industry Show in Orlando. It has won two of the top five honours (Best in Show Award and Best of Kitchen, Gold).
Neolith manufactures massive, sintered stone by fusing raw clay, feldspar and silica together at exceptionally high temperatures. The stone provides an innovative surface material solution for kitchens, bathrooms, commercial interiors and shop fitting, as well as exterior cladding and flooring.
This material is resistant to scratches and abrasion, is 100% recyclable, since the slabs are composed of 52% recycled raw materials, does not release harmful substances, which is perfect for contact with food and more. He has also won many design awards, including the 2019 Red Dot Award.
Price of kitchen countertops
Now that you’ve learned about the pros and cons of various countertop materials, take a look at how their prices compare!
|Type of Countertop||Average Price (including labour and materials)|
|Laminate||$20 to $40 per ft2|
|Quartz||$60 to $80 per ft2|
|Butcher Block||$60 to $100 per ft2|
|Granite||$80 to $100 per ft2|
|Marble||$80 to $120 per ft2|
|Stainless Steel||$120 to $140 per ft2|
Consult one of our Advisors to determine what type of countertop is best for you
Still uncertain what countertop type fits your needs? Call us at 1-888-670-9742 and speak to one of our Renovation Advisors about your kitchen renovation – at no cost or obligation to you! They will be able to share their expertise with you and get your renovation project started, by getting up to 3 quotes from Contractors Verified at 360°.
Updated on September 24th, 2019