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The Ultimate Guide to Kitchen Countertops

Countertop slab samples in marble, granite, and quartz

Making the right choice in kitchen countertops can seem daunting. You have to select a product that meets your durability preferences, doesn’t bust your budget, and meshes well with the aesthetics of your kitchen. Thankfully, we’ve done the hard work for you and compiled a convenient list of the most popular kitchen countertop options along with their pros and cons. This information will help you make the best choice for your new kitchen design.

Quartz

This material is also called engineered stone and consists of resin, stone chips, and pigments. Beauty meets practicality in Quartz countertops.

Pros: As a manufactured product, Quartz offers a wide range of colors – most often mimicking stone – and appears attractive and luxurious. Quartz is a non-porous material that is not susceptible to staining, doesn’t harbor bacteria or viruses, and doesn’t require the additional step of sealing. This material is incredibly durable as it is more flexible than Granite and less likely to crack, scratch, or chip.

Cons: The corners and edges of Quartz can become chipped. To counteract this, we recommend you round the edges of your Quartz. Although Quartz is low-maintenance, it can be more susceptible to heat than Granite. Seams may be visible, but a good fabricator can make them difficult to spot. Quartz can be an expensive option, but the price is definitely in line with the extreme durability and aesthetics.

Granite

This natural material provides a unique look in each slab since no two slabs are the same. Each will vary in color and appearance.

Pros: Not only does Granite add value to your home with its prestigious visual appeal, Granite is very hard and durable. While not unbreakable, Granite is not susceptible to scratches. The only material that can scratch Granite is a diamond or another piece of Granite. It is also resistant to heat and stains, making it an ideal choice for areas of heavy use. Durable and timeless, Granite is easily the most popular countertop surface.

Cons: Granite requires a sealant to ensure stain protection, and corners and edges can be chipped with enough force. Granite is on the higher end as far as cost, but easily provides the aesthetics, quality, and durability to justify it.

Solid Surface

Created from acrylic and polyester blends, Solid Surface is a great in-between option if you’re looking for durability and affordability.

Pros: Available in many colors and textures that can imitate materials such as marble or concrete. Solid Surface is durable, non-porous, easy to clean, and difficult to stain. Scratches, burns, and stains are easily sanded away. When installed correctly, the material appears seamless. Solid Surface is a practical option and a great compromise if you want a vanity look for an affordable price.

Cons: Solid Surface is not resistant to extreme heat and can be scratched.

Laminate

Created from fabric interwoven with resin or layers of paper applied over composition wood, Laminate comes in virtually any pattern or color imaginable. You can even make it look like Granite!

Pros: Being 70% paper, it is regarded as the most environmentally-friendly countertop surface. This countertop variety resists stains and is easy to clean. Laminate has come a long way in recent years and can be fabricated to appear much more high-end than eras past. Completely customizable, Laminate comes in a huge variety of patterns, colors, and finishes. It is an inexpensive option if budget considerations are paramount.

Cons: Durability is sacrificed for affordability. This material is not very resistant to scratching or heat. Laminate can be weakened by water seeping through the seams of the countertop or between the backsplash and countertop. It is also fairly easy to nick or chip Laminate and it cannot be repaired once damaged. We recommend textured finishes to hide these types of imperfections if you choose Laminate. It is best used in areas of minimal abuse, and while it does show seams in some cases, there is a way to counteract this by bending Laminate sheets to create a seamless look. Laminate will not add the same value to your home as Granite or Quartz would.

Tile

You can find ceramic tile in virtually any pattern or color. It blends nicely with other types of materials and therefore is a good choice for an island top or backsplash.

Pros: Tile is relatively inexpensive, so that makes it a good choice in terms of budget. It offers many options in terms of appearance, color, shape, and size. Tile is heat resistant and scratch resistant (to an extent). You can also repair damaged tile fairly easily. We recommend you purchase extra materials if you choose this option so you have undamaged tiles on hand to make necessary repairs.

Cons: Even when you seal tiles, the grout will likely stain. We recommend a darker grout color to reduce the appearance of stains. Even so, the porous nature of grout creates the perfect conditions for the absorption of bacteria, making it difficult to keep clean and sanitary. Also, ceramic tiles are susceptible to chips, cracks, and sometimes scratches. The uneven surface may make food prep difficult.

Butcher Block

These countertops are made from straight cuts of wood glued together and are typically high maintenance.

Pros: Butcher Block countertops bring a natural look to any kitchen and are far more sustainable than many other countertop materials. Butcher Block is available in a variety of woods, hues, grains, and prices. These thick wooden slabs offer an ideal, sturdy surface for food preparation – in style. Nicks, dings, and scratches can be restored as the material is soft in comparison to stone. A well-maintained Butcher Block countertop can last up to 20 years.

Cons: Can be easily damaged from heat, impact, scrapes, and cuts. You still have to use a cutting board when preparing food in order to protect the material. Requires regular maintenance, proper sealing, and extra care. It stains easily and humidity can impact and possibly warp the wood, making Butcher Block undesirable around a dishwasher or sink. It often works best as an island topper.

Marble

This classically beautiful stone has been around for ages.

Pros: This stone is rich and luxurious, available in many varieties, and often increases property value. Scratches and small nicks can often be polished out. Marble is heat resistant.

Cons: Marble is a softer, more delicate stone and is prone to breakage. It tends to scratch relatively easily and is prone to staining which means it needs to be sealed periodically for protection. Marble is incredibly heavy and you will need to calculate whether or not your counter is strong enough to support the weight. It has a high price tag for a stone that is not as durable as other options such as Granite and Quartz

Bottom Line

Quartz, Granite and Laminate are the longer lasting, more durable choices over Tile, Butcher Block, and Marble countertop options. At Diamond Kitchen and Bath we want to match you up with the countertop that is right for you. Contact Diamond Kitchen and Bath today to learn more about our most popular countertop options. We are happy to help you make this important decision for your new kitchen or bathroom renovation.

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