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Kitchen With Wood Countertops and White Cabinets

How To Choose the Best Kitchen Countertops

Which Countertop Material Is Right for Your Kitchen?

Whether you’re remodeling your current kitchen or building a new one, it looks like you’re in need of some new countertops. From practical elements to design, there’s a lot to consider when trying to find the right material and color. We’ve put together a list of questions to ask yourself when choosing kitchen countertops to help you find the right fit for your needs and taste.


5 Questions to Ask When Choosing New Kitchen Counters


1. How Will You Use Your Countertops?

How they’ll look is probably the first thing you think of when trying to choose the best countertops for your kitchen. But if you don’t pick a material that can withstand your daily use of the space, your money will be wasted. So ask yourself, how do you and your family use your kitchen?

“Do you cook a lot? Do your counters see wear and tear from hosting parties or from having children in the home? How long do you plan on living in your home?” 

Megan Lee, Marketing Manager at Odell Construction, Inc.

One way to accommodate different uses of your kitchen is to get more than one type of material. If you chop a lot of things when you cook, you may want to go to with butcher’s block for part of your counters to create a built-in cutting board. Or maybe you bake often and could use a marble countertop section to work with dough.

Mixing and matching kitchen countertop materials will also help you spend less. For example, if you have a large island, you may decide to install a less expensive material here. Then you can spend a little extra money on adjacent countertops that take up fewer square feet.

 

Person Cleaning Kitchen Countertops with Yellow Gloves and Blue Cloth

 

2. How Much Maintenance Are You Willing to Do?

Be honest and realistic about this one. Before you fall in love with the look of a material, know the demands involved with its upkeep. Here’s what to keep in mind:

  • Porous materials like marble, limestone and granite require oiling and sealing once a year.
  • Other materials, like quartz, take just a simple wipe down.
  • Butcher block is durable, but it also requires regular sealing to avoid excessive damage.

Not sure which material is right for you? Jump to our breakdown of the most popular countertop materials.

“Quartz is a popular kitchen countertop material because there is no maintenance required. It’s non-porous and durable. Granite is also popular, but it’s softer than quartz and may require some resealing and refinishing.”

Megan Lee, Marketing Manager at Odell Construction, Inc.

3. How Much Space Do You Need?

Knowing how many linear feet of countertop space you have will help you create your own estimate of the amount of material you’ll need. Take this to different companies to compare against their various options and brands. This will give you a rough idea of how much money it will cost you to buy a certain material or brand over another.

4. What’s Your Budget?

The cost of materials ranges widely. But if properly maintained, a good kitchen countertop can last you indefinitely. We recommend deciding on your ideal countertops, and then finding a version that fits your budget. For example, maybe you love the look of marble, but it’s a bit out of your price range. Quartz has a similar look but is slightly less expensive. 

But depending on the differences between your ideal countertops and the less costly version, it may be worth spending a little extra on something you’ll be living with for years. 

"In terms of price, ask not only, "Can I afford this material?" Also ask yourself if the cost is consistent with other materials used. In other words, putting high-end quartz on builder-grade cabinets with sheet vinyl flooring create a quality imbalance that is immediately spotted. So does putting laminate countertops on expensive cabinets."

Alex Bravo, Remodeling Image

A good rule of thumb is to spend about 15 to 30 percent of your budget on the kitchen countertops. Bravo says if you're spending less than 15 percent, the quality might be inferior to the other materials you're using, but if your countertops cost significantly more than 30 percent, you might be overdoing it. 

5. Which Materials and Colors Fit Your Home’s Aesthetic?

And now for the question that’s always top-of-mind: what will look best in my kitchen?

“Choose a tone that coordinates or contrasts with the cabinets rather than being a close match. Examples include brown countertops on natural white oak cabinets as a coordinated look or black granite on painted white cabinets is a contrast."

Alex Bravo, Remodeling Image

Here’s a list of questions to think about when considering which kitchen countertop material and color will fit your design:

  • Do you like a particular countertop color?
  • How does your choice look against your existing kitchen walls?
  • Do you foresee your paint and hardware choices changing?
  • Are you happy with your current kitchen style or do you want to switch it up?

Things to remember:

  • Choose a versatile color. Paint and accessories can change over time, so it’s a good idea to have counters that will match anything.
  • Picking a material with veins or splashes of color will help keep your options open.

 

Samples of Kitchen Countertop Colors and Materials.

 

Pro Tip: If possible, take samples home. Looking at the material in the unique light of your kitchen and against the colors, woods, accessories and flooring in the room will help you decide whether or not it really fits your vision.

What’s Trending?

According to Lindsey Breuler with Odell Construction, quartz beat out granite as the most popular kitchen countertop material in 2018. Bravo also says, "quartz is queen of the kitchen at the moment, because it offers the whole package: stain-free beauty, strength, easy to clean, a myriad of colors and designs and it doesn't need to be sealed.

Looking to developing trends in 2019, Breuler says nature seems to be an inspiration.

“Earth tones are emerging, and natural elements such as wood and stone are currently trending. Incorporating earth tones or natural materials in a space can create a calm and comfortable environment.” 

Lindsey Breuler, Interior Designer at Odell Construction, Inc.


Deciding on the Right Kitchen Countertop Material for You


Now that you have a general idea of how much maintenance you’re willing to put into your new counters, how much material you’ll need and your budget, let’s take a look at specific materials to see if we can find the best fit for you.

9 Kitchen Countertop Materials Pros and Cons

Material Pros Cons
Quartz (Engineered Stone)
  • Durable
  • Low maintenance; doesn’t require sealing
  • Stain-, heat- and scratch-proof
  • Comes in vibrant colors in addition to patterns that look like granite and marble
  • Edges and corners can chip
  • Professional needed to repair any damage
  • May have visible seams where pieces meet
Granite
  • Durable
  • Each slab is unique
  • Stain-, heat-, scratch- and water-resistant when properly sealed
  • Available in a variety of colors and patterns
  • Expensive; rare colors and veining adds to the cost
  • Requires regular sealing
  • Edges and corners can chip
  • Professional needed to repair any damage
  • Very heavy; must be supported by sturdy cabinets
Soapstone
  • Durable and ages well
  • Heat- and water-resistant
  • Low maintenance; doesn’t require sealing
  • Small scratches can be easily repaired by sanding finely and applying mineral oil
  • Tough to wash out stains
  • Requires regular polishing with oil
  • Cuts and scratches easily and can crack over time 
  • May have visible seams where pieces meet
  • Limited range of colors; tends to darken with time
Marble
  • Heat-resistant
  • Classic look
  • Available in a variety of colors
  • Good for bakers; maintains a cool temperature for working with dough
  • Requires regular sealing
  • Cuts and scratches easily
  • Tough to wash out stains
  • Damaged by acid, such as citrus juice, alcohol and coffee
  • Very heavy; must be supported by sturdy cabinets
Laminate
  • Inexpensive
  • Easy DIY installation
  • Low maintenance; doesn’t require sealing.
  • Stain- and heat-resistant
  • Lightweight; doesn’t require the support of thick cabinets
  • Cuts and scratches easily
  • Damaged by heat
  • Wear and moisture exposure can cause layers to peel
  • Visible seams where the pieces meet
  • Difficult to repair when damaged
Solid Surfacing
  • Low maintenance; doesn’t require sealing
  • Easy to clean
  • Resistant to most stains
  • Small scratches can be repaired
  • Can be used for the counters, sink and backsplash to create a seamless look
  • Cuts and scratches easily
  • Damaged by heat
Butcher Block (Wood Countertops)
  • Relatively inexpensive and easy to install
  • Long-lasting if properly maintained
  • Varnish can improve stain resistance
  • Cuts and scratches can be sanded out
  • Warm and natural appearance that works with a variety of designs
  • Requires regular sealing
  • Cuts and scratches easily
  • Not completely stain resistant
  • Can be damaged by heat 
  • Susceptible to water stains and warping
Tile
  • Durable
  • Customizable; available in a variety of colors and sizes
  • Inexpensive and DIY-friendly
  • Requires regular sealing
  • Cracks easily; difficult to find a replacement tile to match
  • Grout stains easily; hard to keep grout joints clean
  • Standing moisture can damage it and contribute to bacteria growth
  • Uneven tiles can make it difficult to balance a cutting board or roll out dough
Concrete
  • Durable
  • Heat-resistant
  • Customizable
  • Can be made to look seamless
  • Expensive due to customization
  • Requires regular sealing
  • Stains easily; can absorb moisture
  • Small cracks can develop over time
  • Very heavy; must be supported by sturdy cabinets

Time to Choose Your Kitchen Countertops


Now that you know what to ask yourself when trying to choose the best countertops for your kitchen and the pros and cons of different materials, you’re ready to start your search. Wherever you decide to purchase your countertops, make sure you are buying from a reputable brand and company so you end up with quality materials.

“Prepare a list of wants and needs, as well as goals to achieve. Are there any issues that need to be solved within the space? Pain points from current or past countertops? Do not be afraid to share your opinions with the contractor or designer. Communication is key to a successful outcome.”

Megan Lee, Marketing Manager at Odell Construction, Inc.

Once you settle on the right new kitchen countertop material for your space, use our guide to remove your old countertops. Going for a complete renovation? We can also help you with your kitchen demolition from top to bottom.