Kitchen Countertop Selection Guide

When it comes to kitchen countertops, you have more choices than ever before.

Stone is the biggest countertop trend these days, although there are plenty of other options available if stone doesn’t suit your style or budget.

You’ve got so many choices, both stone and non-stone, that the process of selecting a countertop that meets your needs can be daunting.

Follow these helpful tips in choosing the right material and style for your kitchen.

When deciding what style and materials to use for your kitchen countertops start by considering the theme and decor style of your kitchen.

Countertop Material Choices

  • Ceramic tile – Ceramic tile can be one of the most cost-effective options, particularly if you select a mass-produced design and install it yourself. You can incorporate some custom or decorative tiles for a unique and stylish look. However, ceramic countertops can turn out uneven, and grout requires constant cleaning to remove stains.
  • Concrete kitchen countertops can have very unique finishes such as this imitation Terrazzo countertop.Concrete – Concrete can be a beautiful option, and it’s particularly good for hard-to-fit counters because it can be molded to fit right in your kitchen. However, having this kind of custom work done can start to get expensive, and most versions will require sealing.
  • Copper – Copper is a beautiful choice, and it only gets more attractive as it ages. However, it takes a lot of maintenance to keep it looking great, so use it sparingly. It’s also one of the more expensive options.
  • Engineered stone – Engineered stone kitchen counters are generally more expensive than granite, and it’s a little less likely to scratch. You get the look of stone without the upkeep. It also comes in an amazing range of colors, textures and patterns to match most kitchen designs and themes..
  • Granite – Granite is the most popular countertop choice, but it’s also one of the most expensive. Granite kitchen countertops are resistant to scratches, heat, and stains; adds elegance to the most hum-drum kitchen; and comes in a variety of colors and grains to suit any decor. It wears well, so it won’t need to be replaced as quickly as other options. However, in order to maintain it, you’ll need to seal it periodically.
  • Laminate – Laminates are inexpensive and easy to maintain, but they’re nearly impossible to repair. If the countertop chips, you’re stuck with it. They do come in a wide range of colors to suit any kitchen decoration scheme.
  • Marble – Marble kitchen countertops aren’t particularly common because of the sheer cost involved and the risk of stains. Marble is also easily scratched, so it’s advisable to limit its use to the bathroom or a kitchen island.
  • Solid surface – These countertops are obviously solid, meaning that any scratches or nicks can easily be sanded out. They’re stain-resistant but not heat-resistant. Solid surface is another countertop choice with a wide color selection. Some examples of solid surface options are Corian and Avonite.
  • Stainless steel – Custom-made steel can make a great decorative statement, and it has the added advantages of durability and heat-resistance. However, these countertops can be really loud to work on, and they’re not the most cost-effective option.
  • Wood – Hardwoods like oak and maple make lovely countertops. Although they’re not scratch-resistant, it’s easy to oil and seal scratches as they appear. However, wood is one of the few countertop materials that is not water-resistant, and it’s not stain-resistant either.

Engineered countertop materials such as Silestone can give your kitchen the look of real stone but with certain advantages.

In order to select the right kitchen countertop surface, consider how much time you want to spend on maintenance and cleaning and weigh that against the look that you want. Also consider mixing and matching surfaces.

If you like a more expensive and difficult to maintain surface, use it on an island or smaller countertop and choose another surface for the larger kitchen counters. Use this handy table to find the best countertop for you:

  Stain-resistant Heat-resistant Easiest to maintain Most cost effective
Ceramic tile   X   X
Concrete   X    
Copper X X    
Engineered stone X X X  
Granite   X    
Laminates     X X
Marble   X    
Solid surface X      
Stainless steel X X    
Wood     X  


Design Options

Depending on the surface you select, you may need to choose edging. Laminate in particular has many different edging options to choose from. You can select a straight edge, which is a 90-degree corner with a separate edge piece or a waterfall, where the edge is rounded and a single strip of laminate is bent to cover the entire thing.

Consider a unique countertop material such as stainless steel if you are a bit bolder with your design tastes.You can also add molding to laminate or practically any other finish. Wood or solid surface molding can be painted to suit any décor and adds finish to the countertops.

It also has the extra benefit of slowing spills depending on the style of molding. Depending on your kitchen, you may be able to select a standard countertop, which obviously will translate into a cost-savings for you.

Custom versions can be more expensive, but they may be your only option if you have your heart set on an unusual kitchen counter layout or choose a sink with an atypical shape.

Any of the above surfaces can be used to create a custom countertop, although some surfaces like stainless steel and copper have their limits and may not be suitable for all custom work.

Depending on how crazy you get design-wise, you may also need to spring for professional installation, so make sure to factor that into your costs.

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