6 Elegant Countertop Options

Date: November 21, 2019
Author: Jon Smith
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A kitchen is your home's most lived-in space. It witnesses cranky, early mornings, late-night cups of coffee, quiet lunches and bustling dinners. The importance of the kitchen island and breakfast counters cannot be overlooked. In this article, we give you 6 elegant kitchen countertop options besides the usual marble, quartz and granite.

Marble, quartz and granite are every body's go-to choices. In no way are we saying that you shouldn't opt for either of those. Later in the article, we will touch upon why these are so famed. But maybe look at a few other options as well before you make a decision.

Some of these are a lot more hygiene and budget-friendly, as well as easy to maintain. They will provide both aesthetic and practical value.

Solid Surface Countertops

Solid surface countertops are sometimes referred to as Corian countertops. Created in 1967, Corian is DuPont’s flagship creation. This man-made product consists of 33 percent binding resins and 66 percent minerals. It is one of the very few well-established countertop materials available in the market.

Solid Surface kitchen island overlooking the living room

A solid surface kitchen island countertop with wooden cabinets.

Solid surface countertops are easily comparable to natural stone countertops like granite in terms of value and quality. From afar, this could pass easily as a natural stone countertop.

Properties:

  • Withstand years of wear
  • Non porous
  • Seamless installation
  • Stain resistant
  • Versatile
  • Moisture resistant
  • Low maintenance – light buffing
  • No resealing required

Benefits

Corian, the original solid surface, was built with the vision of creating a homogenous product. The pattern is the same inside and outside, as well as on the top and bottom. The uniformity of its composition makes it easier to handle.

When you slice open a slab of granite, a chaotic mess of particles is witnessed forming the stone. There is beauty in the chaos. However, it also becomes a reason for crack formation. With a solid surface, you don’t have that problem.

Durability

Solid surface can withstand stronger impacts than natural stone surfaces. The uniformity of their binding particles prevents the cracking of seams. However, high heat and hot pans may cause them to crack. Avoid placing boiling pots and pans on the counter directly.

Maintenance

Maintaining natural stone countertops is costly. They require resealing once every two years or so. Whereas solid surfaces do not require sealing, making them a more practical option.

These surfaces are prone to scratches, so be sure to use a cutting board for all your chopping tasks. If you do scratch your surface, as is inevitable, you can quickly repair it at home with light buffing.

Conclusion

Solid surfaces are available in a multitude of colors, so there are multiple options to choose from. They make a more reasonable and affordable countertop option than granite or engineered quartz. They are easy to clean and non-porous, making them extremely hygienic.

As an added style feature, you can opt for integrated and under-mounted sinks with solid surface countertops. These sinks are easy to clean and hygienic.  Overall, solid surface countertops are the perfect mid-range, stylish countertop options.

Wood Countertops

Wood countertops add a beautiful rustic charm to the kitchen. Wooden countertops make the perfect cozy centerpiece for your kitchen and add a delightful rustic charm. Wood provides a look that no other material can.

Two plants next to the stove on wood countertops

Wood countertop with subway tile backsplash.

Whenever we hear wood countertops, we think of butcher block. While they are an excellent choice, maple, oak and walnut also make good choices.

Properties:

  • Multiple options: mahogany, oak, maple, cherry…
  • Cozy feel
  • Can be refinished multiple times
  • Ages beautifully

Benefits

Wood makes an eco-friendly countertop. A beautiful wooden countertop can emerge from reclaimed wood found at a landfill site. It will still be warm and cozy and will add a storytelling element to your kitchen decoration.

Wood always remains warm. This may sound like nothing, but it can be a blessing in winters. Granite, stone and almost all countertops feel cool to the touch. Wood does not, making it an inviting centerpiece.

Durability

Wood can withstand substantial amounts of abuse. They are also surprisingly heat resistant. Cookie pans and sheets placed on countertops are not a problem. However, boiling pots and pans can damage the counter. They are likely to retain heat for longer, and that can be risky.

Contrary to popular belief, wood is sanitary. It naturally kills bacteria. With a wooden countertop, you don’t have to worry about salmonella or norovirus making a home in your kitchen. Wooden countertops require substantial amounts of maintenance, though.

Maintenance

Wood countertops need to be adequately sealed. If they are not sealed and appropriately waterproofed, they may rot. You also need to wipe up any spills or messes as soon as possible. Water seeping into your countertop is your enemy.

Occasionally disinfecting your wooden countertop can help you upkeep a clean kitchen. Regularly oiling the surface with mineral oil also makes your wooden countertop safe for food prep. You can even eat off of it.

Conclusion

Wooden countertops are considerably harder to maintain. They require regular disinfecting and resealing to maintain hygiene. However, these countertops make a beautiful centerpiece.

They are durable and can be refinished multiple times to look brand new. Wood ages gracefully and oozes rustic charm with time. They make the perfect choice for a beautiful family kitchen.

Soap Stone Countertops

Soapstone is a beautiful and warm natural stone. It is available in radiant shades of whites, off white grey and charcoal black with slight marbling. They make a cozy addition to the kitchen, which is why they are famous in the countryside.

Soapstone chopping board on a soapstone countertop

Vegetables, knife, and a soapstone chopping board on a soapstone countertop

Soap Stone’s colors and patterns can be added to any traditional or modern kitchen.

Properties:

  • Durable
  • Chemical resistant
  • Distinctive look
  • Temperature neutral
  • Stain and scratch resistant
  • Non porous
  • No sealant required

Benefits

Soapstone is a naturally occurring stone making it an eco-friendly option for your kitchen. It is a beautiful stone with even more beautiful marbling. The price tag associated with it is meager. So if you want luxurious looking statement pieces on a budget, soapstone is the choice for you.

Soapstone does not require any sealant.

Durability

The durability of soapstone countertops and the texture varies with the amount of talc in each. They are soft to the touch but are considerably sturdy. Their particle composition is very dense, which makes up for the hardness. Structurally soapstone is pretty stable.

The stone is more pliable as compared to marble. This makes it less brittle. So be assured that the countertop likely won’t crack with added stress or pressure. Do not drop heavy pans on it regularly, though, as that may cause it to break or chip.

Maintenance

Soapstone countertops are non-porous, making them hygiene friendly. You don’t have to worry about bacteria breeding in the counter. They are also convenient to clean or wipe. All you need is soap and water.

They are scratch and stain-resistant.

The maintenance cost of soapstone countertops are further reduced as it does not require any sealants. They can also sustain a high amount of heat.

Conclusion

The soft nature of the stone makes it prone to dents and scratches. These can easily be fixed with light buffing, so it’s not an issue. After buffing, a thin coating of mineral oils can have your kitchen surface looking brand new.

Soapstone is very easy to install. You can either install it yourself or hire a professional. Even with a professional with installation costs are considerably lower than marble or engineered quartz.

The stone darkens over time, developing a beautiful pattern. Five years down the lane, it will look like a whole other countertop.

Concrete Countertops

With the growing demand for contemporary designs, concrete countertops are gaining popularity. They provide a beautiful industrial look to your kitchen. If you have a modern architectural inclination, then this is the choice for you. Exposed beams, red bricks and concrete counters make for the ideal city livingspace.

Concrete Countertop with Avacado Toast

A close up of avocado toast on a plate set on a scarred concrete counter.

Concrete countertops can be etched, acid stained or stamped to give them added texture. They are warm, functional workspaces.

Properties:

  • Can be customized
  • Scratch and heat resistant
  • Multiple design options available
  • Durable and long-lasting
  • easy to clean and maintain
  • Concrete countertops generally improve real estate value as a "premium" material.

Benefits

Concrete countertops can be moulded and shaped precisely according to your specifications. They offer nearly limitless color options. They can add that perfect drama element into your kitchen. So if you love the rugged aesthetic and are passionate about patina, then you should consider concrete for your kitchen.

Durability

Concrete is extremely durable. Concrete and sand mix alone can form a rock-solid countertop. Literally! These may crack, especially if poured on-site. But these will not break. They can last you years.

Maintenance

Concrete countertops do not require substantial amounts of maintenance. They are easily cleanable with soap and water. It is important to note that they are porous and stain easily. They can also absorb liquids if not quickly wiped up. Use a cutting board and avoid leaving spills unattended for long periods.

Regular re-sealing is also required to maintain hygienic conditions. You should wax the countertop monthly. Avoid harsh scrubbers or cleaners to prevent damaging the seal.

Conclusion

Setting them up requires skill and expertise. They are priced a little towards the higher end. But in terms of durability and value, they are worth it.

Concrete can scratch and stain, but so can almost every other material. These stains develop a pattern over time that some people find charming. You can go bold or go subtle with the color palette as per your preference.

Concrete countertops increase the resale value of the house. So if you are interested in flipping a house, then concrete is your answer my friend.

Stainless Steel Countertops

A stainless steel countertop provides the perfect elegant look for your modern kitchen. This countertop goes perfectly well with stainless steel appliances. It can pull together the look of the kitchen, making it look like one complete unit.

Chef Preparing Food on Stainless Steel Countertop

A man prepping food on a stainless steel counter in the kitchen

Stainless steel is a staple choice for restaurant kitchens due to its many benefits.

Properties:

  • Heat resistant
  • Stain resistant
  • Non porous
  • Eco friendly
  • Low maintenance cost
  • Design neutral

Benefits

Steel's reflective surface makes your kitchen feel bigger than it is. This will make the room look brighter. Lighting is essential for inspiration. All those who love to cook will love the stainless steel counter. The material stays cool even during summers, which is a bonus.

It will also give your kitchen a professional look. For some, it may be priced on the higher side. But it's a onetime investment making stainless steel a top contender.

Durability

These countertops are resistant to everything. You don't have to worry about heat at all. Stainless steel countertops are heat resistant.

They are sturdy, and it is almost impossible to break them. It is possible to dent them, though, so take care.

Maintenance

Stainless steel is non-porous, so it does not turn into a breeding ground for bacteria. They are stain-resistant. You can even chop up beets on the counter and then wipe it up with a wet cloth.

Stainless steel does scratch, though, so use a cutting board.

If you are obsessed with cleanliness, this is the material for you. You will not have to worry about smudge marks or fingerprints. You can clean them up quickly with a wet cloth.

Conclusion

Stainless steel is durable, burn-proof, rust-proof, stain-resistant, sanitary, and requires no sealing. It is 100% recyclable, making it eco-friendly.

The downsides to the material are that it can scratch easily, makes a lot of noise, and can be damage your knives.

The advantages outweigh the cons. As a bonus, it is also design-neutral and works in almost all kitchens.

Laminate Countertops

Laminate countertops provide a stylish look to your kitchen at an affordable price. They are the ultimate budget friendly countertop option. With brands entering the market, laminates can now be a designer statement piece.

Beautiful Black Laminate Countertops

A beautiful black laminate counter with a plant in a contemporary kitchen.

Laminate countertops are now available with sharper high definition graphics.

Properties:

  • Quick installation
  • Lower costs
  • Easy to clean
  • Variety of colors and patterns
  • Stain resistant
  • Scratch resistant
  • Eco friendly

Benefits

Unlike stone or concrete countertops, laminates are easy to install. They can turn into a nice little DIY project for the family.

Laminates are readily available. Prefabricated laminate countertops are available at all home décor stores. If you are going for a high-end laminate design, you can even opt for professional installation costs. Compared to other countertops, laminates will still be budget-friendly even when professionally installed.

Durability

Laminates are not the most durable of materials. They are not as heat resistant as natural stone or solid surfaces. Boiling pots and pans can damage the top layer of the countertop.

They have short life spans and only last about 10-12 months if cared for exceptionally well. Because of their low cost, their short life span does not deter their demand.

Maintenance

Laminates are not very likely to stain as long as you wipe up spills immediately. The longer they sit on the surface, the stronger the stain gets. They are not very scratch resistant either, so make sure to use a chopping board always.

Do not use an acidic scrub or cleaner to clean the laminate countertop. This will cause the countertop to discolor fast. Laminates are porous, so do not use a lot of water for cleaning. The water can seep in and cause the laminate to swell.

Other than these, there are no other specific maintenance requirements for laminates. They don’t even require sealing.

Conclusion

Laminate countertops are your go-to option for style on a budget. They are also an easily available eco-friendly option. Others who are not a fan of natural stone can also opt for this.

Even though there are pricier options available in the market, a laminate does not add to the resale value of the house.

They are a good option for remodeling for a temporary house. The unique patterns can provide a fresh change to the kitchen until you are ready to invest in more.

Before we conclude this article, let’s talk about some of the popular countertop options like marble, quartz and granite.

Marble Countertops 

Marble is diverse countertop material. The Carrara marble is one of the least expensive countertop options available on the market. Whereas the Calacutta marble is a luxury stone priced at the high end. There’s marble for everyone at every price range.

Marble is heat resistant, but it is prone to scratches. The surface is also extremely porous and very high maintenance. Scratched marble looks dull and dirty. Great care has to be taken to maintain its beautiful glossy appearance.

Quartz Countertops

Quartz countertops are arguably the most durable kitchen material options. Quartz countertops are engineered in factories. The resins present in them makes them non-porous, as well as stain and scratch-resistant. They do not require regular resealing and are considered low maintenance.

In the past, the biggest complain about quartz was the lack of variety. Manufacturers now offer an increasing variety of patterns and color options.

Price is the major disadvantage of this material. Quartz can cost up to $100 per sq foot and more. The sink style options available with this material are also limited. If you are okay with all sink types and can afford it, then quartz is the option for you.

Granite Countertops

Granite is a beautiful natural stone. But it is expensive, which is why it is mostly only found in high-end kitchens. Even with the extra money, it is worth it.

Granite is the hardest known natural rock and can withstand substantial abuse. You can even cut your fruits and vegetables on the surface. Its sturdiness and density make it scratch, heat and stain-resistant.

The high density makes the surface non-porous. You will not have to worry about bacteria or viruses transferring to your food.

Like we said, apart from the price point, there are no side effects to granite. If you can afford to up your budget, we suggest you do — nothing classes up your kitchen like a luxury statement center island.

Choosing the Right Countertop Material

A plethora of options for countertop materials are available in the market. There is no specific science for choosing the right one. Your decision can vary depending upon multiple factors such as:

  • Budget
  • Purpose
  • Style preference

Before you come to a decision, we suggest you narrow down your options by budget. If your budget is low, then it will eliminate a lot of the more expensive options like granite.

If your budget bracket falls in the middle, then you have some great choices like soapstone, solid surface and maybe even concrete.

Of course, if you can afford it, you can opt for marbles and granites. They offer style, durability and add resale value as well.

Whatever your decision may be, always check out the maintenance requirements and installations costs. Ignoring these can cause significant financial stress. Make sure you choose wisely from the many kitchen countertop options available.

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About Jon - Website Owner

Jon Smith

Hi, my name is Jonathan Smith. I have been in the granite business for many years and have worked my way up from an installer helper to an installer and then a countertop business owner. 

I started my countertop company with very little and grew extremely fast because of my knowledge and helpfulness. I started this countertop resource for 1 main reason. That reason is that there are no countertop websites with all the correct information and none of them are from an industry expert like myself. 

I am still in the trade every single day installing countertops, educating people on the type of material they are using for their homes, and making people's dream kitchens a reality.

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