How Thick Should Your Countertops Be? 17 Expert Tips

Date: January 7, 2020
Author: Jon Smith
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Countertops come in many thicknesses, and what thickness you choose to have your countertop cut in is determined by a variety of variables such as budget, location in the home, and project scope.

How thick should countertops be? Here are 17 expert tips to consider:

  • 3CM is usually the best choice for countertop thickness.
  • Thinner countertops are good for house flipping projects and other budgeting solutions.
  • Custom-cut countertops will require 3CM thickness in most cases. (it is the standard)
  • Countertop thickness is measured in centimeters.
  • How thick your countertop should be, depends on how you’re using it.
  • It is easier to find darker colors of marble and granite in thicker cuts.
  • Thicker countertops are more expensive.
  • Countertop thickness affects many other factors of a renovation project.
  • Countertop can be cut into greater thicknesses than 3CM.
  • Countertop material dictates the thickness required.
  • Overhangs on a countertop can make it look thicker than it actually is.
  • Thicker countertops are favored in kitchen spaces over bathrooms.
  • Regardless of thickness, keeping a consistent countertop material over multiple rooms can bring cohesion to the home’s design.
  • Matching countertop thickness and material to the home’s existing style can help make the entire room look more sophisticated.
  • Thicker countertops are more durable than thinner ones.
  • Thinner countertops can reduce volume and increase available space.
  • Weight should be considered in upstairs applications.

Picking out a thickness for your countertop can be overwhelming if you’re in the middle of a large renovation project, but it doesn’t have to be. Read on to find out more about how countertop thickness impacts your home improvement project, and how to choose one.

Why Countertop Thickness is Important

Unless you’ve participated in the decision-making process behind a home renovation project, you’ve likely never even considered the thickness of a countertop before. As a result, you probably don’t know why countertop thickness would even be an important factor in deciding what countertops to buy.

The thickness of countertop you choose is dictated by budget, design theme, the size of the space, and many other factors. It isn’t just a matter of aesthetic choice, although that certainly comes into play. It’s also a matter of how the countertop material is going to work effectively in the space.

Choosing the wrong countertop thickness can lead to hundreds of dollars in wasted expense or costly damage if you install a countertop that is too thin in a location where it will have to endure items that are too heavy for it to withstand. Not only will you be out the cost of the original countertop, you’ll also have to pay for the cost and installation of a new one to replace the broken one.

 

  • A 3-centimeter countertop is usually the best choice for countertop thickness. While it is more expensive than thinner countertops, it also offers the largest variety of colors and construction materials since it is the standard countertop thickness for non-laminate and custom-cut stone countertops.

 

  • Thinner countertops are good for house flipping projects and other budgeting solutions. People tend to steer clear of thinner countertops when they can because these countertops have a reputation of being cheap and not as aesthetically pleasing as thicker countertops, but thin countertops can be a good solution for renovating houses quickly under a tight budget.

 

  • Custom-cut countertops will require 3-centimeter thickness in most cases. Since 3-centimeter is the largest standard countertop size for stone countertops, those companies which custom-cut countertops will often not cut a slab thinner than three centimeters. That being said, many will offer to cut a slab thicker for a price increase.

 

  • How thick your countertop should be, depends on how you’re using it. When choosing a thickness for your countertop, be sure to take into account what activities will be conducted on the countertop and what objects might be stored on it. If you plan to perform heavy workloads on the countertop, you’re better off going with a thicker type.

 

  • It is easier to find darker colors of marble and granite in thicker cuts. Dark shades of marble and granite can be difficult to find in smaller thicknesses. Dark stone is favored in thick, dramatic countertops, so it’s much easier to find dark marble or granite in heavy slabs than thin slices.

 

  • Thicker countertops are more expensive. It might seem self-explanatory, but the thicker the slab of your countertop is, the more expensive the countertop materials will be. This isn’t just because the material itself is more expensive proportional to the quantity—you also have to consider things like the added cost of transporting heavier materials.

 

  • Countertop thickness affects many other factors of a renovation project. Countertop thickness affects many other factors of a renovation project other than the resulting appearance of the countertops. You have to consider things like durability, the size of the room, and the amount of weight the floor is capable of safely maintaining.

 

  • Countertop can be cut into greater thicknesses than three centimeters. Depending on how much money you want to put into your home renovation project, countertops can be custom cut to greater thicknesses than the three-centimeter standard. However, these kinds of custom-cut countertops are very expensive, both to acquire and install.

 

  • Countertop material dictates the thickness required. You’re more likely to find selections of granite and marble in larger slabs, while quartz and laminate are found in thinner thicknesses. Part of the reason for this is that large slabs of stone cannot be cut thinly without affecting how brittle they are, so larger thicknesses are preferred to preserve the durability of the stone.

 

  • Overhangs on a countertop can make it look thicker than it actually is. If the renovation budget forces you to choose thinner countertop material than you’d prefer, you can always install an overhang on the edges of the countertop. For the purposes of design, this can achieve the heavy dramatic look of a thicker countertop without having to incur the cost of one.

 

  • Thicker countertops are favored in kitchen spaces over bathrooms. As far as design goes, kitchens are often considered the heart of the house, and for the purpose of aesthetics, if you’re going to use thicker countertops anywhere in the home, the kitchen is the place to do it. To save money, thinner countertops can be used in areas such as bathrooms where less time is spent.

 

  • Regardless of thickness, keeping a consistent countertop material over multiple rooms can bring cohesion to the home’s design. When doing home renovations, many people are tempted to give each room a separate design, but this can lead to the entire home’s aesthetics looking piecemeal. Instead, pull countertop material across the house for a more cohesive look.

 

  • Matching countertop thickness and material to the home’s existing style can help make the entire room look more sophisticated. During the process of choosing countertops for your home renovation project, take the house’s existing design into account. Matching countertop material and thickness to the house’s existing design can give the room a sophisticated look.

 

  • Thicker countertops are more durable than thinner ones: If you’re surfacing a counter area that is going to be subject to heavy loads or endure lots of use, it’s probably better to err on the side of a thicker countertop, while areas that don’t have to hold heavy objects are safe places for thinner countertop.

 

  • Thinner countertops can reduce volume and increase available space. A major benefit of thinner countertops is that they don’t take up as much space, which can be an important factor to consider in countertops that are applied in small spaces where every inch of usable space is a precious resource.

 

  • Weight should be considered in upstairs applications. In older homes with unstable or unknown structural integrity, thinner countertop options are a better option for upstairs bathrooms where the flooring might not be sturdy enough to handle thicker countertops. The last thing you want is for your upstairs bathroom to become your downstairs bathroom.

Taking some of these concepts into consideration when designing your home renovation project or trying to choose an appropriate countertop thickness will ensure that you get a countertop that is best suited for your particular house.

Common Materials Used in Countertops

People may recognize granite or marble when they hear talk about countertops, but many laymen outside of the countertop installation industry aren’t aware of just how many different kinds of construction materials are available for countertops.

It’s because of this variety that a standard set of countertop thicknesses was developed in order to ease universal construction and architecture. Some of these countertop materials are more commonly found in thicker cuts, while others will be found in thinner cuts. It all depends on the cost of the construction material and how easy it is to manipulate into countertop slabs.

Here are some of the most common materials used in countertops:

  • Granite: Historically, one of the most expensive countertop materials, granite is a material that is preferred in luxury homes due to its lustrous beauty and the classy vibe it lends even small design spaces. This is still one of the costlier countertop materials, but thankfully prices have come down over the years due to the increased production of manmade stone.Granite is most often offered in thicker slabs and is not a good option for DIY home projects, but rather an experienced installation professional who specializes in heavy stone countertops. Granite is a gorgeous choice but has a reputation for dulling knives and has to be sealed yearly in order to avoid stains due to its porous nature.
  • Soapstone: This sleek stone usually comes only in a dark gray color and is a popular choice for those who are trying to recreate historical spaces in their homes. Soapstone is unique because of how it develops a patina with age, and it is made more interesting by the intricate scratches and other minor flaws that build upon this patina as a result of countertop use with this soft stone.
  • Marble: Marble has been prized since antiquity but is usually considered a poor choice for kitchens due to its propensity for scratches and stains. As a result, it is usually kept in bathrooms or reserved for use on kitchen islands as an accent material rather than kitchen workstations. Like soapstone and granite, marble is a poor choice for self-installation and needs to be sealed.
  • Solid-surface materials: Solid-surface materials are manmade compressed resin countertops that are sold under a series of brand names such as Swanstone, Corian, and Avonite. These countertops were once considered luxury materials when they first came out but have since become less popular with the newfound popularity of natural materials.
  • Laminates: Laminates are often considered cheaper materials for countertop construction, but laminates continue to enjoy widespread use due to the sheer number of design options they can facilitate. Laminates come in a much greater variety of colors and designs than natural stone countertops, which makes them a good choice for retro or colorful design aesthetics.
  • Stainless steel: Stainless steel gives countertops a sleek, industrial look, but are not often seen outside working kitchens due to the fact that they are very expensive and easily scratched. These countertops are a great choice for kitchens with modern design aesthetics and are one of the easiest types of countertop to keep sterilized (hence their use in commercial spaces).
  • Butcher block: Wood is an unusual and beautiful choice for kitchen countertops but is not seen often because it has to be meticulously maintained and is one of the most expensive countertop materials available. Without regular sealing and cleaning, these countertops can be easily damaged. But butcher block does look very good in kitchens with a country or rural theme.
  • Ceramic tile: Ceramic tile is a good material to consider for countertops because it is relatively inexpensive compared to some other countertop construction materials and are a good choice for those who want to try and install their own countertops, but the grout in ceramic tiles can be hard to keep clean, and the tiles themselves can be vulnerable to impact damage.
  • Quartz: Quartz is a manmade alternative designed to replace granite and marble while removing the drawbacks of those construction materials. Unlike granite and marble, quartz is a non-porous surface and comes in many more options for color and design than its natural stone counterparts. The drawbacks of quartz are that it is expensive and heavy to install.

No matter what thickness of countertop you ultimately go with, the overall look of your countertop design will be mostly influenced by the countertop material you choose and how well it fits in with your pre-existing room design. Countertop thickness is mostly a matter of durability, cost, and construction materials used.

 

How to Choose a Countertop Material and Thickness

There are several things you should think about when choosing your countertop material and thickness. Here are some questions to ask yourself when trying to decide which countertops you want to go with:

  • How much money do I have to spend? Budget will be a very large constraint on what kind of countertop construction materials you end up using and how thick you get your countertops cut. Thicker cuts and fancier materials mean more money.
  • Who are these countertops for? If you are outfitting a new kitchen in your dream home, you’d be better served to put as much money into your kitchen countertops as possible since they are such an important focal point in the home. However, if you are renovating a home for renters or to make money flipping houses, you’ll want to reduce construction costs as much as possible.
  • What colors am I using in the room? Certain countertop materials come in limited colors—soapstone, for example, is only available in dark gray, while butcher block tends to come in a pale brown wood and a lot of available marble is white. Since you’ll likely be building the look of the room around your countertops, whether it’s a kitchen or bathroom, color is important.
  • How much maintenance do I want to do? Some countertops such as butcher block and granite must be meticulously maintained in order to avoid damage caused by regular wear and tear through daily use. Other types of countertop, such as laminates, are practically maintenance-free outside of cleaning after use.
  • Who is installing the countertop? Lighter, thinner countertop materials like laminates and ceramic tile are easier for do-it-yourselfers to install in their own homes, while most natural stone countertops like marble and granite will have to be installed by countertop installation professionals in order to get a good result. 

Countertop Thickness is Only One Aspect of Countertop Choice

Countertop thickness is a good place to start when you begin to consider your design options for countertops in a room, but it’s only one factor out of many that you’ll need to look into before you make your final decision on the best countertop for your home renovation project.

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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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