"What do most people use for kitchen countertops these days?" That's a common question we hear from homeowners who are inundated with kitchen countertop ideas on HGTV and in magazines. Despite the dizzying array of material choices, granite countertops are still far and away the most popular choice...
This luxury kitchen features a warm color scheme, a large island with seating for three, and beautiful Seafoam Green granite countertops.
Countertop Materials: Homeowners have an abundance of kitchen countertop materials to choose from in two essential categories: Natural and engineered surfaces.
Natural countertops include granite, marble, limestone, travertine, slate, wood, soapstone, onyx, and any other sufficiently hard material found "as is" in nature and cut into slabs or tiles.
Engineered surfaces include any countertop that is heavily processed or "man made" from raw materials. These include engineered quartz (which is ground-up quartz mixed with resin), plastic laminate (like Formica), solid surface acrylic (like Corian), ceramic tile, stainless steel, copper, glass, concrete, terrazzo, and even recycled paper.
Inside some of these categories are thousands of sub-choices that can boggle the mind. But there is no need to be intimidated...
Back to Reality: If the plethora of kitchen countertop options is overwhelming to you, stop right here. While it's interesting to know what is available, the majority of my clients chose to stick with tried and true granite countertops, which are available in hundreds of colors. Engineered quartz is also a great everyday choice (see popular kitchen countertops below). If you're curious about exotic options, we honor your exploring spirit and are happy to provide some inspiration...
Mixing and matching kitchen countertops is one way to be adventurous without committing the entire kitchen to one material. For example, some people choose to put a different granite color on the island in order to set it off visually from the rest of the kitchen, while others may want a kitchen desk with a carbonized bamboo countertop. Talented cooks may wish to cordon off a section of their countertop with a block of marble for rolling dough and a butcher block countertop for chopping food.
Practical Issues: Keep in mind that some alternative surfaces are less durable than granite countertops and may show wear rather quickly. Caring for your counters will be a consideration, as will food safety and stain resistance. Also in regards to safety, one method I employ when designing a kitchen is to round off or angle hard corners in the countertop. This can be a "hip saver" for adults, and "head saver" for children zipping around the kitchen. Ask your cabinetmaker for clipped corners in high-traffic areas, which will allow the countertop to be angled as well.
Further Help: Browse this page and the related links for more kitchen countertop ideas, advice, and photos for your design inspiration.
Popular Countertop Materials
Homeowners often ask which
kitchen countertops are the most popular. Based on
my own experience in the kitchen and bath industry, here are
the top choices for kitchen countertops:
#1 - Granite: Today's most popular countertop
material is granite. Quarried from all over the world, granite is
very hard and heat resistant. There are
to match a variety of color schemes. [more]
#2 - Quartz: Engineered quartz kitchen countertops are an
excellent choice for those who want a durable surface with a
consistent appearance. The leading manufacturers include Caesarstone, Cambria,
Silestone, and Zodiaq.
#3 - Laminate: For small homes and rental properties,
plastic laminate countertops are an affordable choice.
Countertop laminate can look like wood, metal, and granite. The
top brands include Wilsonart and Formica.
#4 - Solid Surface: Corian is the most well-known
manufacturer of solid surface / acrylic countertops in the world.
Unlike laminate (a thin layer of hard plastic), Corian
is a 1/2" slab of acrylic that can be shaped like granite.
#5 - Tile: While the popularity of tile kitchen countertops has
dropped in recent decades, designers sometimes use tile surfaces for dramatic effect in
certain areas, such as on an island or
wet bar, or in period kitchens.
#6 - Other Products: Alternative countertop materials include concrete,
glass, limestone, marble, onyx, recycled paper, semi-precious
stone, slate, soapstone, stainless steel, Terrazzo, travertine,
» Compare Your Options: Before finalizing your
countertop materials, it's important to understand the
differences in terms of durability, appearance, and cost.
Renowned for its natural
beauty, stain resistance, and durability, granite holds
its own as the predominant material available today for kitchen
countertops. Among my clients, no other counter choice
comes close. Here are some galleries and articles to help you
learn more about this incredibly popular countertop option.
Visiting a granite slab yard can
be both enjoyable and a bit daunting. Many granite yards display
rows upon rows of beautiful slabs. With so many
kitchen countertop ideas in one place, how do you decide?
It's wise to bring along
the following items to make the selection process easier and
inform your overall color scheme:
Calculating the true cost of granite countertops
is a complicated process. Having estimated hundreds of granite
projects for my clients, there are several factors to consider,
such as the material, edge details, and installation costs. Most
granite suppliers offer free estimates.
Lower-cost granite options,
primarily usable in smaller kitchens, include:
Finishing off the front edge of
your kitchen countertops with an elegant profile can add
character to the room.
Consider a granite edge that
compliments the overall design by repeating other profiles in
the kitchen, such as the contours of your cabinet doors. Kitchens
with raised panel cabinets look fantastic with an ogee or
bullnose granite edge, while a square or beveled edge
works well with Shaker style cabinets.
Also consider the practical
implications, including edge safety and cleanability.
Taking care of granite countertops
is surprisingly easy, once you know which products to use.
Cleaning Granite: We use
in our own showroom, and refer it to our
clients. After one cleaning, it appears as if you've slaved
hours to bring the luster back in the stone.
best granite sealers aren't found in home stores. DuPont makes
which soaks deeply into the
surface for the best possible protection.
More Help: If you're looking for an extensive resource for all types of kitchen countertops, visit our friends at CountertopSpecialty.com. They offer great advice and answers to common questions that homeowners face when choosing and maintaining their countertops.