Kitchen Countertops: Ideas and Photos

Granite, Quartz, Laminate, & More

"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 has a warm color scheme, a large island, and beautiful Seafoam Green granite countertops.
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.
  1. 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.
  2. 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...

Staggered Height Countertops 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:

Polished Granite
Polished Granite

Man-Made Quartz Countertop
Man-Made Quartz

#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 thousands of granite colors 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, and wood.
» Compare Your Options: Before finalizing your countertop materials, it's important to understand the differences in terms of durability, appearance, and cost.

 » Granite Countertops

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.

Granite Countertop Colors (Vitoria Regia shown)
Vitoria Regia

Granite Colors

There are over a thousand granite colors in the world, and every piece is unique. Browse through this vast array of granite colors to see for yourself:

Granite Colors:
 » Beige
 » Black
 » Blue
 » Brown
 » Gold
 » Green
 » Red
 » White
 » ...More colors

Granite Countertop Photos
Green Granite

Installation Photos

Pictures of completed kitchen countertops clearly show how particular granite colors look in a finished kitchen. These pictures are sorted by granite color:

Pictures of kitchens with...
 » Beige Granite
 » Black Granite
 » Blue Granite
 » Brown Granite
 » Gold Granite
 » Gray Granite
 » Green Granite
 » Red Granite
 » White Granite

 » Also: Honed Granite

Choosing Granite Countertops
Photo: Arizona Tile

Choosing Granite

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:

 1. Cabinet Colors
 2. Backsplash Materials
 3. Flooring Materials
 4. Wall Paint Colors
 5. Intended Kitchen Decor

Cost of Granite Countertops
Granite Store Pricing

Granite Pricing

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:

 » Discounted Granite Slabs
 » Prefabricated Granite

Granite Edge Details
Ogee Edge Detail

Granite Edges

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.

Caring for Granite Countertops
Granite Magic

Caring for Granite

Taking care of granite countertops is surprisingly easy, once you know which products to use.

Cleaning Granite: We use Granite Magic 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.

Sealing Granite: The best granite sealers aren't found in home stores. DuPont makes StoneTech Sealer, 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 They offer great advice and answers to common questions that homeowners face when choosing and maintaining their countertops.

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