Choosing the right countertop material can be tough decision to make. The deciding factors to take into considerations when choosing the right material for your space are the durability, stain resistance, cost, sustainability, & the heat resistance. It is important to choose which factors are right for you and your project. We have listed most of the countertop materials available along with the Pros and Cons of each.
Marble is a metamorphosed limestone which means it is harder than limestone but softer than granite. It can be hard to hide seamlines in marble and look mismatched because colors & patterns can vary from slab to slab. Marble is extremely porous so make sure that it is sealed and the proper with “made for marble” cleaners are used. Marble is not recommended in the bathrooms because soaps and even water can produce stains and/or etching. Marble is heat resistant but use caution when placing hot pots or pans on the counter especially if the marble is white. Marble can be costly depending on the color or the pureness of the material.
Granite is an igneous rock which means it is a hard and durable. It can be hard to hide seamlines in certain types of Granite (same as marble) and can look mismatched because colors & patterns can vary from slab to slab. So make sure your fabricator knows what they are doing. Granite is the hardest most durable stone of all of the natural stones but I would still use caution when using cleaners & certain soaps. Granite is one of the only countertop options that hot pans can be directly placed on. Granite can be costly depending on the color or the pureness of the material.
Soapstone is a metamorphic rock composed of mainly talc which makes it soft and absorbent. Soapstone is consistent in color and the seams on the countertop can be easily hidden with a great installer. Soapstone was originally used on fireplaces since heat can be transferred to the stone and help heat the space. A weathered or aged look will appear after time and can be sanded down and cleaned with mineral oil. Stone colors are available in dark gray to blueish or greenish gray with light or dramatic veining.
Limestone is sedimentary rock made of mostly calcite which means it is and extremely soft but it is heat resistant. It is consistent in color and the seams can be hidden easily by the installer. Limestone counters can stain and scratch easily and they need to be sealed on a yearly basis. Cleaners, soaps and even water can etch the stone so use only limestone specific cleaners. Lighter colors of limestone show fewer scratches and texture damage, while darker limestone hides more stains.
Quartz is an engineered material that is 90 percent ground quartz with 8-10 percent polymer resin & color. Quartz is stain resistant from cooking oils and most household cleaning products but can be stained by red wines. Quartz can be damaged by heat so heat pads should be used when placing hot pans on the counter. Quartz manufacturers are coming out with great new colors and have also replicated the look of Carrara marble.
Concrete is an inexpensive option but in the natural state it is porous and may stain. Applying a surface sealer will make the concrete water and stain resistant. If however a sealer is used it is not recommended for placing hot pans directly on the surface since the heat can damage the sealer. Seams can be hidden easily with color-matched fillers and there is an endless selection of stain options.
Porcelain slabs are a man-made material that is strong, non-porous and heat resistant. It can come in honed, polished, or a natural state and can mimic some of the most beautiful natural stones without the maintenance. Most household cleaners can be used on porcelain. Porcelain is considered to be green since it starts out as clay and heated to a high temperature and can be recycled when it is time to renovate. Slabs are lightweight but it is considered to be 30% stronger than granite.
Wood, Coconut, Bamboo
Wood countertops provide a softer look than a stainless steel or granite but require regular maintenance. It can be refinished or restained if it is damaged and the wood can be sustainably sourced or reclaimed. Bamboo & Coconut countertops are also available that provide similar scratch & stain resistant, and impact resistant abilities much like the wood but none of them are heat resistant.
Stainless steel countertops provide a great surface for cooking because it is heat resistant, stain resistant, and can handle non-abrasive household cleaners. However, stainless steel is not scratch proof and will require a streak-free cleaner because every fingerprint will show. Be aware that cooking in a kitchen with stainless steel counters can be quite noisy.
Solid Glass countertops can provide a great surface for cooking because it is heat resistant, stain resistant, and can handle non-abrasive household cleaners. Streak-free cleaners are highly recommended given its material. Glass is considered to be a sustainable option for countertops and has no emitting VOC’s. Composite and recycled glass countertops have most of the same qualities as the solid glass counters but cannot resist heat due to the adhesives and sealants.