The Pros and Cons of 8 Types of Kitchen Counters

Kitchen, Luxury Home

Source: iStock

The kitchen is the heart of any home. It’s where we cook and congregate, eat, and entertain. So it’s the one room in the house that should be both equally functional and beautiful. Since it’s a popular gathering place, you naturally want to focus on decoration. However, you still need to get work done in order to feed your admiring guests. But it’s your kitchen counters that become the priority since they’re usually a major focal point.

Except for your floors, kitchen countertops are the most used surface in the house. They’re where we prepare food. They’re what we lean on. They’re the place we put our mail, keys, and the newspaper. There’s no denying their importance in terms of practicality. However, since they’re the centerpiece, they must look good, harmonize with other surfaces, complement your appliances, accent the cabinetry, and match the flooring.

Decisions to Make: Both Yes and No

The first step in buying a kitchen countertop is the research. There are tons of choices out there in terms of design and materials, so take your time investigating the selection. Each option presents different opportunities and consequences, but it’s a significant investment and shouldn’t be rushed. A quality kitchen counter makes a visual statement about your home: they make a room feel cozy, elegant, or dynamic. So never skimp on the research and always make the right choice for you.

Whether it is beauty or durability, maintenance or costs, each material has innate positives and negatives to consider. Shop around for the product that best fits your needs, both in terms of style and practicality. Here are a few popular choices (along with their pros and cons) to get you started in your research:

1. Marble

A very valuable natural stone that often contains unique and intricate swirling patterns, marble gives a classy, museum feel to your kitchen counters. It’s a great investment that adds value, but it also comes at a heavy cost to your bank account, so these counters are often used sparingly around the house (bar, island, inlays, accents, etc.).

Yes: It’s rare, beautiful, and a great asset. And though it’s very expensive, there are alternative products out there, such as cultured marble, which can alleviate the price.

No: There’s a reason why marble doesn’t ever look cheap—it isn’t. And though these counters look amazing, they aren’t very functional. They take lots of attention, maintenance, and protection; and for what they cost, you’ll want to keep them in stellar condition.

Source: iStock

Source: iStock

2. Granite

Whether you have it or just want it, granite is probably the most desired material on the market. Its elegant look and sturdy construction makes it an ideal addition to any kitchen, bar, or island, however all natural stone comes with some downfalls.

Yes: It’s beautiful, heat-resistant, solid-looking, and comes in rich colors and designs.

No: But all natural stone has a big price tag: it can cost up to $100 a square foot. Plus, it needs a lot of maintenance. Though it looks tough, it’s actually quite fragile and will constantly need resealing to ensure its protection.

3. Silestone

A great alternative to natural stone. This engineered stone is manmade to look like any mineral, but it comes with certain advantages since it is synthetically created.

Yes: It’s almost maintenance-free: heat-resistant, scratch-resistant, non-porous, and no resealing or polishing required. Also, silestone countertops are solid yet flexible to protect against cracks.

No: It’s still expensive. It actually costs about the same as natural stone (if not more) and though it’s a look-a-like, you still miss out on the authenticity of the real thing.

4. Laminate

Still the most popular choice among homeowners, laminate is a generalized term for any laminate surface glued to a wooden substrate. Though plastic laminate can come in any color, they can also be made to imitate the look of trendier natural stone.

Yes: It’s very affordable, easy to install, durable, and requires practically no maintenance compared to natural materials.

No: Though they’re tough, they can still be damaged. And once chipped or gouged, they’re hard to fix. They’re popular, which helps the price, but doesn’t make them stand out.

Kitchen Storage Containers

Source: iStock

5. Tile

Ceramic tiles look interesting and can add a little life to a surface. They come in any color of the rainbow and can be installed to form unique patterns and designs. And unlike other kitchen countertops, they’re relatively inexpensive and very easy to install.

Yes: The product is cheap. The installation is affordable (if you’re handy, it could be done on one’s own). They’re quick to clean. Plus, these counters are heat and water resistant.

No: Cracks and chips are a possibility. And even if they’re installed professionally the surface won’t be smooth, which may cause other decorating problems. Plus, though the counters are easy to clean, the grout between the tiles can get stained.

6. Wood

Wood is the best of both worlds: it creates a rustic, old-world charm to your kitchen but can still keep up and harmonize with any modern design. They create a cozy feel to a room and are available in multiple patterns, thicknesses, and constructions.

Yes: They look cool, and they’re sanitary and hygienic since they naturally repel bacteria. Plus, if damaged, it’s an easy fix: simply sand away the blemishes.

No: Once again, natural products aren’t cheap (around $30-90 per square foot). And they’re porous, so they’re vulnerable to water damage and need to be constantly sealed.

Stainless Steel Kitchen Counter

Source: iStock

7. Stainless Steel

Creates a real clean look to a kitchen and can make any homeowner look like a gourmet chef. There’s an industrial quality to this material that is simple and sleek, yet reflective metal is also a very neutral color that can match any pre-existing décor.

Yes: Their reflectivity can make a space look bigger. They’re heat resistant and non-porous. Plus, they’re easy to clean and can be bent to fit any corner of the home.

No: A bit pricey ($75-150 per square foot). Plus, they can scratch, dent, and smudge. However, there are quick and easy maintenance solutions to all these dilemmas.

8. Concrete

Another industrial product, concrete is affordable and can be poured onto any surface. It’s a neutral color to match any room, but it can also be colored, textured, or have a glossy look. And since it is extremely malleable during installation, it presents a lot of creative opportunities for design experimentation.

Yes: It works well with hard-to-access areas and awkward angles. And since it is cement, little maintenance is required: it’s durable, scratch-proof, heat-proof, and water resistant.

No: Though the material is inexpensive, the installation may be costly depending upon the space. Plus, like any concrete structure, it can crack, so needs to be sealed and treated.

Get Help

No matter which kitchen counter you decide to put in the home, always make sure to go through a professional. It’s a complicated, time-consuming chore and if the whole point is to make these surfaces look good while putting them to work, then you’ll want to guarantee proper installation.

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