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Choosing A Kitchen Countertop

16 Different Materials

Part 2

Part 1

  • Laminate
  • Ceramic/Porcelain
  • Granite
  • Engineered Stone

Part 2

  • Hardwood/Butcher Block
  • Stainless Steel
  • Solid Surface
  • Marble
  • Soapstone
  • Concrete

Part 3

  • Lava
  • Copper
  • Pewter
  • Zinc
  • Limestone
  • Bamboo
  1. Hardwood or Butcher Block Countertops
  2. Natural hardwoods such as oak or maple make beautiful countertops, (Figure 5). They can be purchased to meet almost any size requirement and it is very easy to cut out for sinks and faucets. There has always been a concern with respect to sanitization of wood countertops. If the countertop is properly maintained and sealed bacteria cannot enter the wood pores. However, if scratches are not properly sealed, and the scratch is deeper than the protective surface coating, bacteria can grow.

    Hardwood countertop

    Figure 5 - Hardwood countertop

    Advantages: Smooth; can be sanded and resealed when necessary, easy to provide cut outs for sinks and faucets.

    Disadvantages: Can warp if not properly maintained, hot pots and pans may scorch and damage surface, requires maintenance and resealing.

    Additional information on bamboo countertops.

  3. Stainless Steel Countertops
  4. Stainless steel countertops, (Figure 6), are the ultimate countertop for wear and cleaning, which is why it is used in restaurants. Constructed to exact measurements, seams are highly unusual. They are 100% heat and stain resistant. However, they do have a tendency to scratch and dull.

    Stainless steel countertop

    Figure 6 - Stainless steel countertop

    Advantages: Hot pots and pans cannot damage surface very easy to clean and impervious to bacteria.

    Disadvantages: Expensive; can look very commercial; requires special tools in order to provide cut outs for sinks and faucets.

  5. Solid Surface Countertops
  6. Whether your design vision is simple, white and monolithic or curvaceous and colorful, a solid surface countertop, (Figure 7), can help to fulfill it. Combining well – both practically and visually – with other materials such as stainless steel, wood and glass, solid surface materials incorporate sinks, hobs and taps in a flowing, seemingly seamless design

    Solid surface countertop

    Figure 7 - Solid surface countertop

    Advantages: Hundreds of colors and patterns; seamless; stain resistant, repairable, replaceable.

    Disadvantages: Hot pans, pots and stains can damage the surface; moderately expensive.

  7. Marble Countertops
  8. Nothing is more luxurious than a marble countertop, (Figure 8). But, marble is not a good surface for kitchens that are "used" to cook in. Marble has a tendency to stain and must be resealed on a regular basis. Marble is now being quarried all over the world and because of that it is available in hundreds of patterns and colors.

    Marble countertop

    Figure 8 - Marble countertops

    Advantages: Waterproof; heat resistant; elegant

    Disadvantages: Expensive; porous; stains easily; can scratch, chip and crack needs resealing periodically, seams show, cut-outs must be factory ordered.

  9. Soapstone Countertops
  10. Soapstone countertops, (Figure 9), have an advantage over other natural stones such as granite and marble because it is inert and alkalis and acids won't affect it. As talc is in soapstone it is soft to the touch and gives the feeling of rubbing a piece of dry soap. It stands up for years and years and is commonly used in historic homes.

    Soapstone countertop

    Figure 9 - Soapstone countertop

    Advantages: Deep color; smooth; somewhat stain resistant.

    Disadvantages: Requires regular maintenance with applications of mineral oil; may crack and darken over time stains can be removed by sanding; color matching is difficult.

  11. Concrete Countertops
  12. See our separate section on concete countertops