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kitchen countertop

The 10 Best Kitchen & Bath Counter Choices

Your counter surfaces should last a long time and provide functional space where you can actually work. I’m sure you have your favorites but take a few minutes to review what’s currently available and each choice’s features and price before you commit. These are ordered in no particular order because their value and suitability depend on your unique needs. The prices listed are estimates and depend on your particular installation needs and many other factors. They are meant to give you a reference for comparison of all the surface options available.

Quartz

This engineered material is maintenance free and is resistant to heat, scratching and chipping, and stains. Its cost is $95-$105 per square foot. It’s also available is a multitude of colors and patterns. A long lasting, durable and beautiful choice.

Granite

This perennial favorite requires sealing about once per year and you should wipe up stains quickly. Granite costs start at about $50 per square foot and go up from there depending on the particular slab you choose and its rarity and current availability. Many hues and pattern are available and each slab is unique, adding to granite’s popularity. Sometimes semi-precious stones are embedded in a slab and this can also raise the price. Finally, some granite is more difficult to work with and cut. Fabrication expense can vary greatly.

Laminate

The great appeal of laminate countertops is there maintenance free nature and their low price. The most affordable choice in the list, laminates have almost unlimited range in color and pattern making them super flexible and adaptable to all décors. They are not particularly durable. You cannot set hot pans on them and don’t even think about using a knife. Cost is $8-$20 per square foot.

Wood

Wood is warm and beautiful but requires a good quality sealer. The durability is dependent on the wood used and the quality of the sealer. It will nick and cuts can show. Hot pots can produce burn rings. However, many people feel this natural wear and tear is aesthetically pleasing and some people even start with already distressed wood. It is fairly easy to repair surface marks such as burn and water marks and they often don’t extend below the surface sealer. Cost is $30-$85 per square foot.

Marble

Marble is the luxury choice. It’s price is not prohibitive and comparable to other durable choices. As with Granite, each slab of marble is unique and many colors and patterns are available. Cost will vary greatly depending on the rarity and availability of your particular choice. Generally the cost is $70-$100 per square foot. If you are into baking or pastry then at least a partial marble inset is a great option and marble works well with almost every other countertop material. Marble required regular sealing and care in use. Anything acidic in nature should be wiped up quickly as it will cause etching and you must be careful of cleaning chemicals. Use only those made for marble or plain soap and water. Marble also stains easily. Many people love a well-used patina though, and it’s up to you how much work you put in to keep it pristine.

Stainless Steel

Stainless Steel, as the name implies, won’t stain. It is durable, easy to clean, and heat resistant. You can get shinny and matte finished. It even comes in various patterns produced by combining matte and shiny finishes. You won’t want to cut on it as it scratches. And fingerprints are ever present. The matte finished minimize fingerprints and water marks. It’s the choice of most professional chefs and serious home cooks. Cost is $125-$150 per square foot.

Soapstone

Its resistant to stains, heat, bacteria and chemicals. This is the reason it’s used in many school labs. Soapstone is non-porous and does not require sealing. Acidic foods won’t faze it and you can set that hot pot right down on it. Nicks, scratches and rounded edges are a certainty over time. But as with many other surfaces, these may not be a bad thing if you love a natural patina. Scratches and such can be sanded out fairly easily if you want. Cleanup is easy usually with just soap and water. Cost is $80-$100 per square foot.

Tile

A huge array of style, pattern and color choices mean tile is very appealing to many people. Stone tile takes on the pros and cons of the stone it’s made of. Ceramic tile is what we’ll talk about here. Tile is one of the most economical surfaces at $10-$70 per square foot. Glazed tile provides a non-porous surface that resists stains, heat and knives. They can chip or crack so extras should be kept for repairs, if necessary. Tiles are easy to keep clean but all that grout can be a pain. Choosing darker grout colors and smaller grout openings help reduce this problem. Check out the various grout types available today. Some are anti-microbial and stain resistant.

Copper

Copper provides a warm inviting feeling and is hard to beat. It is durable as long as you don’t mind a good bit of patina. It dents and scratches easily and chemicals and spills will probably cause discoloration. Applying a good sealer regularly will help minimize this. You should apply wax once in a while to keep it in the best condition. It tarnishes and oxidizes over time which provides a rich deep patina with a mix of deep colors. Cost is $100-$175 per square foot.

Solid Surface

Colors and Patterns are endless. Solid surfacing is non-porous making it resistant to stains. You can easily buff out scratches but you really can’t use it to cut on as the scratches will get out of hand. You also cannot set hot pans directly on it as it’s sensitive to heat. Cleaning is fast and easy. It has very low maintenance requirements. Another advantage is that it can be formed seamlessly into odd shapes and configurations. Cost is $50-$100 per square foot.

Conclusion

In addition to the above choices, there a many options using recycled materials of all kinds; paper, plastic, glass, and more. Spend some time choosing you perfect counter material. It can be a lifetime investment.