Choosing a new countertop for your kitchen or bathroom can be daunting. You have to factor in durability, cost of the material plus installation and how it will coordinate with your home decor.
It’s all about counterbalance: To find out the pros and cons of the countertops you're considering, especially since materials can be comparable in price, be sure to use this guide when selecting your countertop.
Bamboo - $$
It might be eco-friendly, it adds warmth, and it looks great at first, but it’s easily stained, scorched, and nicked. Check if you can use near a sink, because moisture can warp it. Some may need mineral oil beeswax reapplied.
Butcher Block - $$
Varnished butcher block is very stain resistant but terrible at everything else. Oil-finished wood is better at resisting heat, but stains spread and are impossible to remove. Not a good choice for a sink area.
Concrete - $$
It’s custom formed, so quality may vary. Concrete chips and scratches easily, and can develop hairline cracks. Topical sealers can protect it against stains but not heat. Penetrating sealers can handle the heat but not stains.
Granite - $$
Each stone slab is unique. Heat, cuts, and scratching don't harm the granite, but corners and edges can chip; let a pro repair them. Polished and matte finishes resist most stains when properly sealed. Granite needs periodic resealing.
Soapstone - $$
It’s not as common as granite—and it’s stunning at first. It resists heat damage, and small scratches can be sanded finely, then coated with mineral oil. But it nicks, cuts, and scratches easily, and some tough stains won’t wash away.
Laminate - $
Inexpensive and stylish options with decorative edges abound. Stains and heat don't damage the laminates, but cutting directly on it does, and abrasives can mar.
Limestone - $$
It’s attractive but impractical in a busy kitchen. Limestone resists heat well, but it nicks, cuts, and scratches easily, and even a high quality sealer didn’t fend off stains. So blot spills immediately and periodically reseal.
Marble - $$$
Marble takes on a patina, to some, but others see it as marred. Small nicks and scratches can be polished out, but marble chips easily and needs to be resealed periodically. On sealed marble, most stains wipe away with water.
Also known as engineered stone, quartz is a blend of stone chips, resins, and pigments and is ideal for areas that get plenty of use and abuse. It comes in an array of vibrant colors and styles that mimic stone. Edges and corners can chip and only a pro can repair them. Rounded edges help.
Recycled glass - $$
Take shards of recycled glass, turn them into a countertop and the result is an infusion of color and style. Best for a contemporary look when it's made with large shards, or it can resemble solid surfacing when the glass is finely ground. Resistant to heat, cuts, and scratches. Chips and stains can be a problem.