The Best Countertop Options for Kitchens and Bathrooms

best countertops for kitchens and bathrooms

There are tons of options to choose from when it comes to choosing the right countertop for your kitchen remodel or bathroom remodel, and each material has its pros and cons.

Some countertop materials are visually stunning but can be easily scratched or stained. Others might be very strong and resistant to scratches but aren't the most beautiful to look at.

This guide will go over the most common countertop materials and discuss the benefits and drawbacks of each to help you decide which is best for your kitchen or bath.

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best countertop options infographic

Granite

For quite some time, granite has been viewed as the superior countertop choice when cost isn't an issue.

For many people, granite has defined luxury in the kitchen.

They are beautiful and come in an endless variety of colors and veining.

Granite is also known for being expensive, but as supplies have increased and engineered stone became more common, costs have come down a bit.

Pros

  • Extremely resistant to heat
  • Strong and durable
  • Adds value to home
  • Comes in thousands of types and colors
  • Suitable for kitchens and bathrooms

Cons

  • Quite expensive
  • DIY installation is not a possibility
  • Slabs may come with imperfections
  • Can crack if stressed or poorly installed
  • Requires sealing to avoid staining its porous surface

Soapstone

A natural stone that is typically dark gray in color with a smooth, silky feel, soapstone has made a recent resurgence in popularity, especially as an alternative to granite.

Commonly seen in historic homes, soapstone takes on a beautiful patina that adds an antique look and feel to an otherwise modern space.

Contrary to popular belief, soapstone countertops are quite hard and resistant to stains.

And though they will scratch over time, this adds to the antique patina of the stone if that's the look you're going for.

Pros

  • Rich, deep color
  • Relatively stain resistant
  • Resistant to heat
  • Can sand out damage
  • Offers antique look to kitchen or bath

Cons

  • Can change color over time
  • DIY installation is not a possibility
  • Requires mineral oil treatments
  • Surface can scratch and dent, though this lends to its beautiful antique appearance

Marble

Another popular, yet expensive, countertop choice is marble.

No two pieces of marble are alike, providing a unique, one-of-a-kind touch to any kitchen or bathroom.

Marble is extremely durable but can stain and scratch if the proper care isn't taken.

Pros

  • Heatproof
  • Waterproof
  • Increases value of home
  • Very unique and beautiful appearance
  • Suitable for kitchens and bathrooms

Cons

  • Expensive
  • DIY installation is not a possibility
  • Stone is porous and easily stained
  • Easily scratched and repairs are difficult

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Quartz

Quartz is an engineered stone product that contains primarily quartz particles and other minerals, too.

Quartz was created as a higher-performing and more easily-adaptable alternative to granite and marble that's quarried.

Quartz comes in a wider range of colors than granite and has a non-porous surface that is resistant to both staining and scratching.

Though similar in appearance to natural marble, engineered quarts do not call for annual sealing to resist damage.

Looking for the next cutting-edge countertop material? Similar to quartz technology, glass countertops blended with resins and shaped into slabs are becoming desirable in some markets.

Pros

  • DIY installation is a possibility
  • Easy to maintain
  • No sealing required
  • Slabs are uniform and without imperfections
  • Can be engineered to any size or shape
  • Resistant to stains, heat, and acid
  • Natural appearance
  • Suitable for kitchens and bathrooms

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Very heavy

Wood or Butcher Block

Wood countertops offer a beautiful, natural look and an overall warmth to your kitchen.

These countertops also come in a wide range of colors and finishes.

Maple and oak—popular hardwood options—are the most common choices for wood countertops.

Pros

  • Pretty easy to clean
  • Long-lasting when cared for properly
  • Easily sanded and resealed to refresh
  • Offers a charming rustic appearance to kitchens and bathrooms

Cons

  • Somewhat expensive
  • Easily scratched/cut by knives
  • Not completely waterproof or stain-proof
  • Must be properly maintained to avoid bacteria issues
  • Requires frequent oiling and sealing
  • Can crack if not maintained

Stainless Steel

If you're going for an industrial, contemporary look, stainless steel can be a great countertop choice.

Stainless steel is highly durable and heat-resistant, making them a great choice for the kitchen.

They can also be constructed to your exact needs, giving you a seamless, striking look.

Pros

  • Cannot be damaged by heat
  • Very modern, industrial look
  • Extremely easy to clean and maintain
  • Adds real estate value
  • Great option for kitchens

Cons

  • Noisy
  • Expensive to fabricate
  • Easily scratched

Solid-Surface Material

A man-made material created using a blend of acrylic particles and resins pressed into sheets, solid-surface material (SSM) countertops have been around for 50+ years.

Once regarded as a modern, futuristic alternative to the then-popular look of natural stone, SSM countertops are now considered somewhat middle of the road.

SSM remains a great countertop option for small to medium mid-range kitchens or large kitchens with a lot of countertop space to cover.

Pros

  • Stain resistant
  • Virtually no seams
  • Can easily sand out damage
  • Endless colors and pattern options
  • Integrated sink/countertop units available
  • Suitable for kitchens and bathrooms

Cons

  • Somewhat expensive
  • Easily damaged by hot pans
  • DIY installation is not a possibility

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Concrete

concrete countertops

If you're looking for another industrial countertop look that is unique and modern, concrete may be a good choice for you.

Because concrete countertops are so heavy, they're typically cast in forms directly in your kitchen.

Concrete countertops are highly polished slabs that can even be textured or acid-stained to create different colors and looks.

Concrete can be prone to cracking, but there are treatments that can reduce this risk, and concrete's porousness can be reduced with additives.

Pros

  • Heat resistant
  • Scratch resistant
  • Can be tinted
  • Adds unique look and feel
  • Can achieve decorative textures and colors
  • Suitable for kitchens and bathrooms

Cons

  • Cracking is possible over time
  • High costs due to custom work
  • Requires regularly sealing
  • Can appear too cold or industrial for some home buyers
  • DIY installation is not a possibility

Laminates

Laminate countertops are made of plastic-coated synthetics, have a smooth surface, and are easy to clean.

Countertops are made of a particle board core with laminate sheets bonded to it and can be purchased as pre-formed segments or custom-fabricated to fit your needs. 

Laminate comes in thousands of colors, patterns, and styles now available. Laminates are especially popular in retro designs, particularly mid-century modern kitchens.

Pros

  • Easy to maintain
  • Thousands of options available
  • DIY installation is a possibility
  • Inexpensive
  • Suitable for kitchens and bathrooms

Cons

  • Seams are always visible
  • Can be scratched and chipped
  • Difficult to repair

Ceramic Tile

Ceramic tile is durable and easy to clean.

It is also considerably less expensive than it's counterparts, like quartz, marble, granite, or SSM countertops.

In recent years, porcelain tiles have come a long way and now come in a wide range of design options that look like wood, marble, cork, etc.

Offering more design options than nearly any other countertop material, ceramic is a great option for those looking to get creative.

Pros

  • Easy to clean
  • Typically affordable
  • DIY installation is a possibility
  • Very heat resistant
  • Endless looks and styles
  • Suitable for kitchens and bathrooms

Cons

  • Custom tiles can be expensive
  • Can crack under impact
  • Grout lines can stain if not cleaned regularly
  • Doesn't increase home value as much as granite or quartz

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