Choosing a countertop option is one of the biggest decisions to make when you’re designing or remodeling a kitchen. For most homes, countertops are a major feature, and they’re also one of the more significant investments you’ll make in the kitchen. If you’re deciding which countertops are right for your home, it’s worth it to fully understand all of your options. That’s why we’ve put together this ultimate guide to countertop materials — so you can see at a glance what your top countertop material options are, and which ones might be best for you, depending on your budget, your style, and your goals for the finished product. Let’s start with granite:
Granite is a natural stone, which means it isn’t engineered or manufactured like quartz or other countertop materials. Granite is mined directly from the earth and then cut into slabs. This gives every piece of granite unique characteristics — no two slabs are exactly alike. For that reason, it’s important to purchase granite for your countertops all at once. While a great quantity of one color might be available now, it will be really hard to match your granite countertops a few years down the road.
When it comes to performance, granite offers all of the benefits you’d expect from solid stone. It’s exceptionally durable and very heat resistant, so you don’t have to worry about hot pots burning, melting, or staining your countertops. That said, depending on the type of granite you choose, you may have to exercise a bit of care.
While darker granite colors are made from igneous rocks that are impervious to staining and etching, some lighter options could stain or scratch. Because granite is a natural stone, it is slightly porous, which means you will have to seal it every so often.
Cost-wise, granite is very reasonable for a solid stone surface. Though it will cost more than something like butcher block or laminate, it’s typically a bit less expensive than most quartz or marble countertop selections.
The Granite Breakdown:
- Heat resistant
- One-of-a-kind color
- Natural stone appearance
- Good price for solid stone
- Lighter granite may scratch, etch, or stain
- Can be difficult to find large selections of matching slabs
Quartz countertops are an engineered product. Though they are made with quartz, a naturally occurring mineral, they’re engineered by first grinding up the quartz and then pressing that into slabs that are glued together with resin. In the end, a quartz countertop slab ends up being about 90% quartz and 10% resin, which delivers an exceptionally durable, non-porous material that’s great for countertops.
Quartz countertops have been gaining popularity because they can be manufactured to match any color or style, and many colors are a little cheaper than natural stone options like marble. Though a quartz countertop will certainly cost you more than a laminate countertop, they are more durable, and many prefer the natural, polished look of engineered stone. Zeeland Lumber & Supply is proud to partner with Cambria countertops, a manufacturer of some of the finest engineered stone selections on the market.
The Quartz Breakdown:
- Exceptional durability
- Non-porous, unlike other stone surface options
- Wide range of repeatable color options
- Not as heat resistant as other natural stones, due to the resin in quartz countertops
- Quartz costs more than other engineered countertop materials, due to its appearance and exceptional durability.
Butcherblock countertops are a popular countertop option for industrial, rustic, and farmhouse-style homes because they bring a lot of natural warmth into the kitchen. There are two main types of butcher block countertops — end grain and edge grain.
As you might expect, end grain counters are made from the ends of the boards glued together, so the grain of the wood runs perpendicular to the surface of the counter. A bit less expensive, edge grain is made by gluing long boards together, so their side edges form the surface of the counter. These counters will show wear a bit more easily but are less expensive.
Butcherblock countertops are best-loved for their appearance and their longevity. When properly cared for, a butcher block counter can last for quite some time. Small dings and scratches are easily mended with the swipe of an oiled rag. Butcher block counters are also well known for being the easiest to install yourself.
While butcher block countertops are a beautiful option, they aren’t without their negatives. Primarily, wood is very prone to water damage, which can be problematic in a kitchen. Wood counters around your sink can be problematic, even if you keep up on regular staining. What’s more, butcherblock countertops are a big investment, especially considering how much work they take to keep up. Finally, wood is porous. If it’s not sealed regularly, it can harbor germs from food in the kitchen.
The Butcherblock Breakdown:
- Aesthetically beautiful
- Long-lasting, durable material
- Easy and fast installation
- Potential to DIY
- Requires significant maintenance
- Susceptible to water damage
- Porous and can harbor germs
- Relatively expensive considering it’s not a stone countertop option
Laminate countertops are made up of a mixture of wood and paper products, all sandwiched together with glue and resin. This thick slab of countertop is then topped with a layer of plastic that is laminated onto the wood particle core. Laminate countertops come in a variety of colors, and have seriously improved over the years in their ability to mimic the appearance of stones like quartz and granite. They’re also a budget-friendly option that can be made to suit any style or size kitchen.
While laminate is the go-to budget choice for many homeowners, it’s good to remember that when you save that much in price, you’ll have to give up a few things. While laminate countertops are durable, they simply don’t hold up to real stone, because of course they’re made from wood and plastic.
And finally, while laminate design is becoming more and more realistic, it’s still not quite the same as a real stone. It will still look slightly different from a true stone pattern. At Zeeland Lumber, we like to remind customers that laminate countertops do come in wood laminate options, in addition to stone. Some of these wood laminate options look more realistic than the stone versions and are often sustainably made.
The Laminate Breakdown:
- Inexpensive to purchase and install
- Can mimic any look or color
- Fast and easy to install
- Not as durable as solid stone
- Appearance is usually a replica of stone, not a perfect match
- Only last 10 or so years
Long considered the holy grail of countertop options, marble is certainly a beautiful stone countertop option. Like granite, marble is a naturally occurring stone. That means it’s mined from the earth and cut into slabs for countertops, so each marble slab will also feature a bit of variation from piece to piece.
Marble is highly heat resistant, which makes it a great material for the kitchen, where hot pots and pans are always shuffling around. It’s not a conductor, which means it also provides a relatively cool worksurface — this is why you often see marble countertops in baking applications. Marble is also known for its soft veins that impart a particularly elegant quality throughout any room.
Though marble is a beautiful, durable countertop material, it is slightly softer than both granite and quartz. This makes it more susceptible to scratching, etching, and staining. Because it is also porous, marble must be sealed regularly, in order to keep it from absorbing bacteria found in the kitchen.
The Marble Breakdown:
- Beautiful, elegant appearance
- Long-lasting material
- Softer vein patterns for a smoother look
- Can scratch, stain, and etch
- Is porous and requires regular maintenance
- The most costly of the solid stone countertop options
Decided which countertop material is for you? If you have, Zeeland Lumber & Supply is happy to help you choose the perfect look and finish for your home. If you’re not quite sure yet, our Kitchen & Bath team would love to help you weigh your best options. Get in touch and let us know how we can help!