It’s a tough and important decision to make in any home remodel or new build. Function, aesthetic, and location are probably the three most important factors to take into consideration when choosing a counter top. Oh, and you can’t forget budget ;) Below is a helpful guide we’ve put together to help you learn about the most common counter top materials out there, their pros/cons, and how to determine which one is right for you!
A versatile, natural, and most affordable option (in terms of stone), granite is used in a lot of residential and commercial applications. It’s variation in color and pattern is outstanding! Granite is very durable – stain and scratch resistant, less porous than marble, and has a higher heat resistance than quartz. It’s recommended to seal your granite counter top every 1-3 years, which is less maintenance than other natural stones.
Quartz seems to be our go-to material these days. Not to be confused with quartzite, quartz is a manmade material engineered out of ground quartz (the natural stuff, resins, polymers, and pigments. This mixture delivers a hard, granite-like surface coming in all different colors and patterns. Quartz is ideal for any surface in your home – kitchens, bathrooms, tub surrounds, outdoor bars, you name it! It’s long lasting, requires little maintenance (no need to seal every year), is stain and scratch resistant, not porous, and has a higher heat resistance than most other counter top material (although we never recommend putting a hot pot straight on the counter regardless). Some of the disadvantages to quartz are it doesn’t have as high of a heat resistance compared to granite, and it can’t duplicate the look of real stone (but has come a long way!). Quartz price point varies by brand, manufacturer, and style but is typically a little more expensive than granite
One word – gorgeous. Marble is a sought after material because of it’s beautiful veining and color. Fun fact: marble is geologically categorized as recrystallized limestone. It is a calcium based sedimentary and metamorphic stone. Being a natural stone it is on the pricier end of counter top material and requires a lot more maintenance than granite or quartz. It is sensitive to acidic foods and cleaners so you’ll need to pay extra attention to what you put on your counters (there are specific cleaners recommended for marble). To prevent staining it is recommended you seal your marble once a year. Kitchens and bathrooms are among the most popular applications for marble despite it’s high maintenance attributes.
Another beautiful natural material is quartzite. Unlike marble, it is very durable and has high resistance to heat, scratching, and staining. It’s not as high maintenance as marble and is recommended to be resealed bi annually. Because of it’s beauty and durability, quartzite also comes with a higher price tag.
A non-stone alternative to counter tops is butcher block. It is also one of the least expensive counter top applications, a step up from laminate. Butcher block is stripes of wood bonded together – maple is the most common wood species however oak, cherry, walnut, and teak are also used. You will see butcher block mostly used as an accent counter or work surface. It is the only counter top surface you can cut on without having to grab a cutting board. You do have to be mindful of cleaning it after every use because wood is very porous and holds onto germs. Sealing is recommended to protect it from liquid and other spills.
Now that you have a better grasp on the different kinds of counter top materials we commonly use in our projects, here’s a little questionnaire to help you narrow down which counter top is best for you:
1. Is durability important to you? If yes, quartz, quartzite, and granite are good options
2. Is having a counter top that’s low maintenance important to you? If yes, marble is not recommended
3. Are you on a tighter budget? If yes, a lower priced quartz, granite, or butcher block is recommended
4. Do you prefer simple, solid colored counter tops or busier, multi-colored counter tops? Both quartz and granite have options for plain or busy material so either would work in your favor. Marble and quartzite typically have more variation in terms of color and pattern.
Choosing a counter top can be overwhelming at times so I hope this guide has brought you at ease! If you have any questions or want to let us know what you think – don’t hesitate to comment below!