If you asked the average homeowner what their ideal kitchen countertop would be, most would probably say, “granite.” Although granite countertops are attractive and durable, there’s a whole world of alternatives worth considering, which begs the question, “What is the best material for kitchen countertops?”

The answer depends on several factors. To help you make the right choice, Kitchens By Woody’s, West Virginia’s reliable kitchen remodel experts, highlights some of the most popular options and why they’re worth considering. 

What To Consider When Selecting Countertops 

Most homeowners choose countertops for their appearance and price, considering how they will complement their cabinets. While selecting a material that fits your budget, looks great, and matches the overall aesthetic of the space is definitely a priority, it’s important to also consider the compatibility with MDF cabinets for the kitchen. In fact, looking at these characteristics could lead you to a different conclusion when you ask, “What is the best material for kitchen countertops?”

While exploring the options, ask yourself:

  • Am I willing or able to perform the required maintenance to keep the counters looking great?
  • How do I use the kitchen? Serious chefs or bakers might prefer different surfaces than a casual cook.
  • How long will the countertop last?
  • Do I want an eco-friendly option?
  • How resistant to scratching and staining is the countertop?

Taking the time to think about your specific needs, as well as aesthetics, will help guide you to the perfect countertop material.  

Exploring Kitchen Countertop Options 

How can you make your kitchen look better and increase its functionality? Choosing one of the following countertop options is an excellent place to start. 

Granite 

Granite, the holy grail of countertops for many homebuyers, offers several advantages. The unique colors and patterns guarantee a one-of-a-kind countertop, and you can choose the exact slab you want for your home. It’s also extremely durable, offering unbeatable abrasion and heat resistance.

On the downside, granite is a porous material and requires sealing every few years to keep it in good condition. Using gentle cleaners designed for granite is a must since harsh or acidic products can cause etching.

Quartz 

Quartz is an increasingly popular alternative to granite. Although it’s one of the most expensive options, it’s also the most durable and easy to maintain. Unlike granite, quartz never needs sealing.

Quartz is a mix of natural stone powder, pigments, and synthetic resin. It has a natural stone look but is entirely impervious to water and resists stains, mold, and mildew. However, It is vulnerable to scratches and heat damage and can fade in sunlight. That said, for overall longevity and durability, it’s hard to beat quartz. 

Soapstone 

Natural soapstone is a great choice when you want a unique countertop that looks better with age. Soapstone’s soft texture comes from its high percentage of talc, but the surface is impervious to heat and bacteria. Over time, the surface oxidizes to give the counters a lustrous patina and antiqued appearance; applying mineral oil to the counters can help enhance the look. 

Because soapstone is a nonporous material, it offers unbeatable stain resistance. However, it is vulnerable to scratches and abrasions, but many homeowners consider the wear part of the material’s natural charm.

Laminate 

Laminate is the most affordable kitchen countertop material. It’s a waterproof and easy-to-clean option made from a particle board core with a melamine resin and fiber coating. It’s also versatile since it’s possible to print any design or pattern onto the surface, including marble, natural stone, and wood.

Although laminate countertop technology means these counters are more durable than ever, they are not resistant to heat or scratches, so you can’t put a hot pan down on the counter without scorching it, and knives will damage the surface. Laminate countertops can also chip or crack with heavy impacts.

Marble 

Long associated with luxury, marble countertops are ideal for high-end kitchens thanks to their unique color patterns and exceptional hardness. It’s the most expensive option and one of the most temperamental. Despite offering exceptional heat resistance, it’s a porous material that will easily stain and is vulnerable to scratches. 

Marble requires annual sealing, and cleaning up spills immediately is imperative to avoid damage. Avid bakers often choose marble or incorporate a marble slab with other materials because it remains at a consistently cold temperature that’s ideal for working with pastries.

Stainless Steel

What is the best material for kitchen countertops in a modern or industrial-style kitchen? Stainless steel is by far the most popular choice. The nonporous material resists mold and mildew and is heat resistant. 

Stainless steel countertops can dent or scratch easily and will show water spots and fingerprints. Still, it’s perfect for serious home chefs needing a durable, low-maintenance workspace.

Wood

Wood, or butcher block, counters are popular in rustic or farmhouse-style kitchens where the natural imperfections that develop over time add to the charm. Wood counters are naturally antibacterial and heat resistant, but some types of wood require oiling or sealing to resist stains. 

Although wood counters will show wear and tear from knives if you don’t use a cutting board, it’s possible to sand and refinish the surface to restore the finish. It’s important to clean up spills quickly, too, as the moisture can damage the finish.

Concrete

Concrete countertops are increasingly popular thanks to their versatility and durability. You can choose the precise color, shape, and texture you want for a completely custom look. Most builders use reinforced concrete, which helps prevent cracks, so the countertops look great for decades. 

The drawback to concrete is that it’s very susceptible to staining, and you’ll need to apply sealant and wax regularly to protect the finish. The price is about the same as granite or quartz, but concrete countertops take significantly longer to install. 

Summary 

Updating your kitchen requires a lot of careful thought. Choosing the countertops is one of the most important decisions you’ll make in a kitchen remodeling project. Do your homework and explore all the options to determine your answer to, “What is the best material for kitchen countertops?” based on your budget, design style, cooking habits, and willingness to take on maintenance tasks. This way, you can narrow down your options to find the best one for your needs.

To learn more and get answers to all your questions and more information about granite, quartz, and marble countertop maintenance, get in touch with Kitchens By Woody’s to explore our vast selection of countertop materials. Our award-winning remodeling services can help turn your kitchen into the showplace of your dreams. Give us a call at (304) 814-2268 to discuss your project and learn more today. 

Frequently Asked Questions 

What is the easiest countertop to maintain?

Manufactured materials like laminate and stainless steel countertops require the least amount of maintenance; unlike natural stone and quartz, they don’t need sealing.

What is the most durable kitchen countertop material?

Quartz is the most durable kitchen surface material. The blend of synthetic and natural material is stain-, bacteria-, and heat-resistant and holds up under normal kitchen wear and tear for years. 

What are the biggest countertop trends for 2024? 

Mixed-material countertops, like wood with stainless steel or stone, matte countertops, and nature-inspired elements like warm undertones and texture top the list of countertop trends designers predict for 2024.

What is the best material for kitchen countertops in an outdoor kitchen?

Natural stone, concrete, or tile countertops are the best choices for outdoor kitchens, as they resist fading, stains, odors, mold, and mildew.