Kitchen countertops are an indispensible main feature of any modern kitchen, providing the space you need for food preparation. When it comes to countertops, there’s a surprisingly wide variety of materials you’ll be able to choose from. Different materials have different properties, varying in the color range available, their resistance to staining and scratching, and other qualities that might make a certain type the best choice for your unique lifestyle, design taste, and cooking habits. There are several categories of countertop materials available, including natural stone, tile, and a variety of synthetic materials, all of which have unique benefits and decorative potential that are not only practical, but can provide a major design element within your kitchen decor.
Natural Stone Countertops
Natural stone is one of the most popular and well-loved materials for constructing kitchen countertops. Slabs of natural stone have their own unique beauty that can help lend your kitchen an element of refined, traditional elegance. Several types of stone are commonly used for countertops.
- Marble has been used since ancient times, renowned for its unique beauty. Marble countertops are widely considered to be some of the most beautiful, although they can be rather expensive compared to other materials. If you decide on marble for your kitchen counters, you’ll be able to choose from different colors, which vary depending on where the marble originated.
- Granite is another popular natural stone for countertops. Not only is it beautiful to look at, variable in grains and colors, but it’s incredibly hard and resistant to scratching and damage. It’s often less pricey than marble, although still conferring a similarly beautiful natural look. It’s also harder and less prone to scratching than marble.
- Soapstone is so durable and stain-resistant that it’s used in laboratories. Unlike marble and granite, which have unique streaks and strains that lend a more mottled appearance, soapstone is more smooth and uniform. It’s also very smooth to the touch, which is where it gets its name. It’s also resistant to acids like lemon juice and vinegar, which can sometimes damage other types of stone.
- Limestone is geologically similar to marble, and is becoming increasingly popular as a countertop material. It’s usually found in colors ranging from white to sandy tan hues, and it’s quite sturdy and heat-resistant. It looks especially striking in kitchens that feature stainless steel appliances.
Synthetic Countertop Materials
In addition to several varieties of natural stone, there are several kinds of man-made materials that make excellent and visually appealing countertops. Synthetic materials tend to be quite sturdy, durable, and stain-resistant, making them a great choice for use in a kitchen.
- Engineered quartz is a versatile, man-made alternative to natural stone slabs. It’s created from a combination of quartz chips, pigments, and resin. One benefit is that it can be made in a very wide variety of colors, including colors that might not be available for natural stone. It’s tough and non-porous, as well as notably eco-friendly.
- Recycled paper is another “green” countertop option. You may be surprised that a countertop could be made from paper, but this material is surprisingly durable. The paper is blended with resins, and colored with pigments.
- Recycled glass and cement countertops are rather expensive, but can be very visually interesting. As far as color and appearance, they’re one of the most customizable countertop options.
- Concrete countertops can be colored with stains, dyes, and pigments for an almost endless variety of customizable colors, making them an excellent choice for colorful modern kitchens.
- Solid-surface counters are made from a unique synthetic polymer that can emulate the look of many other materials.
- Plastic laminate is one of the most cost-effective countertop options, and comes in many colors and patterns. Laminate can be used as a less expensive alternative for mimicking the appearance of materials like wood butcherboard or natural stone.
Metal countertops look fantastic in a sleek contemporary kitchen, as well as being a favorite among professional chefs.
- Stainless steel is popular not only for its attractive, modern aesthetic, but also for its superior durability and stain resistance.
- Copper takes on a unique patina as it ages, giving it a unique look that lends an individual flair to your kitchen.
- Zinc is a metal known for its naturally antimicrobial properties. It has a darker, warmer color and appearance than stainless steel, and like copper, it will darken with age.
Other Countertop Materials
- Tile, available in stone, ceramic, or glass, is a uniquely versatile and customizable option. With tile, you can create mosaics and other unique elements, as well as incorporating a coordinated backsplash.
- Wood butcherboard has a warm, inviting appearance that can compliment Swedish kitchen design, as well as country and traditional decor schemes.
Whichever type of countertop you choose, you’ll want to consider both your aesthetic tastes and your practical needs— such as stain resistance or durability— to pick the material for beautiful customized countertops that you’ll absolutely love.