The Pros and Cons of Different Kitchen Countertops
Which Countertop is Right for Your Kitchen?
When doing kitchen renovations or buying a new home, one of the biggest decisions you will need to make is choosing your kitchen countertops. Because the countertop is so highly visible and highly used, it’s important to choose something you’ll love for many years to come. You’ll want your kitchen countertop to be durable, easy to clean, stain-resistant and of course, good looking. There are a multitude of kitchen countertop materials to consider depending on your needs, preferences and budget.
What Questions Should I Ask Myself When Choosing a New Kitchen Countertop?
To ensure you are choosing the correct countertop for your home and family, consider these questions when doing your research and looking at different designs. HGTV has a great slideshow with some gorgeous kitchen countertop design and material inspiration.
What is my budget? Plan to spend around 10-15% of your total kitchen budget on the countertops.
What do I primarily use my countertops for? Counters can be used for meal preparation, for baking (rolling out doughs, kneading bread) as a hot pad, as a dining table, as a desk, as a gathering spot. Knowing your main uses will help you choose a material that best stands up to them. Many homeowners choose a different material for their kitchen island countertop, knowing that they’ll be using it for a variety of different purposes.
How much maintenance am I prepared to do? Some materials require special cleaners or treatments every few months or years. Butcher block countertops need to be oiled and concrete countertops need to be sealed. It’s really important to know how to best care for your countertops, since pits and chips can trap food particles and harbour bacteria - definitely not something you want in your food-prep area.
What’s my style preference, and will I still like and want it in 10 or 20 years time? If your custom home is your forever home, make sure you LOVE the colour, pattern and material of your countertops. There is such a wide variety of colours and patterns out there, whether you prefer a marble with subtle veining, or a solid colour formica, the sky is the limit for your countertops. You can also choose the edge profile that calls to you. In the Mayneview House, the homeowners chose a classic stone countertop with beveled edges. In the Inwood Farmhouse, the homeowners chose a waterfall profile for their kitchen island.
What Qualities Does a Good Countertop Have?
Ideally the countertop you choose will be:
Durable – won't chip or break easily
Easy to maintain and clean
The Pros and Cons of the 12 Most Commonly Used Countertop Types
Quartz Countertop (Engineered Stone): A man-made material that mimics natural stone. Made with a composite of minerals and resin, engineered stone comes in a large variety of colours.
Pros: Very durable, resists scratching, dents, heat and stains. Low maintenance.
Cons: Expensive, heavy – may require additional support, has visible seams, can chip.
Granite Countertop: A highly desirable natural stone with a higher price tag. Each slab has unique colouration and patterning.
Pros: High-end look, resists heat, scratches and cuts, easy to clean and adds value.
Cons: Edges can chip, needs periodic sealing to help with stain resistance. Heavy.
Concrete Countertop: Mixed with colour then poured and sealed, concrete gives an industrial finish.
Pros: Customizable, very durable, long-lasting, non-porous, scratch and stain-resistant.
Cons: Regular sealing required to maintain water and stain resistance.
Butcher Block Countertop: Strips of hardwood glued together side by side or on end to create an attractive rustic countertop.
Pros: Warm, natural look. Environmentally friendly when made from reused wood, can be sanded for easy scratch repair.
Cons: Requires regular treatments with oil, stains easily, susceptible to heat and water damage.
Laminate Countertop: Made of particleboard covered in a laminated coating. Comes in a large variety of colour and style options.
Pros: Inexpensive, stain-resistant, minimal maintenance. Light and easy to install.
Cons: Can be damaged by cutting and abrasive cleaners. Can be damaged by high heat. Seams will be visible.
Marble Countertop: A luxurious-looking natural stone with unique pigments and veins of colour.
Pros: Popular with bakers as it stays naturally cool. Sustainable, durable and heat resistant.
Cons: Can chip and scratch easily. Very porous, needs to be regularly re-sealed to prevent staining. Heavy, needs additional support.
Recycled Glass Countertop: Ground and chipped glass held together in a resin binding. This type of countertop is an eco-friendly option because materials are recycled.
Pros: Unique, attractive style, very tough, won’t scratch or stain. Easy to clean and maintain.
Cons: Expensive, susceptible to chips and cracks.
Soapstone Countertop: A dark natural stone with a soft, soapy, surface feel. Usually has pale veins running through.
Pros: Resistant to cracks, non-porous so unlikely to stain, no sealing required, easy to clean.
Cons: Can chip and scratch easier than other stone, although it can be sanded and resealed with oil. Heavy to install. Colour darkens over time.
Stainless Steel Countertop: Commonly used in professional kitchens due to its durability and resistance to bacterial growth.
Pros: Durable, heat, stain and scratch-resistant, can handle a lot of use.
Cons: Shows grease marks and fingerprints, can be damaged by bleach, loud if utensils/dishes are dropped on it. Can be susceptible to dents.
Solid Surface Countertop (Corian, Formica): A man-made material from a blend of polyester and acrylic that mimics the look of natural stone.
Pros: Wide choice of colours and patterns. Inexpensive compared to natural stone. Very low maintenance and stain resistant. Doesn’t need to be sealed.
Cons: Can be damaged by direct heat. Can dent and scratch easily although this is repairable.
Tile Countertop: Individual ceramic tiles applied to hardwood or laminate base and grouted into place.
Pros: Unlimited style and colour options, ceramic is heat and stain resistant and cheap to install and maintain since individual tiles can be replaced if damaged.
Cons: Creates an uneven work surface, tiles crack and chip easily and can become dull over time. Grout can be hard to keep clean.
Tips and Ideas for Choosing a Kitchen Countertop
Consider these suggestions to help you pick the perfect countertop.
Mix and match: Use two contrasting materials, such as quartz and butcher block, for a practical and eye-catching design.
Address specific needs: For instance, if you love baking why not add a cool marble slab?
Consider the added value. Choosing a high-end material with mass appeal will add value to your home on resale.
Is longevity important? Are you choosing a countertop you hope will last a long time, or are you likely to redesign in 5 years? If you are building a rental property, you may want a lower maintenance, lower-cost option.
White Wolf Homes Are Experts in Kitchen Design
When our designers at White Wolf Homes create a kitchen, they want the countertop to be not only an eye-catching centrepiece to the kitchen but also practical and hardwearing. The right countertop should add value and appeal to a home and be somewhere you are proud to have friends and family gather around.
Based in Victoria BC and serving the capital area, White Wolf Homes builds beautiful, modern family homes. For some examples of kitchens White Wolf has incorporated into our builds, view our recent projects.
Contact us today for a complimentary consultation or more information on our latest builds.