If you're designing a home or renovation, you probably want to know what types of countertop materials are available for home use. We've researched a comprehensive list and gathered information on each kind for you in this handy post.
Common types of countertops and materials are as follows:
- Granite countertops
- Quartz countertops
- Marble countertops
- Laminate countertops
- Solid surface countertops
- Butcher block countertops
- Tile countertops
- Stainless steel countertops
- Concrete countertops
- Recycled glass countertops
- Resin countertops
- Soapstone countertops
- Corian countertops
- Copper countertops
Keep reading as we look at each material and discuss its looks, price, durability, ease of cleaning, popularity, and pros and cons. By the time you finish reading, you should have a clear understanding of what to expect with each type.
Types Of Countertop Materials
Let's go through this list of fourteen materials, one by one. Hopefully, you'll gain a better understanding of which countertop material is the best for your application.
1. Granite Countertops
Granite is by far one of the most popular countertop materials on the market today. This natural stone comes in a variety of colors and patterns that work with many home interiors. It holds up very well to constant use. Hot pans and pots won't burn it, and for the most part, you won't get stains. It does eventually need some maintenance (see our post here: Do Granite Countertops Need To Be Sealed [And How To Do That]), but it's relatively minimal over the life of the countertop.
In a nutshell, the pros of granite are its durability, beauty, and easy-care nature. Cons are the cost (it can range from $40-$60 per square foot) and that it will need some eventual maintenance to keep it shining and beautiful.
2. Quartz Countertops
In recent years, engineered quartz has grown more popular with homeowners. Quartz countertops are not solid stone like granite but are a composite of Quartz dust and resin. Quartz is extremely durable and available in many colors and patterns. The designs often emulate the look of real stone. On average, it costs roughly $50-$75 per square foot. Like granite, it's easy to clean.
In a nutshell, the pros of quartz are its durability and ease of care. It is beautiful and has a long-lasting finish. (For more on this, please check out our link here: Do Quartz Countertops Stain? [And how to keep them clean]) Cons boil down to the cost. It's more expensive than almost everything but marble.
3. Marble Countertops
Marble, like granite, is a natural stone countertop. It is relatively popular but not seen in most builder-grade homes. When we think of marble, we think of rich, luxurious interiors that spare no expense or detail. That said, marble is expensive as a countertop material. The cost of marble ranges from $50-$125 per square foot. It is also reasonably porous and affected by spills, especially of acidic materials like tomato or lemon juices. (Please check out our link here: How To Clean Marble Countertops?)
When we consider the pros and cons of marble countertops, a couple of thoughts come to mind. The pros are its beauty and implied value within the home. It is sturdy, and if taken care of properly, will hold up well. Cons to marble are the overall cost of material and installation, and a predisposition to stain or etch when exposed to acidic liquids.
4. Laminate Countertops
Laminate countertops were once the most popular material in household countertops. They've gone out of style as natural stone has grown in popularity and desire. That being said, laminate countertops are incredibly cost-effective and available in solid colors, stone designs, and designs that look like real wood. On average, a laminate countertop costs between $27 to $34 per square foot. It is easy to clean; however, it can burn if hot pots are set directly on its surface. It can also chip at the edges if the glue starts to age.
The pro for laminate countertops is the cost and easiness of cleaning. Cons are its overall durability and perceived value for resale. Nowadays, most house hunters look for real stone or engineered stone in kitchens and bathrooms.
5. Solid Surface Countertops
Solid surface countertops were introduced as a mid-range cost alternative to natural stone for buyers who wanted an upgrade from laminate countertops. This durable countertop is by far the most popular material for builder-grade homes. It has a nice visual look to it and is more durable than a laminate countertop. It ranges from $37-$67. The finish is non-porous like quartz, but it is slightly more vulnerable to stains and scratching.
The pros of this material lie in its cost. It's a great alternative to stone if you need something more cost-effective, yet it's still more than laminate. Cons include its looks. It has less depth in appearance than stone.
6. Butcher Block Countertops
Butcher block countertops are perfect for people who love the warmth of wood. Available in natural or dark-toned woods, these thick slabs of hardwood have been around for many years. Quality butcher block is expensive, though. A solid slab can cost anywhere from $75 to $150 per square foot.
Because it requires some TLC to keep it looking beautiful, it's not a material for everyone. Because it's wood, a hot pot or pan can leave char marks on its surface. Water may damage the surface of the butcher block if seasoned improperly. (More on Butcher Block here: How Much Do Butcher Block Countertops Cost? [By size, type, grain, and brand])
When thinking about the pros and cons, for us, the pro is the butcher block's appearance. There's nothing that can replicate the warmth and hominess of solid wood. Cons are the cost, as it's more expensive than some granites, and care. Butcher block needs regular seasoning to keep it impermeable.
7. Tile Countertops
Tile counters are a super choice if you want something sturdier than laminate but can't afford solid surface or stone countertops. It's also a DIY'ers dream upgrade. Because the surface area of countertops is relatively small, it's possible to find gorgeous tiles at low costs in the bargain rooms of many tile stores. The cost of tile countertops is reasonable, with average prices running between $10 to $15 per square foot installed.
Though tile countertops are not as popular as solid surface countertops, they do serve their purpose. If you end up with a chip or a crack, it's much easier to replace a single tile than an entire surface. You have wide varieties of color and style to choose from, and for the most part, they are easy to clean. The cons are that people have "love it or leave it" opinions about tile, which could hurt you at resale time. The grout lines also require some maintenance to keep clean and sealed.
8. Stainless Steel Countertops
Stainless steel countertops are an emerging trend in the residential sector. They've been used in commercial kitchens for years because of their durability and imperviousness to heat and stains. Expect to pay anywhere from $75-$150 per square foot for stainless, which makes it more expensive than laminate and solid surface countertops, but less costly than many natural stones.
The pros of stainless steel countertops are their durability and cleanliness. You'll find cons in their appearance over time. Stainless steel gets small dents and dings if heavy objects drop on it. It's also challenging to keep fingerprint smudges cleaned off the surface.
9. Concrete Countertops
Poured concrete countertops have grown in popularity over the last ten years; however, they are not as utilized as some of the other materials we've researched. Usually, these countertops are built on-site, though occasionally they may be poured off-site and brought in for installation. They are highly customizable in both style and function and incredibly durable. The cost for this type of countertops will run in the $65-$135 per square foot range. For concrete, the price is not so much the material, but the custom quality of the installation.
Pros are their durability and customizable quality. The cons are cost and maintenance. You'll need a regular schedule of reapplying sealer and waxer to keep your countertops in the best shape.
10. Recycled Glass Countertops
This is a relatively new member of the countertop family. Recycled glass from old bottles and demolished buildings is mixed with resin and binders to create slabs that resemble terrazzo. It has a distinct, colorful look that isn't found in any other material currently on the market. It is quite expensive and runs from $50-$80 per square foot, which is as costly as granite. Unlike granite, it has more of a propensity for chipping because of the glass shards embedded at the surface level.
When we look at the pros and cons of this material, it seems pretty straightforward. The pros are its appearance. Glass countertops are unique, colorful, and contemporary looking. Sadly, the con list is more considerable. The price is relatively high. It has a tendency to chip when something heavy hits against it, which means it's not an ideal choice for a kitchen when compared to other materials.
11. Resin Countertops
Resin countertops are made using a form and a pourable epoxy resin. Various kits are available for DIY'ers to create their own marble-looking resin countertops. You can add additives to create shimmer and jewel-tones as well. (see our link here: Are Epoxy Countertops Heat Resistant?) The cost for resin countertops can vary widely, but if you have one professionally made, they will cost between $30-$65 per square foot. They are not a widely known countertop material, but with more influence given to it among the DIY community, the more it will grow in popularity.
The biggest con with resin countertops is the inconsistency of quality. As more manufacturers turn to this durable and easy to clean material, we may see a more significant impact of resins on the market.
12. Soapstone Countertops
Soapstone countertops are made from beautiful natural soapstone. Typically dark in color, these elegant countertops are made to last. It is quarried in smaller pieces than granite or marble, so unless you have a countertop under 7' in length, there will be seam lines where pieces come together. It's heat-resistant and non-staining, and unlike marble, it will stand up to acidic liquids.
Other pros for soapstone is it requires very little maintenance. It is a bit pricey with installed rates ranging from $60-$105 per square foot. And unlike it's harder cousins, granite and marble, it is prone to nicking and scratches.
13. Corian Countertops
Corian countertops are essentially a solid surface countertop. This brand-name is perhaps the best known of the solid surface countertops. It's reasonably priced and creates a seamless solid look with a slightly smaller price tag than that of stone. The best thing about Corian is its anti-bacterial and won't grow fungus, mildew, or mold. This is a fantastic thing in moist environments like kitchens and bathrooms. Because it's non-porous, it's also resistant to staining. Corian is not super cheap, and depending upon which style you choose, it can run from $40 per square foot up to about $100 per square foot installed.
The biggest pro for us is the ease of cleaning and stain resistance and durability. The biggest con is that for the cost, you might choose to go with stone.
14. Copper Countertops
This unusual countertop choice is not for everyone but is super unique and rich in appearance. Copper countertops are what's known as a "living" countertop. Because of the metal's reactivity, it will form a patina and discolor over time. You can seal the copper with beeswax, but it needs to be resealed relatively frequently to keep the copper from changing color as quickly. Copper is an expensive material, and countertops out of it can cost somewhere between $100-$175 per square foot.
The cons of this material are its changeability in appearance and cost. But the pros are having a countertop material that is truly unique and interesting.
We hope that you can parse out the information you need as you choose the right countertop for your application. Whether you go for the glamour of marble or the simplicity of the laminate, you can feel good knowing there is an option for your home out there.