To make a kitchen a welcoming and functional space consider the two main elements of a kitchen: kitchen cabinets and kitchen countertops.

Kitchen cabinets can set the tone and the feel of your kitchen overall design, and you don’t always have to buy new cabinets to transform your kitchen and give it a new look. However, the one feature that can instantly enhance a kitchen, even if it is the only feature that is being remodeled or upgraded, is the kitchen countertop.

Kitchen countertops are the focal point of every kitchen, and installing new kitchen countertops can be very expensive. It is important to select the right countertops for you. There are several options available, but the top choices are listed below.

Kitchen Countertops - Top Choices

Kitchen Countertops
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Granite

Granite
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Kitchen countertops made of granite are elegant and efficient. Granite is one of the more expensive options, but they maintain their value over the years, and are not as expensive now as they were when they first came on the market.

Maintenance

Granite renowned for its strength, durability, and heat resistance. Granite countertops add instant value to your home, and require very little maintenance when treated with the newer sealers. These sealers are important because the stone is porous and can stain.

Installation

The granite slabs that are used to create your kitchen countertops may have a few natural imperfections, and can crack if stressed or if they have not been properly installed. So, installing granite countertops is not a DIY project. A reputable dealer can ensure that the slab you choose out of the 1,000s of options, is the right one for you.

Solid Surface and Quartz Countertops

Solid Surface and Quartz Countertops
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Solid surface countertops are renewable and repairable options that are durable and require little maintenance. Many are made with acrylic, polyester, or both. Quartz countertops are made up of 93 percent quartz particles and other minerals. These materials are bound and shaped into slabs that are resistant to heat, stains, and scratches.

Maintenance

These kitchen countertops do not require annual sealants, and come in a wide range of colors. Solid surface countertops are an alternative to granite and marble, and can be custom made to replicate your favorite granite or marble slabs, without the natural flaws found in those materials. Even sinks can be seamlessly integrated into the countertop's design.

Installation

The solid surface countertops are heavy, but DIY installation is possible. However, they are still an expensive option.

Laminate

Laminate
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Kitchen countertops made of a plastic-coated synthetic material, and are smooth and easy to clean. Laminate countertops were the primary material used for many years, because they are very affordable, but they slowly become less popular over the years. However, the increased popularity in retro and mid-century designs has led to an increased use in laminate countertops.

Maintenance and Installation

Laminate countertops are easy to install and can be a DIY project. They are inexpensive, easy to maintain, and they come in 1,000s of colors, patterns, and styles. Unfortunately, the seams are visible, and damage cannot be repaired. These kitchen countertops can be scratched, easily chipped, and they are not heat resistant. They do not increase the resale value of your home, and potential buyers may even require an upgrade to the countertops as a condition for purchasing the home.

Soapstone

Soapstone
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Soapstone is a natural stone, like granite, that is often found in remodeled historic homes. This is due to its striking color and smooth, silky feel. They are an excellent alternative to granite; strong, durable, and somewhat resistant to stains.

Maintenance and Installation

Most soapstone countertops are dark in color and need to be treated with mineral oil. Like granite, soapstone needs to be installed by a professional. Scratches can become visible over time, but damage can be sanded out, and the scratches can enhance the antique look and patina that develops; adding to the beauty and sophistication of the soapstone.  

Marble

Marble
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The perfect kitchen countertop for anyone who loves to bake, is marble. Marble is very expensive, but every piece is unique. Due to the high cost of these kitchen countertops, it is rarely used for the entire kitchen. Marble is usually reserved for baking centers and islands. This use of marble for your kitchen countertops can make for a dramatic and luxurious kitchen.

Maintenance and Installation

Despite the cost, it is one of the best choices for your kitchen. It is porous and stains easily, but newer sealers can reduce the maintenance and upkeep of a marble countertop. Marble is waterproof and heat resistant. However, the countertops can be scratched and repairs are difficult, so it is important to take care of your marble countertops and have them installed by a professional. Despite the upkeep, marble instantly adds value to your home.

Ceramic Tile

Ceramic Tile
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Kitchen countertops made of ceramic tile can be beautiful. They do not add value to your home, because they do not carry the prestige of other stones, but the new options allow you to be creative. Your options are endless, with tiles that look like wood, to tiles that look like leather.

Maintenance and Installation

Ceramic tile countertops can also be an affordable and fun DIY project. The tiles are durable and easy to clean, and they are resistant to heat. Grout lines can be a challenge to clean, and the tiles can crack with from different impacts, but this style is an affordable option that allows you to customize the look and feel of your kitchen counters. Though, if you choose to use a professional or utilize custom tiles for your kitchen countertops, the price increases significantly.

Wood

Wood
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Wood countertops can add a warmth and beauty to your kitchen, and are in the mid-to high range when it comes to cost. Wood countertops come in a wide range of colors and finishes that are very durable when they have been maintained properly.

Maintenance and Installation

Unfortunately, wood countertops require a lot of maintenance. If wood countertops are not properly oiled and sealed frequently, they can be damaged by water and stains, they can begin to crack, and dust and bacteria can accumulate. Wood countertops are easily scratched and cut, but they also can be sanded and resealed. Despite the maintenance, they are a must have kitchen countertop in every country kitchen design and can be a DIY project.

Concrete

Concrete
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Concrete kitchen countertops are emerging as an option that truly allows you to customize your countertops. They are highly polished and unique countertops that can feel industrial, but with the different options available, they can also be very modern and elegant.

Maintenance and Installation

Concrete kitchen countertops are heat and scratch resistant, durable, and sturdy. The concrete is poured, cast, and formed in your kitchen, so the job can be customized to meet your specific requirements and include decorative textures and colors. This is reflected in the price; concrete countertops are very expensive and require professional installation. New treatments and additives are being used to reduce cracking and to reduce the porousness of the material, but the surface still needs to be sealed regularly.

Stainless Steel

Stainless Steel
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Stainless steel countertops are kitchen countertops with a seamless industrial look. They are heat resistant and can be constructed to your exact specifications. Stainless steel kitchen countertops are a high-end choice, so they add real estate value to your home, and they are the perfect choice for modern kitchens.

Maintenance and Insulation

They don’t have the maintenance of granite or marble, but they can be easily scratched, so cutting should be done on a cutting board. They are also expensive, but they are the easiest to clean out of all the choices.

Travertine (Slab and Tiled)

Travertine
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Travertine is in the limestone family, with beautiful earthy colors. The kitchen countertops can be installed with travertine slabs or using travertine tiles. The slab countertops are more expensive, but have fewer grout lines where dust and bacteria can grow. Both options create stylish and durable kitchen countertops.

 Choosing to have polished travertine will give your countertops a reflective quality that makes the kitchen feel welcoming and bright. While the beautiful veins within the travertine and the irregular cavities, that are filled with resin and grout before installation, create beautiful kitchen countertops that can resemble marble.

Maintenance

Travertine is a porous natural stone, so it is reactive to acidic liquids like lemon juice and wine, and will require sealing the stone regularly. The countertops will not be heat resistant, so hot pots and pans should not be placed directly on the stone.

Installation

The installation depends on whether you select a travertine slab or tiles. Both can be DIY projects.

Conclusion

The many options listed above allow you to design the kitchen of your dreams. The possibilities are endless, so take the time to choose the countertops that reflect your personal preferences and needs. Each style allows for customization. For example, you could have a traditional country kitchen with wood countertops, or stainless steel for a modern twist. Remember, the countertops you choose can impact your home’s resale value.

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