One misconception we often see while providing kitchen counter replacement estimates is the fact that most people think their only option for kitchen counters is granite, granite is great. We agree too, though granite is the most widely used counter option in kitchens and bathrooms for several years now, due to its durability, longevity, and appeal, it’s still expensive. Additionally, it’s very heavy thus requiring reinforced cabinets and requires constant upkeep.
Here are the most popular countertop material options:
- Soap Stone
- Engineered Quartz
There is a wide variety of kitchen counter options available and overtime the trends are slowly pushing towards these as viable cost, durability, design, and aesthetic appeal. If you’re in the market for a kitchen counter replacement project, you may find that one of these great surfaces is just what you need.
Pros: Granite’s beautiful mottling and the host of colors and patterns found in nature make each piece one of a kind. It stands up well to splashes, knife nicks, heat, and other wear and tear.
Cons: Like most stone, granite must be sealed every so often to avoid stains. And its heaviness means you’ll need very sturdy cabinet boxes to support the weight.
Cost: $35 to $100 per square foot, installed
Pros: Nothing beats marble for sheer elegance. It stands up to heat well, and because it remains perennially cool, it’s a traditional choice for pastry and baking stations (read: Dough won’t get too soft).
Cons: Marble is very susceptible to stains, even with sealing. For that reason, it’s not often used throughout an entire kitchen — most homeowners limit it to one or two small areas. It can also scratch and chip.
Cost: $40 to $100 per square foot, installed
Pros: Many homeowners like butcher block’s warm, natural appearance and variegated wood tones. Although knives scratch it, many people like the shopworn look it develops — after all, it’s what chopping blocks have been made of for years. But you can also sand scratches down with ease.
Cons: Wood swells and contracts with moisture exposure and butcher block is no exception. It harbors bacteria and needs frequent disinfecting. Oiling is a must to fill in scratches and protect the surface.
Cost: $35 to $70 per square foot, installed
Soap Stone Counters
Pros: Soapstone has a natural softness and depth that fits very well with older and cottage-style homes. Although it usually starts out light to medium gray, it darkens with time. (Most people enjoy the acquired patina, but you may consider this a con.)
Cons: Soapstone needs polishing with oil to keep it in top shape. It can crack over time, and it can’t handle knife scratches and nicks as well as some other types of stone. The natural roughness of its surface can scuff glassware and china.
Cost: $70 to $100 per square foot, installed
Engineered Quartz Counters
Pros: Quartz surfacing has the same advantages as solid surfacing with regard to maintenance. As an engineered product, it’s available in a far greater range of colors and patterns than natural stone.
Cons: This material doesn’t have the natural variegation of granite, so it may be evident that it’s an engineered product. It’s relatively pricey, although its durability can make it a worthwhile investment.
Cost: $40 to $90 per square foot, installed
Pros: Concrete is extremely versatile: It can be cast in any shape and custom tinted any shade you wish. You easily can add unique inlays, such as glass fragments, rocks, and shells. Concrete stands up well to heavy use, although it isn’t as heat resistant as some other surfaces.
Cons: Because it’s porous, concrete will stain without frequent sealing. With time and settling, small cracks can develop. The concrete is extremely heavy and will need strong support beneath. Like stainless steel, its custom creation ups the price tag.
Cost: $75 to $125 per square foot, installed
Pros: Lots of color, shape, and texture options, non-porous, heat-resistant. It can be cut in many shapes, forms, and sizes. An elegant reflective appeal enhances the over kitchen lighting and provides a modern looking kitchen.
Cons: Can crack, chip, or break, can’t be repaired, must be replaced, scratches and fingerprints are visible. Requires a sub-counter thus increasing the over cost.
Cost: $60-300/foot, installed
Pros: There’s a reason stainless steel is used in restaurants and other high-traffic kitchens: It’s nearly indestructible, and it resists heat and bacteria. It also provides a very distinctive look that feels appropriate in contemporary and industrial-style kitchens.
Cons: Fingerprints show and must be wiped off frequently, and stainless steel can also dent. It can be loud as pots, pans, and dishware clang against the surface. Chemicals can affect its color and cause unwanted etching. Stainless steel is extremely expensive due to custom fabrication.
Cost: $65 to $125 per square foot, installed
Solid Surfacing Counters (Corian)
Pros: Because solid surfacing is nonporous, it’s virtually maintenance-free — no sealing or special cleaning required. Although it can be susceptible to scratches and burns, those are easy to sand out. Color and pattern options are extensive, and because you’re not trying for the look of a natural material, you can experiment with vibrant hues such as turquoise or tomato red. Seamless installation means there are no cracks to trap dirt and debris.
Cons: Solid surfacing can have a patently artificial look and feel, yet can approach the price of natural stone. As mentioned above, it doesn’t stand up to hot pans or sharp knives as well as other materials.
Cost: $35 to $100 per square foot, installed
Pros: It holds its own against heat and sharp blades, and resists stains. If one or two tiles chip or crack, they’re fairly easy to replace.
Cons: Tile’s uneven surface can make it difficult to balance a cutting board or roll out a pie crust. Unsealed grout is prone to staining; standing moisture can damage it and contribute to bacterial growth.
Cost: $10 to $80 per square foot, installed
Pros: Laminate is one of the most affordable countertop materials, so it’s a good choice if your budget is tight. It’s low maintenance and easy to clean. Its lightweight doesn’t require the support of a thick cabinet base.
Cons: Laminate is prone to scratching, burns, and, in some cases, staining. With wear and moisture exposure, the layers can peel. Because of the raw particle board core, you can’t use laminate with undermount sinks, and it’s also difficult to repair if it gets damaged.
Cost: $10 to $30 per square foot, installed
123 Remodeling is General Contractor serving Chicago, Evanston, Winnetka, Glencoe, Northbrook, and nearby areas. As a full-service design-build remodeler we provide kitchen, bathroom, condo, and basement remodeling and interior design for Chicagoland residents.