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Choosing kitchen countertops. Top kitchen counter finishes review

dark quartz countertop kitchen with tiling backsplash and white cabinets

The kitchen countertop is perhaps one of the most important parts of a kitchen. It affects not just the interior aesthetics but also the functionality and convenience of the space. Choosing the best countertop is challenging because there are a variety of quality countertops to choose from. Moreover, when looking for countertops to buy, you shouldn’t focus on appearance and style alone. You should also consider durability, efficiency, lifespan, and maintenance.

Kitchen-Form

If you don’t know how to choose a countertop, the most ideal way is to start with a standard countertop or a modern countertop for the kitchen. Standard kitchen countertops pretty much work in almost all types of kitchens and offer an adequate and optimized function to a kitchen space. If durability is your priority, the most durable kitchen countertop is quartz. However, if you are currently planning to renovate your kitchen or update your old countertop with a new one, look at kitchens with different countertops and investigate the pros and cons of each material. This way, you’ll be able to choose the most durable kitchen countertops for your home.

This blog talks about how to pick a countertop. We also highlighted the different countertop materials to give you an initial idea of their features, pros and cons, and overall characteristics.

What to look for choosing a kitchen countertop?

luxury kitchen granite countertop and dark cabinets

The secret to purchasing the right countertop lies in what you know. Therefore, before you start your search for the most durable countertop surfaces, you should know what features you are looking for. The best durable countertops have maintenance-free countertop characteristics that make them fit for a particular kitchen. Here are the things you should look out for when buying countertops.

  1. Heat-resistant kitchen countertops

A heat-resistant countertop refers to the type of countertop that can handle high temperatures. Countertops made of natural material are formed under extreme exposure of high temperatures which makes them heat-resistant. Heat-resistant countertops are best for kitchens that is used frequently for cooking heavy meals. Because of this characteristic, you can place hot pots and pans directly into the countertop surface and not worry about marks or stains.

  1. Scratch-resistant countertops

Of course, the material you are buying should be a scratch-resistant countertop. This means that the material quality should be durable. Its edges and corners must not get easily cracked or chipped. If you want your kitchen to look as good as new every single day, make sure you don’t get a scratched countertop - and the easiest way to avoid scratches on your countertop surface is to purchase the most durable one. 

  1. Best stain-resistant countertops

The kitchen is prone to stain marks. It is the place in the house where you can get messy cooking especially if you love to bake and cook heavy meals. Because of these cooking activities, your kitchen can easily get dirty and you can have stain marks everywhere if you are not careful. Stains can be hard to remove especially if you have a white countertop. Therefore, make sure you choose countertops that don’t stain. Countertops with non-porous material or sealed ones are considered stain-resistant.

  1. Kitchen counter texture

Another important thing to consider is the counter texture. Kitchen countertops can be glossy, matte, or rough. Glossy textures or shiny countertops tend to acquire stains and fingerprints easily and can be hard to clean. Countertops with a rough texture, on the other hand, tend to be more resistant to stains and when there are stains, you can easily clean them by scrubbing. When choosing a countertop, make sure that you also know the different ways to maintain or clean it.

  1. Perfect look

A well-chosen countertop draws the eye across the room and add an interesting contrast. There are countless styles for your kitchen countertop and popular colors. A charcoal countertop, for example, works well with both a light-colored or a dark backsplash. White countertop finishes tend to have flecks and grains that lend a neutral appearance. They are also fresh and bring a sense of sophistication to a kitchen.

When looking for a kitchen countertop, consider the surface, color, texture, thickness, edge, and overhang. Even the slightest detail can change the look of your kitchen. Make sure to consider all of these options, as these factors will affect the overall look of the kitchen.

Types of counters

wooden countertop with black stove in contemporary kitchen

There are different types of countertops on purposes. Before you buy, determine first the types of kitchen countertop you are looking for. This will help you narrow down your search. Here are the different types of countertops and their purposes.

  • Cooking countertop

A cooking countertop, also known as a work surface top refers to the countertop in the kitchen that is near the cooking area of the range. The work surface kitchen must be durable and heat-resistant to handle high temperatures and make it convenient for the cook. Countertop cooking is also very common these days as people with modern or contemporary kitchens prefer induction cookers over ranges. Having a heat-resistant countertop will be a great complement to this type of cooker.

  • Kitchen sink countertops

The kitchen countertop with sink as the name implies is the countertop that is installed near the sink. Sinks can be on the kitchen island or on the counter that is against the wall. The countertop around the kitchen sink must be waterproof. Therefore, your countertop can vary depending on the function. For kitchens that are used to heavy cooking, sinks often have a metal kitchen counter. Having this type of counter makes the counter easier to clean and maintain.

  • kitchen island countertops

Another type of countertop is the countertop for the island. The countertop for the kitchen island can be totally different from the countertop against the wall or the countertop below your overhead cabinets. If you are looking for a kitchen island top replacement, go for durable yet aesthetically pleasing countertop materials such as quartz, granite, or marble.

  • Kitchen countertop table

In kitchens, there are kitchen islands that extend to create a table, breakfast bar, or bar top in the kitchen. For kitchen islands like these, the best table top material is wood or butcher block. Other bar countertop materials that are more affordable are laminate, soapstone, and concrete. You can be creative in designing this part of your kitchen so feel free to look for other table top material ideas.

 

Kitchen countertop materials

kitchen island top made of light grained marble with sink

Let’s take an in-depth look at the most popular kitchen countertops and countertops finishes. In this section, we curated the most popular countertops and revealed their features, and characteristics. You’ll be able to compare one with the other and decide which material is best to purchase.

Stone top countertops

Stones for countertops refer to materials to manufacture natural stone countertops. The best stone countertops for the kitchen are granite, marble, quartz, and sandstone. Natural stone for kitchen countertops is perhaps the most popular and commonly-used countertop material. You’ll find them in almost every kitchen. 

However, each natural stone countertop material has distinct differences that is why it is important to know their characteristics to be able to choose the right one. High-end granite countertops are the most sought-after material because of granite countertops durability. Quartz counter tops, on the other hand, is non-porous, highly durable and very easy to maintain whereas marble kitchen countertops are more stylish, and have a luxurious appeal but are porous and tend to be vulnerable to stains. Soapstone kitchen counters are another great alternative if you are looking for natural stone countertops that are more affordable. 

Synthetic countertops types

Synthetic countertops are countertops that are made from man-made materials. They are also known as fake countertop material or artificial countertops. Examples of these are engineered materials with granite-look countertops, laminate marble countertops, or wood laminate countertops, and other composite kitchen countertops. Although this is plastic countertop material, when it comes to durability, cost, and aesthetics, the laminate countertop can also compete with other natural materials. If you are looking for a more affordable alternative, these are your best options.

Wood natural countertops

Wood is another classic countertop material. This material is popular because of its versatility and good aesthetics. A wood counter is also known as a kitchen butcher block countertop. A butcher block countertop can be either made of a maple butcher block countertop or a hardwood countertop. 

One of the most common misconceptions people have about wood block countertops is that they accumulate germs and bacteria because of water or moisture. However, a chopping block countertop can be waterproof as long as it is sealed or coated properly with water-resistant and food-safe mineral oil finishes. If you are aiming for a clean, minimalist, or Scandinavian-inspired kitchen style, go for wood countertop. 

 Countertop choices pros and cons

Here is a countertop material comparison of the advantages and disadvantages of natural stone countertops vs. synthetic countertops.

Natural stone countertops

Pros

Cons

Durable material

Good aesthetic appearance

Has disinfecting qualities

Unique look

Costly

Difficult to restore

Requires high maintenance

Prone to cracks and chipped edges or corners

Synthetic countertops

Pros

Cons

Affordable

Lightweight

Can mimic the look of natural stone

Easy to clean or maintain

Not as strong and durable as natural stone

Vulnerable to heat marks and stains

Prone to damage and scratches

How much do counters cost?

kitchen countertop replacement - lower cabinets without top

The kitchen countertop prices depend on the type of material. The overall cost of updating or installing a custom countertop would depend on the scope of the project, the material is chosen, the and installation process. The least expensive types of countertops are synthetic ones or those that are made of faux materials. Example of cheap countertops is laminate and butcher block.

The most expensive countertop material, on the other hand, are those made of natural stone such as marble not to mention the cost to replace countertops with marble. Expensive countertops also require an expensive installation process. To give you an initial idea of the price countertops kitchen including the installation, it would be around CA $25-$120 per sq foot. One project can cost CA $1900 up to CA $4000 and can increase twice depending on the material and scope of work.

FAQs

Article by:

Valentina Melnikova - Lead Designer at Cut2Size

valentina@cut2size.ca

Office 403.366.7411

Hi there! I’m a millwork designer and an owner of a kitchen cabinet manufacturing company. With a team of professionals, I work on designing and manufacturing high-end millwork. Combining professional designing and manufacturing skills is what allows us to develop and translate our plans into a reality through our uniqueness and exclusive ideas. Our employees are highly skilled and creative thinkers that also utilize their professionalism and experience to take millwork to the next level. I’m very familiar with the industry and I take on each project from the design to the final product. With that said, if you’re looking for design advice or technician help, you’re in the right place.