Best Countertop Types: Comparing Top Materials

by HomeAdvisor

marble countertop in home kitchen

© PBNJ Productions/Getty Images.

With an ever-growing list of materials, designs and price points, choosing new countertops can feel intimidating. Fortunately, there’s help. Use this quick guide to kickstart your research and find the best countertops for your kitchen, bathroom or laundry room.

On This Page:

  1. How to Choose Countertops
  2. Types of Countertops
    1. Granite
    2. Quartz
    3. Laminate
    4. Tile
    5. Stainless Steel
    6. Marble
    7. Soapstone
    8. Solid Surface
    9. Concrete
    10. Butcher Block (Wood)
    11. New or Alternative Countertop Ideas
  3. Countertop Installation Costs
  4. Countertops Comparison
    1. Most Durable Countertops
    2. Eco-Friendly, Sustainable Options
  5. Best Countertop Options for Every Room
    1. Kitchen Countertops
    2. Bathroom
    3. Laundry Room
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How to Choose Countertops

There are several factors to consider when it comes to choosing the best countertops for your home. You’ll need to consider the cost to install countertops as well as the style and durability of your options before deciding. When in doubt, talk to a local countertop installer to see which option is best for your space.

“Explore all options and if you find yourself at the end of it saying, this is what I like and this is what I really want, I don’t think you really go wrong.” – Michael D. Bogucki of E5 Contracting Services, Buffalo, NY

Where to Get Countertops

You can buy countertops at home improvement retailers, local specialty stores, or even online from stores like Ikea®. Some stores specialize in certain types of countertops, while others carry a full range of options. When it comes to natural stone, it’s helpful to see the actual slab in person before selecting so you know exactly what you’re getting.

Types of Countertop Materials

There’s a wide array of countertop materials to choose from for your home, including granite, quartz, tile, laminate, stainless steel, marble, soapstone, concrete and butcher block. Marble is on the pricier end of the spectrum, costing up to $190 per square foot, while ceramic tile runs from $1 to $15 per square foot. Take a look at the pros and cons of some of the most popular materials.

Granite


© grandriver/E+/Getty Images.

Pros:

  • Low upkeep
  • Several styles to choose from
  • Durable

Cons:

  • Can be more expensive
  • May stain

Cost:

The cost to install granite countertops ranges from $2,000 to $4,500, depending on the scope of the project.

Quartz

quartz countertop in home kitchen

© John Keeble/Moment/Getty Images.

Pros:

  • Almost zero upkeep
  • Comes in several colors and styles
  • Has a consistent, manufactured look
  • Very durable

Cons:

  • Not a natural stone
  • One of the pricier material options

Cost:

Quartz countertop installation costs range from $1,500 to $12,000. You can expect to pay more for custom sink, faucet and cooktop cutouts, as well as unique edges.

Laminate

laminate countertop in sunny kitchen

© photovs/iStock / Getty Images Plus/Getty Images.

Pros:

  • Less expensive than other options
  • More styles available than in previous years

Cons:

  • Not as durable as other materials
  • Prone to burns and scratches

Cost:

The cost to install laminate countertops typically starts at $800. Homeowners report paying an average of $1,200 per project.

Tile

blue and white tile countertop in home

© slobo/iStock / Getty Images Plus/Getty Images.

Pros:

  • Cheaper option
  • Several styles, designs and shapes available
  • Easy to replace if broken

Cons:

  • Can chip, crack and stain
  • Grout can become discolored

Cost:

Homeowners say the average cost to install tile countertops is about $3,500. Anticipate paying more for designer tiles or custom work.

Stainless Steel

stainless steel countertop in home kitchen

© Robert Daly/OJO Images/Getty Images

Pros:

  • Good for commercial kitchens
  • Durable
  • Sleek look

Cons:

  • Can scratch and shows fingerprints
  • Is a more expensive option

Cost:

Stainless steel countertops cost between $4,000 and $11,250.

Marble

marble countertop in home kitchen

© PBNJ Productions/Getty Images.

Pros:

  • Natural stone option
  • Durable

Cons:

  • More expensive
  • Can stain
  • Requires regular maintenance

Cost:

Marble countertop installation costs about $3,000, with homeowners paying anywhere between $1,050 and $9,650.

Soapstone

stone countertop in kitchen

© Elenathewise/iStock / Getty Images Plus/Getty Images.

Pros:

  • Natural stone option
  • Easy to maintain
  • Heat resistant

Cons:

  • Can nick and scratch easily
  • Pricier than some materials

Cost:

Soapstone countertop costs generally range from $2,700 and $4,200.

Concrete

concrete countertop in kitchen

© in4mal/iStock / Getty Images Plus/Getty Images.

Pros:

  • Extremely durable
  • Highly customizable

Cons:

  • Expensive
  • Requires regular sealing
  • Prone to chips

Cost:

The cost to install a concrete countertop runs from $3,300 to $7,200 for a typical 55 square-foot space. Homeowners can pay upwards of $10,000 depending on factors like the stain, style, polish or color chosen.

Butcher block

butcher block wood countertop in kitchen

© TriggerPhoto/iStock / Getty Images Plus/Getty Images.

Pros:

  • Warm, wooden option
  • Less expensive than some materials
  • Lighter-weight material

Cons:

  • Expensive
  • Must oil the surface frequently
  • Can scratch
  • May burn with heat

Cost:

Butcher block countertops cost anywhere from $1,200 to $15,000. You can keep costs down by avoiding custom work and exotic hardwoods.

New or Alternative Countertop Ideas

There are several new options available to homeowners seeking alternative styles. Here are a few you may want to consider.

  1. Slate is a durable option that doesn’t require much upkeep. This material comes in darker hues with some color variation. On average, slate costs $77 to $100 per square foot.
  2. Cultured Granite runs from $40 to $65 per square foot. This polymer-blend granite is durable and comes in several different color options and styles.
  3. Recycled Paper or Paper Stone runs from $45 to $70 per square foot. These composite materials are ecofriendly. Though highly durable, paper stone counters do require routine maintenance.
  4. Recycled Glass: Recycled glass countertops countertops cost about $90 per square foot for materials and installation. They’re durable, eco-friendly, and come in several color options.
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Countertop Installation Costs

Installing countertops costs from $1,900 to $4,200 on average. Installers may charge more for removal and disposal of existing materials. Luxury styles, like waterfall countertops, can add an additional $1,000 to $3,000 onto the installation price. This project is often worth it for homeowners, as upgrading your kitchen and bathroom can offer as much as a 75% resale return on investment (ROI).

Countertop Comparison

With so many options available, it’s no wonder that there’s some debate between similar materials. Quartz and granite countertops are often pitted against each other thanks to their similar durability and look. Laminate and tile are often compared as possible cheap kitchen countertop alternatives to granite.

When in doubt, talk to a countertop professional to get the best advice for your space.

Most Durable Countertops

Some of the most durable options available include granite, quartz, quartzite and recycled glass. They are resistant to scratches, chips and heat.

Eco-Friendly, Sustainable Options

Recycled glass, recycled paper and composite countertops are typically the most eco-friendly options. If eco-friendliness and sustainability are important to you, research brands and products before purchasing to ensure they meet your criteria.

Best DIY Countertops

While it’s always best to hire a pro for this type of project, there are a few more DIY-friendly options available. Tile, overlays and contact paper are the easiest materials to install yourself.

Easiest to Maintain

The easiest materials to maintain include quartz, granite and stainless steel.

Cheapest Type of Countertops

The cheapest materials per square foot include laminate, ceramic and porcelain tile, and butcher block. However, prices vary depending on the style you choose and the grade of each material.

Prettiest Countertops

The prettiest option for your home will depend on your own personal preference and needs. However, quartz is often selected for its attractiveness and wide range of colors and patterns.

Best Countertop Options for Every Room

Best Kitchen Countertops

The best kitchen surfaces are typically heat resistant and durable to accommodate hot pans, food and heavy use. Quartz, steel and granite are popular choices.

Best Bathroom Countertops

The best bathroom surfaces should accommodate your personal needs. If you use heat-styling products, you’ll likely want a heat-resistant surface like soapstone, granite, quartz or quartzite. For a small powder room, you may want to invest in a marble countertop to add style to the space.

Best Laundry Room Countertop Types

Laundry room surfaces should be durable and heat-resistant to accommodate ironing and wet clothes. Slate, quartz and granite are all good options. If you don’t iron much and don’t plan to set wet clothes out, then butcher block may be a better choice to hold supplies and warm up the space.

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6 Comments

  1. vi dupre, June 10:

    Very helpful info on choosing a countertop . Addresses style, cost, durability and caring for – Thank you.

  2. kitch, August 18:

    What do you mean by solid surface?

  3. Alexis Rivera, August 30:

    Solid surface is just the odd term for material like Corian, which is molded out of one material, so the surface is the same as interior.

  4. Nora, October 4:

    how durable is corian? does it stain and chip?

  5. Doug Moore, December 9:

    Want to know if Granicrete is a good product. Have read very mixed reviews

  6. Beverly, December 20:

    Granicrete depends entirely on the installer. I have seen absolutely gorgeous results and some (my next door neighbour’s) which are hideous and extremely poorly done. The home was sold after it was done and I didn’t get a chance to find out if he did it himself.

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