August 23, 2021
The Ultimate Guide to the Best Kitchen Countertops: Types, Durability, and Cost
Kitchen countertops are one of the most visually impactful and functional design elements of a kitchen remodel. They also take up a significant portion of your kitchen remodeling budget. Investing wisely in kitchen countertops will make all the difference.
As your kitchen remodel unfolds, be sure to choose the best kitchen countertops for your design style and practical needs. There are endless options for countertop materials, styles, and price points. Choosing the perfect kitchen countertops to pull your design together is important to the overall aesthetic, so you’ll want to explore the pros and cons of each. Using this handy guide should make your kitchen countertop purchase a more rewarding one as your dream kitchen remodel takes shape.
Your Kitchen Countertop Checklist
Like any other aspect of your custom kitchen makeover, you’ll need to consider these factors before making your countertop decision:
- What design style am I going for?
- How much cooking and food prep will I be doing?
- What’s my budget?
- Will the countertops pair well with my cabinets, backsplash, appliances, etc.?
- Is this a DIY install, or will I be hiring a pro?
- Who else will be using the kitchen?
Once you’ve answered these important questions, it’s time to find some stunning countertops to bring your look together. Explore the pros and cons of the different countertop styles below. Please note that countertop prices fluctuate, and the best way to get an accurate square foot price for your area is to contact your local supplier. We often partner with Five Star Granite for Seattle installs.
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As the most popular countertop material, quartz is known as manufactured stone, consists of ground-up natural quartz held together with resin and then formed into slabs. As a highly durable, easy-to-maintain material, quartz kitchen countertops support most design styles and are available in numerous colors and patterns. Depending upon your selection and installation, quartz ranges from $45 to $150 per square foot making it an economical, long-lasting countertop choice.
- Virtually maintenance free
- Heat, scratch, and stain-resistant
- Endless color and pattern options
- Non-porous surface does not require sealing
- May lack the decorative, bold patterns of natural stone
- Some engineered quartz is less resistant to excessive heat
- High quality quartz countertops can be pricier than other materials
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Often confused with quartz, quartzite is a quarried all-natural stone. Quartzite countertops are known for their unique patterns and exceptional hardness, making them a great choice in many different kitchen styles. Most professionally installed quartzite countertops will run you $75 to $150 per square foot, although exotic versions can be more.
- Each quartzite slab is unique
- Extremely hard and durable
- Variable coloring and patterns due to natural geologic forces
- Slightly more prone to chipping and scratching than quartz
- Depending on slab quality, quartzite can be pricey
- Designs that require complex or unique cuts can be expensive
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Granite is another example of a quarried natural stone. It’s coarse-grained and comprised of a few different types of minerals, giving it a speckled look. In recent years granite has dropped to being the second-most-popular countertop material after quartz. Granite countertops come in a wide range of natural colors and patterns to support various kitchen decors and are quite durable—literally rock solid! The cost of installed granite ranges from $50 to $120 per square foot depending on the slab quality and complexity of the cuts. It is not recommended for DIY installation.
- Each granite slab is unique
- When properly sealed, granite is a very durable, heat, scratch, and stain-resistant material
- Seams are easily concealed
- Must be resealed periodically
- Prone to chipping
- May give off tiny amounts of radon
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From traditional to modern kitchens, nothing says classic elegance quite like marble countertops. This quarried stone has been a popular kitchen countertop choice for centuries because its timeless look adds warmth and an essence of formality to any space. Marble comes in neutral colors that are easy to integrate into most designs, and can be found with varying amounts of veining depending on your desired look. Marble is a popular countertop material, but it does have major drawbacks. It’s not nearly as durable or stain-resistant as other surfaces, so it won’t retain its perfect sheen for long. Marble is not recommended as a DIY project. Installed marble typically has a per square foot cost between $75 and $200.
- Honed marble can make stains and scratches less obvious.
- Its surface remains cool to the touch (Great for baking pastries!).
- Prices vary widely, although Carrera marble can be a real bargain.
- Scratches more easily than other materials
- Prone to “etching” from acidic foods
- Prone to staining from wine, fruit juices, etc.
- More expensive than man-made countertops
En vogue with homeowners desiring modern farmhouse, contemporary, or industrial motifs, concrete countertops introduce a sleek, minimalistic look when used in a kitchen. One of the major pluses of concrete is that it allows you to achieve a variety of looks while adding a personal touch to any space. Concrete countertops run between $50 and $100 per square foot for material and installation.
- Design versatility
- Pigments and stains can achieve nearly any desired shade
- Highly scratch and heat resistant
- Must be periodically resealed
- Custom concrete countertops can be quite expensive
- Prone to stains from oil, wine, juice, and other liquids
When your goal is to introduce more warmth and beauty into a kitchen, soapstone is a great choice. Soapstone countertops come in colors that range from almost pristine white to charcoal gray, with marbling patterns to accommodate most any taste. Depending on factors like talc content, soapstone countertops cost $75 to $150 per installed square foot.
- Non-porous surface is easy to clean and maintain
- Resists acids very well
- Can remove scratches with sandpaper and mineral oil
- Scratches easily, notably if the slab you choose has a higher talc content
- Soapstone is prone to chipping
Butcher Block Countertops
As another timeless, very popular look, butcher block countertops never go out of style. Although natural wood instantly injects a sense of warmth and charm into a space like no other material, you also need to consider the limitations of butcher block countertops before adding them to your kitchen. As an inexpensive countertop option, the average per square foot cost of installed butcher block ranges between $50 and $150 depending on the type of wood. If you make the butcherblock yourself, or do the install, you could see even more savings.
- One of the lowest-priced materials
- Available in numerous styles
- Easy to refinish
- Most homeowners can perform a DIY installation
- Must be periodically resealed
- Prone to denting, staining, burning, and scratching
- Porous surface is more susceptible to liquids
Stainless Steel Countertops
When used in modern or industrial themes, stainless steel delivers a high-end, polished commercial kitchen look. Installed in smaller or poorly lit kitchens, the reflective qualities of stainless-steel countertops will instantly brighten up a room. As an alternative to natural stone, the average cost of installed stainless countertops is $60 to $100 per square foot.
- Resistant to heat, stains, and bacteria
- Durable and long-lasting
- Redirects light
- Can be pricey
- Prone to denting and scratching
- Fingerprints will show much more easily
As another metal option, zinc countertops used in a theme like Bohemian or industrial chic look hip, trendy, and cool. Unlike some other countertop choices, zinc is a material with unique characteristics, including the fact it develops a beautiful dark gray patina with age that many homeowners really like. As one of the priciest countertop materials, zinc will run you between $125 and $200 per square foot – even with a DIY install.
- Lasts for decades
- “Living” material that changes color over time
- Non-porous, bacteria-resistant surface
- DIY installation is possible
- Soft surface that can scratch easily
- May warp when exposed to excessive heat.
- Complex or unusual shapes may require a professional install.
Terrazzo-Style Recycled Glass Countertops
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Although recycled glass countertops offer a very distinctive look that’s hard to duplicate with other materials, they also come with downsides that make them impractical in some homes. As a trending design element in many eco-friendly kitchens, recycled glass countertops feature a colorful mosaic of shards that produces a terrazzo tile look.
There are also homogeneous recycled glass countertops that are manufactured by melting down the glass from various sources to create a slab. As a higher-end countertop material, terrazzo-style recycled glass will run you between $75 and $150 per square foot with a professional install.
- Very distinctive modern look
- Pairs well with stainless steel appliances and other design elements
- Non-porous surface won’t get discolored (Note: The concrete in terrazzo recycled glass will stain.)
- Made from recycled materials
- Will crack and chip very easily
- Style choices are limited
- More expensive than other materials
The Pros of Choosing the Right Kitchen Contractor in Seattle
Finding the best contractor for your kitchen remodeling project is important. Whether you want a high-end, luxury kitchen, or simple, minimalistic space, find a contractor that specializes in the style you’re looking for. Make sure they have experience with the counters, cabinets, flooring, lighting and other materials you’d like to use. Do your research, ask for references, get written estimates, and check online reviews posted on Yelp, Google or Houzz.
At Model Remodel, we are design-build contractors who’ve built a solid reputation in the Seattle area by transforming outdated homes into highly functional, luxurious living spaces with our conception-to-completion home remodeling solutions. To get started bringing your next home improvement project to life, tell us more about your objectives today through our online form!