Which Kitchen Countertop is Right for You?

The materials available for kitchen countertops are varied and can leave homeowners in a quandary about which is best suited for their needs, budget and style. To determine which kitchen countertop is right for you, it is important to ask yourself a few key questions.

What is your favorite style of kitchen?

Do you prefer tradition, modern or contemporary or is your style more eclectic, rustic or elegant?

What is your budget?

There is indeed a material to meet every size budget. Knowing what you’re willing to spend and if counters are one of the key ways you’ll express your style or if you prefer to err on the side of frugality will help you make the best choice.

How do you use your kitchen?

Do you cook frequently or do you tend to eat out more often? Do you bake, create simple or gourmet meals or whip up a mean take out?

How comfortable are you in doing some of the work?

If you are a DIYer, you can save money by doing some of your own remodel work, including countertop installation. If you’d prefer to leave it to the experts, know that your cost will include their labor and will be higher.

What is the key characteristic you want in a countertop?

Do you want durability, minimal to no maintenance, attractiveness, low cost or something that makes a statement?

What type of backsplash most appeals to you?

Like countertops, backsplash materials come in all types and price levels. Which look most appeals to you? Subway tiles, tumbled stone, hand-painted tiles, glass or metallic tile or no backsplash at all?

Does wear and tear on the counters concern you?

Also known as patina, the wear and tear of a material bothers some while others find it adds to its charm and character. Where do you fall on the patina spectrum? Some materials better resist scratches and marks while others invite it. Know your comfort level to allow you to choose the best option.

Countertop Options


Graceful, classic and elegant, marble works well for a variety of style preferences. But, if you’re looking for durability and are on a tight budget, marble is a material to avoid. Its easily scratched, stained and marked and can be a budget-buster, costing from $75 to $200 per square foot installed. If you like the look but want to avoid the patina, try engineered quartz that mimics the look of marble. The cost is the same but without the high maintenance of the real thing.


Formed by crushing natural quartz with a polymer resin, this engineered, zero maintenance material come in a variety of colors and patterns as well as in larger slab sizes than natural stone. At $70 to $100 per square foot installed, quartz counters can make a significant dent in your budget. To keep costs in check, you can opt for the thinner, 2 centimeter slab rather than the 3 centimeter, but be aware that the thinner version can’t be used for lengthy, unsupported spans.


If having a unique surface is your top priority, concrete counters definitely offer a distinctive look. Concrete does develop a patina, with imperfections that are part and parcel to the material. There will be inconsistencies in color and texture as well as small hairline fractures. Concrete also needs sealed on a regular basis to minimize stains. If you have wicked DIY skills, you can install it yourself for around $8 per square foot. Professional installation runs about $100 per square foot.


Classic and durable, granite remains one of the top materials used for kitchen counters. The colors and patterns vary greatly, allowing it to fit styles from contemporary to modern. Cost is $45 to $100 per square foot and choosing remnants can help you stay on the lower end of the budget spectrum. Granite is very durable but does benefit from being sealed on a regular basis.


If you’re working with a tight budget or would prefer to put your dollars toward something else, like appliances or cabinets, laminate offers a great, low cost option. Although it often gets a bad rap, at $15 per square foot, it gives you the flexibility to change it in the future without incurring a huge expense. Steer clear of faux stone or wood laminate and go for a fun or classic solid color. The main downside is durability. Laminate scratches and scorches quite easily, so using cutting boards, hot pads and other protective measures are a must.

Stainless Steel

Leading the charge in durability, stainless countertops offer a modern, sleek look that is easy to clean and maintain. Scratches do appear but tend to blend into the overall look.


Wood can provide a unique, rustic look as well as be used for a modern or classic design. Depending upon the type chosen, durability may vary as will cost. Wood does tend to be on the more expensive side but can be assimilated in a small area, such as an island, to achieve the look you want without the major expense. The edge finish of wood counters can lend themselves to a variety of styles.


Tile is the way to go if you’re looking for affordability and durability wrapped into one. It is also one of the easiest for those who are looking to do some of the work themselves. Tiles come in various sizes and materials, the two most common being stone and ceramic. Ceramic tiles run from $10 to $50 per square foot and stone tiles are in the range of $30 to $70. Cleaning grout is one of the main disadvantages, which is why tighter grout joints are recommended for tile counters.

For more information on kitchen countertop materials, take a peek at this Houzz article. Knowing your style, the way you plan to use your kitchen and your budget, you should be able to choose the counter material that will perfectly suit your personality and your needs.