The countertop is one of the most expensive and important parts of any remodel. Besides the floors, they are continuously used and have to sustain quite a beating over their lives. In every remodel they are a priority and with construction prices skyrocketing it takes time, diligence and a keen design eye to find the right countertop materials for your kitchen.

Because we deal with these materials often and advise clients on their price and installation methods we wanted to share with you some of the pros and cons of a few different materials.

Granite

Granite is a natural stone that is very heavy and can be very expensive but has become very popular in kitchens. It is easily cleaned, does not scratch and is non-porous and heat resistant. The weight may need structural support and it must be resealed every 10 years. It also comes in many colors and varieties.

Cost: $100 to $250 per square foot, including installation, depending on the color and the availability in your area.

Quartzite Countertops

This material is naturally occurring and often comes in marble-like coloration, with light tones and beautiful streaks of color. It is somewhat heat resistant, however, and can be affected by long exposure. It is harder than granite, and can be very heavy. It also needs regular resealing to avoid stains.

Cost: $85 to $200 per square foot installed, depending on type and availability in your area.

Recycled Glass

Here we have a great eco-friendly option that is made with fragments of recycled glass bonded together with cement or resin. Because the glass used often varies this material can be very tough and won’t chip easily, however with enough force it can be chipped. It also only requires soap and water to clean. They do need sealing about every 5 years to protect against stains.

Cost: Can range from $75 to $150 per square foot.

Soapstone

The name of this stone comes from its soft texture, which has two grades. Artistic is used for decorations and architectural is used for countertops. It comes in a dark gray color with streaks of white. It is a pliable stone that does not stain easily, so it is easy to clean and keep sanitary. It can be chipped or scratched easier than other stones and does not come in large slabs so installation for large pieces can be expensive.

Cost: $60 to $150 per square foot depending on the size and thickness of the slab.

Corian

These are made by blending acrylic and polyester blends and is supposedly a stone substitute that is also stronger and non-porous. They offer a wild range of countertops and don’t need any maintenance to special cleaning materials. They can look very synthetic and can burn easily. They are vulnerable to scratches and dents, and also need to be professionally installed.

Cost: $45 to $75 depending mostly on the color you want.

Slate

This is a cousin to soapstone so it is soft and dense. It is non-porous and requires no maintenance. It comes in dark colors and is very durable, which makes it good for household use. It is naturally anti-microbial, resists chipping and scratches. It is also very heat resistant. Although it doesn’t come in many colors it is still very fashionable because of its dark hues.

Cost: $60 to $70 per square foot with the installation.

Tile

This ceramic material is applied on a plywood surface and comes in most sizes and colors so the design is highly customizable. They can be installed easily and cheaply so DIY is a possibility. While they can be chipped easily they are highly heat resistant and individual tiles can be replaced. The grout can get dirty and collect and they can fade over time.

Cost: $30 to $50 per square foot, including installation.

Recycled Paper

This is an interesting eco-friendly material made up of formaldehyde-free resin, pigment, and recycled paper. The feeling to the touch is comparable to soapstone and mostly only available in dark and matte hues. They occasionally need resealing and don’t tolerate most abrasive cleaners. Although they are not themselves recyclable they can be cut up and reused. Fortunately, they are durable, non-porous, non-staining and are very heat resistant. Companies like PaperStone, RichLite, ShetkaStone, and Kliptech all offer the materials.

Cost: Around $40 to $80 to install, per square foot.

Butcher Block

These countertops are made of wood strips glued together. Many types of wood are used and they come in three basic styles, end grain, edge grain or face grain. Edge grain is the cheapest, very strong and is made by gluing boards on their sides. End grain is small blocks arranged so their ends are visible. This method is very resistant to cutting marks but is very expensive. Face grain is where the boards are laid flat, so it is not recommended for heavily used countertops. They have a warm feel and can be made from salvaged wood. They do require oiling every six months and are not resistant to stain or heat. Water stains are also possible if not cleaned up quickly. However, they are very anti-microbial and can be installed by yourself with the right tools.

Cost: Around $40 to $65 per square foot but can vary widely depending on experience and material. On average it can be between $2,000 and $4,500 for one of these countertops.

Concrete

These are often made with a pigment added and then sealed to make them heat, stain and liquid resistant. They give an industrial look that is growing in popularity. They can be installed by the homeowner and must be handmade, so they are highly customizable with different pigments or glass accents.  Sealing and maintaining regularly is necessary to decrease the natural porousness but can last for years if properly taken care of.

Cost: $65 to $135 per square foot, depending on source and type of installation.

Stainless Steel

These are stain and heat resistant and very durable. The professional kitchen usually uses them for thoe reasons. They are made of thin sheets and can be fastened to most backings. Type 304 is best for kitchens because it is highly stain-resistant and scratch-resistant, however other grades are available. It is completely recyclable and won’t change color over time. On the downside bleach and chloride easily damage it. While a durable option this isn’t always the warmest look for a home.

Cost: $75 and $150 per square foot installed, depending on grade and gauge.

Reclaimed Wood

This is a very sustainable option and is growing in popularity. It is more durable than ordinary wood because it has been tested by the elements. Because it is reclaimed it can help your project qualify for certain tax breaks for being a LEED for FSC certified project. Despite it’s growing popularity, it is becoming more and more scarce and is more expensive. It has many imperfections, but that can be a great look depending on the overall style.

Cost: Prices vary widely but it’s around $50 to $100 per square foot installed, depending on where you get the wood from.

Engineered Stone (Quartz)

This is a quartz crystal composite held together with a binder or resin. It looks like quartz but has a wider variety of colors. It is less prone to denting or chipping and requires much less if any, maintenance compared to quartz. It can be scratched and melts under heat greater than 300 degrees, so hot pads are necessary.

Cost: From $60 to $100 per square foot installed.

Marble

This is natural stone, softer than granite but harder than soapstone. It can be found in a variety of colors as well. It is very heat resistant but must be sealed once a year because it is very porous and acidic substances stain it. Scratching is also a concern.

Cost: $125 to $250 per square foot installed, depending on thickness, installation method, and overall quality.

Copper

These countertops are made of thin copper sheets and usually fastened to plywood. It is a living surface so it will naturally oxidize over time. It scratches and dents easily, so it shows signs of wear more rapidly than stone or composites. On the bright side, it is highly anti-microbial and is very recyclable and can be sourced from reclaiming outfits. It is easily cleaned with lemon juice and salt. Periodic waxing is recommended but not necessary.

Cost: From $100 to $175 per square foot installed.

Now it’s up to you to find the best option for your budget and design. We are always here to help. Thanks for reading and enjoy your next countertop project with this information in mind.