Whether you’re remolding a kitchen, building one from scratch or just ready to give yours a face-lift, counter tops are a central park of the look. You may be daunted by the wealth of options on the market considering countertop surfaces range from well-known butcher block to less common materials such as glass and terrazzo. We’ve chosen 10 of the most popular to help get you started. Read on to find the one that’s right for you.

Granite CountertopGranite is the most popular countertop surface due to its beautiful mottling combined with the host of colors and patterns found in nature which make each piece one of a kind. It stands up well to splashes, knife nicks, heat, and various day to day wear and tear. Although the pros of granite outweigh the cons by miles, like most stone granite must be sealed every so often to avoid stains and its heaviness means you’ll need very sturdy cabinet boxes to support the weight.

Solid SurfacingSolid surfacing which is made primarily from acrylic and polyester was first sold under the brand name Corian. Today, it’s made by a host of manufacturers and has enjoyed steady popularity over the years. Solid surfacing is nonporous, therefore it’s virtually maintenance free- no sealing or special cleaning required. Although it can be susceptible to scratches and burns, they can be sanded out. Solid Surfacing has a seamless installation which means there are no cracks to trap dirt and debris but can have a patently artificial look and feel, yet can approach the price of natural stone.

Marble CountertopMarble is ranked number one for sheer elegance. Can you mention anything that looks and feels more glamorous than a marble countertop? Peerless in terms of its luminescence and distinctive veining, it’s an ultra-traditional choice. Marble stands up to heat well, and because it remains perennially cool, it’s a traditional choice for pastry and baking stations. Although marble is extremely appealing to the eye, it is very susceptible to stains (even with sealing) and can easily crack/chip. For that reason, it’s not often used throughout an entire kitchen- most homeowners limit it to one or two small areas.

Quartz CountertopQuartz Surfacing is crafted of resin and quartz chips tinted with color, quartz surfacing (also called engineered quartz or engineered stone) is a good compromise between the beauty of stone and the easy care of solid surfacing. As an engineered product, it’s available in a far greater range of colors and patterns than natural stone. This material doesn’t have the natural variegation of granite, therefore it may be evident that it’s an engineered product.

Tile CountertopTile is modular and inexpensive, ceramic and porcelain tile offer nearly limitless options for colors and designs. Tile works with almost any kitchen style, from country to majestic Old World. It holds its own against heat and sharp blades, and is stain resistant but due to its uneven surface it can be difficult to balance a cutting board or roll out a pie crust.

Laminate CountertopLaminate is made of paper blended with resins and fused to particle board, laminate has been a kitchen mainstay for decades. The latest designs on the market mimic stone, butcher block and other pricier surfaces. Laminate is one of the most affordable countertop materials, so it’s a good choice if your budget is tight. Its low maintenance and easy to clean. Although laminate might look good to your wallet, it can easily become unappealing to the eye due to being prone to scratching, burns and, in some cases, staining. You can’t use laminate with under mount sinks, and it’s difficult to repair if it gets damaged.

Soapstone CountertopSoapstone offers subtle, nuanced beauty yet feels humbler than granite or marble. Although it’s in no danger of overtaking granite, soapstone has come into its own as a countertop material. The natural softness and depth soapstone offers make for an easy fit in cottage-style homes. Soapstone needs polishing with oil to keep it in top shape and in time can crack. It doesn’t handle knife scratches and nicks as well as some other types of stone.

Stainless Steel CountertopStainless Steel has slipped into vogue within the past two decades. These countertops are custom made to fit your kitchen, so you’re guaranteed a tailored look. Stainless steel is nearly indestructible, and it resist heat and bacteria. It provides a very distinctive look that feels appropriate in contemporary and industrial-style kitchens. Although stainless steel has a very appealing look, fingerprints show and must be wiped off frequently. It can be loud as pots, pans, and dishware clang against the surface. Chemicals can affect its color and cause unwanted etching. Stainless Steel is extremely expensive due to custom fabrication.

Concrete CountertopConcrete countertops have an industrial chic that fits right into a loft of adds interest to an otherwise traditional space. Concrete is extremely versatile: it can be cast in any shape and custom tinted any shade you wish. You can easily ass unique inlays, such as glass fragments, rocks, and shells. Concrete stands up well to heavy use, but it isn’t as heat resistant as some other surfaces. Due to concrete being porous, it will stain without frequent sealing and in time with settling, small cracks can develop. Concrete is extremely heavy and will need strong support beneath. Like stainless steel, its custom creation ups the price tag.

Butcher Block CountertopButcher Block has a classic appeal and always looks fresh. It’s especially fitting for traditional, country and cottage-style kitchens. Many homeowners like butcher block’s warm, natural appearance and variegated wood tones. Although knives scratch it, many people like the shopworn look it develops- after all, it’s what chopping blocks have been made of for years. Butcher Block wood can swell and contract with moisture exposure. It harbors bacteria and needs frequent disinfecting. Oiling is a must to fill in scratches and protect the surface.

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