Countertop Guide: Top 9 Countertop Options

September 02, 2014

You make many choices in your kitchen, from what to make for dinner to bigger questions, like whether the look of it should be modern or traditional. Beyond the lifetime of the color of the walls, the appliances that will be probably be replaced at least once or twice while you live there, and the window treatments, there is one choice you’ll make in your kitchen that will endure the longest – the countertops. Given all the choices available, here is a handy list of popular countertop options that will start you on the path to selecting the right material for you.

Natural Stone Options

Granite Countertops Granite is a natural material that is both distinctive and durable for a traditionally beautiful kitchen. As a natural stone, no two slabs of granite are exactly alike. Granites may have some white in the background, but mostly they are found in colorful shades with striking flecks – reds, greens, golds, creams, rusts, blues, silvers and even blacks are colors you can find in granite.  Granite has a lower porosity than some natural stones, but still must be sealed regularly to keep it looking its best.

Marble CountertopsMarble is also a natural stone that is easily recognizable. Its characteristic veining and bold, white backdrop makes it a classic option that can achieve modern looks. Marble is most commonly known as a bright white or grey look, but it also comes in other shades like pinks, blacks, oranges and reds. It depends on what minerals were present as the marble formed from limestone. Marble is a porous stone and it is known to absorb spills as well as scratch and etch. However, it is also a cool stone that can be chilled for rolling pastries, making it a friend in the kitchen. With proper care, a marble countertop can stay looking beautiful, so don’t rule it out. Sealants and cleansers for marble have come a long way!

Onyx CountertopsOnyx is a premier natural stone option that is highly unique, with a sleek and modern look that is far removed from the caves it came from! Onyx countertops are a rare option – they are striking and luxurious and often used for vertical surfaces as bold statement walls in high-end residential and commercial designs. As a flat surface in the kitchen, onyx can be a functional piece of art you get to see every day, especially lit with under-counter lighting, as onyx has a transparent quality like no other. Onyx generally comes in swirling and pastel color patterns, and each piece is as unusual as the last. It is most suited as an accent countertop or bar area that does not see as much traffic, though with proper care, polished and sealed, onyx performs similarly to marble.

Limestone CountertopsLimestone is a natural stone that is formed at the bottom of the sea, comprised of layers of sediment that have settled and pressurized through the ages. Limestone is usually found in soft beiges and tans similar to its sister stone, marble, and is a subtle and comforting option that adds warmth and a welcoming nature to a room. Great for Old World looks and rustic charm, limestone has been used as flooring tile for decades. However, it is a stone softer than granite and marble, which means it should be used as countertops in lower traffic areas or in a kitchen where hard objects will not be dropped on it to avoid cracks or chips. In terms of porosity, like granite and marble, with proper sealing, it can be protected from most kitchen culprits.

Quartzite CountertopsQuartzite is often confused with quartz, but it is not the same. Quartzite is a natural stone that originated as sandstone and also includes the mineral quartz, which is what gives it sparkle. Like quartz countertops, quartzite is also highly durable as it is a hard stone, though it must be sealed to protect it.

Soap Stone CountertopsSoap Stone is a lesser known natural stone option in today’s wide range of offerings, but it is actually a classic choice that is coming back into popularity for both indoor and outdoor applications, as well as for kitchen countertops. (With lovely grey, blue and green selections, it’s a great thematic choice for bathroom countertops as well.) It is a durable stone that is not very absorbent, so stains do not penetrate easily. It can be sealed or oiled, and owners who enjoy ageing a stone will see it darken with a lovely patina over the years. Soap stone is also easily refinished and restored, so it can be updated over time if desired.

Naturally Manmade Options

Quartz CountertopsQuartz is a marriage of a natural mineral and modern technology. The natural mineral quartz is, by itself, not much more than a sandy powder. Bonded together with manmade polymers, it becomes a highly durable countertop selection with the sparkling beauty of a natural looking stone and the wherewithal to hold up in the kitchen. As a manmade product, it can also be produced in a variety of colors to meet the demand for the most popular looks – it is even available in options that look like granite and marble. Quartz is non-porous, does not require sealing, and is also heat resistant, chemical resistant, and fends off etches and scratches. In short, it’s a great selection for any high traffic area.

Travertine CountertopsTravertine, like quartz, is a combination of nature and technology for a durable surface. Travertine is a lighter colored natural stone often found around mineral springs. It is then combined with cement before it is smoothed and polished to give it a uniform surface that is suitable for food preparation. Travertine comes in both tile and slab forms, making a great choice if you desire a coordinated backsplash. Travertine is highly versatile and fits designs that are both sophisticated and rustic.

Venetian Marble Countertops - Venetian Marble countertops are an affordable, sophisticated, and durable alternative to cultured marble, tile, and natural stone. Venetian marble is recycled natural stone that is pressed and heated to create an environmentally friendly countertop option. This engineered marble surface gives you all the benefits of traditional marble slabs but at a fraction of the cost. Its engineered strength also makes it much more resilient than cultured marble. Easy to clean and highly sustainable, Venetian marble countertops are an ideal option for those looking for the elegance of marble and granite stones but desiring lasting durability and longevity.

With so many natural stone and manmade options to choose from, you should be able to find a countertop that matches your design preference, lifestyle and budget.