Countertops are the second biggest purchase in a kitchen, and there is a color and material to match any style. Take a look at the variety and beauty in your choices.
Butcher block is at home in a classic space or can add unexpected contrast to a modern space. Maple countertops can be less than half the cost of stone tile, but higher-quality butcher block can be as expensive as slab granite. Butcher block is finicky. Spills must be cleaned immediately to avoid stains. Wood counters are not heat resistant and extreme dryness can cause cracking, so it's important to use pads or trivets with hot pans. Butcher-block counters must be oiled often to fill in scratches and protect the surface, and also need frequent disinfecting to prevent bacteria. Butcher block tends to show nicks and scratches for a shopworn look, but if you don't like the wear and tear you can lightly sand out flaws and re-oil the surface to restore it.
Quartz has quickly become the hottest material in kitchens thanks to it's durable, low-to-no maintenance, and non-porous qualities. Plus, it can be made into any pattern or color under the sun and works in the most traditional kitchens to those that are cool and contemporary.
Concrete countertops work well in all types of spaces, including modern and traditional kitchens. Just like roads and driveways, concrete countertops are incredibly durable, and since concrete is a manufactured material, it can be made in any color or thickness.
For a rich, natural surface, wenge wood counters are a perfect choice. Beyond regular oiling, high-quality wood countertops are durable and only look better with age.
Dark-stained cabinets are the perfect counterpoint to crisp white countertops, no matter the material. In this kitchen, polished white granite mimics the look of more expensive marble but is low-maintenance -- and often less expensive.
Rich soapstone countertops ground the white exterior cabinets in this mix-and-match kitchen. For the island, white quartz-surfacing -- a strong manufactured material -- is perfect for everyday use and ties in the room's crisp white finishes.
The combination of marble and butcher-block counters in this kitchen is the perfect juxtaposition of formal and casual elements. Taking a cue from the countertops, the playful wallpaper and green island go glam with a trio of crystal chandeliers.
Laminate has come a long way and offers a more realistic look than ever. Certain products allow you to iintegrate your sink into your countertop or add a decorative edge. There's no need to seal laminate, since it's nonporous, and it mimics granite and other stones for much less. Though laminate holds up well to water, it's not as durable as stone.
In a small space, marble countertops add serious style and often fit in the budget since less square footage is needed. This one-wall, all-white kitchen uses marble to add movement with the veining and extends it beyond the counter to create a petite breakfast bar.
During this renovation, selecting disparate countertop materials -- Carrara marble, mahogany, and soapstone -- establishes an evolved-over-time feel. By pairing marble and soapstone in close proximity, the coloring of each material seems to be the reverse of the other.
For a casual look in your kitchen, try honed granite, which has a matte finish with little to no shine. Detailed granite often hides dirt and fingerprints, but removing the shine will often remove those qualities, as well. Before choosing honed granite, be sure to see the actual piece to know how it will stand up to daily use.