The Pros and Cons of Common Kitchen Countertop Materials

kitchen with concrete countertops
Photo: Jeff Herr

With exposure to water, heat, sharp knives, and spills, countertops carry a heavy burden in the kitchen. Discover the pros and cons of the top countertop materials to help you make the right choice for your kitchen.

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Natural Stone Countertops: Marble, Granite, Limestone, Soapstone

kitchen with black subway tile and marble countertop
David Greer

Natural stone is a durable material that stands up to the tough wear of an active kitchen. The most popular natural stone countertop materials are granite and marble, but limestone, soapstone, and slate are also commonly used. Stone's natural variations in colors, patterns, and textures make each countertop unique; no two slabs are exactly alike. Before purchasing natural stone countertops, take a large sample home to make sure you've found the perfect piece.

Average Price of Real Stone Countertops: $50-$150 per square foot

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Natural Stone Countertops: Pros and Cons of Marble, Granite, Soapstone, and More

connecting granite counter and backsplash in kitchen
Rett Peek Jr

Pros of Natural Stone:

  • Durable and long-lasting
  • Classic material that does not go out of style
  • Heat-resistant

Cons of Natural Stone:

  • Naturally porous and therefore needs to be sealed when installed
  • Requires regular maintenance and resealing for food safety and aesthetic upkeep
  • Softer stones, such as marble or limestone, might be chipped or cracked (but can be buffed)
  • Susceptible to stains
  • Most expensive countertop material
03 of 18

Engineered Stone Countertops: Quartz

modern white kitchen with black accents
Brie Williams

Engineered stone (sometimes called cultured stone) is a composite material made up primarily of resins plus natural stone. Engineered stone is often just called quartz, or quartz surfacing, due to the high percentage of quartz within the engineered stone. These surfaces are more durable than natural stone and come in a variety of colors, textures, and graining. Additionally, unlike natural stone, quartz countertops are available in uniform colors and patterns.

Average Price of Quartz Countertops: $50-$100 per square foot

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Engineered Stone Countertops: Pros and Cons of Quartz

blue tiled kitchen
Edmund Barr

Pros of Quartz Countertops:

  • Heat-, stain-, and scratch-resistant
  • Easy to clean
  • Does not require sealing or special care

Cons of Quartz:

  • Not as natural-looking as solid stone countertops
  • Heat exposure over time can cause damage
  • Costs almost as much as real stone
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Solid-Surfacing Countertops

kitchen sink subway tile backsplash
Emily Followill

Solid-surfacing is a low-maintenance, budget-friendly alternative to natural or engineered stone. Solid-surfacing countertops mimic the look of natural stone without the cost or required maintenance. Consisting of a combination of manufactured materials, solid-surfacing can be easily customized to suit your needs and comes in a variety of color possibilities and design options. It can also resemble glass or concrete countertops. Corian is a widely used brand of solid surfacing, and sometimes the material is referred to by this name.

Average Price of Solid-Surfacing Countertops: $40-$150 per square foot

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Solid-Surfacing Countertops: Pros and Cons

glass-front sage kitchen cabinets blue midcentury chairs
Edmund Barr

Pros of Solid Surfacing:

  • Heat-, stain-, and moisture-resistant
  • Doesn't fade or age with time
  • Easy to clean
  • Can be repaired

Cons of Solid Surfacing:

  • Can be scorched
  • Not scratchproof; deep cuts or scratches might require special care
  • Not as natural-looking as stone and engineered stone
07 of 18

Laminate Kitchen Countertops

Laminate Kitchen Countertops black lemons
Jay Wilde

Laminate is constructed with a thin sheet of plastic resin covering plywood or particleboard. Because laminate gets its look from high-quality printed paper, it is inexpensive and widely available. Advancements in printing technology and edge options allow laminate countertops to mimic stone, metal, or wood without the cost of natural materials.

Average Price of Laminate Countertops: $15-$65 per square foot

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Laminate Counters: Pros and Cons

Laminate tile sink flowers window
Philip Harvey

Pros of Laminate Countertops:

  • Heat-, stain-, and scratch-resistant
  • Easy to clean
  • Lower costs than all other countertop materials

Cons of Laminate:

  • Sharp knives and hot pans can damage laminate
  • Scorching, deep scratches, and cracks cannot be repaired
  • Only allows for drop-in sinks due to its construction
09 of 18

Wood Kitchen Countertops

Kitchen with dark blue cabinets and wooden countertops
Stacy Goldberg

Wood countertops add instant warmth and charm to your kitchen. Butcherblock is the most common type of wood countertop, but crafted wood slabs from varieties like maple, teak, cherry, and walnut are also available. Wood is a great prep countertop material.

Average Price of Wood Countertops: $20 to $70 per square foot

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Pros and Cons of Wood Countertops

white kitchen with wood counters and island
Jason Donnelly

Pros of Wood Counters:

Cons of Wood:

  • Vulnerable to moisture, heat, acid, corrosive chemicals, and stains
  • Shrinks or expands with extreme dryness or moisture
  • Requires food-friendly sealing and routine maintenance
11 of 18

Concrete Kitchen Countertops

kitchen with concrete countertops
Jeff Herr

Concrete countertops are less common—but no less stylish—than natural stone countertops and complement a broad range of styles. Concrete is an extremely durable and surprisingly versatile material that can be tinted and sculpted for maximum design possibilities. Concrete countertops complement other natural materials such as wood and stone.

Average Price of Concrete Countertops: $65 to $135 per square foot

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Pros and Cons of Concrete Countertops

Concrete Kitchen Countertops kitchen sink
Brie Williams

Pros of Concrete Countertops:

  • Heat- and stain-resistant
  • Durable
  • Cracks can be repaired

Cons of Concrete:

  • Must be sealed and regularly maintained to resist stains and water
  • Susceptible to damage from highly acidic liquids
  • Can be extremely heavy and require extra care
13 of 18

Stainless-Steel Kitchen Countertops

Metal Kitchen Countertops
Michael Partenio

Borrowed from restaurant kitchens, stainless-steel countertops are an ideal cook's companion. They pair easily with any decorating style, from modern to traditional, because they complement many kitchen appliances. Other metal countertop materials include copper, pewter, and zinc, but those are more style-specific.

Average Price of Stainless-Steel Countertops: $80-$150 per square foot

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Pros and Cons of Stainless-Steel Counters

Metal Kitchen Countertops olive oil
John Granen

Pros of Stainless-Steel Countertops:

  • Antibacterial
  • Stain- and heat-resistant
  • Highly durable, making it ideal for food prep

Cons of Metal Counters:

  • Copper, pewter, and zinc are susceptible to scratches and dents
  • If stainless steel is scratched or dented, it's possible it cannot be repaired
  • Can be expensive
15 of 18

Eco-Friendly Kitchen Countertops

Kitchen with wood countertop
Edmund Barr

Bamboo, recycled glass, and paper composites (a combination of resin, pigments, and recycled paper) are all eco-friendly countertop materials. Recycled-glass countertops offer a unique look well-suited to contemporary kitchens. Some eco-friendly countertop materials might be harder to find in certain areas of the country.

Average Price of Eco-Friendly Countertop Materials: $25 to $100 per square foot; dependent on material

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Pros and Cons of Eco-Friendly Countertops

tomatoes spice drawer
Michael Skott

Pros of Bamboo, Recycled Glass, and Paper Composite Countertops:

  • Bamboo is easy to clean and less expensive than other eco-friendly countertop materials. It also has antibacterial properties.
  • Recycled glass countertops are durable, heat- and stain-resistant, and easy to clean.
  • Paper composite counters are durable and easy to clean.

Cons of Eco-Friendly Counter Materials:

  • Bamboo countertops need to be sealed and routinely treated. They're susceptible to scratches and burning.
  • Recycled glass can chip, scratch, or break with heavy impacts.
  • Paper composite is also susceptible to scratches and stains. It is not heat-resistant and has limited color choices.
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Tile Kitchen Countertops

white and black kitchen
Kimberly Gavin

Tile provides a budget-friendly way to customize countertops. Ceramic tiles are durable and come in a variety of colors, shapes, textures, and sizes so that any style or look can be achieved. While tile itself is durable, grout lines are highly susceptible to stains and mildew, so require regular cleaning.

Average Price of Tile Countertops: $15 to $20 per square foot

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Pros and Cons of Tile Countertops

Ceramic Tile Counter spice rack
Alise O'Brien

Pros of Tile Counters:

  • Budget-friendly
  • Can be a do-it-yourself project
  • Glazed ceramic tile is heat-, scratch-, stain-, and moisture-resistant

Cons of Tile:

  • Tiles can chip or crack
  • Although tiles might be resistant, grout is susceptible to stains and mildew, so it requires routine cleaning
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