Guide to Choosing the Best Countertop Material

Posted 07/30/2018 by Arizona Tile

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Fantasy Brown Satin Marble Kitchen Countertop from Arizona Tile
Image: Fantasy Brown Satin Marble Kitchen Countertop from Arizona Tile

When you’re designing or renovating a kitchen or bathroom in your home, choosing the perfect countertops can be a challenge. There are so many factors to consider, including price, style, durability, stain-resistance, maintenance requirements and simply how well the countertop coordinates with other design elements of the room.

Shopping for new countertops is no easy task, but we’re here to hopefully make it a little less stressful for you. Let’s break down the pros and cons of popular countertop materials so you can narrow down your list of options. Check out these tips and considerations and you’ll be picking out your perfect countertop slab in no time.

Monte Cristo Granite Kitchen Countertop from Arizona Tile
Image: Monte Cristo Granite Kitchen Countertop from Arizona Tile

#1. Granite & Marble

Natural stones like granite and marble offer a timeless quality and classic beauty that makes them a popular choice for modern kitchens and bathrooms. There are plenty of reasons to go with natural slab for your countertops, but these options aren’t for everyone.

Consider granite or marble if…

  • You’re looking for a classic countertop that has mass appeal (ideal if you plan to sell your house in the near future)
  • You prefer natural stone to engineered surfaces
  • You don’t mind taking the time to maintain your countertops and re-seal them once every 6-12 months
  • You want your countertops to be truly one-of-a-kind—after all, no two stone slabs are alike!

Choose something else if…

  • You dislike the natural variations in color/appearance from slab to slab (found in all natural stones)
  • You (or your kids) are prone to spills in the kitchen—marble is especially porous and can easily stain, even when sealed
  • You're looking for a solid color product or exact consistency between multiple slabs. Granite and Marble are products of nature, therefore no two slabs are exactly alike

Tip: If you have your mind set on natural stone, ask your tile installer for specific instructions on maintenance and care—and stick to them to keep your countertops looking beautiful for years to come.

Bella Statuario Quartz Bathroom Countertop from Arizona Tile
Image: Bella Statuario Quartz Bathroom Countertop from Arizona Tile

#2. Quartz

Quartz is a rising star in home design, and many homeowners today are choosing quartz countertops rather than natural stone surfaces. Why? Modern technology has made it possible to create engineered countertops that have the beauty of natural stone yet require virtually no maintenance. At a price point that’s comparable to stone countertops, quartz is a versatile option that may make sense for your space.

Consider quartz if…

  • You love the look of natural stone but don't want to commit to sealing your countertops annually
  • You want a durable surface that resists scratches, chips and other damage
  • You’re looking for a wide range of color options with few inconsistencies from slab to slab. Quartz colors are manufactured with very tight tolerances, therefore colors are nearly identical from slab to slab
  • You want to avoid pitting, fissures, and other similar qualities that can be found in natural stone

Choose something else if…

  • Your countertops receive a lot of direct sunlight, as quartz has the potential to fade or discolor over time when exposed to lots of UV light

    Tip: You can find quartz slabs that beautifully mimic the look of marble, granite and other natural stones. So if you’re leaning toward quartz countertops but natural stone is still calling to you, you can get the best of both worlds. 

#3. Laminate

Laminate countertops have been used prevalently in homes since in the 1940s, and they’re an inexpensive alternative to other countertop options. Made from layers of plastic and particleboard, laminate remains fairly popular due to its low cost and range of available colors and patterns. However, it’s very much a case of “you get what you pay for,” and there are notable downsides to this option.

Consider laminate if…

  • You’re on a very tight budget, as laminate is one of the cheapest countertop options available
  • You’re looking for countertops you can safely install yourself 

Choose something else if…

  • You need a surface that is heat- and scratch-resistant, as laminate is not—plus, if it is damaged, it can’t be repaired
  • Your countertops get a lot of use, as laminate can become worn, faded and dull over time
  • You want a countertop material that will add to your home’s potential resale value

Cemento Rasato Grigio Mosaic Color Body Porcelain from Arizona Tile
Image: Cemento Rasato Grigio Mosaic Color Body Porcelain from Arizona Tile

#4: Other Materials

Of course, there are plenty more options when it comes to kitchen countertops—from concrete to butcher block—but this guide covers the basics of the most popular surfaces.

To get more ideas for your kitchen remodel, check out this piece from Redfin on kitchen trends in their home listings. And for more information, tips and ideas on choosing your countertops, talk to a professional at your nearest Arizona Tile location.

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