Home Design: A Guide to Kitchen Countertops

by | Sep 18, 2023 | Stephens Homes, Stephens Living

Let’s break down the basics of kitchen countertops with this comprehensive guide. Which ones are stain-resistant? Which surfaces will I need to upkeep? Will placing a hot pan directly on marble ruin it? These are all great questions that you’re about to learn the answers to.

Pricing is also an important issue. Remember, pricing estimates will vary greatly depending on where your countertops are sourced. There are also many different brands and subtypes, so pricing will be shown as a range.

1. GRANITE

Countries like Brazil, India, and China predominantly source granite countertops. Their unique patterns and durability have maintained their popularity. Their natural variations mean you get a unique kitchen countertop whenever you choose granite.

Kitchen Countertops

DURABILITY & MAINTENANCE: Granite stands up well to daily wear and tear as it’s heat- and scratch-resistant. Maintenance is relatively straightforward; a quick wipe-down with a wet cloth usually does the trick. However, sealing it every year is recommended to keep it looking its best

PRICE: Ranges from $40 to $200 per square foot, depending on the quality and uniqueness of the slab.

STAIN RESISTANCE: Granite is quite stain-resistant if properly sealed. Red wine spill? No worries, an adequately maintained granite countertop shouldn’t bat an eye.

Kitchen Countertops

2. MARBLE

Marble is typically sourced in countries like Italy, Greece, and Turkey. Since each marble slab has a distinct pattern, anyone opting for marble gets a unique countertop. There are hundreds of marble varieties out there ranging in color and quality.

Kitchen Countertops

DURABILITY & MAINTENANCE: Marble is beautiful but not as durable as quartz or granite. It can scratch and chip more easily. Regular sealing is a must to maintain its beauty.

PRICE: Marble countertops can range from $50 to $250 per square foot, depending on the type and quality.

STAIN RESISTANCE: Even when sealed, marble is susceptible to staining. It might not be the best choice for a home with kids or if you’re prone to spills. Marble is also sensitive to acids like lemon or lime juice.

Kitchen Countertops

3. QUARTZ

While quartz is still technically a natural stone, it is considered a man-made surface. Quartz countertops include added resins, colors, and other materials to help enhance their strength and style.

Kitchen Countertops

DURABILITY & MAINTENANCE: They are engineered stones, which makes them incredibly durable and easy to care for. No need for any annual sealing rituals here!

PRICE: Quartz countertops usually range from $55 to $155 per square foot.

STAIN RESISTANCE: Quartz kitchen countertops are non-porous, which means they’re highly stain-resistant. Spill away!

Kitchen Countertops

4. SOAPSTONE

Believe it or not, soapstone is one of the most functional surfaces you can have in your kitchen. It is made from a naturally occurring steatite stone that includes dolomite, magnesite and chlorite.

Kitchen Countertops

DURABILITY & MAINTENANCE: This material is softer than other types of stone, giving it a homely, antique look over time. It’s easy to clean but may require occasional mineral oil applications to maintain its appearance. Soapstone is also very heat resistant!

PRICE: Soapstone typically costs $70 to $120 per square foot.

STAIN RESISTANCE: Soapstone is nonporous, so spills are easy to clean; however, acid can darken the stone.

Kitchen Countertops

5. QUARTZITE

Natural sandstone found beneath the earth’s surface forms quartzite. It boasts extreme heat resistance and presents a wide variety of patterns and tones. Many compare its durability to granite, making it an excellent option for kitchen countertops.

Kitchen Countertops

DURABILITY & MAINTENANCE: This stone is hard and closely resembles the durability of granite. Cleaning is simple, but like granite, you’ll need to reseal it from time to time.

PRICE: Quartzite is on the expensive side, ranging from $60 to $200 per square foot.

STAIN RESISTANCE: Once sealed, quartzite is highly resistant to stains.

Kitchen Countertops

6. PORCELAIN

Manufacturers make porcelain countertops from natural clay. They shape this clay and then fire it at extremely high temperatures to produce a dense and resilient material.

DURABILITY & MAINTENANCE: Porcelain is robust, resistant to heat, and virtually maintenance-free. A simple wipe is all it needs to look as good as new.

PRICE: Expect to spend anywhere from $60 to $100 per square foot for porcelain countertops.

STAIN RESISTANCE: This material is non-porous, making it an excellent stain-resistant option.

7. BUTCHER-BLOCK

Manufacturers glue thick, straight cuts of wood together to create butcher block countertops, resulting in a sturdy and durable worktop. As the name suggests, butchers originally used these countertops as primary surfaces for cutting and prepping meat in their shops. Typically, maple, oak, and cherry wood adorn modern kitchens.

DURABILITY & MAINTENANCE: Butcher block provides a warm, inviting look but does require regular maintenance. You’ll need to oil it regularly to keep it in tip-top shape. It’s less hard against heat or scratches than granite or quartz.

PRICE: Butcher block is a budget-friendly option, coming in at around $30 to $85 per square foot.

STAIN RESISTANCE: Stain resistance isn’t butcher block’s strong suit. So, be cautious with those beet juices and wine spills.

For more kitchen design inspo and information, check out the following blogs!

Kitchen Backsplash: Discovering Timeless Tile Patterns

Cabinet Finishes and Hardware

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