Design

Comparing 10 Popular Countertop Materials

August 17, 2022

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We’re making headway in the laundry room! The tile was laid, the cabinets are in, the wallpaper is up, and the light fixtures have been installed. The next thing to be done, (and the reason we’re at a standstill) is install the countertops. I have been neck deep in countertop materials and so I thought it was only right to do a comparison, highlighting all the countertop materials we’ve used.

Brass Ceiling Light | Wallpaper | Wall Sconce | Black Shade | Washer & Dryer | Gray Tile | White Tile

I have had a heck of a time committing to a countertop material in the laundry room. Full transparency: This is a Lowe’s sponsored room, which means everything needs to be sourced from Lowe’s. It’s incredibly cool, but also tricky when I’ve been envisioning soapstone countertops and we couldn’t find that at our local Lowe’s.

I even played around with the idea of doing a dark stained butcher block but with the wooden linen press, and the wood vanity across the hall, it started to feel too country. That just isn’t my style!

We actually ventured out to a different, bigger Lowe’s to see if maybe they had more countertop options for us to look at. They did! We came across this new-to-us product called Dekton, which comes in a lot of different looks and is virtually indestructible. We chose the most soapstone-esque finish, Kelya. It’s dark with some subtle veining. I love it!

Now let’s take a look at 10 commonly used countertop materials and compare them all shall we? Note that the cost per square feet includes installation so there’s some variability.

1. Dekton

$60-$95/square foot

This image is of the exact Kelya Dekton material we’re using in the laundry room! Stunning. Dekton is a man made ultra-compact and durable countertop material, made from mixing raw materials under extreme heat and pressure. It’s scratch resistant, stain resistant, and heat resistant–they’re known for being “indestructible.” Dekton also happens to be non-porous and low maintenance as well. I would say it’s pretty similar to porcelain in terms of manmade stone-like countertop materials.

We were able to get an installer who works with Dekton material, but I did hear through my DM’s that it can be tricky to find local installers. Definitely something to look into depending on which area you live in.

2. Marble

Bar Stools | Pendants | Vase | Sconce | Task Lamp | See All Kitchen Sources

$180/square ft

Could NOT be happier with our marble countertops. The classic veining of the Carrara cannot be beat IMO. With marble, a lot of people are concerned about staining, and durability and I get it. I’m just not that type of person. We’re definitely careful with ours but if there’s some natural wear and tear, I don’t really mind. We even had an incident with a porous vase that slowly leaked on the marble overnight. You can definitely see a slight water stain, but it doesn’t bother me.

The experts recommend re-sealing your marble countertops every 6 months to 1 year. So we are definitely due for another sealing!

Cabinet Pulls | Pendants | Checked Candle | Vase | Peach Stems | Cloche

It’s a pretty penny to spend on a countertop that requires some maintenance. I would say that if you love a white countertop and need it to look perfect, maybe steer more towards Quartz.

3. Soapstone

Copper Canisters | Ceramic Bowls | Wood Bowls | White Canisters | Scalloped Bowl | Glass Canisters

$55-$120/square foot

Soapstone is a natural countertop material made from a steatite stone that includes chlorite, magnesite and dolomite. Besides being dark and beautiful, it’s also durable and non-porous. While not as hard as granite, it has some pliability to it. When I think of stone, I definitely don’t think of it as pliable, but I guess this just means it’s less brittle and less prone to cracking.

It’s been 9 months with our countertops and both the soapstone and the marble have held up beautifully. Since it is a softer stone, it’s definitely advised to use a cutting board but we would do that anyways. Chris like his cutting boards!

Besides that, it’s stain resistant, bacteria resistant, and “chemically neutral” which means that acidic foods like lemon juice won’t blemish or tarnish it. We get asked often what we do to our soapstone, and we’ve never once oiled it or anything. It feels so low maintenance to us.

4. Quartzite

Mirror | Sconces | Cabinet Knobs | Smoke Glass Vase | Faucets | Study of Clouds | Peonies

$80 to $210/square foot 

The difference between Quartzite and Quartz? Quartzite is a natural occurring stone cut to your dimensions. Quartz is a manufactured material containing natural quartz pieces and synthetic materials so that it looks and feels like a natural stone.

We used Quartzite in our Modern Cottage bathroom and absolutely loved the character and movement of the stone. It’s also known as one of the strongest natural stone materials and is highly durable. Of course the harder the stone, the more susceptible to chipping and cracking.

Like marble, it also requires sealing 1-2 times a year, but once it’s sealed it’s very resistant to discoloration and staining.

5. Quartz

Chandelier | Stools | Runner

$60-$150/square foot

Unlike Quartzite, Quartz is an engineered material but it is MADE with quartz pieces. It’s strong and durable like quartz, but because of the man-made resin, it’s not as heat resistant as most natural stones. Hot pads are your friends if you have quartz countertops.

If you don’t like a natural patina or if you’re worried about imperfections in your countertops, then quartz is for you! There’s no sealing or resealing involved!

We used quartz in the Fullmer’s kitchen, and also in our bathroom two homes ago and loved them a lot.

Walnut Mirrors | Sconces | Brass Knobs | Smokey Floral Wallpaper

6. Granite

Vase | Pendants | Bulbs | Cabinet Knobs | Cutting Board

Costs: $45 – $65/square foot

We had granite countertops in our Modern Cottage Kitchen in Idaho. I wouldn’t have chosen these specific countertops myself, but we made them work with fresh paint on the cabinets. We actually recently chose a honed black granite for the outdoor kitchen (can’t wait to get it in place!), which reminds me of the granite countertops we did in our cabin.

You cannot beat the price of granite when it comes to natural stone countertops. It’s harder than marble and soapstone which also makes it prone to chipping. But they are stain resistant and heat resistant (place those hot pans right on the surface for all I care).

I would say the spectrum of different granite I’ve seen is broad. There’s all sorts of granites and although lately it gets kind of a bad rap, there’s some good ones to be found for sure.

The downside of granite is that it’s porous and can soak up liquids and bacteria if it’s not sealed. It only needs to be sealed about once a year but be weary of acids like vinegar and lemon that can tarnish the sealant. Upkeep will help your granite stand the test of time!

7. Concrete

$60-$130/square foot

Back in the day, we DIY’d our own kitchen concrete countertops and to this day I’m obsessed. They had so much natural character to them that we crafted with our own hands! Here’s a full post on how we did them, but the whole project cost less than $1,000.

I would say the downside is that concrete can crack. I guess the upside to that is that cracks can be filled with more concrete! Just like most countertops, they need to be sealed too.

8. Butcher Block

$30-$40/square foot

Butcher block as a countertop is up there in the budget friendly category! We renovated this kitchen for my aunt back in 2016 and used butcher block as the countertops for a total of $1300.

The downside is that wood is about as porous as it gets so sealing and upkeep is important. After living with our butcher block island for 2.5 years, we actually refinished ours which is just a part of regular maintenance. Upkeep and care is a must, but to me it’s worth it for the charm and warmth of the wood. Speaking of warmth, you can play around with different stains to get the wood tone you want. Even better!

9. Laminate

Office Chair

$25-$35/square foot

Say hello to the most budget countertop material there is! We used this in our home office a few homes ago and it worked super well for us. If you don’t know, laminate is a thin sheet that adheres onto particleboard. While it’s the most affordable material, the downside is it can’t withstand heat and scratches.

10. Porcelain

Costs: $55 to $120 per square foot

Out of all the countertop materials, we have not used porcelain, but it is a really commonly used material! And for good reason because it’s a really beautiful, “solid” countertop option. It’s another manufactured material and is a close second to natural stone in terms of strength and durability. Besides being easy to clean, it’s stain resistant and non-porous, which means no sealing required! It’s also heat resistant, chemical resistant, and comes in a variety of shapes and colors.

I guess the downside is that the designs of porcelain are printed on top (which is similar to Dekton) and so the design is only skin deep. You have to do a beveled edge or a rounded edge to see the pattern on the side.

Each countertop material comes with their own personality traits and I would say there’s no bad options. Every home and family is different and one family’s countertop needs might be different than our needs.

What countertops do you have in your house and what do you like and dislike about them??

What do you think?

  1. Stephanie says:

    Oh, to have the soapstone countertops I had back east…
    What do you think about stainless steel? Right now we are living with horrible, uneven dark brown granite tile with an odd brown latex-like grout. Our house is a 1955 ranch that has unfortunately been redone to look Craftsman.

  2. Amy Pavone says:

    Such a great guide that I’ll be using for my upcoming bathroom reno. We did “Fantasy Brown” countertop in our kitchen. It’s a natural mix of marble and quartzite. We also got fortunate in finding a slab that leathered. It’s stunning 🥰

  3. Sydney Haskell says:

    We have granite with a lot of movement and a 15 year sealant. We purchased this when we built our home 7 years ago. I am amazed at all of the products available now. If I ever change my countertops, I would go with porcelain and matching backsplash. I love the functionality and look.

  4. Michelle says:

    We’re rocking 1960’s carnation pink laminate! It’s not what I would have chosen, but it has stood the test of time. We’ll renovate in ~5 years, and might actually choose another laminate – it’s hard-wearing and it fits the age & character of the house and neighborhood. I do have dreams of quartzite, but we’ll have to see what fits the character of this little coastal ranch.

  5. Dinah says:

    I’m surprised there was no solid surface countertop in your portfolio. My moms 15-year-old Corian counters are still as great-looking as the day installed. Many patterns are speckled multicolor and seen primarily in commercial settings. However there are some with good color and lovely movement. I think solid surface is priced between laminate and granite. Thanks for the comparisons.

  6. Thalita says:

    That is a incredible post!
    Very informative ( good to know which stones are ok with heat and how much maintenance it requires).I’ll be saving it to help me choose the best stone when I renovated my kitchen.

  7. cindy says:

    I had granite in my last home and loved it! I never sealed it. I got corian in this home but it scratches so easily and who wants to have to sand it which I never had to do with granite. I’m going with quartz in the home we’re building.

  8. Melissa says:

    We have granite, quartz, and ceramic but my dream kitchen would be a combo of quartz and soapstone. I just love the warmth and character of the soapstone.

  9. CJ Wenty says:

    Great roundup. Thanks! Love your soapstone/marble combo. What do you use for daily cleaning on soapstone? Will you oil the soapstone in the future or leave as is? Any other soapstone maintenance tips? Thanks.

  10. Christine says:

    We are in the final stages of a kitchen renovation. We chose Taj Mahal quartzite for the countertops and full height backsplash. They were installed last week and I am in love. We chose quartzite because I prefer the movement and variability of natural stone vs. quartz. I know everyone loves quartz right now but much of it looks too man made for me. And my personality wouldn’t be able to handle the potential for etching with marble ;)

  11. REK981 says:

    My first home had laminate and I liked that if I wanted to paint the kitchen it was not expensive to get a new countertop for a fresh new look which I did twice in the span of 17 years. It worked out fine for the neighborhood too (working class, small homes.) My second home was totally redone before we moved in and was a sea of large granite slabs. We sealed them 3 times in 16 months, I did not like them at all. They felt weird, they were hard to clean, they didn’t seem to seal very well, and the colors were not great. All around kind of blah. I am currently renting and my teeny tiny kitchen has about 4 feet total of laminate. It is fine. I make it work. I would love soapstone someday.

    • Chantelle C says:

      This is us! We redid the kitchen in our 1951 bungalow in a working class neighborhood and installed laminate with a marble pattern. We were updating our house to sell and in our price range, we wouldn’t have got the return on investment for the quartz countertops that I wanted. I was surprised at all of the edge options. We did a double round over so it looks like quartz countertops on the edge since it wraps around, although you can tell on the very ends that it has that typical laminate seam. But it works for us and everyone who has seen them loves them!

  12. Renee says:

    Our current countertops are what you had in the Modern Cottage. Busy and bossy! We’re moving though and the new kitchen has Uba Tuba, which I’m not sure is an improvement lol. Hoping I’ll be better able to spot crumbs and spills than with the Giallo Ornamental.

    I was actually pondering painting the cabinets last night and want to see a Pigeon sample next to it. I love that color so much in your home, Julia.

  13. Andrea says:

    We are currently waiting on soapstone countertops and have had them before and loved! They just don’t feel as cold or slick as some surfaces can feel. The downside: price is going up and in some geographic areas, its hard to get slabs. Midwest is affected by this and its frustrating!

  14. Thanks for this perfect post. I’ll be bookmarking this to share with clients always asking questions about the differences.

  15. Molly says:

    Thank you for this post – we’re restoring the kitchen in our 1870s farmhouse and my heart is stuck on marble, even though I know it won’t be “perfect.” Would you recommend marble next to a stovetop? I read an article about oils and butter being terrible for marble, which is where they would be used the most.

    And one more question off topic – how did you attach the brass railings to your shelving? I’ve looked at your source, but don’t know how it’s installed. Thank you!

  16. Mary says:

    Thank you for this, can you provide more specifics on the soapstone? It’s gorgeous but somewhat hard to source. Is this a particular kind? And is this honed? Thanks!

  17. Lucy says:

    Wow. The prices in states are so different. We got quotes for Taj Mahal quartzite $250cad +/sq ft, quartz around same price. Marble would be like double🤢

  18. Ryann says:

    Hello, love your work! Can you please tell me where you got the vanity cabinet in #4 quartzite ! I LOVE IT.

  19. Jennifer says:

    When we remodeled, we bought quartz. We absolutely love them! They are perfect for a busy household.
    I don’t worry about spills. Wipe & go!

  20. Lara says:

    We have Corian countertops, and they still look pretty good after 10 years. I’ve heard you can have them sanded down so they look brand new, but I’m not sure if that’s true or not. Ours have scratches in them, but stains have come out easily enough with some elbow grease. Be wary of using Magic Erasers on Corian, they can change the finish.

  21. Such great info! We are hopefully swapping out our kitchen countertops soon and going with quartz. I love the look of marble, but know that my perfectionist self will prefer the lack of wear and tear of quartz. Maybe I’ll get some pretty marble someday!

  22. Kiera says:

    Are these prices just for the material or material and install?
    We’ve done two kitchens in the past 2 years and we did concrete for one and butcher block for the other because we could diy these and save money on the install side of things.
    Concrete priced out for a professional was $$$ but for us to do was $. And both concrete and butcher block was cheaper in our area (far northern California) than laminate because of install alone, we didn’t feel comfortable installing laminate, didn’t feel like mistakes made in laminate could be easily fixed.

  23. AP says:

    What about Corian? It’s the unsung hero of countertops – soft to the touch, not cold and unwelcoming, easy to clean and maintain (and remove stains from), has a seamless look, and can be buffed back to the point where it looks brand new. I know people think it’s totally 80’s and 90’s, but it’s an amazing material and I’m confounded as to why it didn’t make your list.

  24. J says:

    It’s frustrating that these are not listed in order (e.g, low-high, high-low).

  25. Jo Vonancken says:

    Thanks for this informative article. I have the same combo as you, soapstone perimeter and a marble island. My kitchen is not as grand as your beautiful kitchen but this combo is my favorite.

  26. Cici Haus says:

    We did concrete countertops in our basement apartment’s kitchen that we renovated specifically for my friend moving in. With concrete you have two options: unsealed heat on it is fine but it’s prone to stains, or seal and you can’t put hot things on it but it won’t stain! We ended up asking him which he prioritized and we ended up not sealing it. They looked rough two years later (he was a big cook/foodie so he used the heck out of the counter) but they worked for the time they needed to.

    I’ve had granite, soapstone, quartz, laminate, concrete, and butcher block. My reviews:

    Granite: Meh, it’s fine as a material but it’s usually so speckled I don’t notice some spills until I touch it which sincerely grosses me out

    Soapstone: THE LOVE OF MY LIFE; we did unsealed because I liked the grayer look and it did get water marks but weirdly to get rid of them you just wipe them down with more water and dry it better so it was no biggie

    Quartz: It’s fine. It is virtually indestructible but it’s just not my personal jam (also ours is speckled like granite so it has those cons)

    Laminate: Honestly, I was impressed. The white laminate counters were original to our 1958 home so they were 60 years old when we moved in and sure they were stained so they always looked dirty but there was no damage to them. SIXTY YEARS LATER.

    Concrete: We DIYed this with the layer-over-laminate method and it wasn’t the best from the start so I won’t speak to durability but we liked the look.

    Butcher block: We redid the basement kitchen before selling so we didn’t live with them but I will say that our first contractors-from-you-know-where cut it too short, making the piece useless so that is a risk.

  27. Susan says:

    Did you get the quartz and quartzite labels mixed up? I thought quartz was the natural stone and quartzite was man made out of quarz?

  28. Cfb says:

    Could you please share what cleaner and sealer you use on your marble? Thanks!

    • Our installers sealed the countertops when they installed them, so we’re just going to have them come do it again! Not sure what product they used but I’ll find out when they come!

  29. nina says:

    hi, love your style!!!! i want to know how you have stored all those dining chairs for your lovely HUGE dining room in your last home!!

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