Choosing Countertop Materials
There are a lot of choices in countertop materials. This is probably not a comprehensive list, but these are some of the choices we considered.
- Corian, Cultured Marble or other Solid Surface
- Wood or Butcher Block
- Stainless Steel, Copper, Pewter, Zinc or other Metal
- Formica or Laminate
Granite is a natural stone, so it has variations. It is hard and lasts. It comes in various colors.
Granite is supposed to have the best resale value.
Why not Granite?
The patterns and colors just don’t appeal to me. It feels busy.
Granite is porous. It can stain. It can absorb odors. It must be resealed every two years or so.
The seams are noticeable.
Granite is brittle. It may chip or crack.
Marble is beautiful.
Why not Marble?
Marble is even harder to maintain than granite. You have to really take care of it.
Marble is porous. It is damaged by acidic things, like citrus, tomatoes or vinegar. These are things I have often had on my counters.
Marble scratches more easily than granite.
It has to be regularly sealed.
Soapstone is extremely durable. It does not stain. It can handle heat. It comes in some beautiful natural shades of blueish and greenish grey.
Soapstone is extremely dense. It is not porous. It does not absorb bacteria or germs.
It is easy to clean.
Seams are barely noticeable if properly put together.
Why not Soapstone?
Soapstone Countertops softens over time. Scratches can be sanded out, but it does scratch and dent. The edges can be knocked off.
Soapstone changes color over time. It should be oiled regularly.
The natural colors it comes in do not appeal to me.
Quartz looks natural, but is man-made. It looks good! It is uniform, with no variations.
If put together correctly, the seams won’t show.
Quartz does not need to be resealed. It does not stain or absorb odors. It is easy to clean.
It is very hard and does not break.
Why not Quartz?
You know, I don’t remember. I did not love the samples I saw.
As a material, this stuff is great! But I preferred the more matte finish of the Corian we selected.
Concrete comes in a lot of colors. They put the color directly into the concrete, so that if it scratches, it is still the same color. Or they stain or acid stain the surface. This looks really cool. Often they do both.
Sometimes they put glass or stones into the concrete. That looks very cool.
When the counter is acid stained after it is put together, you can’t really see the seams.
Concrete is very strong and durable.
Why not Concrete?
Concrete has to be sealed regularly. It is porous and will stain or absorb odors.
Concrete is pretty tough, but the sealant discolors if exposed to heat.
Concrete is very heavy. It can be brittle and prone to cracking.
I just didn’t care for the samples I saw for our house.
Tile comes in a lot of colors and patterns.
Tile countertops and backsplashes are popular and I hate them. Tile chips and scratches. I hate grout.
Why not Tile?
I will never ever clean grout again as long as I live.
Yes, I understand it can be put in without grout. I don’t care. I don’t want it.
I have had tile. And I am completely over it. No. Tile.
Yes, they make countertops out of glass. It comes in nearly any color. It can be under-lit, which is super cool.
Glass is completely non-pourous. It is clean and durable.
Why not Glass?
Glass scratches. It breaks. It’s glass.
This was simply not a consideration.
Corian, Cultured Marble or other Solid Surface
These are all basically kinds of plastic.
The look is uniform.
Seams don’t show at all. The sink can be incorporated right into the counter, no lip or seam.
Super easy to clean and easy to maintain.
Corian is stain-resistant.
Corian is less brittle than stone. It does not chip or crack like natural stone. If it breaks, it can be glued back together.
It doesn’t scratch easily, but if it does buffing it out is pretty easy.
It comes in a LOT of colors and patterns that appeal to me.
Corian is non-porous. It doesn’t absorb anything. It doesn’t have to be resealed.
We put cultured marble in the bathrooms. It is in one of the bathrooms at the log cabin. I’ve had it in many bathrooms. It is easy to clean. Cultured marble is non-porous, extremely tough and resistant to stains, mildew and chips. If it ever scratches or even burns you can sand it out and polish it back to a dull shine. It works. I’ve done it. Ours was matte finish, so the missing gel finish where I sanded wasn’t noticeable.
Considerations if you choose Corian
Corian doesn’t appeal to everyone. It may make a home more difficult to sell than if you had chosen granite.
(I’m pretty sure my blue Corian really won’t be to everyone’s taste.)
Corian can be damaged by heat. It may scorch or melt. (So, don’t be stupid.)
Wood or Butcher Block
Wood Countertop looks warm. Sometimes it is made to look like furniture. Other times it has a rustic feel. Wood can be stained or painted any color in the world.
I used wood countertops in the log cabin.
I used wood for the surface of the bar in the log cabin. I stained it to match the cabinets and sealed it with polyurethane. It has stood up extremely well.
I used butcherblock when I built in the wine fridge. I oil the wood every once in a while and sand out stains or scratches with a little steel wool. And constantly tell people to use a REAL cutting board and don’t cut on the counter.
You can sand scratches out of wood. You can refinish spots or the whole countertops.
Why not Wood?
Wood stains. If you have a butcherblock countertop, people will cut on it. If you have helpful guests, you have to watch them every second or they will do something to your butcherblock. It can be sanded out, but it’s easier to not have to.
Stainless Steel, Copper, Pewter, Zinc or other Metal
Stainless steel is the countertop material most often used in commercial kitchens for a reason. It is the cleanest and most sanitary material. It does not stain, melt or burn.
Why not Metal?
I don’t want it in my kitchen. Just not my taste.
However, I will likely put stainless steel countertops in the laundry room. Eventually.
Formica or Laminate
Formica isn’t popular right now and I don’t know why. It comes in a lot of colors and patterns.
I don’t care for the ones that try to make believe they are stone, but I love other colors and patterns. It is very Mid-century Modern.
It is sanitary and easy to clean. It is not porous, needs no maintenance and lasts.
Why not Formica?
You can’t under-mount a sink. It has to be a drop-in sink.
You can scratch it if you cut on it. It can burn if you put a hot pan directly on it. Don’t be stupid.
It is out of style. It is probably not a good choice if you plan to sell soon.
Some laminates are really cheap. These will chip or stain. Sometimes they have glued on edges that will come off.
Underneath is particle board, which can deteriorate where laminate is seamed if it gets wet in the seam. Or where you open the dishwasher, the steam can make the particleboard MDF or whatever it is swell up and fall apart.