In my previous blog I covered some key questions that will help you determine which countertop you should select. Now let’s tackle the biggest question of all: with all the choices and all sometimes contradictory information out there, how do you know which material will be best?

Below is a clear, concise comparison of 7 of the most popular countertop materials, in no particular order. Prices are approximate and will vary by region. By first answering the fundamental questions posed in my last blog and then examining the options below, you should be ready to refine your research and shop with confidence.

  1. Granite:
    Durable and beautiful. This material has it all, with colors and patterns for every taste. It’s a natural material and depending on where you live and where it comes from, its price can vary considerably. With this heavy material, make sure your cabinets can withstand the weight.
    Price Range: $30­–160 per square foot

    TIP: If you want the granite look and your existing countertops are in good shape, check out granite countertops that install over your existing countertops. Although still fairly pricey, they cost less than traditional granite.
  2. Engineered Quartz:
    Some say it holds up better than granite and it’s available in more colors. Most types of quartz contain about 90% natural quartz. It’s durable, beautiful, and doesn’t have to be sealed. Brands include Caesarstone and Cambria, as well as others.
    Price Range: $35–180 per square foot
  3. Stainless Steel:
    A beautiful choice if you want a clean, contemporary look in your kitchen, and a great option if you’re a serious chef. Quartz is easy to care for as well as durable, which is why you find it in virtually any restaurant kitchen you see.
    Price Range: $30–150 per square foot
  4.  Wood or Butcher Block:
    Durable and beautiful, this countertop material will warm up any kitchen space. One of its best features: if you do get some surface damage, you usually can buff it right out. It’s often a popular choice for an island to add interest through color and texture contrast with your countertops.
    Price Range: $20–150 per square foot
  5.  Solid Surface:
    Better known to most of us as Corian or Swanstone, this material is made of durable and strong acrylic. It comes in a variety of colors and styles made to mimic the look of granite or marble.
    Price Range: $25–150 per square foot
  6. Concrete:
    This surface is enjoying growing popularity and has expanded beyond industrial-style lofts. You’ll find lots of create color or pattern choices, but installation can be fairly labor-intensive. With the significant weight of concrete, you’ll want to make sure that your base cabinets can safely support it.
    Price Range: $40–180 per square foot
  7. Laminate:
    By far the most affordable countertop material out there. If you haven’t looked at laminate lately, you’ll want to take another glance because a lot has changed. You’ll find high-end laminates that you’ll swear are granite until you touch them. This makes laminate an affordable, popular choice. The tradeoff lies in durability. Realize that heat and cutting is likely to damage this surface, and if you get moisture in a seam that’s not properly sealed, it may still warp and separate.
    Price Range: $10–75 per square foot

Granite is timeless and still retains its status as the most coveted surface. But with all of the engineered options available today, we no longer live in a “granite only” environment where other options are considered inferior. As always, do your homework to assess your needs and examine the full array of materials and their cost. Budget is often the biggest consideration, but don’t forget about functionality, durability, style, and beauty. Watch for product and installation sales, and good luck making your kitchen the most popular destination in your home. You know that’s where everybody hangs out!

Now, what will you do next to love where you live?

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