Your kitchen countertops can make or break the interior of your home. Choosing kitchen countertops doesn’t have to be an overwhelming experience. With the right information, you can learn how to choose the right countertop material and color for your dream kitchen design.
After reading this blog you’ll have everything you need to know when it comes to choosing kitchen countertops.
How to Choose Kitchen Countertop Material
When choosing kitchen countertops, knowing the differences between the most common materials is essential. Understanding how to choose kitchen countertop materials will go a long way in your overall kitchen design.
You’ll discover that certain materials may work better in your space than others. Continue reading to learn more about countertop materials from affordability and durability to appearance and visual appeal.
Coming from a variety of sources, granite is a natural product that’s quarried into blocks and then cut into slabs. Because the material is porous, it requires maintenance to ensure it stays durable over the years.
This maintenance will depend on the species of granite you choose, but oftentimes it includes applying a sealant about every 10 to 15 years. The sealant will help protect the granite from staining and oil penetration.
Granite’s appearance will vary from slab to slab which means it provides visual movement and an assortment of colors. In terms of finish, granite can range from matte to glossy leaving you to decide which matches your kitchen’s aesthetic.
While granite is not usually known for being one of the most affordable kitchen countertop options, it’s important to remember that the final price will depend heavily on the amount you need, the species you choose, and its availability at the time you purchase it.
The price ranges from moderate to expensive, but homeowners still choose granite because they consider it an investment. It offers your kitchen a unique, dramatic appearance with occasional maintenance needs.
If you’re wondering what is the most durable and stain-resistant countertop material, the answer is usually quartz. While this material is known for being on the more expensive side, homeowners find it worth the cost because it offers a high-class look that’s low-maintenance.
It’s one of the least susceptible to staining and marking and doesn’t require special cleaners or sealants since it’s nonporous. This makes quartz countertops a popular choice for kitchens with heavy traffic or for households with children.
Coming in a variety of colors, homeowners will have to decide between light vs dark quartz countertops depending on their kitchen’s style. The finish is almost always glossy and similar to granite, the pattern will vary from slab to slab.
Quartz is mined and formed with binders and pigments. Naturally, it’s one of the hardest minerals on Earth, but quality can vary depending on where it’s purchased. We recommend ensuring your quartz countertops have a National Sanitation Foundation (NSF) rating. The composition should be 93% quartz and 7% binders/pigments.
Known for its classic, luxury look, marble is a natural stone product that comes from a range of different species. While marble isn’t the most practical kitchen countertop material, homeowners typically choose it for its elegant appearance.
The surface is porous which means it requires regular maintenance and is more susceptible to staining and marks. Depending on the species, marble can be expensive, but it comes in a variety of colors and veining from light to heavy.
In addition to the unique aesthetic they add to your kitchen space, marble is also great for people who want to add value to their homes. Some experts claim that installing marble countertops can largely increase your home’s resale value.
In some cases, people believe marble is best for homeowners who don’t do much cooking or meal preparation, however, the material naturally remains cool which makes it a suitable surface for baking and other cooking tasks.
It’s important to note that marble isn’t completely heat resistant so even with its cooling properties, people should avoid placing hot pots and pans directly on the surface.
As we said before, marble requires more maintenance than other materials, but with the proper upkeep (about every six months), these countertops will be a long-lasting addition to your home.
Ranging in a variety of colors, grain structure, and finish, solid wood countertops add a warm aesthetic to any kitchen. Wood is one of the best natural and strongest materials homeowners can use for their countertops.
It’s not only great as a furniture-like focal point, but solid wood is fairly durable with the proper maintenance required. Many times, solid wood isn’t used as the countertop surface for the entire kitchen. Instead, people choose to use it for specific areas such as a kitchen island.
Doing this allows homeowners to have a dedicated chopping or meal preparation section. Wood can be susceptible to scratches and staining, but any damage can be easily fixed with light sanding and the application of oil.
While most solid wood countertops are matte, homeowners can also opt to apply a high-gloss coating if they prefer a sleek look. The price for wood countertops can be moderate to expensive depending on the size of the countertop area as well as the species of wood.
Known as the most affordable kitchen countertop option, laminate allows homeowners to create their dream kitchen on a budget. Another reason homeowners choose laminate countertops is because of the extensive range of color and pattern options. Plus, depending on your kitchen style, you can choose anywhere from matte to a high-gloss finish.
The synthetic material is composed of compressed paper and melamine resins with a plastic, laminated finish. Because of this, laminate countertops are stain and abrasion-resistant, requiring little to no maintenance.
Laminate countertops have come a long way to meet environmentally friendly demands. However, it’s important to note that for homeowners who are intending to create a sustainable kitchen, this material may not be the best choice, since they contain formaldehyde and cannot be recycled.
How to Choose Kitchen Countertop Color
The next step you need to consider when choosing kitchen countertops is what color will fit into your space’s style. Learning how to choose the right color for kitchen countertops can be overwhelming, even after you’ve decided on a material.
Below we’ve broken down the most popular colors and patterns so you can get a better idea of the pros and cons of dark vs light countertops.
Softly Veined or Boldly Veined
A veined countertop is most often seen in stone or manufactured slab materials such as quartz or marble. When it comes to these materials, your options can range from flecked or softly veined to boldly veined.
Softly veined countertops feature subtle flecks and lines which add a touch of natural richness. These are great for minimalist-style kitchens because they brighten the area and present a clean-cut look while still providing some visual movement.
Conversely, boldly veined countertops make a dramatic statement. These will feature heavier, and darker lines. Not meant to be subtle, boldly veined countertops are best when installed in larger kitchens. If you were to use a countertop with heavy veins in a small kitchen, it may overwhelm the eyes and actually make the space feel smaller than it is.
Choose softly veined countertops if:
- Your interior is a minimalist, traditional, or transitional style.
- You have a smaller kitchen design that you want to look bigger.
- You want a bright and light aesthetic but not clinical (like solid white).
Choose boldly veined countertops if:
- You have a large, or open-plan kitchen space.
- You have dark cabinets to offset the dramatic stone.
- You want your countertops to make a statement or desire visual drama.
Light or Pure White
Light or pure white countertops are usually available in manufactured materials such as laminate or some stone slabs such as quartz, granite, and marble. This is a great option for homeowners who want a contemporary or minimalist-styled kitchen.
The stark white or light color scheme can offer a crisp, clean look and work to make even the smallest kitchen seem larger. We recommend pure white or light-colored countertops to homeowners who have bold characteristics in other elements in their kitchen. For example, grainy wood or dark-colored cabinets such as nautical blues or black.
Choose pure white countertops if:
- You have a small kitchen space that you want to look more open.
- You want a contemporary, modern kitchen style.
- You want to break up dark-colored or wood cabinets.
Dark or Black
Dark or black countertops can be seen in manufactured materials such as laminate or stone slabs such as granite, quartz, or marble. Installing a darker color countertop can either appear dramatic and bold or balanced and harmonious, depending on the other elements in your space.
For kitchens that have dark cabinets, floors, or other rich and weighty features, using a dark or black countertop will work to complement the rest of the space. Conversely, adding a dark countertop with lighter-colored cabinetry can also work to soften the look.
Choose dark or black countertops if:
- You have dark cabinets and want the countertops to blend in.
- You want to connect to other black elements in your space.
- You have bright cabinets that you want to soften or stick out.
In the end, when choosing kitchen countertops, it’s important to remember that you want your space to reflect your style while still addressing your needs. With the help of an interior design expert, you can find the best way to mix beauty with functionality and get the most out of your kitchen space.
Interested in more kitchen remodeling inspiration? Take a look at our design gallery to see some of our favorite projects!
This blog was originally published on March 15, 2018, and updated on December 21, 2022.