How to Select the Countertop That is Right for You

“There are just so many options, I thought choosing the countertops would be the easy part.” As the owner of a kitchen and bath countertop company, it never surprises me how often I hear these words. The truth is, with the number of different material options available to homeowners today, not to mention the number of manufacturers of each product, choosing the countertop that is right for you can be quite a daunting task. However, let not your heart be troubled, by answering the questions below you will be well on your way to simplifying what can sometimes feel like being adrift at sea without a compass.

The first question to consider is, what is the budget for your countertop installation? Like most purchasing decisions, there is a wide range of price points to consider when you are looking at countertops. Laminates are widely recognized as one of the more affordable options at roughly 10-30 per sq. ft., while natural stones, including granite, start closer to the upper $30’s per sq. ft. and can exceed $150 per sq. ft.

Second, how do you use your countertops? Different materials have different performance attributes that you should consider in relation to your lifestyle. Some products are virtually maintenance-free, while others will require some effort to maintain. Some of the attributes to consider are stain resistance, abrasion resistance, heat resistance, and difficulty of repair in the event that “life happens”.

Third, what are the visual qualities that you are looking for in your countertops? Are you looking for an integral sink that appears to be part of the countertop or do you want to choose a sink made from a dissimilar material? Can the countertop material accommodate both undermount and drop-in sinks? Is the option to have the backsplash integral (coved) to the countertop, as opposed to detached and installed on top of the countertop important to you? Are visible seams in the countertop a concern for you? Do you love the variation in pattern of natural stones where each slab is a unique piece of art, or are you more inclined to choose the more consistent, predictable appearance of quartz, solid surface, or laminate?

To help summarize some of the answers to the questions posed above, I have included the following table as a quick reference. In addition to this information, make sure you reference your local Better Business Bureau when selecting your kitchen and bath professional. For an expanded discussion on other factors to consider in selecting your countertop, including “green” options, click here.







Laminate



Butcher Block (Oiled)



Solid Surface



Quartz



Granite



Marble



Commom Brands

Formica,
Wilsonart

Primarily
unbranded

Corian,
HiMacs

Zodiaq,
Silestone

Primarily
unbranded

Primarily
unbranded



Typical Sq. Ft. Price Range

$10 – $30

$30 – $65

$35 – $80

$50 – $100

Upper
$30’s – $150+

$40 –
$150+



Stain Resistance

Excellent

Fair

Very Good

Very Good

Varies
with specific color

Varies
with specific color



Abrasion Resistance

Good

Fair

Fair

Excellent

Excellent

Poor



Heat Resistance

Excellent

Very Good

Very Good

Excellent

Excellent

Fair



Maintenance

Low
maintenance

Needs to
be re-oiled

Low
maintenance

Low
maintenance

Needs to
be re-sealed

Needs to
be re-sealed



Scratch Repair

Replace
damaged layers

Sand out
scratches – can look new

Sand out
scratches – can look new

Polish out
scratches – may be visible

Polish out
scratches – may be visible

Polish out
scratches – may be visible



Crack Repair

Replace
damaged layers

Depends on
severity, may need to replace

Repair
with die-lot material, is often not visible

Glue and
polish – likely visible

Glue and
polish – likely visible

Glue and
polish – likely visible



Sink Options

Drop-in/
Under-mount

Drop-in/
Under-mount

Drop-in/

Under-mount/ Integral

Drop-in/
Under-mount

Drop-in/ Under-mount

Drop-in/
Under-mount



Integral Splash

Yes

No

Yes

No

No

No



Visible Seams

Yes

Varies

Inconspicuous

Yes

Yes

Yes



Comment

Price,
durability

Price,
adds warmth

Renewability

Stone
product with easy maintenance

Beauty of
natural stone

Beauty of
natural stone