Countertop Materials

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Homeowners can choose from an increasingly diverse range of kitchen countertop materials, from wood and granite to stainless steel and concrete.

The Granite Countertop

Granite remains one of the most sought-after countertop materials. A granite countertop is unique, as no two countertops are exactly alike. As a kitchen countertop, granite is durable and resists damage from hot pots. A granite countertop also looks elegant and adds to a home's resale value.

No kitchen countertop material is perfect, including granite. A granite countertop can dull knives, stains unless properly sealed and must be resealed annually. The counter can also crack if not properly installed. Granite is very expensive, with cost depending on the color, finish and where the stone is from.

Laminate Countertop Materials

Laminate remains the cheapest and most common kitchen countertop. Easy to clean and available in almost unlimited styles, laminate does have some disadvantages. Chips and scratches cannot be repaired, and the finished product has seams.

Engineered Stone Countertop Materials

Engineered stone is made of crushed quartz particles. Compared to other stone countertop materials, engineered stone is practically maintenance-free.

An engineered stone kitchen countertop doesn't look as natural as granite or marble, but is nonporous, scratch resistant and comes in a wide variety of colors. Don't expect to save money by choosing engineered stone over granite: The two countertop materials are roughly equal in price.

Ceramic Tile for Your Countertop

DIY enthusiasts favor ceramic tile, as unlike most countertop materials, tiles can be self-installed. Ceramic tiles come in a wide range of styles and colors and can handle heat. On the downside, tiles chip and crack easily, and grout lines between tiles can stain.

Wood Countertops

Hardwoods make beautiful countertops; a wood kitchen countertop makes a kitchen seem warm and rustic, and no two pieces of wood are exactly alike.

Woods such as teak, cherry, walnut, mahogany and maple are popular countertop materials. Wood is easy to clean and can be refinished to remove scratches. Wood, however, does burn easily, can stain and may absorb food odors.

Other Kitchen Countertop Materials

Other kitchen countertop options include stainless steel, soapstone, marble and even concrete. Marble and soapstone are more susceptible to damage than a granite countertop. Stainless steel provides a modern look, but can be very noisy. Concrete countertops are increasingly popular for custom kitchens.

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