Top 4 Kitchen Countertop Materials

If you are in the process of researching design materials for your kitchen remodel, you’ve likely come across a variety of home improvement blogs with information on the best countertops. That’s why we’ve taken our approach a step further and have prepared a kitchen countertop material guide. 

You’ll get insights on each material’s composition as well as its pros and cons. It includes granite, marble, quartz, and more. You will also discover the countertop price range for each option. 

And because everyone loves a good visual, we have included a few project examples for each countertop option. 

Granite Countertops

For some time, granite slabs have been the go-to countertop material. Because every slab of granite is different, it is the perfect way to add a unique and elegant flair to traditional, transitional, and contemporary kitchen designs. 

Kitchen design with granite countertops

What Is Granite And How Is It Formed?

Granite is an igneous rock made up of primarily quartz, feldspar, micas, amphiboles, and a mixture of additional trace minerals. Its composition leads to a variety of colors and textures seen in magazines and social media photos.

How Much Does Granite Cost?

Granite countertops will cost you around $40 to $60 per square foot, with the total price for installation and materials coming in between $2,000 to $4,500.

How To Care for Granite Countertops

Use a lint-free cloth or paper towel and a specially formulated granite cleaning product regularly to clean the counter, then dry the area with a separate clean cloth or paper towel. Do not use common abrasive cleaners, which can destroy the protective sealant on the granite.

How Often Should You Seal Granite?

Depending on how often you use the countertops and how light or dark the granite is, you may need to seal it anywhere from every three months to yearly.

Pros and Cons of Granite Countertops

Pros

  • Almost impervious to heat
  • Very strong and durable
  • Easy to clean
  • Adds real estate value to the home
  • Nearly 3,000 different colors and wide varieties available
  • Nearly maintenance-free when treated with newer sealers

Cons

  • May get expensive depending on the type of selection
  • Not suitable for DIY installation
  • Slabs may have imperfections
  • Can crack if stressed or improperly installed
  • Knives are quickly dulled by cutting on granite
  • Stone is porous and requires sealing to avoid stains

Soapstone Countertops

Soapstone is another natural stone, usually dark gray in color with a smooth, silky feel. Soapstone slabs have seen a recent resurgence as an alternative to granite. It is actually quite hard and resistant to stain. 

However, over time it will scratch and develop an antique patina, which can add to the characteristics of a kitchen island with a rustic look.

soapstone countertops

What is Soapstone and How is it Formed?

Soapstone is a metamorphic rock that was formed by millions of years of fluctuating heat and pressure combined with the infusion of mineral-rich water and other liquids. Several natural properties of soapstone make it suitable for use as a solid surface countertop. The hardness/durability of soapstone can be compared to high-end marbles; however, it is relatively easy to fabricate.

How Much Does Soapstone Cost?

Soapstone countertops cost $70 to $120 per square foot. Installation for a typical 30-square-foot slab of soapstone countertop costs about $2,100 to $3,600.

How to Care for Soapstone Countertops

Soapstone counters don’t require a sealant, making it an environmentally conscious as well. Some homeowners rub their soapstone countertops with mineral oil once every four to eight weeks to keep a uniform color, but this is for aesthetics, not functionality. Because the stone is soft, it’s easy to sand out small nicks and scratches.

Pros and Cons of Soapstone

Pros

  • Deep, rich color
  • Somewhat stain resistant
  • Fairly impervious to heat
  • Damage can be sanded out
  • Offers antique, historic look to a kitchen

Cons

  • May darken over time
  • DIY installation not possible
  • Must be treated with mineral oil
  • The surface can scratch and dent, though this can create an attractive antique look

Marble Countertops

Another natural stone countertop commonly used in the kitchen is marble. Because no two sheets of marble are exactly the same, each marble countertop will be entirely unique. More often, its luxurious look is limited to use on an island, section of countertop reserved as a baking center, and for a pop of elegance, some homeowners use marble for their backsplash. 

kitchen remodel with marble countertops and backsplash

What is Marble and How is It Formed?

Marble is a metamorphic rock formed when limestone is subjected to high pressure or heat. In its pure form, marble is a white stone with a crystalline and sugary appearance, consisting of calcium carbonate. Usually, marble contains other minerals, including quartz, graphite, pyrite, and iron oxides. These minerals can give marble a pink, brown, gray, green, or variegated coloration.

How Much Does Marble Cost?

The average cost for marble slab countertops is $60 per square foot but can range from $40 to $100 per square foot. 

Marble Countertop Installation Costs

For a kitchen with 50 sq ft of counter space, the cost of marble countertops can vary between approximately $1,050 and $9,650 with an average cost of about $3,000. Calculate the best estimate for your project by measuring the countertops you would like to replace or the area of the counters you’d like to put in. Then, use the average material and labor costs below to find the total approximate price. The average cost to install marble countertops is $3,000 or $1,050 to $9,650.

Marble Tile vs. Slab Prices

Slab backsplashes: $30 to $50 per square foot. You can match your countertop and backsplash to create a seamless bold look. 

Tile backsplash: $7 to $10 per square foot. If you prefer the look of marble at a lower cost, tiles are a budget-friendly option to bring this timeless stone into your kitchen or bath.

How to Care for Marble Countertops

Dust at least once a week with a soft microfiber cloth. For wet cleaning, use a damp cloth and a pH-neutral cleaner designed for stone. Check with your countertop company for their recommendations.

Pros and Cons of Marble Countertops

Pros

  • Waterproof and heatproof
  • Adds to the real estate value of a home
  • Exceptionally beautiful stone, with unique veining
  • Available in a variety of countertop colors and types, such as carrara marble, honed marble, etc. 

Cons

  • Expensive
  • DIY installation not possible
  • Can be scratched; repairs are difficult
  • Stone is porous and stains easily unless sealed

Quartz (Engineered Stone)

Sold by companies such as DuPont Zodiaq, LG Viatera, Cambria, and Silestone, quartz was created as a more adaptable and better-performing alternative to granite and marble. It is available in a larger range of colors than granite and has a nonporous surface that resists both scratching and staining. 

quartz kitchen countertops

What is Quartz and How is it Formed?

Contrary to belief, quartz is not produced by quarrying. Quartz is actually an engineered stone that contains as much as 93 percent quartz particles and other minerals, shaped into slabs and bound with resins. 

How Much Does Quartz Cost?

Quartz countertops range in price from about $55 to $75 per square foot. Higher-quality varieties of quartz can cost $100 and up per square foot. For an average kitchen with 30 square feet of counters, quartz countertops will cost about $1,800. Labor will add approximately 22 percent of the material cost for about $360, while a sink cutout will cost around $100, and edging will run about $10 a linear foot, for a total of $3,760 installed.

How To Clean Quartz Countertops

Regular cleaning should be done with a mild soap or detergent and a soft cloth. Make sure the soap is non-bleach and non-abrasive.

Pros and Cons of Quartz Countertops

Pros

  • DIY installation possible
  • Easy to maintain, no sealing required
  • Slabs are uniform, with no imperfections
  • Can be custom-fabricated in any size and shape
  • Resists stains and is impervious to heat and acid
  • More convincing, natural appearance than solid surface material

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Countertops are very heavy

Other popular kitchen countertop choices include butcher block ( a wood countertop type), concrete, stainless steel, and laminate countertops. Be conscious of all of the information presented above when choosing your kitchen countertop. The most important factors to consider should be cost, longevity due to daily use, and maintenance. Think of which kitchen countertop material works best for your family’s needs, and will complement the kitchen design of your remodel. 

If you’re not sure which route to go, contact our team for a no-obligation free consultation.