How to Select the Right CounterTop for Your Home

Today’s kitchen countertop’s come in a wide variety of colors, materials and styles, so how do you know which ones to choose? Here’s what to consider when buying countertops in regards to function, look and style of your home and budget:

Although granite’s been a common favorite in recent years, the latest trends in countertop surfaces include soapstone, solid surface and laminate.Decorative and durable, these surfaces range from affordable to expensive and glossy to matte, all of which can fit your kitchen needs.

Granite is a popular, but expensive choice for kitchen needs.

The kitchen is often the most popular room in a home, and homeowners tend to lean toward showcasing such space with clean and aesthetically appealing countertops.

Three key factors that should be addressed when choosing countertops for your kitchen are:

  1. Style complements the design of your home
  2. Durability of materials
  3. Your Budget

Granite countertops can increase the value of your home, as they are one of the most expensive options. Granite is a naturally quarried product, so every piece is one of a kind.

Granite is also extremely durable, so it won’t burn, scratch or stain. However, the size of the pieces is limited, so there may be seams. Granite is also a porous surface, which means it can absorb water and oils. This will require annual sealing to counter potential staining, as you would hardwood floors or wooden decks.

Soapstone, on the other hand, was first used in lab classrooms, and is known for its heavy-duty durability. Soapstone works well within the current trend of a honed finish, which doesn’t have a high gloss shine like most granite countertops.

Soapstone is generally dark gray in color, and may darken or crack over time. It’s susceptible to stains without polish, you can scratch it with your fingernail (something to consider, though many people don’t mind) — and it’s comparable in price to granite.

When shopping for countertops, keep in mind many home stores sell by the linear foot, not a square foot, which is 12 inches by 12 inchesA linear foot is 12 inches wide and 25 inches deep, as the standard depth of kitchen countertops is 25 inches.

Finally, if your heart is set on granite but your wallet is stuck on laminate, you have viable options. The latest and greatest new laminates are made to look like much pricier granite.

One cost-effective option is solid surface countertops. They are man-made from natural materials and acrylic polymer, which means a durable, nonporous surface that can easily be fixed if it stains or scratches. Solid surface countertop can cost 20 percent less than stone countertops.

Laminate is an old favorite that many homeowners still enjoy. It is the most affordable option, and easy to keep clean. The downside is scratching — a scratch will last until it’s replaced.

Laminate also comes in a wide range of colors, and can be more affordable to change when you’re ready for a new look than its stone kitchen counterparts.

Quartz and Corian are other popular options for countertops. SileStone and CaesarStone are two examples of quartz, while DuPont is the main manufacturer of corian. Corian is the most prominent example.

Following is a breakdown of quartz, granite and corian composition and characteristics.

Countertop Material
Features Corian Quartz Granite
Appearance Dull, uniform. Lustrous, three-dimensional. Lustrous, rich, and crystalline.
Must Be Sealed? No. No. Yes.
Requires Pro Installation? Yes. Yes. Yes.
Durability Can scratch and scorch (though scratches can be sanded out). Hard, but can scorch. Hard, but can crack. Will absorb stains if not sealed properly.
Cost (Installed) $35 and up. $50 and up. $60 and up.
Visibility of Seams Best “invisibility” of seams of all products. Visible, though a good installer can hide seams well. Same as quartz – visible, though a good installer can hide seams well.
Man-Made vs. Organic Materials 100% manmade (polymers). 7% manmade; 93% natural. 100% natural (in the case of slab granite).