You’re designing your dream kitchen. It will be the place where your family gathers, where you prepare dinner while catching up with everyone about their day. Whether this is a renovation or you’re moving into the home for the first time, your kitchen countertop matters.
As you shop for a countertop, don’t just run to the first thing that catches your eye. You want it to last, too. How do you know which options can stand up to the hecticness of your household?
Start with this countdown of ten popular countertop choices based on how durable they are.
A laminate countertop is one of the least expensive choices you’ll see. It shouldn’t surprise you, then, that it’s one of the least durable choices too.
To create a laminate countertop, a manufacturer applies a thin layer of plastic around particleboard. This makes the countertop light and easy to manipulate, but it isn’t the strongest thing in the world.
The plastic on laminate countertops can peel or chip over time. While the countertop isn’t likely to stain, it isn’t very heat-resistant, either.
Part of a countertop’s longevity is whether you can repair it when damage does happen. With laminate, repairs are difficult. You can expect to replace this countertop far sooner than other options, so the savings may not last.
9. Ceramic Tile
You’ve seen ceramic tiles on floors, in showers, and on backsplashes. Have you ever seen it on a countertop?
A tile countertop starts with a cement base. The manufacturer or installer applies ceramic tiles around the cement and uses grout between the tiles.
When it comes to durability, ceramic tile countertops are a mixed bag. The tiles themselves are unlikely to get scratched or stained.
The grout, on the other hand, stains easily. This is especially common considering how hard it is to keep the grout clean.
Ceramic isn’t the strongest material, so you also have the risk of the tiles breaking or cracking. The good news is that if that happens, it’s fairly easy to replace the broken tile and move on.
Most people are surprised to see marble this far down on the list. After all, it’s an expensive choice for a countertop, so you would expect it to be long-lasting.
It can be, but it requires plenty of maintenance and care. As distinctive of a look as marble has, the stone is very porous. That means it can easily absorb any liquids that touch it, leaving a stain.
To keep the marble from staining, you will need to seal the countertop with a specialized sealant on a regular basis.
The sealant doesn’t fix all your problems, though. Marble is softer than most people realize so it can scratch more easily than you expect.
7. Solid Surface
Solid surface is an engineered countertop that comes in a wide range of colors and styles. Manufacturers make it with a mixture of acrylic, resin, and other materials. In many cases, it mimics the look of granite.
The good news is that solid surface countertops are non-porous. You don’t need to seal them to prevent them from staining.
The bad news is that the material still scratches rather easily, and it can burn when you place hot items onto it. When you choose to cook instead of heading out to a healthy restaurant, be careful not to place any hot pots or pans on the countertop.
You can sand out scratches that appear, although this may affect the finish on your countertop.
It’s also worth noting that soapstone isn’t the best choice if you want to be eco-friendly. It uses a variety of non-renewable materials and the manufacturing process requires a lot of energy.
6. Stainless Steel
While it used to only be in chefs’ kitchens in restaurants, more and more modern homes are choosing stainless steel countertops.
These countertops are naturally resistant to germs and bacteria. Because steel isn’t a stone, it’s also non-porous so stains are unlikely.
The catch with stainless steel is that it can develop scratches. It’s also a more expensive option than many homeowners realize.
Soapstone used to be more common for kitchen countertops than it is today, but it’s still around and has plenty of perks.
Soapstone is a natural stone that comes in variations of white and gray. It isn’t porous, so it resists stains well. It’s also unlikely to get scratches, though scratching soapstone is still possible.
The catch is that soapstone can be surprisingly expensive. You also need to oil it on a regular basis to make sure it keeps its signature finish.
There are several different types of glass countertops you can have. One choice is a solid slab of glass that has been made to be stronger than traditional glass. It looks just like you would expect: a giant slab of glass in any color you choose.
A new but unique choice is a recycled glass countertop. In this case, manufacturers take the discarded glass, crush it up or melt it down, and combine it with other materials to create a slab. You can even make your own recycled glass countertop, though you can’t guarantee a great result.
Both of these options are non-porous and they resist bacteria and mold. They’re also unlikely to scratch and they don’t lose their color over time.
However, despite the extra measures manufacturers take to add strength, glass is still glass. You can still crack or break the unsupported edges if you put a lot of pressure on them.
This isn’t one of the countertops that homeowners normally think of, but it comes with advantages.
Slate is a natural stone. Manufacturers sand down the stone and put it in large slabs, ready to install in your kitchen.
Slate is a hard and durable natural stone. It isn’t porous like other types of stone, so it keeps stains, mold, and bacteria away. Because it’s such a hard stone, it’s also unlikely to break, chip, or scratch.
As an added bonus, slate is often less expensive than other types of natural stone, despite how durable it is.
With one look at a granite countertop, you can see why it’s a popular choice. The natural grain and the color variation means that every beautiful slab is unique.
Granite is also expected in high-end homes, and it can make your home attractive to a whole new set of buyers the way less expensive countertops cannot.
Granite is also heat-resistant by nature, so it’s unlikely to burn or get damaged if you place hot items on it.
There are downsides, though. Granite is a porous stone, so you need to seal it every year to prevent staining. While sealed granite is durable, it adds to your annual maintenance checklist.
While granite is expensive, it comes in a few different options. The most expensive but most desirable choice is a solid slab of granite.
On the lower end, there are thinner granite tiles. Modular granite is somewhere in between: pre-cut pieces that are larger than tile but smaller and less expensive than slabs.
We’ve arrived at #1, the most durable countertop material on the market: quartz.
Despite its name, a quartz countertop isn’t a slab of natural quartz stone. It’s an engineered product.
Manufacturers take natural quartz, break it down, and combine it with resin and other materials. This makes a beautiful product that shimmers like natural quartz but is more practical.
Quartz has a similar look to granite, but with some distinct advantages. Quartz is harder than granite, making it even less scratchable than the already durable granite.
The biggest difference, though, is that quartz is less porous than granite. It will resist stains, bacteria, and mold without the need to seal it every year.
Of course, the downside is the price. Depending on the manufacturer and the location, quartz is one of the most expensive choices for a kitchen countertop.
Choosing the Kitchen Countertop That Best Suits You
Going down this list and seeing that quartz is ranked as the most durable kitchen countertop, does that mean it’s the right choice for you? Not necessarily.
When you choose your countertop, there are many factors you need to consider. Think about how each of the materials will look in your kitchen and whether they go with your overall style.
Of course, budget is a factor as well. You want something that lasts but you can’t spend so much on it that you struggle to pay the mortgage.
As important as durability is, you need to look at the details as well. Some countertops are strong against stains while others are strong against scratches. It all depends on your family, how you plan to use your countertop, and what fits your home best.
If you want more helpful tips about renovating or maintaining your home, check out more articles right here on our blog for homeowners.