Choosing a Countertop for Your Kitchen Remodel

The range of available countertop materials today is greater and more diverse than ever and includes stone, wood, paper, glass, quartz, concrete, metal, solid surface and laminates. How to decide?

When interviewed, Craig Teitsma of Craig Allen Designs said: “In my years as a kitchen designer, quartz is by far the most popular countertop material I’ve had homeowners ask for. It’s also the one I mention when clients ask me for my recommendation.”

Quartz (or engineered stone) has many advantages. It’s non-porous, stain-resistant, doesn’t need sealed, can be less costly than granite and is available in a wide variety of colors and patterns. Quartz countertops look like granite or marble but have no seams, providing an uninterrupted surface. The color is more uniform than the variations found in natural stone. You’ll be able to get a perfect match throughout your kitchen.

Quartz is extremely durable – it doesn’t crack like granite can, it’s heat resistant and resistant to cuts and scratches – although a cutting board is recommended.

“Ella” is a luxury quartz offered by Cambria that looks like marble.

I’ve had clients who purchased Chinese quartz with good results. Cambria has more color options than most of the imports, but Cambria costs more. I’ve heard complaints from fellow designers that Chinese quartz has color inconsistencies, but my clients have not experienced this. Also, there is the issue of unknown chemicals used in the Chinese quartz, but again, my clients have had no problems with their countertops.

When it comes to countertop finish, most people prefer the look of a polished or shiny countertop, but a honed or matte finish is sometimes requested. It’s all about personal preference.

People always ask about granite since granite has been so popular for so long. There’s no question granite countertops are beautiful, but the objection has always been with the maintenance involved when using natural stone. Granite needs sealed every year, but now granite slabs and other natural stone slabs are being sealed with an epoxy that eliminates the need for sealing.

Then there’s the cost. A wide range of types of granite exists, from the high end down to the most basic. You can expect to pay anywhere between $50 – $150 per square foot. And that’s what quartz countertops cost, as well.

And speaking of costs – although not many homeowners ask for Formica anymore, the price of this laminate surface has also risen in recent years to be almost equal with the costs of natural stone or quartz.

How to Choose?

We’ve put together a list offered here as a general resource that shows the various categories and one of the (many) companies that either manufacture or supply the material.

Items marked with an asterisk * have an expanded description below the chart.

Type of MaterialCompany | Brand NameWebsite
BambooTeragren*teragren.com/countertops/
Butcher BlockGrothouseglumber.com/
ConcreteMerge Designmergedesignco.com
Engineered StoneCambriacambriaUSA.com
Engineered StoneVicostone USAus.vicostone.com
GemstoneArtistic Tileartistictile.com
GlassAndrew Pearson Glassandrewpearsonglass.com
GraniteUS Marble*usmarble.com/material/natural-stone/
Honeycomb CalciteColors of the Windcolorsofthewind.net/about/
LaminatesFormica Corp.formica.corp
LavastoneJ. Pauwelspyrolave.com/en/project/kitchen-worktops/
LimestoneAkdokdo.com
MarbleArtistic Tile*artistictile.com
MetalChemetalchemetal.com
Natural StoneContour Countertopscontourcountertops.com
Paper CompositeRichlite Co.richlite.com
Porcelain SlabsPorcelanosa*porcelanosa-usa.com
Pyrolithic StoneGeoluxegeoluxe.com
QuartzCambriacambriaUSA.com
QuartzVicostone USA*us.vicostone.com
QuartziteStone Designstone-design.com
Recycled GlassVetrazzo*vetrazzo.com/?lang=en
Sintered StoneNeolithneolith.com
Sintered StoneDekton*dekton.com/usa
SoapstoneRynone Mfg.rynone.com
Solid SurfaceCorian Design*corian.com
Solid SurfacePorcelanosaporcelanosa-usa.com
Stainless SteelA-line by Advance Tabcoalinebyadvancetabco.com
TravertineWalker Zangerwalkerzanger.com
WoodJohn Boos & Co.johnboos.com
ZincM S Internationalmsistone.com

*Dekton is made using high tech sinterized particle technology that emulates what takes Mother Nature thousands of years to create, using high temperatures and pressure. Only Dekton speeds up the process. Dekton can look like Calacatta and Carrara marble, and slabs can be book-matched. See a photo here.


*Calacatta Marble is a gorgeous, high-end natural stone desirable for its distinctive look. When it gets a honed finish, it’s especially elegant and classic. Calacatta Oro is white with golden beige veining, an excellent choice to match with popular brass hardware. See a photo here.


*Neolith is created using Sintering technology where natural raw materials are subjected to very high pressures and temperatures. Their Beton looks like concrete photo hereand is extremely durable. It is resistant to scratching, it’s not damaged by high or low temperatures, it’s not susceptible to UV color damage, and it’s 100% resin-free. Does not release any harmful substance into the environment.


*River White Granite is a white granite with burgundy flecks that’s quarried in India. It can be substituted for marble due to its white color. River White is the color of the granite, not a brand name. Photo here.


*Vicostone Quartz is designed to look like natural stone with “great movement”, i.e., lots of veining. It’s an ideal countertop material for a family with active children who want the look of marble without the disadvantage of staining. And the high price tag. Photos here and here. Vicostone also has Super White, which they claim is the “world’s whitest” quartz.


*Porcelanosa KRION™ is a solid surface material made with two-thirds natural minerals and a low percentage of resins, with crystalline particles to give it a little shimmer. It’s anti-bacterial, seamless, 100% recyclable and ideal for countertops if you want the look of natural stone. Check it out here.


*Dupont Corian is a man-made solid surface material, made from a combination of natural materials, acrylic or epoxy resins and pigments.

The latest from Corian is now you can get Corian with a built-in charging surface, where you can charge your smart devices wirelessly. The built-in charger is available in every Corian color. How does it work, you ask? Energy is transferred safely from below the Corian surface and it stops when the battery is full. See photos and get more info here.


*Vetrazzo recycled glass countertops are an eco-friendly option and are manufactured using 85% recycled glass. They come in an amazing variety of color combinations; it can be all one color or different colored pieces.


NOTE FROM CRAIG: I have to issue a word of warning here about recycled glass countertops. Although they are beautiful, I have seen ones where the little chips of glass have come loose and fallen out, leaving an unsightly hole in the countertop surface.


*John Boos & Co is well known for its butcher block. (See photos here.) Butcher block is constructed from pieces of hardwood Maple laminated together with glue for strength and stability. If an entire kitchen filled with butcher block countertops is too much butcher block for you, it lends itself very well to an accent space, possible on the island or by the range.


*Formica and Wilsonart laminates are not what your grandma had on her countertops. Today’s laminates are made from recycled paper that has been chemically bonded with melamine. All laminate countertops are manufactured with a backing that makes them strong and durable. Laminate lasts a long time. If you ever get tired of it and want to change out your countertops, you can donate them to schools to reuse.


* Teragren bamboo is an alternative to a wood countertop. Bamboo is actually a grass that can grow three feet in one day, and the plant’s knuckles create an interesting pattern when made into planks. Bamboo countertops are made the same way that plywood is made. Sheets of bamboo are bound together under pressure with adhesive to form boards. See pictures and design ideas here.

Conclusion

The decision is up to you. It all comes down to what you like and the look you are going for in your new kitchen. And how much you want to spend on countertops.

The kitchen design experts at Craig Allen Designs will help guide your choices and make sure you get the countertop that matches the look you like and the price you can afford.