5 Considerations for Picking the Best Countertop Material

Posted on March 25th, 2024 at 3:42 PM
5 Considerations for Picking the Best Countertop Material

Whether you're building your forever home, renovating your current home, flipping an investment property, or outfitting a new rental, you may be curious about how to pick the best countertop material. With dozens of options, from natural stone and concrete to butcherblock and solid surface, making a decision can be dizzying. To help you with your selection, Maleno, a custom building and real estate company, highlights five essential considerations for picking out the right countertop material for you.

Kitchen Countertops

1. Cost

Budget is often the most critical factor in the equation. Fortunately (or unfortunately), material prices range significantly when it comes to countertops. For instance, you can find laminate for as low as $30 per square foot (sqft.) and quartzite for as high as $650 per sqft. Market factors, such as inflation, supply chain delays, and product shortages, can also cause notable cost fluctuation. To help you align your budget with the right material, we chatted with Countertop Solutions to help list popular options from highest to lowest by average price range:

  • Quartzite: $150-*$600/sqft
  • Marble: $130 - $180/sqft.
  • Soapstone: $125 - $175/sqft.
  • Stainless Steel: $125 - $175/sqft.
  • Quartz: $90 - $140/sqft.
  • Granite: $90 - $140/sqft.
  • Concrete: $90 - $140/sqft.
  • Limestone: $80 - $140/sqft.
  • Wood (Butcher Block or Bamboo): $70 - $120/sqft.
  • Porcelain: $70 - $120/sqft.
  • Slate: $60 - $110/sqft.
  • Solid Surface: $60 - $110/sqft.
  • Laminate: $30 - $80/sqft.
  • Tile: $30 - $80/sqft.

It’s important to note that the list above isn’t a comprehensive list of countertop materials. Various recycled and stone options are available but less frequently installed in homes. What’s essential to consider is a ballpark budget for your project to determine what material may be right for you.

Consider Durability of Countertops

2. Durability

Durability is a critical factor if you’re expecting to use your countertops frequently. For instance, your kitchen surfaces must often stand up to cleanings, stains, scratches, and heat. Accordingly, you’ll want a material that is rugged yet aesthetically pleasing. It’s for that reason that when talking with most home builders and countertop professionals, they’ll generally recommend two options:

  1. Quartz
  2. Granite

Both quartz and granite countertops are stain, heat, and scratch-resistant. Compared to every other countertop material, they’re consistently the durability frontrunners. However, there are some crucial distinctions when going toe-to-toe with each other. For example, quartz is an engineered stone, which means it’s a little easier to maintain than granite. Additionally, quartz isn’t as porous as granite and is, therefore, more resistant to stains.

If you cook, entertain, or have a young family, we’d recommend avoiding glass, laminate, limestone, marble, and tile. All of these materials are beautiful in their own way, but they’re more susceptible to scratches, chips, and stains.


3. Aesthetic Preferences

Every type of countertop material has pros and cons, so don’t let durability rule your decision. For instance, if you want to integrate a natural look into your home, natural stone will give you colors, patterns, and textures that you simply can’t replicate with manmade materials. Even with constantly changing interior design trends, natural stone remains timeless.

Conversely, engineered stone can be a great option if you’re looking for a more refined aesthetic. With more control over patterns and textures, it can add a cohesiveness to your home that you may not be able to achieve with natural stone.

Wood countertops can also be an excellent choice if you enjoy a charming patina. Yes, there is undoubtedly more maintenance, but the look of your room can evolve beautifully over time.


4. Maintenance

Even the most durable countertop materials need maintenance, albeit to different degrees. And, no matter the material, you’ll always want to keep your countertops clean. Using a gentle cleaner (diluted dish soap generally does the trick) and addressing any spills that could leave a stain (red wine, oil, coffee, juice, mustard) is vital to the longevity of your surfaces.

The caveat to this rule is stainless steel, which, as the name implies, can’t be stained. However, it’s not impervious to fingerprints, streaks, and water stains.

Although it's a great look, wooden countertops can be the most labor-intensive surfaces to keep clean. To prevent them from drying out, you’ll need to apply a food-safe oil or wax every three months or so. Additionally, you may need to refinish and reseal them after a few years.

Kitchen Countertops

5. Goal

Between material and installation costs, the price of countertops can add up. So, you’ll want to consider your project goal. Are you building your dream kitchen? Are you renovating on a budget? Are you setting up a rental?

If you’re designing your dream kitchen, leaning into your aesthetic preferences and choosing a material that’ll stand the test of time should be top of mind. On the other hand, you may be living in your starter home and just want a few upgrades, so finding a budget-friendly material will probably be the most pressing. Or, depending on what kind of rental property you’re setting up, you’ll likely want to find something super durable and affordable.

Ultimately, consider what your goals are for your kitchen or bathroom redo. You don’t want to invest heavily into a home you’ll sell soon and don’t want to cut corners on your forever home.

Designing it Right

When you want your home to perfectly align with your lifestyle, custom designing every room can be the way to go. As a leading custom building company, Maleno will help you find the perfect materials, from your countertops and flooring to your windows and doors. If you’re ready to invest in your forever home, reach out to Maleno to learn more about our process and pricing.