4 Different Countertop Materials: Pros, Cons, and Cost

Kenneth Wilson

Some people may think that countertops are just an accent, but these can transform the look of the entire kitchen or bathroom even if you’re not completely renovating these rooms. If you’ve decided on changing the counters, then it’s important to know more about the different materials than just their design. More so if you already have a budget and need to find a countertop material that will fit it.

Aside from the cost, it’s better to find out the advantages and disadvantages of the different countertop materials, so you can determine the best countertop for your home. Since there are so many to choose from, it can be overwhelming to decide on one. To help you out, here are the most popular countertop materials and the pros, cons, and costs of each so you can find the perfect material that will also fit the budget.

Granite Countertop

One of the most common materials for countertops is granite. This material can be installed in slabs or tiles, with the latter being less expensive, and comes in a variety of colors. It is a popular choice because it is scratch and heat resistant, and quite easy to maintain since it is a non-porous material. 

Granite is durable but it can still crack from strong impact, and the borders and edges can chip. To prevent this, it is recommended to install a wood edge since chips can be expensive to repair. This material also stains and absorbs dirt when poorly sealed, so it needs to be resealed every decade or so. If you’ve decided on granite, make sure to choose the right color or blend since it will be difficult to upgrade or change this material. It is also heavy that it usually requires additional support. 

While it can be expensive, given that it’s a natural stone, it is still more affordable than other stone products. Granite countertops usually cost around $40 to $250 per square foot.

Wood or Butcher Block Countertop

For a rustic appearance, wood countertops are the perfect option that also looks warm and inviting. There are different types of wooden countertops and one of the most popular styles is a butcher block. These are strips of wood that usually come from maple, oak, teak, ash, or bamboo trees. There is also an option to use reclaimed wood, which will make it more environmentally friendly but expensive and harder to find. 

Source: HGTV

What’s great about wood is that it can be easily refinished and sanded to repair scratches and nicks. Aside from its appearance, this material is also more affordable compared to other materials, which makes it a popular option among homeowners. 

On the downside, wood countertops are not resistant to heat and stain and will require more maintenance. Some types of wood need to be regularly sealed or oiled twice in a year. While it is durable, this material may also not look as beautiful as it was first installed since it can be easily scratched and damaged by heat and water. Water rings are common on wooden countertops, that’s why you should always have a coaster ready if you plan to use this material.

The cost of wooden countertops can range from $25 up to $200 per square foot, depending on the thickness of the wood. If you think you’ll be living in your home for more than a decade, it is recommended to choose quality wood. 

Ceramic Countertop

Another common material for countertops is ceramic tiles. It is one of the most affordable materials and comes in a variety of colors and styles, which is why it is a popular choice among homeowners. It is durable, resistant to heat, and one of the easiest materials to maintain, as long as the grout is regularly sealed. 

Some homeowners also like this material since a damaged tile can be easily replaced. So even if this material can get chips or cracks, a tile or a section of the countertop can be fixed without having to replace the entire thing.

Source: Jovagema

But ceramic tiles on their own are not thick enough to be used as a counter. It will need a plywood substrate or be placed on an existing laminate countertop. It can also easily stain and be quite difficult to clean.

Ceramic countertops can range from $1 to $50 per square foot, which can go higher as the design becomes more elaborate, such as mosaic ones. You can save on the labor cost if you choose larger tiles since it takes less time to install. But even if you opt for a complex design, the price is still less expensive than other materials.

Stainless Steel Countertop

Stainless steel is a well-known countertop material, especially in commercial kitchens. It wasn’t popular in residential kitchens before due to its industrial look, but nowadays, it has become a go-to option for homeowners because it is sanitary, durable, and low maintenance. For some, they have even found metal countertops to give off a modern and sleek look, which also integrates well with stainless stinks.

Besides its tough finish, stainless steel countertops are also resistant to heat and stains. Stainless steel tolerates heat better and won’t change color like other countertop materials. It is also recyclable if you decide to replace the countertop in the future.

Source: Decor Pad

On the downside, it can get smear marks and make a lot of noise when you set down cooking utensils, pans, and pots on it. Even if it is one of the hardest countertop materials, it can still get damaged from bleach and chloride and won’t be completely dent or scratch proof. If you want a countertop that is highly scratch resistant, you will need to get the best grade of stainless steel, which will be more durable as well as expensive.

The cost of stainless steel countertops is around $60 to $225 per square foot, which highly depends on the thickness, coating, and finish of the metal. It will be more affordable if you get thin sheets of stainless steel and fasten onto a backing such as wood.

After deciding on the countertop material, the next step is finding a professional to install it. If you want to easily get estimates from reputable contractors, head on to Networx to find top-rated contractors in your area.


Kenneth Wilson
September 27, 2020
Cost Guides, Remodeling

Kenneth Wilson

Retired contractor. Currently residing in Southwest Florida. Now in semi-retirement, I write and manage this blog focused on helping home owners make savvy decisions when it comes to finding contractors and getting their projects done. I also operate remodeling design service for homeowners.

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