A Guide to Choosing Kitchen Countertops: Part II

September 11, 2013

In part two of our guide to choosing kitchen countertops, we’re outlining the pros and cons of four different materials. We’ll discuss solid surfacing (typically known as Corian) and tile, and two more unusual choices, soapstone and butcher block (wood). Whether you prioritize your budget, design, or functionality, each material has something unique to offer.

1. Solid surfacing

Contemporary Kitchen

Good to know: Solid surfacing is widely referred to as Corian, which was the original name of the manufacturers who sold this primarily acrylic and polyester surface

Pros:

  • Many options for color and patterns since it is not a naturally occurring material
  • Easy installation
  • Minimal maintenance and easy to clean

Cons:

  • Does not handle heat as well as some other materials
  • Prone to scratching
  • Some believe it has an artificial appearance compared to natural materials

Cost: $35-$100 per square foot

2. Tile

Contemporary Kitchen by Los Angeles Interior Designers & Decorators Sara Ingrassia Interiors
Pros:
  • Inexpensive
  • A lot of room for creativity in design choices
  • If a tile breaks, it is easy to replace

Cons:

  • Creates an uneven surface compared to other materials that are all just one piece
  • If grout is unsealed it is susceptible to stains
  • Be careful with moisture: it can lead to the growth of bacteria, especially in cracks

Cost: $10-$80 per square foot, installed

3. Soapstone

soapstone

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo by Pieter Estersohn for Elle Decor

Pros:

  • Has a natural softness in texture
  • Its appearance is known to fit in seamlessly with older , traditional, and cottage-style homes

Cons:

  • Needs to be polished with oil
  • Not as resistant to scratches as other materials, and may crack over time
  • Expensive

Good to know: When you first get soapstone it’s a light grey, but will darken over time. Some people really like that the color of the material naturally evolves, while others aren’t as crazy about it.

Cost: $70-$100 per square foot, installed

4. Butcher block

Traditional Kitchen by Lake Oswego Interior Designers & Decorators Jenny Baines, Jennifer Baines Interiors
Pros:
  • Has a natural, warm appearance
  • Very fitting for traditional and country-style kitchens
  • Can be used as a cutting board; many people love the change in color and texture of the wood over time

Cons:

  • Wood’s shape changes with moisture
  • It is prone to bacteria, so needs to be disinfected often
  • May have a lot of upkeep, as you should apply oil to it to protect surface

Good to know: If wood countertops are installed around your sink, they are likely to discolor. Additionally, many people choose to use butcher block in just one area of the kitchen, like the island (see above).

Cost: $35-$70 per square foot.

Missed Part I of our guide? No worries! Click here for the first installment.

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