A Guide to Choosing Kitchen Countertops: Part I

September 3, 2013

When it comes to choosing countertops for your kitchen, there are advantages and disadvantages to each material. There is no “correct” choice, but there are ways to determine which type of countertop is right for you and your home. In this guide, we found several of the most frequent countertop choices and outlined their pros and cons, as well as their price ranges. So whether your priorities are around design and aesthetics, practicality, or price, there is diversity in the types of countertops you can choose for your kitchen.

1. Granite

Traditional Kitchen
  • As a naturally occurring stone, each piece is an original pattern and color
  • It’s easy to clean
  • It’s sanitary (bacteria is a non-issue)
  • Good with wear-and-tear (pretty resistant to heat, utensil marks, and liquids)


  • Very heavy (need solid, sturdy cabinets to support weight)
  • Should be sealed occasionally to avoid stains
  • It can crack if hit hard
  • It can be difficult to remove/replace

Cost: $35-$100 per square foot, installed

2. Marble

Traditional Kitchen by San Francisco Interior Designers & Decorators Fiorella Design
  • A classic and elegant choice for kitchen countertops
  • It handles heat very well (known to be good for baking, as the surface tends to stay cold)
  • More common Carrara marble is one of the least expensive natural countertops, and is widely available


  • Susceptible to stains, even when sealed (watch out for acids in things like coffee, alcohol and citrus)
  • Can scratch/get damaged relatively easily
  • Some marble is very expensive

Cost: $40-$100 per square foot, installed

3. Stainless Steel

  • An appropriate aesthetic for industrial style and contemporary kitchens
  • Very durable
  • Resists heat and bacteria (typically used in restaurant kitchens, but their practicality and durability have grown increasingly popular in the past several years)


  • It can dent if hit hard
  • Noisy (think: pots and pans clanking against another metal surface)
  • Fingerprints and smudges need to be wiped often
  • Chemicals can alter the appearance of the metal
  • It’s pretty expensive

Cost: $35-$100 per square foot, installed

4. Laminate




















Photo by Simon Upton for Elle Decor


  • Very affordable
  • Waterproof
  • Low maintenance (easy to clean)
  • Very lightweight (compare to granite or marble, which require a lot of support from floor cabinets)


  • Prone to scratches, burns and stains
  • Layers can peel over time
  • It can be difficult to repair if damaged

Cost: $10-$30 per square foot, plus installation

Stay tuned for Part II of our guide to choosing kitchen countertops. Next week we’ll outline the benefits and disadvantages of soapstone, solid surfacing (Corian), wood/butcher block, and tile.

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