Four Top Countertop Surfaces with Pros and Cons

At DCI, we understand that when renovating a kitchen, one of the biggest decisions you will make is what type of counter top to use.  There are many options available, which allow home owners to make the most of their space.  There are a number of questions to ask about counter top surfaces before you make your decision. What type is right for you? What are the the positives and negatives of each type of surface? Which type will suit my needs and my budget most effectively? Below I have mapped out the different types of surfaces commonly used for kitchen counters as well as the pros and cons of each.

Laminate (Formica). This surface is by far the easiest to install, maintain, and afford. Laminate countertops come in a very wide variety of colors, which allows a great deal of flexibility to get your kitchen to look just right. Some laminate styles even look similar to granite. The surface is non-porous so there is no need to seal it and it will not hold bacteria. This is where the praises for laminate countertops stop. Laminate is just ayers of pressboard glued together and covered with a decorative top, which means it is not heat resistant and can melt is a hot pan is placed on the counter. It is also easy to scratch laminate and have seams that show once the counter is installed. Mostly, laminate countertops will not add to the resale value of your home.

Solid Surface (Corian). Solid surface is the next step up from laminate. Also like laminate, the color choices are virtually endless. This surface is very durable against scratches and impacts. Solid surface is non-porous so again no sealing or bacteria concerns. It is also an easy surface to clean with common household cleaners. If there is an issue on the surface it can easily be buffed out. That said, solid surface does have drawback. It can be damaged by deep scratches and heat. If you clean with a strong household chemical you can damage the surface. Cost is one of the biggest drawbacks to solid surface when compared with what you get. This product has a huge price range, like natural stone, of anywhere from $50-$200 per square foot installed.

Granite. This stone is often considered the gold standard for counter top surfaces. Not only is this natural stone beautiful, it is available in a very wide variety of colors with no two slabs being exactly the same. Granite is an extremely hard stone so it is scratch resistant, however that strength means it will dull knives if you prefer to cut on the counter not on a cutting board. This surface is also heat resistant and, if sealed correctly, stain resistant. One drawback to granite is the need to seal it regularly. If the stone is not sealed properly and/or the seal is not maintained, granite WILL stain. Because stone is porous, not maintaining the seal also means that granite can harbor bacteria. In addition to the need to maintain a proper seal, granite can be exceptionally expensive with prices per square foot ranging anywhere from $30 to $250. One other thing that I have heard from countless clients is how dark granite (mostly all black) really shows smudges and fingerprints, which means it must be cleaned often.

*Side note on granite from the people who installed my granite. We paid for the professional sealing on the stone before installation. According to the granite company it will never need to be sealed again unless something breaks down the seal. They recommended using only soap and water to clean the countertops, which will protect the seal.

Quartz. This stone is the pinnacle of countertop surfaces. Quartz isn't prone to chipping like granite can be, but still has the strength of granite. It doesn't have the "hard feel" that some feel granite has. It also has has a deep, rich finish that is unmatched in any countertop surface. Quartz is also non-porous so there is no need for sealing to prevent stains or bacteria. However, there are drawbacks to this surface. Quartz is not as resistant to heat and can be damaged by hot pans. The seams in quartz countertops are also quite visible. This is a fairly new trend in the world of kitchen counters, which some may see as a drawback. Cost is a huge deciding factor in quartz as this stone starts at $115 per square foot.