Remodeling Guide: How to Choose a Countertop Material

What does this say about me? This is a question we ask ourselves subconsciously all throughout the day; when we style our hair, when we go shopping, or when we remodel our home. This seems like a surface level question but examining it further it touches on a deeper root, what does this say about me and what am I saying by choosing it? When remodeling a home style choices are arguably just as important as utilitarian ones. When choosing a pair of pants at the department store whether you know it or not you decide based upon two things how do I look in these and will they serve the purpose I want them to.

Choosing a countertop material is obviously a costlier decision when comparing it to pants (perhaps depending on the pants and countertop materials in question), which means it should be a well thought out choice and serve the purpose that you need in your space while not sacrificing the desired aesthetic.

Your Counter Use:

First consider how you use your kitchen. Continuing with the pants analogy, if you’re pants shopping for a new office job, denim blue jeans might not be the most practical choice. Use the same mentality when choosing countertops. For high traffic kitchens a natural stone like granite might be a wise choice as once it’s sealed this material is very durable and won’t show stains and dirt as easily as others. If you’re an avid baker a marble slab might be a good choice due to its ability to retain cold temperatures making dough working easier. Stainless steel and butcher blocks show marks very easily whereas laminate and concrete are more forgiving. The everyday use that your counters are going to see should weigh heavily on your decision making as you’ll want these to last!

Your Counter Space:

While mapping out the space of your kitchen, remember that you can do whatever you want. If you have an island maybe try breaking up the material by doing the island in one material and the remaining counter space in something complimentary. Think of prep space and counter space as two different things, you wouldn’t traditionally eat over the counter, that’s what breakfast bars and islands are for, so naturally you’d choose an easy to clean surface for eating and dining and a more durable surface for chopping, cooking, and prep work. Consider this when making decisions, when getting dressed matching separates are a safe choice and usually get the job done but mixing prints, colors, and patterns is variety and variety is the spice of life, right?

Your Counter Care:

If you machine wash all the clothes you own, maintenance might not be at the top of mind when shopping but depending on the occasion and budget of your expenditure the care instructions of your wardrobe shouldn’t be ignored, the same goes for your kitchen. Countertop maintenance is something that usually comes as an afterthought but if you want these materials to last and look their best this should be taken into account when deciding. Granite for instance needs to be sealed in order to be heat, stain, and water resistant, butcher blocks need regular oiling to maintain their sheen and luster, soapstone can naturally wear over time and may need to be sanded down to retain the original look. All this considered – recycled glass, lava stone, and zinc options only require a wipe down to remain clean but come with higher initial price tags.

Your Counter Cost:

If budget is a large concern when choosing the right material here is the list typically price for slab/one piece:

  • Marble – $75-$250 per square foot
  • Granite – $45-$200 per square foot
  • Man-Made Quartz – $55-$155 per square foot
  • Slate – $50-$65 per square foot
  • Soapstone – $60-$185 per square foot
  • Lava Stone – $250-$300 per square foot
  • Limestone – $55-$125 per square foot
  • Travertine – $50-$100 per square foot
  • Concrete – $75-$125 per square foot
  • Stainless Steel – $80-$225 per square foot
  • Acrylic/ Solid Surface – $35-$85 per square foot
  • Recycled Glass – $50-$125 per square foot
  • Wood/Butcher Block – $55-$200 per square foot
  • Bamboo – $40-$95 per square foot
  • Reclaimed Wood – $115-$300 per square foot
  • Porcelain – $60-$100 per square foot
  • Tile – $18-$35 per square foot
  • Laminate – $15-$40 per square foot

These prices reflect the typical market and a very easy way to cut costs of these materials is to opt for a tile instead of a single poured design or single slab. Also consider the price of sourcing if you live far away from a stone quarry and are looking for a solid slab of natural stone like limestone or granite. Also don’t forget the labor and maintenance costs, some materials like concrete take more install knowledge than granite and may end up costing more upon installation. However, considering the type of kitchen you want and if you want it to last – making sure you’re getting a quality material at the right cost will take research and a trusted contractor. The expectation with most things is when you pay top dollar you will receive top quality but that is not always the case. Do your research prior to the final decision to ensure you have the right team in place that knows how to install and work with the chosen material!

Your Counter Conclusion:

At the end of the day, it’s your home – just like they’re your pants, you’ll be living in and using it every day and you want it to work, look great, and last for however long you need it to. Every kitchen is different and will serve its user in different ways – a professional chef is using a kitchen much different than a stay at home parent (assuming this parent is not in the food industry) so the choice is in your hands. Thankfully, when considering where you’re purchasing from always remember that the internet is a great place to start the search and find great resources so here’s one, for more information, please visit www.slabmarket.com.