Annual Countertop Buyers Guide
If you’re in the market for new countertops, this guide will help you evaluate your options and narrow your choices. We provide you with and overview of the top materials including current pricing. You’ll find it easy to compare your countertop options head to head as you decide which one is right for your home. They are listed in order from least to most expensive.
Our 2014 price guide is extensive. Please feel free to use the links above to go directly to you countertop material of interest.
Laminate is affordable and comes in hundreds of colors and patterns. These factors make it the single most popular countertop material available. Leading brands include Wilsonart, Formica, Pionite and Devmar, but many others are available.
Pros and Cons of Laminate Countertops: The strengths of laminate are its low cost, durability, color/pattern variety and the nonporous surface that makes it easy to clean. New laminate countertops are made to mimic the look and texture of natural stone or wood. On the negative side, laminate shows its seams, is not heat resistant, can fade with direct UV rays and can scratch fairly easily.
Laminate Price Range: $22-$52 per square foot.
Tile has been used for decades for countertops. The variety of tile styles, colors and shapes lead to endless possibilities.
Pros and Cons of Tile Countertops: The diversity of design options is the key strength. Plus, tile is now being used to create amazing backsplashes that often cover a good portion of the wall. Tile can be very affordable. Tile is fairly durable. On the downside, tile can crack and chip and the grout must be sealed regularly to keep it from darkening.
Tile Price Range: $23-$124 per square foot.
Butcher Block Countertops
This traditional countertop material is made from grain ends of various woods. The rectangular ends are glued together to form the butcher block pattern.
Pros and Cons of Butcher Block Countertops: These countertops give a warm, inviting look to kitchens and can be quite affordable. They are outstanding for food preparation, and any nicks or scratches from cutting are viewed as character marks. The surfaces can be sanded and resealed fairly easily. Keeping them properly sealed and oiled is the key to their durability. If they are not sealed correctly, they may hold bacteria. In addition, the seams may come apart if they get wet on a regular basis.
Butcher Block Price Range: $32-$200 per square foot.
Resin is a type of solid surface countertop but with more variations. It is produced in a pleasing array of colors and textures.
Pros and Cons of Resin Countertops: On the plus side, resin counters are very durable, impact-resistant and very easy to clean. Most hold their color very well, even in direct sunlight. Small scratches or nicks can be sanded out of the countertop. Newer resin tops can be made with less pigment, giving them a semi-opaque, translucent quality. This is ideal for backlighting the countertops, giving them a very unique appearance. The key potential negative for resin countertops is the lack of consistent quality from brand to brand. Look for acrylic or epoxy resin tops and avoid polyester resin countertops.
Resin Price Range: $51-$127 per square foot.
Recycled Glass Countertops
This material has been around for more than a decade but is just now reaching a peak of popularity. The countertops are formed from glass pieces embedded in clear resin.
Pros and Cons of Recycled Glass Countertops: Strength and durability are found in these counters. They resist chips and scratches, won’t fade and are very easy to clean. Recycled glass countertops are also very green, as tons of post-consumer glass are being diverted from landfills and made into artistic and appealing bath and kitchen countertops. One potential weakness is that if they are installed with stress points, they may crack in time. Also, harsh chemical cleaners may mar the resin finish. Soap and water is usually adequate for cleaning this material.
Recycled Glass Price Range: $52-$127 per square foot.
Solid Surface Countertops
This is a synthetic material made from acrylic, polyester or epoxy resin. The material is consistent throughout, including the coloration. Corian, Swanstone and Soapstone are among the most popular brands.
Pros and Cons of Solid Surface Countertops: As for its strengths, this material comes in more than 100 colors and textures, so there are a range of choices for any kitchen or bath. They have the look of laminate, but with higher quality. Solid surface countertops are shock-resistant, easy to clean and very durable. The material is colored throughout, so light scratches can be gently sanded out. Textured tops have the look and feel of natural stone, but are warmer and don’t have the negatives of stone such as granite. On the downside, solid surface counters are not as resistant to heat as stone or tile, and they can be scratched rather easily.
Solid Surface Price Range: $70-$130 per square foot.
Stainless steel isn’t the only metal used in countertops. Copper, zinc, pewter and bronze are also being fashioned into countertops.
Pros and Cons of Metal Countertops: All the metals are easy to clean and care for. You can keep them polished or allow a natural patina to give them character. Softer metals like zinc and copper are more easily shaped to add appealing counter edge formations. You can find a metal countertop material to go with any kitchen design scheme. On the downside, if you don’t want the patina look, copper, bronze and zinc require regular polishing to keep it at bay.
Visit metal surface countertop trends guide for more options and information
Metal Price Range: $87-$250 per square foot.
Stainless Steel Countertops
This material has been in use since the early 20th century and remains very popular. Once found mainly in commercial kitchens, it is now regularly used in homes.
Strengths and Weaknesses of Stainless Steel Countertops: The name says a lot. This material won’t stain, rust or otherwise corrode. It is very heat resistant and handles impact fairly well. Stainless steel is very attractive for kitchens and bathrooms. However, it can scratch and show fingerprints, but those are the worst things that can be said about it.
Stainless Steel Price Range: $70-$145 per square foot.
If you don’t think concrete can be attractive, think again. It’s not like have a chunk of sidewalk for your countertop. The concrete is smooth and can be tinted, stamped and stained to form gorgeous tops for your cabinets.
Pros and Cons of Concrete Countertops: Concrete countertops are obviously strong and durable. They chip less easily than tile or even granite. The pigment, stamping or staining add unique and interesting colors and texture to the countertops. Shells, tile or glass pieces and stones can be embedded in the concrete too. As for weaknesses, concrete is very heavy and a bit expensive.
Concrete Price Range: $75-$200 per square foot due to the variation in styles and embedded materials.
This material is also known as engineered stone. Quartz crystals and a binder form the countertop material. Quartz has the look of natural stone without some of the problems. Leading brands include Hanstone, Cesarstone and Silestone.
Pros and Cons of Quartz Countertops: The durability and hardness of quartz is outstanding. Unlike natural stone, it has a nonporous surface, so it is easier to clean and it won’t stain. Quartz is very attractive and comes in more colors and hues than granite. Quartz has very few negatives, though it isn’t as heat-resistant as natural stone and it is pricey.
Quartz Price Range: $105-$187 per square foot.
This naturally beautiful material adds elegance and style wherever it is installed. Currently very popular, granite is also timeless.
Pros and Cons of Granite Countertops (Bathroom): On the good side, granite is extremely attractive and can take a kitchen or bath from good to great. The material is quite strong and durable, resists heat very well and won’t scratch easily. When sealed properly, granite will resist stains. There are a few concerns too. The sealant used must be regularly reapplied or else the porous nature of the stone may lead to stains from foods and cleaners. Porous materials are harder to clean and may harbor germs. Additionally, Granite is expensive and costly to transport. Also try: Pros and Cons of Granite Countertops (Kitchen).
Granite Price Range: $95-$225 per square foot.
Marble is a metamorphic rock containing carbon in crystal form as well as veins of mineral deposits. These elements combine to give marble its extraordinary good looks.
Pros and Cons of Marble Countertops: These are some of the most attractive counters available. You’ve got good choices for coloration and variety. Whites, blacks, grays, yellows, greens and pinks can be found. Marble is very heat resistant. The concerns with marble start with the fact that it is porous. The surfaces must be sealed correctly and regularly or the marble can stain quite easily. As a porous stone, it can be tough to sanitize the surface.
Marble Price Range: $127-$250 per square foot.
Lava Stone Countertops
Made from actual lava mined from volcanic craters, these countertops offers outstanding durability and are very attractive and unique. The lava stone is glazed, producing an unlimited number of color choices.
Pros and Cons of Lava Stone Countertops: This material is durable and very strong. It handles impact fairly well. The glazed surface is nonporous, so won’t harbor bacteria, making it easier to clean and sanitize. It resists heat very well and won’t stain or fade. The key weakness of lava stone counters is their price. The rarity of the material is what drives up cost.
Lava Stone Price Range: $250-$300 per square foot.
Other Recycled Materials
Recycled crushed glass countertops get a lot of press because they are really attractive and they’ve been around longer than most green countertops. But now there is a growing number of countertop materials that are produced from recycled and reclaimed materials, much of it post-consumer material. Here’s a look at the most popular ecofriendly options along with their prices.
Bamboo End Grain Countertops:
It looks something like butcher block, but is made entirely from bamboo grass, a fast-growing, sustainable product. Price: $35-$50 per square foot.
Palm Wood Countertops:
Made from palm trees that are past fruit-bearing age, the counters are attractive, tough and durable. In fact, palm wood is stronger than oak. These are affordable countertops. Price: $40-75 per square foot.
Recycled Paper Countertops:
Paper, much of it post-consumer waste, is compressed and covered with a resin binder containing pigment. Paper Stone is a top brand. Many colors are currently available. Price: $40-$80 per square foot.
Recycled HDPE Countertops:
High-density polyethylene is used in a range of consumer and construction products. It is shredded and compressed, then covered in resin to form hard, durable and impact-resistant counters. Price: $50-$80 per square foot.
Reclaimed Wood Countertops:
As the name implies, the wood is salvaged from old buildings primarily and repurposed for countertops. They offer a warm, traditional look to any bath or kitchen. Price: $55-$100 per square foot.
See our Countertop Materials pages for complete details on many of these materials. Your options have never been greater, so take some time to look around this site and learn more about the countertop materials that might be ideal for your kitchen or bath. When you’re informed about what’s available, and understand the pros and cons of each option, you’ll make a choice you’re happier with in the years ahead.
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