A central part of your kitchen design, countertops come in many materials and options. Below are the top eight most common types of countertops.
Quartz: Arguably the most durable option, quartz can be beautiful in kitchens. The slabs are engineered (not mined) with about 94% ground quartz combined with polyester resins to bind and pigment color. It's nonporous, never needs to be sealed and resists staining nicely. It's also antimicrobial, so bacteria can't penetrate the surface.
Granite: Natural rock that is mined, cut in its natural state and then polished for use in homes, granite can be a popular choice. Difficult to scratch and able to resist temperature changes, it's a popular choice. Because it is natural, there isn't as great a choice of colors, so kitchens may need to be planned around granite slabs.
Solid Surfacing (a.k.a. Corian): Made primarily from acrylic and polyester, solid surface counters are nonporous and virtually maintenance-free. It can be susceptible to scratches and burns, but those can be sanded out. There are many colors and patterns offered along with seamless installation.
Marble: Beauty, warmth, and character of marble lead people to love it, but it is a very porous material. Because it is porous, oils and stains can seep into the stone and it is softer than quartz, so scratches and chips could happen. Marble will need to be sealed immediately once installed and sealed every 6-12 months.
Tile: Tile is an inexpensive, modular option coming in ceramic or porcelain options. There are nearly limitless options with tile, but there will be grout lines that if left unsealed, can be prone to bacteria growth or staining. The uneven surface can be frustrating to lay a cutting board on and properly cut food.
Butcher Block: Made from cuts of wood glued together into thick slabs, butcher block provides sturdy work surfaces in a kitchen. It's important to use unsealed, oil-finished wood. Sealed counters aren't meant to be used for food-prep surfaces. Don't cut directly on it; cutting boards should always be used. Butcher block is not recommended near a sink, as wood can discolor and rot from the water. The wood may need frequent oiling and conditioning so that it does not crack.
Stainless Steel: Usually found in commercial kitchens, these counters are custom-made to resist heat and bacteria. They have an industrial look, but show fingerprints and must be wiped often.They are expensive due to custom fabrication.
Concrete: Concrete may muster up an industrial look, but it can look amazing in nearly any home. Since nearly any color pigment can be added, and it can be poured into nearly any shape, it's a popular choice. Because it is porous, it is recommended homeowners apply wax every 2-3 months.