Complete Countertop Guide

Countertops: Your Essential Guide

Thinking about purchasing new countertops? You’re going to love the Surface BUZZ magazine Kitchen Countertop edition!

When you begin to consider which countertop material for your new kitchen, you will want to educate yourself on all your options before you make your selection. After all, you’re going to be living with them for a long time and there are so many wonderful choices to consider. Look to the special edition of Surface BUZZ magazine that is dedicated to kitchen countertops. In addition to the regular articles–Did You Know? Ask Our PROS, and the ever popular Kid’s Page (which in this edition includes a fun how-to video)–our PROS present incredibly useful information and tips in:  Countertops 101: The Complete Guide to Kitchen Countertops.

In it, topics covered to help you in your decision process include…

How Do You Intend to Use Your Kitchen?

Although color, budget, and texture/finish are important considerations, your material selection ought to be based on how you intend to use your kitchen. An elegant, high-maintenance material might be a perfectly reasonable choice for a kitchen that gets very little use. Durable, low-maintenance materials are appropriate for kitchens where there is constant cooking, cleaning, entertaining, and eating. You might consider selecting more than one type of countertop material for designated purposes like baking or heavy meal prep.

Countertop Materials

There are so many so many choices for countertop surfaces today, from concrete and laminate to metal or natural stone. Some materials are easier to maintain than others. With proper care, most materials can last many years. The appearance of some materials can be renewed once use or damage have taken a toll, while other materials will have to be replaced.

  • Concrete countertops can look as elegant as natural stone. Look for a specialist with a reputation for excellence for concrete countertop installation.
  • Laminate countertops are an attractive, stain-resistant option for a limited budget design. With proper care, laminate can last a long time, but damaged laminate cannot be restored.
  • Porcelain countertops are a great choice as they give the look of marble without being porous or acid sensitive. However, damaged porcelain can be difficult or impossible to restore.
  • Recycled glass countertops are resistant to UV damage, chips, cracks, and stains. They are difficult, but not impossible to restore.
  • Solid surface countertops are made with acrylic or polyester plastic. They are a good option for interior areas where there is no direct UV exposure but not suitable for outdoor kitchens.
  • Metal countertops are a fantastic alternative to more traditional countertop materials. Fabricators can make seamless, custom integral sinks with metal countertops. Metal tops are non-porous, which is perfect for food prep, with the exception of metal tops containing lead. Options include zinc, pewter, copper, bronze, and brass.
  • Stainless steel countertops are, hands-down, the absolute best option for outdoor kitchens and are also appropriate for indoor kitchens with modern, retro, or industrial designs.
  • Wood or butcher block countertops can be sanded for brand new look. Wood tops are porous and should be sealed, but even sealed countertops can warp with excess water exposure. Wood is not suitable for exterior applications.
  • High end countertop options include gemstone, exotic stone, precious metal, petrified wood, and other types of exotic stone.

And a Special Section Dedicated to Natural Stone…

Natural stone countertop choices include granite, marble, limestone, soapstone, slate, quartz surface (engineered stone), and quartzite. Some types of natural stone are more suitable than others for kitchen countertops, depending on a variety of factors.

Natural Stone Selection

If you are looking for tops that can hold up to serious use, there are a few simple tests you can do with stone samples:

  1. The Scratch Test reveals the softness of the stone.
  2. The Dye Test can help you identify “Doctored Stone.”
  3. The Lemon Juice and Oil Test demonstrates whether the stone is prone to staining and etch damage.

Learn more about these tests and various types of natural stone in the full article, as well as how to work closely with your fabricator to select the most appropriate stone or other material for your kitchen countertops. Learn about slab selection, resined slabs, why fees go beyond square footage, what you should do before the slab is cut, and edge options that are available to you.

Caring for Your Stone

Some of the topics covered include…

  • Educating yourself on some essential do’s and don’ts
  • Troubleshooting – Common problems and what to about them

Don’t miss out on any issue of Surface BUZZ magazine. Be sure to subscribe to be notified when a new issue is published.


This article is one of a series of articles written and published on behalf of Surface Care PRO Partners.