Choosing a new kitchen countertop can be a difficult prospect, for one thing because there are so many materials to choose from, and also because it tends to be one of the most expensive upgrades you can make in your kitchen. When you’re thinking about all the possible options, you need to consider more than just current popularity and how affordable the countertop might be. Since countertops take up so much space in your kitchen, they really do set the style and tone for the entire room, so it’s something you want to get right the first time.

If money is no object, you might want to go with granite, which is a material that has ruled the roost for years among countertops. But you can also achieve the same look as granite without paying the full price for a granite countertop, perhaps by choosing marble or a stone surface like quartz. Some of the most interesting of all the popular types of countertop materials are described below to help you with your decision-making process.

Granite

You can purchase granite countertops in one of several grades, colors, thicknesses, and patterns, and the price can vary from $25 per square foot all the way up to $1,000 per square foot. The more expensive types of granite countertop are usually the ones which are thickest, so if you keep your countertop to no thicker than three quarters of an inch, you won’t have to pay an arm and a leg. It provides a very hard surface, and is resistant to high heat and scratches, and you’ll probably love the low-maintenance appeal it provides for a long time.

Engineered Stone

Engineered stone surfaces like quartz are a very good alternative to granite, and since quartz is one of the hardest materials in the world, it’s even more long-lasting than granite. Quartz countertops are actually manufactured, which means you have an endless variety of colors and patterns to choose from, even options that look very much like granite. In addition to its hardness, quartz countertops are also resistant to high heat and stains, and are just as low-maintenance as granite countertops are. Even better, they are far less expensive than granite countertops, and do not require sealing of any kind.

Laminates

These types of countertops are often referred to using their popular brand name, Formica, and they come in a variety of colors, all of which are plastic-coated. If you’re undertaking a remodeling project on a budget, this might be a very good choice for you, and if you’re not interested in driving up resale value, it could be just what you’re looking for. You will undoubtedly be able to find a very appealing surface that suits your kitchen decor, and since you won’t have to pay a great deal for its easy installation, you can save money which can be allocated to other aspects of your remodeling project.

Soapstone

Soapstone is very resistant to stains and bacteria, and since it’s a non-porous, naturally-quarried stone, it comes in tones that range from light to dark gray. Unlike most natural stones, it does not require annual sealing, but by periodically applying mineral oil, you can cover up most minor scratches, and deepen the color of your countertop over time. If you’re looking for a rustic decor, you can’t go wrong with soapstone, because it has a pewter tone to it, and instantly suggests an historical context. Soapstone can be used for virtually any application in the kitchen, and will always go well with whatever decor you already have in place.

Travertine

If you’re looking for a classic Old World look to your kitchen countertop, you might want to consider a creamy travertine countertop which will add classic style and appeal to your kitchen. It’s a bit more high maintenance than other countertop surfaces, and you’ll have to seal the pitted surface so that it doesn’t absorb liquids, or trap foods and bacteria. If you don’t mind the extra work associated with installing this countertop, you will definitely love the aesthetic appeal of it, and the warm feeling it imparts to your entire kitchen. It’s a very durable surface, and it can be installed in slabs or tiles, so installation can be accomplished quickly and easily. If you go this route, you may need to coordinate other aspects of your kitchen remodeling project to complement the Old World look of your travertine countertop.

Ceramic Tiles

This is a very versatile material, and is in fact often used on walls and flooring in addition to countertops. It’s also very popular material with do-it-yourselfers, because of its ease of installation. You’ll find a tremendous range of textures and colors, so you should have no trouble at all finding a sample which really appeals to you. Some of the drawbacks of ceramic tiles are that they do tend to crack over time, and they do require grouting, but on the other hand, replacing your ceramic tiles is not very difficult when the need arises. This is an option which can be done on a budget, and it’s one of the quick and dirty solutions which you might want to consider if your project is pressed for time and resources.

Marble

Many homeowners choose marble because of its sheer elegance, and because of the imagery it conjures up of luxurious pillars and gorgeous sculptures in beautiful buildings. That same feeling of class and elegance is achievable right in your kitchen, if you choose to install marble countertops. Of course, it comes in a number of different colors and textures, and you can choose from creamy white, beige, slate gray, white, and even black marble. If you have light-colored cabinets in your kitchen, gray-tone marble might be the perfect complement to your existing decor.

Marble can definitely get a little pricey, so if you’re remodeling on a budget, this probably is not your best option. You also have to seal your marble countertop annually, especially if you frequently prepare foods on it. If you love baking, you’ll find that a marble countertop provides a beneficial cold surface that is excellent for rolling out your cookie doughs and breads. It’s more high maintenance than some other types of countertops, but you simply can’t beat marble for its elegance and style.

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