The Best and Worst Kitchen Countertops

Looking for new countertops that will stand up to everyday use? Based on maintenance, appearance and affordability, here’s a look at the three best and three worst countertop material choices.

The Best (Most Practical) Engineered Stone (Quartz)

1. Engineered Stone (Quartz): Quartz is the “plug-and-play” alternative to marble and granite. While quartz can be pricy, it doesn’t require the sealing or constant maintenance of natural stone. If you have a busy kitchen, consider quartz. It’s resistant to spills, burns and scratches.

Winning factor: Maintenance

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2. Butcher Block: Wooden countertops require a regular mineral oil rubdown. But, depending on your desired look, some finishes require less upkeep than others. Butcher block countertops come in several types of wood that can be stained to match any interior design. A quick sanding and refinishing will also hide stains and scratches or update the look of your countertops altogether.

P.S. You’ll never need a cutting board again.

Winning factor: Aesthetics

Butcher Block

3. Laminate: Today’s laminate isn’t like the bubbled Formica countertop you had growing up. In fact, modern Formica is available in numerous styles that mirror expensive materials like granite and marble. Laminate countertops also come in a variety of designer patterns and solid colors. Aesthetics aside, laminate is significantly more affordable than any other countertop material.

Winning factor: Affordability

The Worst (Least Practical) Marble

1. Marble: Yes, marble looks great. But when it comes to maintaining your investment, you’re in trouble. Marble countertops are notorious for their susceptibility to chips, scratches, stains and gouges. If you’re an avid chef (or even just a casual cook), it’s best to avoid marble.

Losing factor: Maintenance

Grouted Tile

2. Grouted Tile: Grout has a tendency to collect kitchen mishaps (resulting in off-putting discoloration). If left unchecked, blemished grout will give your kitchen the appearance of perpetual dirtiness — and nobody wants that.

Losing factor: Aesthetics

Stainless Steel

3. Stainless Steel: Stainless steel countertops are expensive to install, and they require eagle-eye maintenance to avoid scratches, smudges and dents (which result in additional costs). If you’re a serious cook and aren’t concerned with costs or blemishes, stainless steel is hard to beat. But, if you’re looking for a moderately priced, easy-to-maintain countertop, avoid stainless. If you don’t have the budget for stainless, consider cheaper alternatives like quartz or granite.

Losing factor: Affordability

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