Choosing the right countertop for your kitchen or bathroom is one of the most important decisions when remodeling or building a home. The countertop is a major design element and the surface that gets the most use, so you want to select a material that is beautiful, durable, and easy to maintain. Here is an in-depth look at the best countertop options for kitchens and bathrooms.

Granite Countertops

Granite is one of the most popular choices for kitchen and bathroom countertops due to its elegance and durability. Pros:

  • Beautiful natural stone with lots of color and pattern options. No two slabs are alike.
  • Extremely durable and heat resistant. Can withstand hot pots and pans.
  • Easy to clean and maintain. Resists stains.
  • Adds value to home. One of the most desired countertop materials.
  • Can last many years with proper sealing and care.


  • Expensive. Natural stone is a premium material.
  • Can chip or stain if not properly sealed. Annual sealing required.
  • Some very dark granites can show scratches and marks more easily.
  • Natural stone can have variances in pattern and color from slab to slab.

Granite comes in many different colors and patterns, from solid black to reddish pink with white accents. Popular granite colors include Ubatuba, New Caledonia, Santa Cecilia, and Blue Pearl. Granite can be polished to a glossy shine or have a honed matte finish. The durability and timeless beauty make granite a top choice.

Quartz Countertops

Quartz countertops have risen in popularity due to their stylish appearance and extreme durability. Pros:

  • Engineered stone material is non-porous and stain resistant.
  • Seamless appearance since slabs are man-made. Consistent color throughout.
  • Very durable. Resists scratches, heat, and stains.
  • Low maintenance. Does not require annual sealing.
  • Wide range of colors and patterns. Can mimic look of natural stone.
  • Resists bacteria growth. Ideal for kitchens.


  • Higher cost than laminate but more affordable than natural stone.
  • Cannot withstand extremely high heat from pots/pans.
  • Can be damaged by strong chemicals.

Quartz is an engineered material made from natural quartz crystals combined with resins and pigments. Popular brand names include Silestone, Caesarstone, and Cambria. The man-made manufacturing process allows quartz to be crafted into vibrant colors and bold patterns not found in nature.

Quartz is an ideal choice for busy kitchens since it does not require sealing and holds up well to daily use. The rich colors and patterns add drama and luxury to kitchen and bathroom spaces.

Marble Countertops

Elegant marble countertops evoke old-world charm and luxury. Pros:

  • Striking natural material available in wide range of colors/patterns.
  • Adds unique personality to kitchen or bathroom. No two slabs the same.
  • Softer than granite. Easier on glassware/dishes. Less likely to chip.
  • Heat resistant. Can be used for baking/candy making.
  • Classic material that increases resale value of home.


  • Relatively soft stone that can etch or stain more easily than granite.
  • Needs resealing every 6 months to 1 year.
  • Natural veining means inconsistencies in slab coloration.
  • On the pricier side for natural stone.
  • Extra care needed to prevent etching and stains.

Marble makes a stunning statement in bathrooms and kitchens. The soft grays, whites, and blacks with delicate veining create a timeless elegance. Marble comes in many variations, from the pure whites of Carrara marble to the bold gray patterns of Calacatta marble. It requires a bit more maintenance than other options but rewards owners with gleaming beauty.

Butcher Block Countertops

Butcher block countertops infuse warmth and charm into kitchens. Pros:

  • Made from wood, available in variety of stains/finishes. Adds organic feel.
  • Durable and resistant to cuts, scratches, heat. Can be sanded and resealed.
  • Budget-friendly option for natural wood look.
  • Classic, timeless look for traditional kitchens.


  • Requires thorough cleaning and resealing every 1-2 years.
  • Prone to water damage and stains if not properly sealed.
  • Not as durable as stone. Can show wear over time with deep cuts.
  • Color can darken/dull if exposed to sunlight.

Butcher block is typically made from strips of hardwood like oak, maple, or walnut glued and pressed together in a criss-cross pattern. It can be left unfinished, waxed, or finished with polyurethane. Butcher block adds a warm, rustic feel to kitchens. The rich wood tones and visible grain patterns create interest. Keep it looking pristine by promptly wiping spills, avoiding harsh cleaners, and resealing regularly.

Soapstone Countertops

For a uniquely soft look, soapstone countertops are worth considering. Pros:

  • Made from natural quarried stone with subtle mineral accents.
  • Stays cool to the touch, ideal for rolling out pastries.
  • Resistant to stains, etching, heat, and scratches.
  • Low maintenance. Doesn’t require regular sealing.
  • Develops patina over time, adding to its charm.


  • Susceptible to acidic liquids like wine, lemons.
  • Porous nature requires mineral oil application.
  • Natural imperfections like pits and cracks.
  • Soft surface can dent if abused. Not the hardest stone.
  • Limited color range, mostly grays/blacks with white veining.

Soapstone has a smooth, matte look ranging from light gray to dark charcoal shades, often with dramatic white veining. The soft feel and cool temperature make it ideal for pastry and candy making. It develops a retro worn look over time that adds to its rustic appeal. Treat it gently and wipe up spills promptly to prevent stains. Reapply mineral oil periodically.

Engineered Quartzite

For sleek good looks and total durability, engineered quartzite could be the ticket. Pros:

  • Manmade material with high-end quartzite aesthetics.
  • Extremely hard material resists scratches, stains, heat.
  • Low-maintenance. No sealing required.
  • Mold/mildew resistant. Excellent for bathrooms.
  • Customizable with wide array of colors/patterns.


  • Very expensive, often costing more than natural stone.
  • Too much pressure can damage surface. Not fully indestructible.
  • Porcelain can have a high-gloss factory finish that shows wear.

Quartzite countertops combine the beauty of natural quartzite stone with the superior durability of engineered quartz. The result is a sleek contemporary look that outperforms both options. Engineered quartzite comes in a boundless array of colors from stark bright white to dramatic dark shades. The ultra-non-porous surface keeps its pristine factory finish for years with minimal care required. For those seeking next-level performance and modern style, engineered quartzite is tops.

Tile Countertops

For DIY-friendly good looks on a budget, tile countertops can’t be beat. Pros:

  • Endless options for colors, textures, patterns. Customize it.
  • Great for beginner DIY project. Easy to install.
  • Low cost, starting around $5 per square foot.
  • Can mimic high-end looks of stone/quartz for less.
  • Durable and heat/stain resistant if properly sealed.


  • Grout lines need regular sealing/cleaning.
  • Not seamless. Grout can discolor or crack over time.
  • Porous grout absorbs bacteria. Requires thorough cleaning.
  • Cold underhand. Not best for rolling dough or candy making.

From mosaics to Moroccan patterns, the right tile can give a kitchen or bath a high-end custom feel at a budget price. Use a grout sealant and minimize grout lines for the most seamless effect. Porcelain tiles offer durability similar to stone at a fraction of the cost. Keep grout clean and be diligent with sealing. Tile countertops offer lots of bang for the buck.

Laminate Countertops

If you’re on a tight budget, laminate countertops provide durable good looks without breaking the bank. Pros:

  • Extremely affordable option starting under $25 per square foot.
  • Easy DIY installation, no saws or messy concrete. Peel and stick.
  • Huge variety of colors and patterns, including stone/wood looks.
  • Very durable and scratch-resistant with protective plastic layer.
  • Seamless surface is easy to disinfect with anti-bacterial cleaners.


  • Not heat or stain resistant. prone to damage from hot pans, oils.
  • Peeling corners, an lifted edges possible over time.
  • Plastic-like surface lacks natural beauty of stone/wood.
  • Resale value not as high as natural materials.

Laminate countertops, also called Formica, offer the most bang for your buck. Made from layers of kraft paper and melamine resin, laminate comes in every imaginable color and finish. New 3D technology creates realistic wood and stone textures. Use heat trivets and wipe spills quickly to prevent damage. For rental properties and DIY projects, laminate can’t be beat.

Choosing the Best Option

When selecting the ideal countertop, consider your budget, kitchen/bathroom use, and personal style preferences. How durable, low-maintenance, and heat/stain resistant does it need to be? Is an eco-friendly material important? Do you prefer modern or vintage aesthetics?

If budget it no concern, engineered quartzite offers unparalleled performance, beauty, and durability. Marble and granite offer timeless elegance and luxury. Quartz and high-end tile mimic the look of stone for less. For budget kitchens and baths, laminate and porcelain tile offer lots of style at wallet-friendly prices. Prioritize durability and easy cleaning if young kids and messy cooks will be using the space.

In the end, find the material that best balances your practical needs, design taste, and budget constraints. With the right countertop choice, you can enjoy a beautiful, functional kitchen or bath that will retain its value and provide lasting durability. Choose wisely and you’ll enjoy your new countertops for years to come.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the most popular kitchen countertop material?

Granite and quartz are currently the two most popular choices for kitchen countertops. Granite is valued for its natural beauty and prestige, while quartz is prized for its durability and low maintenance.

What countertop material is the most durable?

Engineered quartzite is generally the most durable option resistant to scratches, stains, heat damage, and cracking. Quartz and granite are also highly durable choices suitable for busy kitchens.

What is the least expensive countertop material?

Laminate is the most budget-friendly option, starting under $25 per square foot installed. Ceramic tile and butcher block also provide attractive options at lower price points than natural stone.

Should you put quartz or granite in a bathroom?

Both granite and quartz make excellent bathroom countertops. Quartz resists moisture and bacteria slightly better. However, both materials will stand up beautifully to the humidity and routines of a bathroom.

What is higher end – marble or quartz?

Marble is considered a premium high-end material given its elegance and natural stone origins. However, quartz is highly valued for its durability and stunning man-made patterns. Overall, marble has more prestige but requires more maintenance.


When choosing a new countertop, carefully weigh the pros and cons of each material against your own needs and tastes. Granite, quartz, marble, and engineered quartzite provide beautiful options that increase home value. Tile, laminate, and butcher block offer great style at more affordable prices. Maintain any countertop properly by promptly wiping spills, avoiding direct high heat, and resealing as needed. With the right countertop, your kitchen or bathroom will both look beautiful and withstand years of busy daily use. Choose wisely for a surface you’ll love for years to come.