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Countertop Types: Pros & Cons

Updated: Jun 7, 2023

We get lots of questions about countertops: what types are best? How do they handle heat, staining, etching? What are the cost implications? To help, we decided to compile a list of our most commonly used countertop materials with their attributes as well as some drawbacks.


1. Marble $$-$$$$

 Pros: Natural stone, so many color options available, with wide range of veining and movement. Naturally patinas over time with wear which gives an old world aesthetic. Some types, like carrara are more common and less expensive. Cons: More porous. Can be pricey depending on type. High maintenance for cleaning and upkeep. Can etch and stain easily (non-acidic cleaners only). Finish Options:

  • Polished: Polish makes it more reflective, glossy, formal, but etches easily.

  • Honed makes for a softer look that is not reflective.

Expectations: Expect patina over time and imperfections as a natural part of this stone (some people love these qualities!)


Our favorite resources (some are PNW specific):



2. Quartzite $$$-$$$$


Pros: Natural stone, dense and durable, MANY beautiful color options with a variety of movement veining similar to marble. High heat resistance. Low maintenance upkeep.


Cons: Porous. Can be pricey depending on the color and rarity, reseal every 5-10 years. Installation is often more expensive than a quartz. Lighter quartzite may still be susceptible to absorbing oils and staining if not wiped up w/in a reasonable amount of time.


Expectations: Expect patina over time and imperfections as a natural part of this stone (some people love these qualities!)


Our favorite resources (some are PNW specific):



3. Granite $-$$$


Pros: Natural stone, dense and durable, MANY beautiful color options with a variety of movement. High heat resistance. Low Maintenance upkeep. Generally more cost effective option.


Cons: Porous, can be pricey depending on the color and rarity, reseal every 5-10 years. Lighter slabs may still be susceptible to absorbing oils and staining if not wiped up w/in a reasonable amount of time.


Expectations: Expect natural imperfections, irregular clusters of aggregate (depending on type) Imperfections as a natural part of this stone. (Some people love these qualities!)


Our favorite resources (some are PNW specific):



4. Quartz $$-$$$


Pros: Man-made stone made of natural aggregate mixed with resin so VERY durable. Easy upkeep. Countless beautiful marble look-a-like options but more cost effective than marble. Do not have to reseal. Heat resistant and stain resistant, but not impervious.


Cons: Does not have the same depth and character as natural stone. Do not have to reseal.


Our favorite resources:



5. Soapstone $$-$$$


Pros: Natural stone with gray/black/green background and white veining. Fairly low maintenance. Can reapply mineral oil to surface to deepen color and minimize water spotting. Heat resistant. Can buff out scratches with light sand paper


Cons: Softer stone. Shows wear/tear and can nick/dent. Dark finishes can show crumbs.


Expectations: Expect patina over time and imperfections as a natural part of this stone (some people love these qualities!)


Our favorite resources (some are PNW specific):



6. Butcher Block: $-$$



Pros: Low cost option. Nice warmth of wood. Natural material and available in several species. Can chop on it.


Cons: Not heat resistant. Water can damage wood over time - can be sealed with Food Safe chemical Sealer to help protect it. Material can warp after installation over time. Shows wear/tear over time, but can be refinished.


Our favorite resource:



7. Acrylic Solid Surface: $-$$ Pros: Low cost option. Can do seamless joints and integrated sinks. Non-porous. Damage can be easily buffed out. Easy to clean. Hard/impact resistant. Cons: Can scratch and stain. Vulnerable to strong chemicals and abraisives. Can stain. Not heat resistant. DISCLAIMERS:

  • Even though some options are listed as 'Stain Resistant', this does not mean they are impervious! We always suggest using trivets and wiping up spills and oils with hot water and mild soap as a precaution.

  • Even though some options are listed as 'Heat Resistant', sudden exposure to high heat may cause expansion in natural stone like granite or quartzite due to underlying fissures that existing within natural stone.

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