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Design Ideas
Countertops 101
Everything you need to know about trending, cottage-friendly countertops at your fingertips.
When it comes to renovating a kitchen or bathroom, there’s a lot to think through.The surfaces where you get ready for the day or prepare meals need to be functional workspaces. They create an environment and set a tone, so finding the perfect style and design is top priority. Here we give you all the... Keep Scrolling
Written by JESSIE YOUNT


When it comes to renovating a kitchen or bathroom, there’s a lot to think through.The surfaces where you get ready for the day or prepare meals need to be functional workspaces. They create an environment and set a tone, so finding the perfect style and design is top priority. Here we give you all the details on today’s trending countertops, including pricing, durability and maintenance tips. Take a quick inventory in your mind, think about your needs, and read on to find the perfect countertops for your home.

MARBLE

wooden barstools peaking out from under a marble countertop with a bowl of citrus adding color to the countertop.
Graceful Gray Veins. Calacatta Nuvo by Caesarstone inspires luxury and elegance. The sleek marble finish is the perfect fit for any neutral kitchen or bath.

Average cost: $50–$100 per sq. ft.
The natural veining and shine of this stone means no two are alike. With a variety of colors and finishes, marble brings an inimitable depth and elegance. Handpick your design for the price that suits your budget. High-end marble, such as Italian Calacatta is pricey but most marble is moderately priced. The strong stone withstands daily wear and tear, and resists high temperatures. Marble is susceptible to acid etching and staining too, so be ready to embrace imperfections. Use a reputable stone fabricator to install your marble countertops to help prevent future damage.

Care and Maintenance:

  • Blot spills with a paper towel, apply water and mild soap to flush the liquid away, and rinse and dry.
  • For tough stains, a baking soda poultice may be substituted for soap.
  • Reseal every 1–3 years.

BEST FOR: Bringing individualized style and timeless appeal into the home.

GRANITE

Natural stone granite countertop in a white cabinet kitchen with a farmhouse sink and roses in a glass vase on the counter.
Great Granite. Arizona Tile’s White Springs Granite countertop adds the appeal of natural stone to the otherwise simple and sleek kitchen.

Average cost: $50–$170 per sq. ft.
Granite offers the most exotic color and design options on the market. It is considered to be scratch- and heat-resistant, water-sealed and easy to clean. While leaving hot pans on the surface or cutting directly on granite is not recommended, it is unlikely to crack or chip. These benefits do come at a price, however, as granite is one of the most expensive countertops today. But once purchased, the
material requires minimal upkeep and repairs.

Care and Maintenance:

  • Use water to wipe up spills. For periodic cleaning, use a gentle
    stone cleaner.
  • For tough stains substitute a baking soda poultice for soap.
  • Reseal every 3–5 years.

BEST FOR: Investing in lifelong beauty. Bonus: Its durability makes it a fantastic choice for an avid baker.

QUARTZ

Bright and white kitchen with white quartz countertops and a navy blue paneled island.
Bright Balance. Light reflects well off the white quartz, creating a radiant glow in the kitchen.

Average cost: $40–$100 per sq. ft.
Quartz, often referred to as engineered stone, is a manmade material that offers uniformity in its design. It is available in many colors and can mimic the look of a natural stone countertop. Durable and nonporous, quartz is stainproof, crack-resistant and heat-resistant. To clarify, quartz does not need to be resealed, waxed or polished. If you’re skeptical about the price, remember that quartz requires little maintenance and few repairs. Tip: Although quartz and quartzite sound similar, quartzite is porous and must be resealed annually.

Care and Maintenance:

  • Clean with water, mild soap and a soft cloth or sponge.
  • Use a glass or surface cleaner to get rid of the tougher stains.

BEST FOR: An easy-care solution and unique design.

TILE

Farmhouse style kitchen with country charm and white square-tiled countertop.
Country Cottage. This farmhouse-style look by designer Kathryne Dahlman comes together with white cabinets and creamy tan countertops, while subtle touches of greenery add a hint of color.

Average Cost: $2–$7 per sq. ft. for materials, $30/hr or more  for installation.
Nothing says period style quite like ceramic tile countertops. If you prefer an authentic, well-worn look and homey feel, tile is the choice for you. One of the most customizable options, it comes in a variety of colors, patterns and textures. Unfortunately, ceramic tiles can crack, and finding a perfect match to replace a single tile can be a challenge. Keep in mind that the material may require maintenance, consequently, your grout also requires frequent care and resealing to avoid staining.

Care and Maintenance:

  • Clean with water, mild soap and a soft cloth or sponge.
  • To clean grout lines, create a mixture of equal parts water and vinegar. Apply and scrub with a toothbrush; rinse and dry.
  • Reseal grout yearly.

BEST FOR: Refreshing kitchen or bath surfaces on a budget.

CONCRETE

Modern looking concrete countertops with angular vases filled with fresh florals and a teal painted wall in the background.
White on White. Just released in March 2018, Caesarstone’s Cloudburst Concrete countertop boasts a sophisticated cloud-like patina and low-reflective matte surface.

Average Cost: $70–$130 per sq. ft.

The popularity of concrete countertops can be attributed to the current farmhouse trends. Concrete has natural pigment and versatility that will complement any style, from industrial to eclectic. It can be colored or stained to create the look of  natural stone countertops. Concrete accepts inserts and inlays and can be cast in any shape. It’s highly durable, resists heat and is unlikely to crack. It is susceptible to staining.

Care and Maintenance:

  • Clean with water, mild soap and a soft cloth.
  • Soak a cotton ball or paper towel in bleach and apply to remove tough stains but check with your manufacturer before using bleach. A baking soda poultice may be substituted for soap.
  • Reseal every 1–3 years.

BEST FOR: Custom and tailor-made countertops. Bonus: Concrete is weather-resistant, making it an ideal material for an outdoor kitchen.

WOOD

Kitchen with white inlay cabinets and butcher block, wooden countertops.
Outside Influence. Powell Construction created this wood-centric kitchen, proving that the look can be polished and sophisticated.

Average Cost: $40–$70 per sq. ft.

Invite earthy appeal and rustic charm with natural wood. Choose from a variety of types, including maple, cherry, oak or teak. Stylistically, options range from butcher block to parquet to panels. Keep in mind that this delicate material is prone to dents and scratches, which means it deteriorates over time. Wood is susceptible to staining, water damage and excessive heat. Treat wood countertops with mineral oil to prevent such damage. Wood requires resealing to keep your surface sanitized and fresh.

Care and Maintenance:

  • Clean with water, mild soap and a sponge.
  • Sanitize with a mixture of white vinegar and water and let it sit for several minutes. After that, wipe your wood with a damp cloth and dry completely.
  • Remove stains with lemon juice or a hydrogen peroxide and warm water mixture.
  • Sand down to remove nicks and scratches.
  • Reseal annually.

BEST FOR: Creating a warm and natural environment.

ZINC

Wooden island with modern silver, zinc countertops with an industrial range in view.
Evolving Elegance. The experts at Mio Metals, Inc. say that allowing a natural patina to develop creates a beautiful, weathered look on the surface.

Average cost: $130–$170 per sq. ft.

Malleable zinc allows designers to create a variety of edge shapes and treatments. Zinc also develops a wonderful natural patina over time—spots, fingerprints and marks are part of its appeal, so embrace them. Nonporous and antimicrobial, zinc won’t stain or mold on the other hand it will warp when exposed to heat. A note on zinc safety: Custom manufacturer Mio Metals, Inc. explains that it is safe to prep food directly on zinc.

Care and Maintenance:

  • Clean with a mild cleaner, like Windex, and a soft cloth.
  • Metal polish can remove unwanted spots, however, most zinc manufacturers recommend allowing a natural patina to develop over time.

BEST FOR: Investing in a modern and functional countertop.

Want more simply beautiful ideas? Check out this post on an inspiring Traditional Meets Modern Kitchen. 

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