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Countertops 101: Choosing the Right Material to Upgrade Your Kitchen

Countertops 101: Choosing the Right Material to Upgrade Your Kitchen

Everybody knows the kitchen is the heart of the home. Itís where family members cook, eat, laugh, cry and give advice (and maybe even take advice from one another, too).

The kitchenís countertops are the centerpiece of this room, and one of the most important elements of a home remodeling project. Countertops should be practical as well as aesthetically pleasing, and they should complement and enhance the ambiance and overall style of the room. With such a wide assortment of kitchen countertop materials to choose from, itís important to understand the advantages of each to determine which one will work best in your home.

Granite Countertops

Granite is one of the more durable, natural materials found in kitchen countertops, and has become increasingly popular due to its unmatched toughness. Granite is arguably the material thatís easiest to match to kitchen dining sets, as it can be found in more than 3,000 colors and patterns. It has a host of other advantages, too: Itís heat-resistant, holds the highest value to home buyers and if well cared for, granite countertops can last a lifetime.


Laminate countertops are perfect for homeowners looking for a basic-yet-stylish countertop on a tight budget. Made from plastic-coated synthetics that give the exterior a smooth, easy-to-clean finish, laminate countertops are easily cut to fit to exact measurements. If you desire a clean, vibrant kitchen, opt for a basic black or white countertop paired with matching tables and barstools.

Ceramic Tile

Ceramic tiles are easy to clean and durable, and come in a range of designs, colors and textures. As the tiles are installed row-by-row, this is a good choice for anyone looking for a DIY project. Next to laminate, ceramic tile countertops are generally the least expensive.

Stone Countertops

Stone is a favored countertop material used in many high-end kitchens, and they give the kitchen area an organic, natural look. Stone countertops are often cut and quarried from marble, granite, lava stone or soapstone, and the nonporous surface resists heat and scratches.

Stainless Steel Counters

You may favor the industrial, contemporary look of stainless steel countertops. Heat-resistant, seamless and ultra-durable, stainless steel countertops are usually constructed to meet your kitchenís specific needs. Beware, though Ė ordering countertops of this style from a retail establishment doesnít come cheap. Find a local metal shop and ask them to bid on this job, too. Pair stainless steel countertops with stainless steel appliances for some extra glitz.


Concrete countertops lend an exotic element to any modern luxury kitchen. They can be found in a wide range of colors and are heat- and scratch-resistant, and concrete is an ideal choice for homeowners with unusual counter shapes. New treatments are available to eliminate cracking and reduce porosity, which is the main problem with this material, according to owner experience. Finishes may be added to increase the decorative effect, too.