Kitchen countertops can be made out of many different materials, each with their own strengths and weakness.
In this article, I’ll go over cost, durability, and appearance of the top 5 countertop styles (and how they compare to each other).
By the end, you should have a good idea which countertop will work best in your next kitchen remodel project!
All of the cost estimates are for an average sized kitchen (30 square feet), with a simple countertop layout. I would consider these as starting prices. Customizations or complexities in the fabrication & installation process can add significant cost.
A large kitchen with an expensive-for-catagory countertop, and a complex countertop layout can easily cost double. The prices listed are mostly useful for comparison between the different types of countertops.
OK, let’s get to the top 5 countertops!
Solid Surface Countertops
Solid surface countertops are a lesser known, and under-appreciated option. They’re durable, affordable, and look great.
We installed arctic white solid surface countertops in our first Budget Kitchen Remodel and loved them!
What is Solid Surface?
Solid surface is an engineered material made from a special blend of mineral dust, acrylic, resins, and pigment.
The result is a very durable material that is relatively cheap to manufacture and easy to install. It can be made in almost any color or design pattern, and it’s always installed with no visible seams.
The installation is usually done using multiple countertop segments, but they’re fused together in a way that makes the seam basically impossible to spot.
How Durable Are Solid Surface Countertops?
Solid surface countertops are non-porous, meaning they’re perfectly waterproof, very stain resistant, and don’t ever need to be sealed.
This type of countertop scratches relatively easily. Over time, solid surface countertops will show minor wear, scratches and scuffs from normal usage – especially if you slide a cast iron skillet, or porcelain dinnerware along the surface.
Although solid surface countertops can scratch, they’re also very easy to refinish. The surface can be quickly sanded and polished to restore a perfect, good-as-new look.
If you have a sander and a few minutes, you can do the restoration yourself – no need to hire a professional. It’s easy to sand and polish one small area (it doesn’t have to be an all day undertaking).
To prevent heat damage, a trivet must be used to protect solid surface countertops from a hot pan or bakeware.
Sometimes life just happens, and things get broken in weird ways. Another benefit of solid surface is that they can be repaired.
If you manage to accidentally chip, or crack, or break your countertops, a professional can repair them. Most other types of countertops cannot be easily repaired, and replacement costs are drastically higher.
Why Choose Solid Surface Countertops?
Solid surface countertops are a great choice if you want a high end look and feel, but you need a more budget friendly option than granite or quartz.
How Much Do Solid Surface Countertops Cost?
Professionally installed solid surface countertops cost between $1,650 and $2,190 in an average sized kitchen with a simple countertop layout.
To put the cost of solid surface countertops in perspective, they cost about twice as much as laminate, but granite and quartz cost around 50% more than solid surface.
Quartz is know as the gold-standard of countertop durability, a 10 out of 10. No other countertop material can match the ability of quartz to resist impacts, scratches, heat, water & stains.
This type of countertop is an engineered material made of crushed quartz stone mixed with resin and polymers.
The only real weakness of Quartz is its price. It’s not cheap – but if it fits the budget – it’s worth the upgrade!
How Expensive Are Quartz Countertops?
Quartz countertops are a premium option, and they have a premium price tag. Although granite is technically a few dollars more expensive on average, the two essentially cost the same.
In an average sized kitchen with a basic layout, professionally installed quartz countertops will usually cost between $2,250 and $3,780.
Butcher Block Countertops
Butcher block countertops are a personal favorite of mine. In addition to being timeless and beautiful, they’re also durable, cheap, and easy to install yourself!
There are many types of butcher block countertops, made with different species of wood. They have a big range in appearance, durability and price.
Check out the most common types of butcher block in the image below.
How Durable Are Butcher Block Countertops?
Butcher block countertops are fairly durable, however, they’re more prone to scratching and denting than other materials.
Butcher block ages gracefully, similar to developing a patina. I think it looks good with some wear and tear. The same cannot be said for other countertop materials.
When the wood is sealed properly, butcher block is extremely waterproof, and requires no maintenance for many years.
Butcher Block can also be sanded down and refinished, making it an excellent value for long term use.
How Much Do Butcher Block Countertop Cost?
Butcher block countertops are extremely cost effective. They cost between $480 and $960 in materials for an average sized kitchen.
If you’re going to install countertops yourself, butcher block is an excellent choice. They’re much cheaper than most other options, and butcher block is easy to cut, finish, and install with basic power tools.
To learn more about butcher block countertops, check out the article I wrote: Everything You Need To Know About Butcher Block Countertops.
This article goes into much more detail about the different styles of butcher block, types of sealant, cost, installation, and much more.
Laminate countertops are another under-appreciated option. They’re sometimes associated with being cheap and looking dated, but they shouldn’t be.
We installed laminate countertops in one of our kitchen remodels and had no regrets!
What Are Laminate Countertops?
Laminate countertops are made from a special type of resin called melamine resin. It’s extremely durable, long lasting, and pretty cheap to make.
The manufacturing process used to make laminate allows for essentially infinite color, and pattern options.
These budget friendly countertops are available in styles that look like stone, wood, butcher block, and my personal favorite, plain old solid colors.
To see 696 color and pattern options, check out the full gallery of laminate samples at The Home Depot.
Why Choose Laminate?
Granite and quartz countertops are objectively better than laminate, however, they cost over 300% more! Unless you have a large budget for your kitchen remodel, you’ll need to make strategic choices to keep costs down.
Countertops are usually the largest expense in your remodel. They can really make or break the budget. Professionally installed laminate countertops can save you thousands compared to granite and quartz.
Although laminate countertops are budget friendly, they can still look fantastic! Check out the image below.
Can Laminate Be Installed With No Visible Seams?
Straight sections of laminate countertops can be installed with no visible seams.
Kitchen countertop layouts that are an “L” or “U” shape will require a visible seam if they have total depth greater than 48″.
How Durable Are Laminate Countertops?
Laminate countertops are known for being durable, and lasting for a long time. Although not quite as scratch resistant as stone, laminate is marginally more scratch resistant than most butcher block countertops.
Laminate is not particularly heat resistant, so make sure to use a trivet to protect the surface from hot cookware.
Once installed, laminate countertops need no special maintenance or care. Unlike stone and wood, they don’t ever have to be sealed or resealed.
How Expensive Are Laminate Countertops?
Depending on the size of your kitchen, laminate countertops can be professionally installed for around $1,000.
If your kitchen remodel has a tight budget, then laminate countertops are an excellent choice. You could even pair laminate countertops with a butcher block island for the ultimate budget countertop combo!
Can You Install Laminate Countertops Yourself?
Yes, you can install laminate countertops yourself as a DIY project (however there are some limitations).
To install laminate, you’ll need to buy pre-fabricated countertop sections. These are usually in-stock and ready to purchase from home improvement stores like Lowes, and The Home Depot.
There is a limited selection of colors and styles, and you cannot custom order them. So, if you don’t like what they have, you’ll have to opt for custom laminate.
This is by far the cheapest countertop option. The cost of materials should be less than $500.
Granite countertops have the beauty and durability that can only be found in natural stone. Granite is the most heat resistant of all countertop materials.
To me, the main allure of granite is knowing that your countertop is a solid slab of rock, dug straight out of the earth. Every piece of granite is unique.
How Durable Are Granite Countertops?
Countertops made from granite are very durable! They are extremely hard, scratch resistant, and heat proof.
Granite countertops must be sealed to maintain water-proofing, and resistance to staining. Some granite and sealants are marketed as 15-year, or lifetime, but most granite will need to be re-sealed much more frequently.
The only real weakness of granite is chipping. A chip can happen if you accidentally hit the front edge of a granite countertop with a cast iron skillet, or any hard object.
How Much Do Granite Countertops Cost?
The price of granite has a massive range from $1,980 on the low end, up to $4,170 on the medium-high end. These prices are for professionally installed granite, in an average sized kitchen with a simple layout.
True high-end granite can be extraordinarily expensive. A rare, imported, gigantic slab of granite can easily cost tens of thousands of dollars or more.
Thanks for reading! Let me know if you have any questions in the comments below.