Popularized in the mid-20th century, laminate countertops can bring a nostalgic, vintage feel to a kitchen. Available in a wide range of patterns, textures, and colors, laminate is relatively inexpensive. It is an easy-to-clean surface, but be careful not to place hot pots and pans directly on this countertop as it can scorch. Sharp objects may scratch the surface too, so always use a cutting board when you slice and dice.
Solid-surface countertops are engineered to have the best qualities of other countertop materials. Solid surface countertops are available in a vast array of colors. They are heat-, scratch-, and water-resistant, but manufacturers do recommend the use of trivets and cutting boards. The material is a consistent color all the way through, so if your solid surface does become marred, you can easily buff out the blemish.
Wood countertops are often made of strips of hardwood (like birch or maple) that are glued together. Wood countertops are susceptible to scorching and scratching, so use trivets and cutting boards during your meal prep. Be sure to promptly wipe up splashes and spills. If left damp too long, wood countertops may darken.
Ceramic tiles are available in different colors, textures, patterns, and finishes—your possibilities are limitless. Mix and match tiles of different colors and sizes to create your own unique pattern. Tile countertops are heat-proof and scratch-resistant, but that hard surface may chip your dishes and glasses if you aren't careful. Be sure to have your tile countertop is installed with a stain- and mildew-resistant grout.
Made of recycled glass chips bound together with a resin material, this scratch and heat resistant material is gaining popularity for its variety of color options as well as its environmental responsibility.
Concrete countertops have recently grown in popularity. Because each installation is custom poured, you can be sure that this material will be tailored to your space. Features like an integral drain tray can be molded right in. Concrete itself is heat- and scratch-resistant, but the sealer applied to the countertop to prevent food and water stains can be damaged by heat and sharp objects.
Marble is the material of choice for many baking enthusiasts as the surface is perfect for working with doughs. It is heat-proof and water-resistant. Some foods may stain or damage the finish.
Consider installing a marble section in your countertop to get all to the baking benefits of marble at a reduced cost.
Like marble, granite is ideal for working with doughs, and it's heat-resistant and waterproof. Unlike marble, it is not easily stained or damaged by short exposure to foods and oils.
Stainless steel is a sleek and modern countertop material. There are many reasons why stainless steel is the material of choice for commercial kitchens. It's heat-resistant, durable, and easy to clean. It can show scratches and dull your knives, so use a cutting board when possible.
Copper offers many of the same benefits as stainless steel, however it is a softer metal. Many homeowners choose copper because of the natural patina that it develops. It will eventually transform from a shiny metallic copper color to a softer brown.
See more countertop ideas in our Kitchen Countertops and Backsplashes video.