Say buh-bye to busy counters.
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Granite Counter Samples
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If you've ever watched HGTV, you know Americans love their granite countertops. You're also probably aware the material saw a huge boom in the '90s and 2000s as laminate and solid surface counters faded out, and granite became more and more accessible to average consumers. Phil Edwards, of Vox.com, actually chronicled the fascinating and fanatical rise—and eventual plateau—of the natural stone surface. "Based on estimates from the US International Trade Commission, total United States imports of processed granite were about 206,000 metric tons in 1996. In 2014, they exceeded 2 million metric tons," Edwards wrote. That's a lot of granite. Read on to find out if the popular stone surface is going out of style, and find out which countertop option is best for your kitchen.

Why Is Granite So Popular?

The surface was, and is, popular for a lot of reasons. First of all, it's very durable. You can place hot pots and pans on it, use it as a cutting board (as long as it's sealed well), and spill wine on it without fretting about stains. Granite is sought after for its natural beauty and one-of-a-kind look. It comes in many different colors and patterns, and there is sure to be one that pairs well with your kitchen design. It's also sanitary, and increasingly affordable. The only downside is it needs to be sealed regularly, as many countertop surfaces do.

Not All Granite Is Out

And while it is certainly still a popular choice, the particular color and style is changing. Natural stone surfaces are wildly popular—how many kitchens do you know of with white marble counters or backsplash? But that's just it—folks are opting for sleeker, veined, solid, or "marbled" stone cuts, and less of the speckled, spotted styles, like the one below:

Speckled Granite
Credit: Brett Taylor/Getty Images

While sleeker, more subdued granites are making their way on the scene, this like powder bathroom vanity from our 2017 Idea House:

The Powder Room
"People aren't in powder rooms for long, so I like to make them really interesting," said Harper. She's already a fan of tortoiseshell, so when she heard about the island's serious conservation efforts with sea turtles, she went for Tortoise in Amazon by Schumacher and accessorized with resin turtle shells from Hayneedle on the walls. The Absolute Black granite-topped vanity makes the dark walls and hammered-brass sink by Nantucket Sinks stand out even more. Harper also added customizable acrylic-and-brass sink legs. "I do this all the time. It makes any sink look really beautiful," she said.
| Credit: Photo: Laurey W. Glenn; Styling: Buffy Hargett Miller

Other Countertop Materials to Consider

If granite is not the countertop of choice for you, do not fear! There are many different options of countertops out there to choose from. Trendier stones like marble and concrete have become a popular option for countertops. Quartz and quartzite make excellent and durable options for countertops. Or you can even choose a butcher block countertop, and add a warm, earthy tone to your kitchen space. Read below for information on some of the best surface choices for your kitchen.

White Kitchen with Marble Countertops and Acrylic Stools
Credit: Laurey W. Glenn

Marble

It is easy to marvel at a marble countertop. It adds elegance to any kitchen with its rich, and sleek look and interesting veining, and it comes in many different colors and patterns. Marble is good for baking and many types of cooking, but is not as heat resistant as granite—so no pots or pans directly on the surface. It is also not very stain-resistant. Marble can last for a long time in your home, and can even increase its value. It should be sealed once a year to keep its shine and increase its longevity. It is not the cheapest option, but it is an investment that you will enjoy for a long time.

Lindsey Coral Harper Idea House Kitchen
When you are working in a kitchen, rolling out pie crust or peeling potatoes, you'll spend a lot of time looking at your kitchen counters. That's why choosing the right countertop is so important. Over the last few decades of Southern kitchen style, countertop trends have come and gone like Formica, granite, and Corian. One trend that seems here to stay, though, is quartz. The eye-catching material is blends quartz with resins elegant and sleek, without feeling cold. It comes in a variety of colors, styles, and finishes and works with almost any color scheme, meaning there's almost always a quartz that will work with your dream kitchen design. However, the main attraction for people seems to be quartz's durability. Quartz is stain and scratch resistant, non-porous, anti-microbial, and very low maintenance. Those are all big pluses, because when you find a kitchen countertop you love in a timeless style, you'll definitely want it to last a lifetime.
| Credit: Photo: Laurey W. Glenn; Styling; Buffy Hargett Miller

Quartz

Quartz is very durable and makes for a great countertop option that comes in all kinds of designs and colors. Quartz is non-porous, will not stain, you can use it as a cutting board, and there's one major perk that not even granite can uphold: it never needs to be sealed. To protect your quartz countertop, you should always place a hot pad under hot pots and pans, as the resins and other non-quartz items mixed in will undergo damage and could cause discoloration. Because quartz is a durable, low-maintenance option for countertops that practically comes in any design, you should expect to pay a little extra for it. And because the quartz countertops are processed by men, you won't get as natural or unique of a look as you would with granite or marble.

Quartzite

You might think quartzite might resemble the same properties as quartz, but the two kinds of materials are not the same. While quartz is man-engineered, quartzite is a naturally occurring stone found deep within the earth. While quartzite is more resistant to heat than quartz, quartzite does need regular sealing as it is very porous and can stain easily. Quarzite is much more expensive than quartz, due to it being a natural stone, and it mainly comes in whites and grays. It is a great durable option for countertops that will most likely last you a lifetime. Many people opt for quartzite because it looks like marble, yet it is a lot more durable.

White Cottage Kitchen with Farmhouse Sink and Butcherblock Countertops
Credit: Laurey W. Glenn; styling: Lizzie Cox

Butcher Block

Butcher Block is made out of rich wood and will make your kitchen feel comforting and earthy. Butcher block comes in many different types of woods and is a cheaper option than stone countertops. However, butcher block is not heat resistant, it is easily stained and scratched, and it requires a lot more upkeep, including monthly sealing. It will last for about the same time as your granite countertops if routinely maintained.

Heather Chadduck Lake House Concrete Countertops
Concrete counters lend a modern, industrial feel to your space, but can be
| Credit: Photo: Hector Manuel Sanchez; Styling: Buffy Hargett Miller

Concrete

Concrete countertops are all the rage right now, and it's for a good reason: it can be completely personalized and shaped to the dimensions of your kitchen, exactly how you like it. While the color of concrete countertops can't change much, the surface can be made your own by embedding things like glass, shells, or stones to create a unique look. Concrete needs to be sealed every year, and waxed every month. The downsides to concrete countertops are that they are very porous and are susceptible to staining. They also are prone to chipping, are not heat resistant, and it's not the cheapest option. The installation process can also be taxing, as it takes the concrete about 28 days to cure, meaning you won't be able to use them right away. But if you are looking for a sleek, modern look, you can't choose a better option

Kid-Friendly Kitchen Renovation
We called our kitchen 'the time warp' because it looked like it hadn't been touched since the 1960s," says homeowner and Southern Living Executive Editor Jessica Thuston. "The matching yellow laminate floors, cabinets, and countertops—I have a feeling it was pretty great back in its day." However, fast-forward 50 years and this space was in major need of an update. "We loved the size and basic layout, but everything else had to go," Jessica says. Tour how she gave this relic some modern-day appeal. Re-Pin This Kitchen!Source Guide
| Credit: Laurey W. Glenn

Laminate

The biggest pro to laminate countertops is that they are inexpensive. However, you get what you pay for. They do come in many colors and designs, they need barely any maintenance, and they don't stain easily. The problem with laminate is that they aren't very durable, they are not heat-resistant, and they don't add really any value to your home. They have relatively short longevity—lasting around 15 years.

How to Pick the Right Countertop For You

The first thing to consider when trying to choose the right countertop is your kitchen lifestyle and budget. If you cook a lot, it may be worth spending a little extra money on a more durable stone, as long as you can afford it. Another thing to consider is the amount of maintenance you are willing to put into your countertops. Most countertops have to be sealed regularly, so make sure you choose a countertop that fits your lifestyle. Another thing to consider is your design preferences. Do you like a more natural look with texture and veining? Or would you like something engineered to be unique with more control over color and pattern? These are all things to think about when deciding on a countertop.

So, tell us, what counters do you have or are looking to get? Are you holding on to speckled granite (hey, everything does come back around!), or are you more of a clean-and-bright marble type? Old school butcher block? Let us know!