The Best Countertop Options for the Modern Kitchen: Materials, Trends, Pros, and Cons
As one of the most prominent surfaces in your kitchen, countertops are your biggest opportunity to create an unforgettable statement and transform the space for good. A good countertop is not only utilitarian and durable, but it has to fit in perfectly with your vision of a unique, quality kitchen design.
Fortunately, there is no limit to the number of countertop possibilities you can choose for your kitchen. This guide will look at some of the most common countertop materials with notes to help you choose the right countertop.
1. Natural Stone: Granite, Quartzite, Marble, Soapstone
Natural stone countertops are mined from natural slabs of rock. These range from granites to high-end marble and quartzites. Natural stone has been a classic and timeless option, but it has influenced a lot of modern trends as well.
Some of the options available for natural stone countertops include granite, marble, quartzite, and soapstone. All these options share many of the same properties but vary widely in texture, and looks.
Granite remains the most popular option for countertops because of its natural beauty and luxuriousness. It comes in many options, and each slab will be delightfully unique based on vein patterns and color.
Since granite doesn't always match the small sample pieces you see, it's best to visit the yard and view the whole slab before buying.
Unlike engineered quartz, quartzite is a natural stone. Like granite, it is made under conditions of high heat and pressure, resulting in intriguing particles ranging from dull grey to veiny patterns. High-quality quartzite is very dense and durable, but it can get expensive.
Marble is a luxurious natural stone made of different soft particles such as calcite and graphite. Marble countertops are exceptionally stunning and luxurious, even more so than granite. However, the grandeur and beauty of marble will cost you a lot of money both in initial purchase and maintenance.
Soapstone countertops are another classic natural stone material that gained popularity because of their natural qualities. Soapstone is a dark, warm, and very smooth material that lends a timeless and luxurious look to any surface.
Soapstone is made of very small particles packed tightly together, making it very dense. It also contains talc, which gives it a silky smooth texture.
- Natural stone is luxurious, timeless, and classic. It adds an sophisticated look to your space whether it's a bathroom, kitchen, or home bar.
- Most stone countertops are heat, stain, and etch-resistant .
- Natural stone offers infinite variety, from the dramatic and bold styles of granite and marble to the classic timelessness of soapstone.
- Every natural stone countertop is unique and special.
- High-end countertops made from dense quartzite and granite are even harder and resistant to damage.
- Natural stone countertops add instant value to your home.
- Expensive to buy and install.
- They need regular maintenance including frequent cleaning and sealant application to prevent staining.
- Natural stone, especially the softer ones like marble and soapstone, are prone to chipping and scratching.
Ceramic tiles are a modern and highly affordable option for many homeowners. Tiles are durable, heat-resistant, and require no maintenance except cleaning. Natural tiles made from granite, marble, are also an option, but they will be less durable.
There is an unlimited choice of designs and styles you can choose to bring out the effect you want in your kitchen, which gives you the freedom to play around.
- Highly durable and heat-resistant. While sudden forces can crack or chip a tile, it can be replaced.
- Very affordable
- It allows you to create any kind of modern kitchen style you want effortlessly.
- Grout can stain quite easily and can be hard to keep clean.
- Ceramic is softer than natural stone, which means that tiles are not a permanent option.
3. Solid Surface Countertops
Solid surface countertops are a combination of natural stone chips bonded with artificial resin, acrylic, or other materials to create artificial surfaces. There is a wide variety of these countertops, but the most common are made from stone dust (such as quartz) mixed with resin and pigment.
Solid surface countertops look like granite or marble from afar, but they have far less variety and offer very predictable patterns that cannot match the uniqueness or exotic venation of the real thing.
There are different kinds of solid surface countertops, but all are bonded by natural substances.
Terrazzo countertops can be made from a variety of materials including granite, glass, quartz, marble chips, and limestone. When made from recycled crushed glass, you get a glass terrazzo countertop.
Quartz countertops are another solid surface counter made from tiny quartz and other natural rock particles bonded with resin and polymers. This process results in attractive, high-end countertops with decent durability and a classic, premium feel. Most quartz countertops greatly resemble natural quartzite but are more affordable.
- Affordable and easy to install, solid surface countertops make a popular alternative to natural stone.
- The smooth resin surface makes then durable and resistant to scratches, chipping, or cracking.
- You can always sand scratches to restore the fresh look.
- Highly versatile and can be used for backsplashes, table surfaces, and various kitchen surfaces.
- They are resistant to discoloration and UV rays, unlike many artificial countertops.
- The resin used to bond the stone particles is susceptible to heat deformation.
- Knives and sharp utensils can still scratch the surface.
- Does not offer the same deluxe look you might be looking for in a natural stone option.
4. Metal Sheets: Copper, Stainless Steel
Metal countertops, though unusual, are an old and timeless trend. The latest evolution has been stainless steel countertops made of metal sheets over a wooden foundation for noise absorption and support.
Made from recycled and new metal, metal sheets are very eco-friendly and offer a virtually maintenance-free solution. Most importantly, stainless steel and copper countertops add a distinctly contemporary, austere, but shiny look. If you like grayish or dark surfaces in your kitchen, you will appreciate the added glow.
Copper kitchen installations have a warm rustic look to them, which can transform your kitchen immediately.
- Perfect for modern kitchens due to their bare metal look.
- Heat and stain-resistant, so no maintenance necessary.
- Timeless and easy to install.
- Expensive, especially copper options.
- Fingerprints, dents, and scratches show easily.
When in doubt, go for wood. Wood countertops are perfect because they add a warm and natural look that is simply timeless. What's more, wood is naturally antibacterial and ages very well.
The only downside is that wood requires extra care as it is not heat resistant, and it also needs frequent sealing. You can have anything from high-end hardwood countertops to locally available maple and cherry, to bamboo; the choice is yours.
Another common option made from wood is butcher block. It is made from straight cuts of timber glued together to form thick, durable counters.
- Wood offers a naturally warm look and feel, making it a classic countertop material.
- Wood is naturally antibacterial.
- Solid wood countertops can be expensive.
- Even with sealing, the counter can take stains and odors easily.
- Not heat-resistant.
6. Concrete Countertops
Concrete doesn't immediately jump to mind as a modern countertop material, but don't think of it in terms of walls and sidewalks. Instead, concrete countertops can be made to be highly polished and smooth.
Concrete countertops can add a uniquely urban aesthetic to your home with multi-layered textures, patterns, and colors built into the surface to form a permanent patina. With the right construction, you have no need to reseal or worry about cracking, heat, stains, or chipping. That is why concrete is one of the latest design trends.
- Inexpensive and easy to build on-site.
- Very durable.
- Not many people will mistake concrete for anything else than plain industrial and utilitarian.
Whether you're looking to give your kitchen a new face, improve your home value, or create a modern layout for your lifestyle and needs, getting the right countertop is central to achieving your vision of a modern and trendsetting look. However, you will also need to pick up the best sink to match the look.
FossilBlu brings you the widest variety of luxury sinks, custom designed and made for the modern kitchen. Explore our collections of copper and fireclay sinks to find the one that will transform your kitchen for the better. Also feel free to contact us.