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Which Kitchen Countertop is Right For You?

Granite Kitchen Counters
Granite is one of the most popular choices — it’s a natural stone with plenty of character, unique grains, colors and customizable finishes. When properly sealed, it's one of the most durable options out there. Unsealed granite can absorb stains such as oil, which can ultimately cause dark spots or discoloration. Heat from pots and pans or hot liquids will likely have no effect to the granite surface under normal circumstances. Certain foods with citric, lactic, and vegetable acids such as oranges, milk, and tomatoes can strip the polish or etch the stone surface.

It is recommended to seal the granite countertops and then periodically reseal the surface every few years to help liquids penetrating the granite and leaving stains.

While it can cost as low as $50 per square foot installed, prices can go up quickly with more exotic slabs and difficult installations.

Engineered Quartz Kitchen Counters
If you’re looking for more color and design options, engineered quartz might be the right fit for you. It comes in just about every shade imaginable. This engineered product combines about 95% ground quartz, and 5% resin and pigments.

Engineered quartz is tough, nonporous and virtually indestructible. This durability also means that, unlike other types of stone countertops, quartz resists staining or corrosion from cooking oils, liquids and most household cleaning products. There's no need for periodic resealing of the surface. However, quartz can be damaged by excessive heat, so never set hot pans or pots directly on the surface.

All of those color choices come with an expense. Quartz countertops can cost anywhere from $95 and up per square foot installed.

Marble Kitchen Counters
Marble is a beautiful, classic look that never goes out of style. For white kitchens especially, marble offers many choices with veining and finishes.

Marble is generally composed of calcium carbonate (the same ingredient used in antacids) or magnesium carbonate, which react to acids. Even after the marble is sealed, an acidic kitchen liquid like lemon juice or tomato sauce will etch marble, leaving a dull, whitish mark where it has slightly eaten away the surface. But if you are prepared to care for your marble countertops, they can be a beautiful, functional choice that lasts a lifetime.

The cost for marble typically ranges from $70 to $100 per square foot installed.

Concrete Kitchen Counters
Concrete is another alternative to a natural stone top. It can be made by precast or on site. With precast, there are visible seams, but they allow the top to flex, minimizing tiny cracks to the surface. The colors (with stains, dyes, and pigments) are almost endless. Concrete is a porous material, so it is important to seal the top. Although, depending on the sealer used, it may change the patina of the concrete.

The cost of concrete tops can vary by region, from at least $90 to $150 per square foot installed.

Laminate Kitchen Counters
For the budget conscious, there are plenty of options available with laminate countertops. These tops are easily installed and come with a wide range of customizable edges and finishes Laminate tops offer a seamless look with backsplashes and integrated sinks. However, it's not the most durable of countertops. It is not heat resistant and can show wear or stain over time.

At $8 to $20 per square foot installed, its affordable price makes it a winner for many.

Ecofriendly Kitchen Counters

A little research is really all that's required today to make your new kitchen ecofriendly. The wide variety of material styles and costs — from salvaged wood to Bio-Glass to bamboo (shown in this photo) — means you can find just the right green countertop material for your home.

Wood Kitchen Counters
For some, wood and countertops just don't seem to mix. But a high-quality wood with the right kind of sealer can make for a beautiful, warm and long-lasting countertop. The price varies substantially depending on the type of wood you choose, but butcher block counters tend to range from $30 to $85 per square foot, for materials only.

Soapstone Kitchen Counters
Often used in laboratories for its resistance to stains, chemicals and bacteria, soapstone is a durable and natural choice for a kitchen. At $80 to $100 per square foot installed, it might be on the more expensive side, but it can be a lifetime investment.

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