One of the easiest ways to liven up a kitchen or bathroom is to update its countertops. Each of the eight most popular types of countertop materials—granite, marble, cultured marble, laminate, solid surface, wood, tile, and soapstone—has benefits and drawbacks.

As you search for the best countertop material for your home, remember to choose a material that meets both your durability and maintenance needs. Bathroom countertops typically see less wear and tear than those in the kitchen, and they likewise require less care. However, investing in stain- and damage-resistant materials is always prudent, especially if you have children or consistently cook at home.

Countertops can be expensive. To save, look for sales and take the measurements of your counter spaces before you shop. Technicians often save the remnants after an installation and sell the pieces at a lower cost, providing an affordable option for smaller surface areas, such as an island or bathroom sink.

If you aren’t sure which countertop material is best for you, a Best Pick countertop professional will be happy to help.

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Pros and cons of 8 countertop materials infographic

Countertop Materials Pros and Cons

Going shopping for countertops? Pick a material that meets your durability and maintenance needs.

1. Granite

  • Pro: Durable, stain-resistant material, with many colors and patterns. Granite is a good choice for areas that are used heavily.
  • Con: Should be periodically resealed to protect against stains if it receives heavy use. Chips on edges and corners can occur and will need to be repaired by a professional.

2. Marble

  • Pro: High-end, luxurious material. Marble countertops are an elegant choice for bathroom and kitchen design.
  • Con: Not practical for heavy use. Marble scratches and chips easily, although small imperfections can be buffed out. It must also be sealed periodically to protect against stains.

3. Cultured Marble

  • Pro: Made from a cast polymer, cultured marble is an economical alternative to marble countertops and mimics the look of the natural stone nicely. It is easy to clean and can withstand regular wear and tear.
  • Con: Although culture marble is more durable than natural marble, it can still be damaged, and removing scratches from the surface can prove difficult.

4. Laminate

  • Pro: The most economical countertop material available, laminate is also stain-, impact-, and heat-resistant, and comes in a variety of colors and patterns.
  • Con: Scratches and chips occur easily and are permanent. Seams are often visible and can allow water seepage, which damages the material and can cause puckering.

5. Solid Surface

  • Pro: Popular for its stone-like appearance and decorative features, solid surfacing is waterproof and resistant to impact and heat.
  • Con: Prone to scratches and minor abrasions, which can be buffed out with fine sandpaper.

6. Wood

  • Pro: Wood, or butcher block, is popular for its rustic charm, can be used as a cutting board, and is easy to install and repair.
  • Con: Susceptible to water damage, heat, cuts, stains, and impact, wood is relatively high maintenance. It must be sealed and regularly treated with mineral oil or beeswax.

7. Tile

  • Pro: Burn and stain resistant, tile comes in many colors, sizes, and styles, and is comparatively inexpensive and easy to repair.
  • Con: Grout can collect dirt, water, and mildew, and it is also prone to staining.

8. Soapstone

  • Pro: Beautiful and unique, soapstone is a nonporous material that requires no sealing. It withstands heat well, and small abrasions are repairable.
  • Con: Soapstone needs periodic mineral oil application, and it scratches and nicks easily.