Kitchen countertops are probably the hardest-working surfaces in any home. That means they need to be tough. Given that the kitchen is the heart of the home, it also helps if they look good. Fortunately, there are plenty of options which can work hard and look beautiful. Here is a quick guide to the main ones.


Stone has long been seen as the most desirable material for kitchen cabinets. It’s both durable and beautiful. The most popular stones for kitchen countertops are granite, marble, soapstone, and quartz. For completeness, the quartz used for kitchen cabinets is a composite stone. It is, however, generally at least 90% quartz stone.

It’s important to note that the quality of a stone kitchen countertop depends very much on the installation. In particular, they absolutely must be properly sealed. If they’re not, the damp in kitchens can quickly ruin them. If this is done, then granite, soapstone and quartz countertops are all easy to maintain. Marble, however, does need careful treatment.


Concrete offers many of the same properties as stone and has a similar appearance. Like stone, it’s a premium construction material and needs to be installed carefully. In particular, it needs to be well-sealed to protect it against moisture. As a rule of thumb, concrete tends to be preferred to stone when a homeowner wants a more modern/industrial look.

Ceramic Tile

Ceramic tiles are also fairly similar to stone. They can, however, be a lot more affordable and easier to install. It is, however, worth noting that tiles require grout and grout can be a challenge to keep clean. This means it’s often best to use a dark grout, even if you’re using light-coloured tiles.

The downside to tiles is that they can be more susceptible to physical damage than stone. That said, it’s usually possible to replace the individual damaged tiles. This is more affordable and convenient than replacing an entire stone countertop.

Ceramic tiles come in a huge range of shapes, sizes, colours and patterns. This means that they can fit in with just about any kitchen style from the highly traditional to the super-modern.

Stainless Steel

Walk into any professional kitchen and you’re practically guaranteed to find stainless steel countertops. There are several very good reasons for this. Here are the top two. Firstly, stainless steel is very easy to keep hygienically clean. Secondly, it’s extremely resistant to heat.

Stainless steel does, however, have a few potential downsides. Firstly, it’s very definitely an investment purchase. Secondly, it can be easily scratched.

Thirdly, it’s noisy. The second and third points can be addressed by using equipment properly (e.g., only cutting on cutting boards). Only you can decide if you are prepared to do this.


Wood countertops come in two versions, sealed and unsealed. The former is protected against moisture and more resistant against bacteria. The latter require more day-to-day care but can be used without cutting boards. Both types of wood countertops require periodic maintenance. This would be either resealing or oiling about every six months.

With proper care, wood countertops can last a very long time. In fact, they can become even more attractive as they age. They tend to be used in kitchens with a country/vintage style.

Solid Surface

Solid surface is essentially a combination of acrylic and resin. It was originally used as a dupe for stone. In fact, it often still is and does a very good job of it. These days, however, there are a wide variety of other styles available.

In addition to being more affordable than stone, solid surface is lighter and has better resistance to stains. It is not, however, resistant to heat. That said, it’s usually possible to sand out any damage.


Laminate has long been the material of choice for people on a budget. It’s fairly robust and, these days can also be quite attractive. In practical terms, its main weakness is its vulnerability to heat. Unlike with a solid surface, it’s almost impossible to cover up any damage to the laminate.

These days, laminate tends to be used when people want to keep their budget and their maintenance as low as possible. For example, it’s very popular in rental properties.

Author's Bio: 

Tara Neil are specialists in beautiful British furniture and have a dedicated showroom in Reading, where you can find, accessible kitchens, bespoke bedrooms, home offices and more.