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The Best Surfaces for Kitchen Countertops

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There are so many great conversations on the Hotline -- it's hard to choose a favorite. But we'll be doing it, once a week, to spread the wealth of our community's knowledge -- and to keep the conversation going.

Today: Your kitchen counter gets more of a workout than any appliance or gadget -- choose one that can stand up to what you dish out.

The Best Surfaces for Kitchen Countertops, from Food52

Whether you’re starting from scratch, revamping what you have, or just creating the ultimate Pinterest board for the day you have a kitchen of your own, countertops are a crucial part of the equation. With so many options, it can be challenging to look past surface-level information to find the option that will really stand up to what you dish out. And although it might seem counterintuitive, remember that it isn't necessary to limit yourself to only one type of material. You might remember from our kitchen tour that we used both Calacatta marble and John Boos black walnut for our countertops.

This week rldougherty told the community of a desire for new countertops, and received rock-solid advice:

The Best Surfaces for Kitchen Countertops, from Food52



  • Sonny bunny thinks wood works well in a kitchen: "I put mahogany counters in my remodeled 100 year old kitchen...the look is clean, modern and perfectly fitting in an old house. We simply apply USP grade mineral oil, which we buy at the local hardware store, every 5 to 6 weeks. They are beautiful and get loads of oohs & ahhhs!!! Wouldn't change a thing."


  • Heather Strain doesn't agree: "Wood counters are the absolute worst idea ever! I had them once in an apartment -- they were hard to keep clean, required a lot of work to keep them in adequate shape, and were just awful around the sink." 


Pros & Cons:

  • Amysarah cautions against choosing laminate designed to look like stone, saying: "I've never seen one that really does -- beyond maybe in small sample chip. I'd tend towards one that looks good as itself -- its color, texture -- rather than one trying to mimic stone." 



  • OnionThief has a specific preference for "very lightly textured tile with medium-dark grout," explaining: "Tile is gentler on all my breakable things, there's no super obnoxious reflection, and no staining issues with darker grout. There's no problem with heat, and if you do crack a tile, it is a simple and inexpensive thing to replace." 
  • Irina agrees, finding tile "great to work on, especially good for kneading."


  • SMSF isn't as much of a fan: "I had tile counters for many years in a rental. Over time, the tile texture (and it wasn't highly textured) abraded and made keeping it clean very difficult."

The Best Surfaces for Countertops, from Food52

Stone & Engineered Stone


  • Mickle sticks with the classic, and favors granite, calling it "pricey -- but worth it."
  • Ebabb used white macaubas quartzite in a recent remodel and is thrilled with it: "It has a similar look to the white marble countertops, but is as sturdy as granite. We cook every day, and so far we haven't found a way to hurt it, despite lots of spills and hot pots."
  • Smslaw prefers soapstone, explaining: "It doesn't ever stain, doesn't need to be sealed, and doesn't get damaged by hot pots."
  • Stephaniesdirina, and mainecook61 are all fans of engineered quartz, noting: "It can handle anything, including hot pots, never stains, and looks 'softer' than granite does," and, "it requires no sealing, doesn't stain, and cleans up easily." 


  • ChefJune isn't a fan of granite, explaing: "I know it's trendy, but it is not as durable as many folks think, and it does stain."
  • Lisina concurs: "I find granite (though very functional) very difficult to keep clean. The patterns in the stone are VERY effective at hiding mess."
  • Heather Strain cautioned against marble for countertops that will see heavy use: "It will crack/fracture and is prone to stain."
  • OnionThief won't be installing stone countertops anytime soon: "They murder my crystal and my canning jars, they are slick and shiny and impossible to decorate around, and most of them have patterns that look like various growths/infections."



  • Kristen W. has seen some really cool countertops done with poured concrete, adding: "It's less expensive than granite, and you can stain it and shape it any way you like." 
  • Kimhw used concrete in a 1910 farm house, and has found them to be durable: "No wine, acid, or hot pans have damaged my counters."


Pros & Cons:

  • Lisina loves stainless steel, while acknowledging that it looks "very industrial," which might not be to everyone's taste. She also recently worked in a kitchen with copper countertops, exclaiming: "Talk about GORGEOUS. The owner had just had them polished, but she showed me a before picture and the patina was to die for," but adds that they were expensive. 

Tell us: What's your preferred countertop material and why? 

Tags: how-to & diy, hotline, best question, kitchen renovation, kitchen design, countertops

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