What's best for kitchen countertops?

Q. I’m redoing my kitchen and trying to figure out the best material for the countertops. I like the look of granite, marble, Caesarstone, Silestone, soapstone and concrete. What are the pros and cons of each based on heat, stains, price and the time it’ll take to finish the project?

A. The countertop is a crucial decision in a kitchen–it’s the surface that you interact with the most, it’ll get the most use (and abuse) of any surface in the house, and it’s the visual touchstone of your kitchen. Here’s a rundown of each option you’re considering.

Prices for these six materials fall within the following ranges:

a. Granite: $200/square foot

b. Marble/caesarstone/silestone: $175/square foot

c. Soapstone: $200/square foot

d. Concrete: $300/square foot, starting at a minimum of $10,000 for an average kitchen. (The price reflects the labor involved, rather than the materials alone, since its a matter of having crews available to do all the work.)

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1. Granite: Granite is extremely durable–which can make it more costly, since it’s difficult to cut, though it has availability in every price range. Depending on what you select, it can be more or less expensive than other options. For example, stone that comes from a quarry in Italy is more expensive than Chinese granite. As a surface, it’s less likely to be damaged by things like tomato sauce and other acidic spills. It can scratch, but not easily. It’s more difficult to polish, so re-polishing is more expensive.

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2. Marble: While beautiful and natural, pure marble is softer, so it stains and burns easily, particularly if you put anything acidic on the counter. It also scratches relatively often. It can be less expensive than granite, but it’s far from the cheapest option. If you’re someone who cooks a lot, it’s probably not the best bet. Overall, it’s a higher maintenance selection–it must be sealed before use and resealed every 3-6 months. All spills need to be wiped up immediately and cleaned with a neutral detergent.

If you love the look, be prepared to be vigilant. Choose a honed marble (satin smooth surface finish with little or no gloss) with a low absorption rate (less likely to absorb liquids or oils) and keep the paper towels handy.

Read the full post at Brick Underground’s Renovation Qs, where you can find the unvarnished answers to your renovation conundrums.