Today we have so many choices for kitchen or bathroom countertops; from wood to metal and every surface in between. Choosing what is the best choice for you and your home can be overwhelming. Here are some tips to help make it a little bit less complicated.
Marble - Marble comes in all shades and styles. Since it is natural stone, no two pieces are exactly the same, which is part of it's appeal. Cost can range from medium high to very high in cost. Marbles can be softer, which makes it easier to shape for a space, however, that softness can also make it easier to be etched, cracked, chipped or broken. It also can stain easily, so it needs to be frequently sealed and carefully cleaned, so it can be harder to maintain.
Other Stone Products - Granite is also a natural stone product, but isn't as costly as marble and it's a bit more durable, but it still requires occasional sealing and care when cleaning. They won't stain as easily, however. Quartz, which is a man-made stone product, is even more durable, but requires no sealing. It can be as beautiful as granite or marble when made to mimic those stone materials or it can have a more consistent type of color or design. Quartz can more costly than natural stone and not as unique, but, the appeal of it's durability is undeniable.
Stainless Steel - If you want the look of a more industrial space, a stainless steel counter top may be the way to go. It's durable and can be easily cleaned. However, keeping it smudge and scratch free is a chore. If you don't care if it ages with scratches, it can last a lifetime.
Wood/Butcher Block - Good wood or butcher block countertops can be beautiful. They will age, but, as they patina their appeal grows. To protect them from water damage, butcher block needs to be sealed with a food prep-safe oiled finish which must be redone frequently as well. This can be a good, cost effective choice, but will still need maintenance.
Other Man Made Materials - Porcelain, Laminates and other hard surfaced materials such as Corian, can resemble natural stone and are very durable. While porcelain is waterproof and durable (although thinner than stone or quartz), laminates and Corian can melt, however, so putting anything hot on it can damage it. They are extremely cost effective and can last a long time, but they may change in color over time and lose their luster.
Bottom line is this: when you are remodeling or updating your kitchen, you need to keep your needs, your budget and the value of your home in mind as you choose your countertops. In some cases, you will get a great resale return on an updated kitchen, although OVER updating your kitchen for your type of home or area might not give you the return on your investment you expect. Always weigh all the choices and ask an expert for what will be best for your home.