Your countertops buyer’s guide: granite, quartz, butcher block, and more
Planning a kitchen or bathroom remodel? In addition to picking out new cabinets, lighting, appliances, and flooring, you have a crucial decision ahead of you: your new countertops. Finding the right countertop for your kitchen or bathroom is no easy task! There’s a lot to consider—cost, durability, and look—and you need to find a countertop that matches your larger plans for your kitchen. In this countertops buyer’s guide, we’ll walk you through your countertop options and what you need to think about ahead of selecting a particular material and style.
Here’s the thing: you don’t have to go it alone! By working with a design professional, you can get advice and guidance tailored to your individual project. Let’s dive further into our countertops buyer’s guide.
Set your budget
Before you kick off your kitchen or bathroom remodel, it’s a good idea to know much you’re willing to spend, and what your cut-off point is. While your total project budget is going to be mostly dependent on the size of your kitchen or bathroom, your material choices will also have an impact.
When looking at materials, take detailed notes on prices. Even subtle differences could really add up. A countertop that costs just a few more dollars per-square-foot could end up costing hundreds of dollars extra to install. If you can work backwards and know your budget in advance, it’ll help you narrow down your options and hone in on affordable—yet high-quality—materials.
Sizing your kitchen
If you don’t know what size of kitchen you have, now’s the time to find out. This will help you price out everything and get quotes for your project.
Our recommendation? Talk to a design professional and get a free in-home estimate for your remodeling project. As part of this process, they’ll take detailed measurements of your kitchen or bathroom for you. Plus, this quote can serve as your baseline for comparing the relative price of different countertops against one another.
Find the right material
Before you start thinking about colors and styles, try to settle on a type of countertop. Not only will this impact your choices, but it will also help frame your design decisions.
Here’s an overview of the most popular countertop materials, along with their pros and cons.
Beautiful and durable, granite has long been the material of choice for kitchen remodels. It’s not hard to see why: granite is naturally heat-resistant and stands up to accidental cuts and scrapes. In a busy kitchen, it endures, surviving years of wear-and-tear that might otherwise age a different type of countertop.
While not as stain-resistant as quartz, or available in quite as many colors, there are good reasons why granite remains the top choice for most homeowners.
Related Article: Everything You Need To Know About Granite Countertops
These days, quartz is just about as popular as granite. Just like granite, it’s natural stone. The key difference is that quartz is manufactured and sealed in a protective resin. This both protects quartz from stains and damage and means that it’s available in far more colors, styles, and looks than granite slabs.
All-in-all, quartz is a strong contender and equal to granite in many respects—including the long-term value it will add to your home.
Related Article: Your Guide To Quartz Countertops
Butcher Block Countertops
It’s not hard to see why homeowners like butcher block so much. Wood, after all, is warm and inviting. It reminds people of the kitchens of yesteryear. Butcher block can be a stunning addition to any kitchen.
Compared to stone, however, it does have its downsides. As you can imagine, it doesn’t stand up to heat, stains, or cuts as well as quartz and granite countertops do. We typically recommend homeowners use butcher block as an accent piece in a kitchen that otherwise features more durable stone countertops.
Here are a few other types of countertops worth discussing:
- Stainless Steel: Like butcher block, stainless steel is better used as a stylish accent piece than an entire countertop. Steel is cold and uninviting—it often reminds people of a commercial kitchen. For all its heat- and stain-resistant properties, it also scratches relatively easily.
- Marble: Another type of stone countertop, marble is pricier than granite or quartz, which often removes it as a contender for most large kitchen projects. It’s also less durable. If you really want the natural beauty of marble, consider using it as a bathroom vanity top, instead.
- Laminate: While far cheaper than other types of countertops, many people are turned off by the idea of plastic countertops, which were a staple of 80s and 90s kitchens. If you opt for laminate or plastic, you may not end up adding as much value to your kitchen as you’d have liked to.
See your different countertop options
In this video, the How To Home team walks you through the pros and cons of several different countertop materials, including many of the ones reviewed above.
Select a style
Now that you’re this far into our countertops buyer’s guide, and more familiar with the many types of countertops out there, it’s time to start thinking about colors and styles. For many homeowners, this is easy enough: you probably already have a vision of your new kitchen in your head. However, if you’re open to ideas, here are some of the most popular kitchen styles found in U.S. homes:
This is probably the most common style of kitchen, simply because it marks a sort of “middle ground” between the two styles described below. Classic kitchens feature wood cabinets paired with granite or quartz countertops. While not as intentionally rustic as the farmhouse style, they also aren’t quite as cold and modern as, well, kitchens designed in the modern style.
True to its name, modern is contemporary and sleek. This type of kitchen features simplified design and colors—most commonly, black, white, or charcoal grey. Modern kitchens make abundant use of stainless steel: even if it’s not featured as a countertop or accent, it’s certainly used for sinks and appliances.
There’s a simplicity and modernity that makes modern kitchens really appealing to many homeowners.
For some people, modern kitchens are just too sleek for them. They’re looking for something more warm, cozy, and inviting. They want their kitchen to remind them of the house they grew up in, or their grandparent’s home. This is why the farmhouse style is so popular right now. This down-to-earth style is evocative of country kitchens and lazy Saturday mornings.
Most farmhouse kitchens feature natural wood colors—conveyed through cabinets and a butcher block countertop accent—paired with a white ceramic sink and backsplash tile. One popular trend is to pair a white quartz or granite countertop with a butcher block kitchen island.
Work with an expert
Is this countertops buyer’s guide helping you figure out what you want your new kitchen or bathroom to look like? You’re in the perfect place to bring in a design or remodeling expert who can review your plans, provide you with constructive feedback, and—perhaps most importantly—start to help you price out your project by finding high-quality materials in your area.
If you’re looking to maximize the value boost you get out of your kitchen—or just spend less on your remodel—you’ll want to find high-quality countertops at wholesale or bulk-order prices. Talk to your contractor or designer about your options. A wholesale, direct importer in your area should have the right combination of selection and price needed to make your kitchen or bathroom dreams a reality.