29 August 2018

How to Choose the Right Kitchen Countertops

Did you know a major kitchen remodel, including new countertops, can give you an average return of 91% at resale? In fact, homes with kitchens that are updated sell faster and the home dramatically increases in value. When it comes to homes, kitchens rule the roost. That’s because we spend so much of our lives in that room. And whether or not you’re planning to sell your home, a beautiful kitchen remodel will make your life better.

When remodeling, make sure you pay special attention to the countertops. The countertops hold all of our secrets, hopes, and frustrations. From grumbling children frustrated with homework, to neighbors’ elbows resting during a gathering, to the place where we dump all of our mail, to the countless meals that are prepped there, the countertop is a critical component of your kitchen.

Keep these four things in mind as you select your new kitchen countertops.


Budget is almost always the most important factor in any home upgrade, and kitchen countertops don’t get to escape that consideration. As in everything, prices range dramatically, with materials like laminate and tile on the low end to granite and marble on the high end. But don’t despair if your budget is small, and laminate is where you end up. These days, some laminate options can mimic the higher-end stone materials. Of course, if you have some wiggle room in your budget, you’ll probably want to opt for a mid- to higher-end material.


No matter what your budget, you want to get your money’s worth. And a countertop in poor quality that falls apart within the year simply isn’t worth it. But do you need the most durable of the durable? Or will you be safe with something in the middle somewhere? It all depends on how you use your kitchen.

Do you order take-out more nights than not? Spend most of your time in the living room? Or do you  prepare two or more meals each day in your kitchen? Do you have children running through, spilling juice, and leaving items everywhere? Do you host people for meals or parties often?

These are the questions you need to ask yourself to determine how durable you need to go on your countertops.

If you rarely use your kitchen, laminate countertops may be the right way to go. If you’re in the kitchen for hours each day, subjecting your countertops to spills, heat, abrasions, and impact, you’ll do better with natural or engineered stone. Good choices for durability are quartz/silestone, granite, butcher block, marble, and solid surfacing.


How much are you willing to do to maintain your countertops? Are you willing to fix nicks and scratches? Reseal? Are you willing to be extra careful in everything you do?

Be aware of how the different materials need to be maintained:

Marble: Marble can scratch easily and can be damaged by heat, so you need to be extra careful in your food preparation.

Granite: Granite needs to be resealed periodically to keep from staining. It can also be chipped on the edges. It does a good job of withstanding heat, cuts, and scratches, however.

Quartz: It needs less maintenance than stone countertops. Plus, heat and abrasions don’t affect quartz. But like granite, it can chip on the edges.

Solid Surfacing: It’s resistant to most stains, and you can easily repair small scratches. However, it does scratch easily, so using a cutting board is important.

Butcher Block: Varnish will help with stain resistance. It’s also a sturdy material. It’s very easy to scratch and nick, but you can sand those out.

Laminate: It can be cut very easily, so a cutting board is always necessary.


Why save appearance for last? It’s the most exciting factor in choosing a new countertop, after all!

Because once you have taken the time to get a firm grasp of your budget, understand your needs for durability in a kitchen, and think about what sort of maintenance you’re willing to do, you’ll already have weeded out certain materials. At this point, it’s about selecting the color, pattern, style, veining, and more that appeals to you.

Think about the style of your kitchen, and find a material that matches it. Make sure your countertop colors compliment your floors and cabinets. And enjoy! This truly is the fun part. Just remember -- visit a showroom before fully committing so you can see how the material looks in a full-size kitchen, what it feels like, and how you feel about it.

Chuck Winkles is the president of New Life Bath & Kitchen, a bath and kitchen remodeling company serving California’s Central Coast. Chuck was born in Southern California and currently resides in Santa Maria. He's been married to his wife Shelley for thirty-eight years and has two sons, Nathan and Noah.

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