There’s no question that making updates to your kitchen can improve the value of your home but how do you choose which countertops materials to use? You might be surprised to find out just how many options you have. I’ve broken down 9 alternatives to granite so you can decide what’s best for your home, lifestyle, and budget.
Carrara marble is a natural stone harvested from the earth, so uniformity is out the window with this option. Due to the heavily gray veiny appearance, it’s surprisingly the least expensive of all the marbles on the market and much more economical than quartz. It’s softer than granite and is susceptible to scratches and stains from acidic foods, colored spices, and heat so it must be sealed. If you do get a stain you can make a poultice of baking soda and water mixed into a paste and leave it on overnight. That should lift up any stains that are in their early stages. You have two finishes to choose from when shopping for Carrara marble: honed for a matte finish or polished for a shiny look. The typical cost for Carrara marble is about $50 per square foot.
Soapstone is another natural stone but offers a more uniform (yet uncontrolled) look usually in a very dark, almost black hue. It’s incredibly durable so you won’t need to worry about liquids, germs, or bacteria seeping into your counters. It doesn’t need to be sealed, and it’s harvested from nature and cut for your kitchen without any added sealers or toxic chemicals making it environmentally friendly. Installation is incredibly easy and can be a DIY project. The return on investment for soapstone counter tops is about 50-80% after your home sells. The typical soapstone will run you between $70 and $120 per square foot.
Wood counter tops are an old classic that can add lots of warmth to your kitchen. If you choose a birch or beech wood, it can cost you the same as a laminate and less than half the cost of the most inexpensive natural stone materials. It’s a strong and soft choice that quiets the noise of appliances but is sensitive to heat, atmospheric moisture changes, and liquids. Your wood counter tops will expand and contract and need to be oiled periodically to prevent drying. If they are damaged or scratched, repairs are incredibly easy and most options, depending on the species of wood you choose, will run you between $30 and $200 per square foot.
This is arguably the most popular countertop alternative to granite at the moment, which is not surprising considering how much this option caters to its owners. Quartz is manmade material made from stone aggregate and polymers that are compressed under high pressure. A non-natural material comes with many benefits, including virtually inexhaustible color and pattern options. It’s also non-porous and just as strong as concrete or granite meaning you won’t have to worry about stains. The main drawback to quartz is the price; the typical quartz composite will run you around $200 per square foot, but if you have a very specific vision for your kitchen, it’s well worth the price tag in my opinion.
The underdog, if you will, concrete is an unpopular choice for reasons I believe are due to misperceptions regarding installation costs and overall aesthetic. You’ll be hard pressed to find much wrong with concrete countertops. There is no shape, color, or finish that concrete can’t be transformed into and you can even add glass aggregate to make it look like Terrazzo. It’s heat resistant and durable but must be sealed to achieve this low level of maintenance. Concrete countertops will cost you between $65 and $135 per square foot.
A glass countertop doesn’t have a durable ring to it, does it? Contrary to what your thoughts may be about glass, it’s extremely durable and functional as a countertop. In fact, the thickness of glass that’s required to make it into a countertop makes it one of the strongest materials to choose from. Glass is resistant to heat and stains and is very versatile; it looks at home in bathrooms, kitchens, and mudrooms. Painting the backside of a glass countertop adds a beautiful, understated design element to your space. Some major drawbacks to consider with glass are the fact that installation is challenging and therefore expensive and if it comes into contact with a heavy or sharp object, it can scratch or break. Repairs are costly, but most of the time glass countertops are irreparable and need to be replaced. Typical cost ranges from $50-$80 per square foot.
Paperstone is a green product made from post consumer recycled paper mixed with resin. It’s strong, waterproof, and handles heat well. Installation is easy peasy because it’s much lighter than natural stone. It does require sealing and is not suitable with abrasive cleansers. It’s an extremely cost effective option, ranging from $45 to $75 per square foot.
This is a material that’s generally been thought of for commercial use but it’s got it’s place in residential design as well. Stainless steel is not a look that will speak well to traditional styles but it is incredibly durable and completely heat resistant. There is virtually no maintenance, but if you’re a type A who will be bothered by scratches or fingerprints, this isn’t the counter top for you. Stainless steel will cost you roughly $70-$140 per square foot.
You may not what I mean when I say solid surface, but if I said Formica, things would start to make sense. Formica is actually a brand name, and solid surface is the type of material. Solid surface counter tops are manmade from mineral powder blended with acrylic and, sometimes, polyester binders. It’s a popular choice in residential homes and rental properties for its functionality and relatively low cost. There are many colors and textures to choose from and solid surface counter tops can be easily installed to show no signs of seams and repairs are incredibly easy. No sealing is required but they are softer than natural stone and are sensitive to heat exposure. Solid surfaces are a go-to option for builders and investors due to its economical price range of $75-$120 per square foot.
There you have it, nine options besides granite that might just work better for your home. Whether you’re buying, building, selling, or remodeling this knowledge will give you all the power when it comes to making decisions that matter the most to you and your bottom line.