Shopping for a new countertop?


Choosing the right material for your counter top is a extremely important decision after all your counter top will be used every day not to mention your counter top can have a great impact on the value of your home as well. With so many choices it can be quite confusing as to which type of material is best for your home. In this article we will discuss the most popular countertop materials being used today to help assist you and your general contractor make a decision.


Butcher block

Butcher block countertops are made from wood pieces of different colors to form a complementary and attractive pattern. The wood is glued together, sanded and sealed to form a smooth and unified countertop. Butcher block countertops and other wooden countertops are a popular choice in kitchens although some woods are used on bathroom countertops too.  Butcher block countertops can be used in conjunction with other surfaces such as quartz, granite and laminate. For example a work island might have a butcher block countertop while the tops around the appliances and sink are made from a different material. When considering butcher block many environment conscious buyers will also look at Eco friendly countertops like reclaimed wood as wood of all types is warm and inviting when used in a kitchen or bathroom.


Pros: The warmth and beauty of butcher block is very inviting. Butcher block countertops are ideal for those who enjoy baking and other types of food preparation as they handle cutting very well and do a good job of hiding cuts and scratches.  In fact the scars they accumulate give them character and can be part of their appeal. After years of use the countertops are able to be sanded and resealed to make them look brand new again. Butcher block goes well with a wide variety of cabinetry, flooring and appliances. They are easy to clean and they don’t suffer from some of the weaknesses of harder countertops such as cracking or chipping.


Cons: Butcher block countertops need to be sealed when produced or first installed and they require periodic sealing over the years.  If they are not sealed water can penetrate the butcher block and warp wood pieces causing them to separate as well as harbor germs.  Long term exposure to water is not good for the wood so it is essential that you clean up water and wipe butcher block and wood countertops dry after cleaning them.  If the surface is scratched below the level of the finish oiling the area is needed.  In fact some manufacturers recommend that you oil butcher block countertops every 1-3 months with linseed oil to keep out the harmful effects of water.




Concrete countertops are one of the newest types countertops offered.  New innovations have been made in the way concrete is formulated which means that modern concrete countertops are relatively light and can be produced in an array of colors while still maintaining there strength. Concrete is more of a custom material and countertops are often framed and poured right in the kitchen or bathroom although many are made offsite as well.  Homeowners are also able to utilize various stamping and staining techniques to add personalized touches for their concrete countertops.


Pros: Strength is definitely one of the top reasons for choosing concrete. It is very hard, durable and not easily chipped.  These countertops can be custom formed on site so that they fit even oddly sized or shaped areas.  Concrete can be pigmented to achieve just about any color you want and can be personalized in hundreds of ways.  You can customize concrete surfaces by embedding shells, tiles, pieces of colored glass, and stones.  They also can be textured as well.


Cons: Concrete countertops are expensive so they may not be an option for everyone.  Concrete also requires a level of maintenance about the same as a granite countertop would.  They need to be sealed regularly in order to make the surfaces easier to clean.  Even then they are susceptible to being stained by coffee or juice and putting a lot of weight on a corner may also cause it to crack.




Granite countertops are some of the most elegant available. They are also one of the most expensive. Granite is a natural stone with great strength and has a natural beauty that few other stones can match. Every granite countertop is unique because the natural shading and tone differences within the stone are never exactly the same sometimes even within the same piece. In wood or a solid surface countertop this would be viewed as a defect however in granite countertops the varying shades and colors are greatly appreciated for the individuality they give to each top. Granite is an elite material for kitchen and bathroom countertops and it is an great option for those who have high-end cabinets, appliances, flooring and other top of the line products. As beautiful as it is granite may look out of place with items that don’t match in it’s quality.


Pros: Granite is stunningly beautiful and will provide an attractive complement to many types and colors of cabinets.  Granite is extremely strong and durable.  It is highly resistant to scratches and heat making it an asset in your kitchen work , especially near a stove top.  If you use a hair straightener or curling iron in the bathroom you can also set them down without worrying about burning your countertop.  When it is properly sealed granite also has good resistance to stains.


Cons: Granite kitchen and countertops need to be sealed because granite is a porous stone and will absorb fluids, which may stain.  Being porous could also harbor bacteria if it is not sealed.  Some granite countertops need to be sealed annually while others can be pre treated prior to being installed and can last 10 to 15 years before needing to be sealed again. There are about 20 different colors of granite compared to other types of counter tops, which offer hundreds of colors. If granite countertops have a heavy object dropped they can chip or crack. Granite countertops are also among the most expensive on the market and not every budget will accommodate them.




Laminate countertops are a very popular option for many kitchens and bathrooms because they are affordable and come in the widest range of colors and patterns. Laminate countertops offer excellent versatility and value as well. Many countertops are made to mimic the look of more expensive surfaces like marble or granite and are one of the best choices for those with a limited budget. Laminate countertops sometimes called plastic laminate contain a hard particle board with layers of plastic laminate bonded over the top of it.  The plastic laminate is tough and fairly durable as well as easy to clean. Laminate does not harbor harmful germs like porous surfaces do and they are great if you have kids where they can be quickly sanitized with a disinfectant wipe.


Pros: Laminate countertops are being made with a higher quality than ever before.  The process has been refined to make them even more durable.  They also remain one of the most affordable types of countertops available. Laminates come in the widest selection of colors, hundreds of patterns and designs, and textured surfaces too.  For cleanup there’s nothing easier than laminate countertops.  The surface is solid without pores so a soapy washcloth or sponge is usually all that is needed.  Laminate seams can be also be hidden better then other countertop seams.


Cons: Laminate countertops can be more easily scratched than most surfaces so it is best to do any cutting in the kitchen on a cutting board. Laminate is also not as heat resistant as other surfaces so items such as hot pans or curling irons should not be placed on laminate countertops. In the event that the laminate surface is scratched, burned or chipped it is very difficult to repair.




Lava countertops are very unique, beautiful and highly functional. They are durable and extremely heat resistant. These countertops are made from lava stone that is quarried from sites of ancient volcano eruptions. Most of the lava stone countertops currently being produced come from stone extracted from craters in Auvergne France but other sources are being developed as these countertops grow in demand. Once the stone is mined it is then custom cut for each order. Then the lava countertop is glazed with enamel at heat in excess of 1,300 degrees Fahrenheit. The glazing gives it a smooth non-porous finish that is completely water-resistant. As the countertop cools small cracks form in the glazing giving every countertop a completely unique appearance.

Pros: This is a extremely strong and durable material that resists chipping and cracking. The glazed non-porous surface withstands heat, staining, acids from cleaners and foods and it will not fade. Lava countertops can be glazed in a wide array of colors to match every type of kitchen decor and the finish can be made glossy or matte. Lava countertops also nicely integrate with contemporary, traditional, country and eclectic kitchen design.

Cons: Lava countertops are extremely expensive easily surpassing other pricey countertop materials like granite and marble. Most of the cost is due to shipping since all lava stone currently being used is imported. Another drawback is that lava countertops cannot be easily refinished. They last around a 50 years so if you plan to install them make sure you love the color you choose.



Marble is a beautiful addition for a countertop and one of the most elegant materials you can choose for any home.  Marble countertops are mined from metamorphic rock consisting of crystallized carbon.  The hued rock is then cut into slabs of the proper thickness for countertops.  When shopping for marble the customer is shown various slabs of the material in the general color that they want.  Some of the slabs will be fairly solid in color with slight variations and hues while other slabs will display characteristics known as veining which are streams of minerals that run through the stone. Veining may be thick or thin it can dominate the marble countertop or just add a nice accent to an otherwise solid piece.

Pros: Countertops made from marble are some of the most beautiful countertops of any kind.  Marble comes in many different shades and varieties including whites, grays, black, yellows, pinks, green and more.  Marble is waterproof and is also very resistant to heat, which makes it a good choice near a stove or cooktop.

Cons: Aside from being one of the most expensive materials for countertops marble is very porous and therefore can trap dirt and germs.  It can also be somewhat fragile and possibly chip or crack when stressed.  Because marble countertops are so porous they can be stained quite easily and the stains can be very difficult to get rid of.  Acidic liquids such as wine, vinegar and some juices will also cause staining and etching. Etching is where the polish is eaten away and the marble is marred. Marble countertops should be sealed immediately and will need to be resealed every 2-10 years depending on the type of marble. Keeping it well sealed and polished is key to keeping it from being stained.




Quartz countertops also known as Engineered stone countertops are mostly made from a high concentration (93%) of quartz crystals which is a natural substance but they are fabricated instead of cut from a solid piece of stone. These stones are designed to look like natural stone and make up the biggest percentage of engineered stone countertops. Quartz counter tops have about 7% non-quartz material including a binder to hold them together, other ingredients to strengthen the material, and added color.

Pros: Quartz countertops have all the advantages of natural stone including durability, hardness and beauty, plus, they overcome natural stone’s weaknesses.  Engineered stone and quartz countertops are easier to maintain than natural stone because they are not porous so they won’t harbor bacteria and they don’t need to be sealed like granite countertops do.  You’ll find engineered stone and quartz countertops in a wider range of colors than granite including many that offer more affordability.

Cons: Quartz counter tops have very few weaknesses since they are engineered. They don’t have quite the same level of natural beauty that granite countertops do but they are still quite attractive.  Their seams are about as visible as other stones where as solid surface and laminate countertops offer better seam control.  Because these countertops have an advanced manufacturing process, there high quality and have long lasting durability they are fairly expensive as well.




Resin countertops have a lot to offer in beauty and durability. These countertops can be produced any standard length with a seamless finish. They offer many color and style options as well. Resin countertops are crafted from cured epoxy, acrylic or polyester resin, which is a synthetic material used in a wide variety of applications. The countertops are cut to order and can be customized for unusual or unique countertop designs. The epoxy can be tinted slightly or completely colored to produce the exact look desired. Keep in mind though that acrylic resin is generally regarded to be of higher quality than polyester resin.

Pros: The two necessities in quality countertops are attractive appearance and durability. Resin countertops excel in both categories. Acrylic resin countertops are resistant to impact, staining, UV rays, scratches and heat. Most resist damage from the types of acids found in wine, tomato products and other foods. Resin countertops are non porous so they don’t support the growth of bacteria or fungus and they clean up quickly and easily with common household cleaners. In terms of appearance the coloration in the resin can produce a variety of effects and hundreds of color choices are available. Solid colors are very popular but many homeowners opt for resin countertops with less pigment, which produces a semi-translucent effect that can be very attractive. When a countertop is not fully opaque backlighting that shines into and through the material can be used to produce a very unique appearance.

Cons: The biggest drawback to resin countertops is the lack of consistency amongst products as not all resin countertops are created equal. Resin countertops are also not as heat resistant as stone countertops are and can be easily scratched. However many scratches may be able to be removed.



Solid surface

As the name implies solid surface countertops are made from solid synthetic materials. They have quickly become a popular choice for many homes offering the advantages of laminate countertops but with greater quality and without the main disadvantages.  Popularized by leading brands such as Corian and Swanstone they offer versatility and very good durability in a wide range of colors.


Pros: Solid surface countertops are very hard and very durable countertops. Corian countertops are available in over 100 different colors as well as many patterns. Many of the looks are patterned after more expensive materials like granite, stone or quartz. Because of the variety these countertops can be used in virtually any style of kitchen or bathroom and they work well in both traditional and contemporary homes.  The surfaces are solid, tough and non-porous making them very easy to clean and maintain.  When custom made solid surface countertops can present a seamless look in any kitchen or bathroom.


Cons: Solid surface countertops are not as resistant to heat as stone or quartz countertops are and can also be scratched, but since they are solid in color many scratches can be removed with careful sanding. In terms of cost, solid surface countertops are on the upper end of the price spectrum but are not as costly as quartz, concrete, granite or other stone countertops.



Stainless steel

Stainless steel countertops combine elegant beauty with outstanding practical benefits. With so many large kitchen appliances now featuring stainless steel finishes, you can select countertops to blend seamlessly with your refrigerator, stove, dishwasher and more. While everyone is familiar with stainless steal you might not have considered it for use as a countertop. Stainless steel countertops are good to consider using when one of two design schemes is being sought: Retro or contemporary. Stainless steel sinks were introduced in the 1940s and became all the rage in the 1950s along with stainless backsplashes. Stainless steel tiles are now being produced for use in backslashes and countertops that are clearly inspired by past decades. Contemporary kitchens are the second ideal choice for this countertop material. Stainless produces a clean and efficient yet beautiful appearance. It blends well with contemporary accents, lighting and fixtures.

Pros: Stainless steel looks gorgeous on any surface. It complements materials such as wood and natural stone and stainless steal comes in a number of different finishes so you can select one that works well with your overall design. Stainless is also very durable and should give you 15-25 years of dependable service at a minimum. Stainless steel is one of the most sanitary materials you can use. Unlike wood, concrete or natural stone it is not porous so bacteria and viruses are easily removed. Cleanliness and durability are among the top reason stainless is used in so many professional kitchens.

Cons: Stainless steel isn’t cheap at least for a quality countertop. Avoid thin material and choose a thinker grade that will hold its shape better.




Tile countertops can use either ceramic tile, glass tile or porcelain tile. Tile is one of the most versatile materials because it comes in a vast variety of styles, sizes, shapes and color.  For this reason it has never gone out of style as a material for use in countertops. Ceramic tile is the most popular because it is affordable and comes in the greatest array of style options. Porcelain tile is a wonderful choice for countertops and backsplashes as well because it is easy to clean and resistant to moisture. Glass tiles are also easy to clean and they offer exciting options when installed over LED lighting.


Pros: Tile countertops offer unlimited opportunities to create a look that is tailor made for your home. Tile used for countertops range in sizes from about a 1 inch square to a 12 inch square or greater. Tile is versatile enough to go with any decor from very traditional to retro to contemporary. All types of tile are generally easy to clean but you will need to make sure that grout is sealed every few years in order to keep it from harboring bacteria and becoming stained. Tile is very durable and can last at least 50 years or more.


Cons: Besides the need to seal the grout every few years tile can also be expensive to install. The tile itself is one of the more cost effective countertop materials but the installation is very labor intensive. This is especially true if you want an elaborate design for your countertop.



Eco friendly

Eco friendly countertops are growing in popularity because they do as much for the beauty of your home as they do for the environment. Several choices are available that are made from sustainable materials like bamboo and post-consumer materials like recycled glass, paper and wood. Below we will discuss the two most popular eco friendly options reclaimed wood and recycled glass:


Reclaimed wood

Reclaimed wood countertops will provide rich and stunning beauty to your home, but you are also helping the environment by keeping the wood out of the waste stream. This natural material is found in a wide variety of styles and colors. It is a perfect choice for traditional, country, old world,  and even eclectically styled homes. Reclaimed wood comes from many different sources and most of it was once building material in barns, warehouses and other commercial buildings. Wall boards, floor boards and beams are used to produce reclaimed wood countertops that can add a warm organic element to your countertops. The marks of history and the natural imperfections of the lumber give it character that many find very appealing. The countertops are created through careful selection of wood and it almost every case, the boards or beams will all come from the same building in order to achieve consistency of quality and appearance.


Pros: If you love the look of natural wood especially wood that has character or a stressed appearance then reclaimed wood countertops should be a top consideration. They offer beauty and warmth wherever they are installed. The wood is also quite durable and should give you many years of service. Last but not least reclaimed wood countertops are a green building material.


Cons: Reclaimed wood countertops can be expensive. There is a limited supply of material and turning the wood into countertops is very labor intensive. Wood counter tops are very porous and if not properly sealed they can hold bacteria and viruses. They should also be resealed every few years. Finally wood countertops don’t handle heat very well and can burn when very hot items are placed on them.



Recycled Glass

Recycled glass countertops have a unique and beautiful appearance that goes very well with a wide variety of designs. Depending on how the glass is used recycled glass countertops can look very modern and contemporary or they can be made to look antique and almost traditional. Be careful when selecting glass countertops though as they are not right for every situation especially if you have small children in the home. In rare cases a piece of glass may come loose. Most recycled glass countertops are 80% to 90% post-consumer glass. The glass comes from both commercial and domestic sources.  Recycled glass countertops feature pieces of glass held together with a cement binder.  They are popular with eco-friendly consumers but because of their unique design and beauty are chosen by a wide variety of homeowners to produce a customized looked to their countertops. Recycled glass can also be made into tiles and backsplashes that can be installed along with the countertops.


Pros:  Recycled glass countertops are very durable and strong.  The binder is very hard and the countertops are not very prone to chipping or cracking.  The countertops are non-porous and therefor easier to clean and maintain.  They are also heat resistant and stain resistant.  Every recycled glass countertop is a unique creation and no two are alike. Recycled glass countertops differ in their design through the use of different colors and pieces giving them a custom look.  Even recycled glass tiles are unique from one another.  Last but not least recycled glass countertops are good for the environment because they keep waste glass out of landfills.


Cons: While recycled glass countertops are fairly strong they can crack or chip if installation creates stress points and depending on the design some of them can show water spots or fingerprints.  In some cases, acidic foods or cleaning products might mar the surface. Recycled glass countertops can come in a range of prices but most of them are fairly expensive.




Feel free to contact C&H Construction with any questions you may have about countertop materials.

C&H Construction is a licensed general contractor and Custom Home builder located in Blairsville,Union County Georgia serving Towns County Georgia, Fannin County Georgia, Gilmer County Georgia and the North Georgia Mountains.