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If you had to do it again-what counter material would you choose?

9 years ago

Hi Everyone,

I am in the market for new countertops, and after much research regarding the pros and cons of the different countertop materials as well as pricing, I am unsure what is the right choice for me.

I thought it might help to hear what countertop material you currently have, and if you were to do it again, what would you choose and why? Granite, Quartz, Solid Surface, Laminate or any of the other choices that are available???

Thanks!!

Comments (59)

  • 9 years ago

    I've lived with formica, tile, Corian, and quartz. Quartz is my all-time favorite, and when we re-do our kitchen that's what we'll get. No hassle, no staining, everything wipes clean. We did get a stain on the counter once with rust, but googled a lemon juice/baking soda remedy that took it right out. I could set a hot coffee pot on the counter, I could roll out pizza and cookie dough on the counter. We moved to a new house this past January and it needs a kitchen re-do...I miss my quartz counter terribly!

  • 9 years ago

    We just put granite in and I absolutely love it. However, I wish I had explored quartzite a little more. The photos I see here of quartzite are so stunning but when I was looking I dismissed it as too expensive and too hard to maintain-without ever finding out if that was actually true!! I guess I figured if it's that nice I probably can't afford it!

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  • 9 years ago

    Have had and lived with all of them, will choose "real" granite again every time, with hard maple butcher block on the island (3rd time around for that combo). Love that the granite requires zero care or attention, but mostly love the natural beauty of big swirly, colorful patterns and various inclusions. I never get tired of looking at it and noticing new ways that the rock crystallized. We did full height backsplashes to get the full effect. Having a wood island provides nice contrast, avoiding the boring uniformity that having everything match can give rise to. I also like wood better as a routine working surface--pots and bowls don't clank on it, and it has a good feel. While not as impervious as the granite it seems to need only an occasional oiling to look OK. Every five years or so I plane the surface and re-oil to get rid of accumulated stains or cut marks.

  • 9 years ago

    Our soapstone has been in for about 8 weeks now and I love!!!! It. I originally wanted an oiled black and white look but my husband hated it. Through extensive research on these boards I found a beautiful, hard green soapstone Julia at M.Tex in Denver. They have a slab that the oiled-waxed- sealed so I could see the difference. I loved the natural stone the best so I have no maintenance except for Dawn dish soap and a blue scrubbie! The matte finish is what sold me and I couldn't be happier.

  • 9 years ago

    For wear - granite. I loved being able to set hot pots down (whether you're supposed to or not :-) ), and to cut on it (whether you're supposed to or not :-) ). I also loved the pattern of the granite in my previous home (crema Bordeaux and Nordic Black Antique).

    But, I wanted a more modern, clean look this time, so we went with white quartz and I love that too! I actually like the fact that we can see the "schmutz" so it gets cleaned up, rather than it hiding in the beautiful pattern of the granite (you could spill an entire container of bread crumbs and a bottle of wine on that granite and it would blend in!).

    I adore soapstone, but my husband couldn't live with the scratchability and oiling, so that was out. Likewise, marble, which is so gorgeous, but we are not 'patina' people (in our home, we love it in other peoples' homes).

    The only material I don't love is laminate. I like the looks of current laminates, but having burned my parents' counter with a hot pot of popcorn when I was 13 (the day after it was installed, not exaggerating), I shy away from it.

  • 9 years ago

    I have dark gray mottled Caesarstone. As a material, I think quartz is easy and carefree. My counters are going on 3 years old and there are no chips or other damage/wear that I can see. I never put hot things directly on it, but I wouldn't do that for any surface. I always use a cutting board. Always have, always will.

    That being said, next time I would get a light-colored material. Dark hides everything and I have to find spills and dried on crap by touch. Also, I find it less pleasant to work with a dark background. I'm a light seeker. :)

    My counters are polished and I prefer a honed or matte look. Just personal discoveries I wouldn't have thought about until I lived with a surface.

    I love marble, but I'm not sure I could live with it in a kitchen. I have it in my bathroom and I can't keep my hands off of it. I adore it and could see me throwing etch-worry to the wind. I think true quartzites are the most beautiful stones around.

    I like quartz, light and very little movement, even if they have a contemporary vibe, which isn't really me. I don't care for faux stone quartz. Blobs in real stone can read as character. In man-made material, it's a lot less charming.

    The only granites I care for are the more quartzite-appearing ones.

  • 9 years ago

    We picked Cosentino Eco for our kitchen remodel 3 years ago, and I love it. It is no maintenance, other than cleaning with soap and water, and has held up perfectly.

    I am careful to not place hot pans directly on it, just as I would be with any other surface. When something spills (most recently, turmeric) and leaves a bit of a stain, a little baking soda removes it. It still looks brand new after more than 3 years.

    The only drawback is that the colors are very neutral. So if you want a more colorful, distinctive countertop, it probably wouldn't work for you. We also considered IceStone, which comes in an array of gorgeous colors, but it requires waxing and sealing at least twice a year and is not as resistant to spills and damage.

  • 9 years ago

    Have lived with laminate, granite and soapstone. If I were to do another kitchen I'd do soapstone. I would make sure I sought out a fabricator that specializes in it, which is what we did 7 yrs ago when we put it in our lake build. We bought our stone from him and he fabricated it, which I think has a lot to do with our positive experience.

    I'm going with granite in the kitchen currently under construction. I wanted a lighter look than soapstone in that space and had great luck with the (darker) granite we had there for 12 yrs. But even now I question if I made the right choice & should have gone with soapstone....Our light granite slabs are beautiful, but my soapstone has been able to take everything we've done to it and just keeps looking better as time goes by.

  • 9 years ago

    I've lived with Corian, laminate, tile, butcher block, granite and now, quartz, granite and a little marble.

    I hated Corian and butcher block for the softness, tile for the grout, and glossy black granite for the maintenance. I just battled my first poultice and large stain with the small bit of marble I have -- ugh.

    I would likely do quartz again (the CS Calacatta is my fav right now -- might go in the loft kitchen or master bath) or quartzite.

  • 9 years ago

    I would choose granite again but a cleaner pattern. My KD suggested a busy pattern so that I wouldn't see the crumbs. Turns out I'm anal about having clean counters and I clean and wipe and rub my hands over them and clean again. So granite again but a lighter less busy pattern.

  • 9 years ago

    I've had my Soapstone about 18months now, and absolutely love it! I stopped oiling after a few months, so it is zero maintenance, and the patina is beautiful. Hot pots and pans right out of the oven are no problem either.
    I also have a 39" section of Maple butcher block next to my refrigerator that I could not live without! It's been there 30 years, and 90% of all my prep takes place on that six and a half square feet of counter...talk about patina :)

  • 9 years ago

    W/out a doubt, I would get brushed stainless steel in my next kitchen reno, with integrated backsplash and marine edge sloping slightly toward an integrated sink, --> so that I can hose it all down into the sink.
    I knew I should have trump DH's veto against it (he said it reminds him of a school cafeteria), but I'm the one who uses and cleans the kitchen the most.

    I've had:
    - laminate
    - granite
    - Corian
    - butcher block
    - and now 27feet of honed VT Danby Mountain White marble.
    I love my marble, but I'm not the kind of person to baby something.

    Maybe I should just get a restaurant. :)

    Amanda

    This post was edited by huango on Fri, Sep 26, 14 at 20:33

  • 9 years ago

    A slightly different perspective here.

    I purchased slabs of superwhite quartzite that were adjacent cuts from the mother stone. One broke at the fabricator, and I'm now scrambling to figure out what to do next. It is hard to match (2 cm, and a very particular pattern).

    So - if you go with something that is easily replaced, you would avoid the heartache I am now experiencing.

  • 9 years ago

    I too have lived with multiple counter materials. The easiest to live with was a dark granite, no sealer. Presently I have soapstone, fits house style & I love the looks and feel of it. I do not baby it and oil maybe once a year. I like the patina & ever evolving counter. That said it sure isn't for everyone.

  • 9 years ago

    we put in granite 3 yrs ago and we still love it.
    no scratches, chips or signs of wear.
    had old laminate from the 70's, wore like iron but ugly!!

    our granite is "busy" which i love, wanted it to look like a rock and it does, just beautiful, flecks of gold, "rivers" just awesome.. always something different to see.... its"sedna" or "magma gold"....
    i love that it hides the crumbs and drips...it would drive me nuts to see every speck...
    i wipe them daily or at least every other day and its fine...

    would choose again!!

  • 9 years ago

    Very interesting and useful thread. When you mention granite or quartz, could you provide a little more detail, i.e. what kind, treatment, brand?

  • 9 years ago

    Granite - I had Nordic Black Antique (lovely to look it and to touch) and Crema Bordeaux (if you want to hide crumbs, that's a good one!)

    Quartz - I presently have Ceasarstone Organic White in two bathrooms and the kitchen.

  • 9 years ago

    Have and love granite and would certainly do it again. But really would like to try soapstone but DH is not sure he can deal with the character that is created over time.

  • 9 years ago

    Thank you all for sharing your experiences!
    This has been so very helpful. I still don't know what I will end up choosing, but I will use all of this input when making my final decision. :)

  • 9 years ago

    I've had laminate, tile, quartz (Silestone), and are getting granite in this remodel. Tile was pretty & was what most people in our area were getting during that time. I loved the Silestone, and picked it because I liked the color and at the time, most granites seemed too dark and had too much movement for my taste at the time, I thought we would get quartz again and actually picked one out, but just before finalizing the order, we decided to walk through the granite slabs out of curiosity. And got sucked in by the drama enough to change plans.

  • 9 years ago

    Marble - but only Honed or Leathered

  • 9 years ago

    We bought our house almost new but it came with the world's worst countertops. The master bathroom had tile countertops with sanded grout that were impossible to get makeup, soap, and dirt out of. I spent countless hours testing every grout cleaner on the market. Those we finally replaced with quartz which cleans with a wet paper towel.

    In the kitchen, we had butcher block around the sink! What a mess. Surely, people know that wood and water don't mix, but, no. Over the years, I had tried all kinds of wax, poly, and other things to try to protect the wood, but when we finally replaced with granite, we could see that it was completely rotted around the sink.

    Actually, our best surface was the laminate in the kitchen. It had no maintenance issues and after 30 years, still looked as good as it did when it was new - in other words, blah, but nevertheless, serviceable. This we also replaced with our maintenance - free granite.

  • 9 years ago

    op as you can see by the many different opinions, every counter has pros and cons. it might help you narrow down what you want by asking specific questions or by getting an idea of what look you want.
    i started out thinking quartz was the way to go but fell in love with the cambria patterns that mimic granite. after i heard the cost of cambria and about the resin pooling issues, we decided on granite. it took me a while to find a granite pattern i liked within my budget but i do love it.

  • 9 years ago

    The problem with Tropic Brown granite is that all of those little dark brown blobs in it make it very difficult to find chocolate chips that get dropped on the counter when you're trying to sneak them late at night ;-(.

  • 9 years ago

    I have lived with laminate, granite tile, granite, butcher block, and ceramic tile as kitchen countertops. I'm planning on stainless steel this time around. Soapstone got serious consideration.

    Laminate is easy to clean, inexpensive and comes in a lot of colors. It is fairly tough but more easily damaged than some counter top choices. I would consider using it by choice in the right house/kitchen and I would consider it as a budget option.

    I would avoid tile of any kind. The only thing I like about tile is it's heat resistance. I dislike the grout lines both for cleaning and aesthetic reasons.

    Granite just doesn't thrill me. Partly because the rental house we had with granite had one of those red granites with lots of black specks and the house had a ridiculously bad ant problem. I would get up in the morning, flick the kitchen lights on and realize that the black specks were moving and they were thousands of ants. Shudder. It was traumatic. But even the more swirly patterns just don't make me want them in my house.

    Butcher block looks great to me and I would consider using it again, but not next to a sink, which I had last time. And I was fine with the knife marks (I cut directly on it) but the food coloring I spilled while making cookies wouldn't come out with cleaning or sanding and it did bother me a bit.

    Hoping I will love the stainless as we plan for this to be our last house and our last kitchen remodel.

  • 9 years ago

    Granite came with the house and I would choose it again, but in a lighter color. The dark counters darken the room in my opinion. There is a big window but the kitchen is on the north side of the home and I like a light room.

  • 9 years ago

    I had laminate in the kitchen - as others said, wore like iron, very easy to clean - but butt-ugly. Had the same laminate in the bathroom (spec house), and replaced that with solid surface, integrated sink. I love that in the bath, but DH didn't want it in the kitchen.

    We were planning on laminate for our remodel for budget reasons, but couldn't find anything that even remotely appealed to us (colors we liked had a weird texture we didn't like). Then we fell head over hells in love with a Cambria sample - Somerset - and designed the rest of the kitchen colors around that.

    We've had it for a year, and still love it, though, as others have said, it does hide crumbs and messes. DH is a wonderful cook, but doesn't bother to wipe off the counters if he can't see anything on them, so I get to clean them hours later. At least the cleanup is easy!

    At first we were a little nervous about setting our stoneware plates on the very hard surface, but we quickly got used to setting things down without banging them.

  • 9 years ago

    I replaced black granite tile with Cambria quartz that is mostly black with green and beige speckles in it. I chose this color because the green goes with the green on my walls, and the beige matches the honey color of my maple cabinets. If I were doing a total makeover, my choices would be completely different, but I am okay with the cabinets, and I do like the color of the walls, as the color is picked up in the tile floor. I also like the tile floor, which is a sort of Moorish pattern, and I am okay with the colors. While I don't mind grout on floors, I hate it on counters, as I want a smooth surface for rolling out dough. If I had had solid granite, I would have kept it, but I found it difficult to clean without leaving streaks, and that drove me a bit nuts. The quartz is much easier to clean - just wipe with a damp sponge and then dry with a towel - no streaks! It is not has shiny as the quartz and therefore does not make as much of a glare, and I sort of like that also. I like shiny, but I don't like to have to maintain that. The granite was colder to the touch than the quartz. I put hot pots on both granite and quartz and have had no problems from that. They gave me quartz cheese/cutting boards when I got the tops, and I experimented with those. Hot pots are really not that hot - I have measured them with a thermometer gun, and they are less than 200 degrees, but I haven't measured cast iron yet. Pizza screens get hotter, but I also put pizza on a board for cutting anyway.

    I"m happy with the quartz that I have, but I always keep thinking that I would rather have solid granite, as I like the look of it better - as long as it does not have streaks. I'm probably better off with quartz because my counters get a lot of use, and quartz is so much easier to keep nice looking.

    Lars

  • 9 years ago

    We installed solid surface (something else like Corian) in a color called "Volcanic Ash" when we remodeled about 6 years ago. I still love it :-) The best part is the integrated sink, I just love how easy it is to maintain and the seamlessness of the finish. I'm a busy mom of two boys, now ages 5 and 9, so easy-care low-maintenance counters are for me...and I think solid surface is much nicer/durable than laminate.

    My DH prefers the look of the quartz-type of manmade counters, probably because they are shiny.

    If I were to do it again, my first choice would be Corian in a really high end color (I like one called Burled Beach as well as Luna White). I have accidentally knocked many ceramic and glass dished against the edges of our counters, none have ever broken. However, in the interest of our marriage being an equal partnership etc, I would be willing to compromise on the counters with my DH and go for a quartz option next time. I would not choose laminate, and I would not choose a granite that needs sealing etc...stainless steel would also be a contender if the kitchen is not open to the rest of the house.

  • 9 years ago

    We went with Silestone Lagoon and it's been great. I love the look of a lot of different materials in other people's kitchen, but for my own I needed something that was both bulletproof and light colored and I wanted something that was not spotty but also not stark white or cream. That ruled out quite a few options. I know that there are quartzites that don't stain or etch easily, but I've read too many sob stories on here as well as too many people contemplating extraordinary measures to protect their countertops from ordinary use. So almost on a whim I used the Lagoon and I'm really pleased. It meets all my criteria perfectly. From a distance it looks like a pale grey, but the little bit of movement keeps it interesting.

    If I did all over again, I might be tempted to hunt down and test out some of those supposedly bullet proof quartzites. There are some gorgeous kitchen photos on here with Madre Pearl.

  • 9 years ago

    Still loving my Sea Pearl quartzite. Would not change it.

    This post was edited by ReBe231 on Sat, Sep 27, 14 at 21:47

  • 9 years ago

    We still love our soapstone counters and would not change them. Great work surface, easy to clean, bulletproof.

  • 9 years ago

    I have only had laminate and now for about 6 years or so, granite. For the price, laminate is pretty decent, but the looks were definitely lacking. I do understand there are some nicer ones out there now.
    I adore the granite- we have a darker busier one (sapphire blue is the name which totally hides everything. I do clean them frequently (maybe obsessively?) but they are a cinch to keep clean. I love the workhorse nature of it- putting hot pots down, not worrying about spilling tomato sauce etc.
    The price has come down considerably and it's not the luxury item it once was but it's just a great product.
    I would also consider some of the manufactured quartz such as caesarstone, but they are less readily available so they are not as affordable....but I hear great things about it so I would consider it as well.

    I remember trying to find out about copper as it is a great countertop material as well, but there just wasn't any one in my area ... so granite it is!

  • 9 years ago

    We've had Cambria's Torquay for about a year. Love it!! We cook with a lot of citrus products, BBQ sauces, wine etc. It wipes up easily with no staining. The best way to test to see if what you like is suitable for your lifestyle is to buy/ or get a sample of the materials you like. Abuse your sample! Leave juice, wine, sauces etc on pieces, set hot pots down on it etc., then decide. Our fabricator made a wonderful cutting board/ tray from our sink cutout for us. Torquay goes out of stock quickly, since it simulates marble, but we waited for it to be available and we're glad we did.

  • 9 years ago

    djam, I would love to see a picture of your counters as the Cambria Torquay looks so beautiful on the Cambria Website. Since I now have to put off my kitchen until December due to a water problem in my ceiling from my bathroom above and my deadlines, continuing education classes and my teeth problems, I have been getting samples of counters I love and seeing what look good with a sample door and my tiled floor.

    So far I am so in love with my tile floor and my new LED bulbs in the warm 3,000K temperature that I have been able to be patient.

  • 9 years ago

    Have lived with carrara marble, stainless steel, laminate, corian, butcher block, and quartz. Quartz and butcher block are by far my favorites. I did love the look of my marble, but the way I care for my counters differs widely from that of my husband. When we had marble I knew NOT to put down a big oily broiling pan with turmeric all over it down on the counter, he did not... Nor did guests know not to put down lemons, glasses of red wine, etc. I wanted to be relaxed about it, but I couldn't. I loved it too much. So to save the constant angst in the kitchen we went with quartz this time, and honestly I think it's almost as beautiful and is absolutely maintenance free. I also adore the look and feel of butcher block. I don't mind "patina" on the butcher block, and yes I do use it as a cutting surface. I love the fact that a good oiling is all it takes to make it look like new again.

  • 9 years ago

    we used quartzite and I would choose that again in a heartbeat. It was on the higher side on my choices, but it has been completely bulletproof for 3 years and I still love the look of it.

    I remember rationalizing my decision with "the counters are so important in the kitchen that it's worth the splurge" and what seemed like BS, has actually turned out to be true for me (wish that was the case more often)

  • 9 years ago

    I would still choose granite. I've had all three, laminate, Corian and granite and I would choose granite again, I love it. I really love the little sparkly things and the quartz pieces in it. It's just "interesting" to look at and care for.

    This post was edited by gr8day on Mon, Nov 3, 14 at 6:26

  • 9 years ago

    We remodeled earlier this year. I had a feeling I would end up choosing quartz, and I did. I went to a granite supplier in search of a beige-y granite with little movement and did not find one.
    So I went with a solid beige Daltile OneQuartz (the "Summer Dawn" color) on our perimeter. For contrast, I chose Silestone "Bamboo" for our island.

    I have been very happy with the durability of quartz. I like the pattern on the island because it hides small crumbs, etc, but is not too busy. From a distance it almost appears to be a neutral shade but up close it has some personality.

    Here is a link that might be useful: My kitchen as pictured on Houzz

  • 9 years ago

    I've had soapstone for nearly a year and absolutely love it. Would definitely put it in again, and in any future kitchens.

    I'm surprised so many people use hot pads when they "don't need to". The only time I use one is because I want to keep the pot/pan/food hot. Like if I'm sitting my coffee down on the counter I'll sit it on something so it doesn't cool down as quickly.

    I could never go back to the days of juggling things around to find a place to set down a hot cookie sheet.

    I wouldn't cut on any counter surface. I have too much respect for my knives.

  • 9 years ago

    I went with a well tested, bullet proof dark gneiss and would do so again. I don't think I'll ever choose something which can patina, nor something man made, but would consider soapstone and quartzite.

  • 9 years ago

    chitownkat, your cabinets are beautiful. What kind of wood and what color stain?

  • 9 years ago

    Thanks Linelle. They are Omega cabinets in the Renner door style made with alder wood. The stain is Cinnamon..

  • 9 years ago

    I have mostly butcherblock (for budget reasons) and put quartz around the sink. Love the combination...love the warmth of butcherblock especially around the eating end of the peninsula. And love the quartz for wet areas.

  • 9 years ago

    I've got SS for most of the perimeter counter-tops, marble for the coffee bar and island. Both are great, I would use either or both again. Pick what you like and don't worry about it. IMO granite is everywhere, doesn't mean it's not great just everywhere, I tend to buck trends but try and one up them. Doesn't always work out but I would never 'follow' just because the bus goes that way. It's the folks who step out a bit that tend to inspire the rest of us to look beyond the norm.
    I'm starting to think that conceptually the 'kitchen' itself is a bit played out. It's becoming more and more the focal point of the home but is still carrying a lot of dated ideas and norms. I'm waiting for the person to come along w/a whole new concept of the cooking/gathering environ and how it relates to the rest of the living space. I haven't completely wrapped my head around the possibilities but it's interesting thinking.

  • 9 years ago

    chitownkat, thanks for the info! Although I have a white kitchen, I'm very fond of the look of wood as well. I have an alder vanity in my guest bath but the stain came out darker than I'd hoped for. Oh well, at least it's just one lower cabinet.

  • 9 years ago

    I have a combination of laminate and ubatuba granite in my kitchen. I have a weird reason for not wanting an entire granite and that is that the glare of the lights makes my eyes fatigued after awhile. I'm going to replace my current laminate tops just because I want a new look, but am not sure what the replacement material will be. I might actually do laminate again. One reason I like the laminate is because it's cheap enough I can change it when I get tired of it.

  • 9 years ago

    I have had butcher block, laminate and ceramic tile. In our kitchen remodel in 2008 (can't believe it's been that long) we chose something I always wanted - soapstone. I love it. Talk about bullet proof! I would do it again in a heartbeat. We made a template and had it fabricated/shipped. We installed it ourselves. It is so trouble free and good looking. Best of luck in selecting what works best for you.

  • 9 years ago

    I love our quartzite but its surface is harder than I had imagined which means any little tap against it will lead to cracked glass coffee pots, broken dishes and cups, etc. Even after a year of conditioning myself to proceed cautiously and not at my usual haphazard speed, I am still breaking things with a favorite glass and cuisinart glass coffee pot broken in the last week. But the counters are still gorgeous and yes, I run my hands over the island frequently :)

  • 9 years ago

    We had corian for almost 20 yrs and was happy with it. An Easy care material. It hid crumbs though which I didn't like. We did a really nice soapstone this time and am happy with it also. Works better with house age, style and region. Another easy care material.

    I would do either product again in a heartbeat.