In part two of our guide to choosing kitchen countertops, we're outlining the pros and cons of four different materials. We'll discuss solid surfacing (typically known as Corian) and tile, and two more unusual choices, soapstone and butcher block (wood). Whether you prioritize your budget, design, or functionality, each material has something unique to offer.
1. Solid surfacing
Good to know: Solid surfacing is widely referred to as Corian, which was the original name of the manufacturers who sold this primarily acrylic and polyester surface
- Many options for color and patterns since it is not a naturally occurring material
- Easy installation
- Minimal maintenance and easy to clean
- Does not handle heat as well as some other materials
- Prone to scratching
- Some believe it has an artificial appearance compared to natural materials
Cost: $35-$100 per square foot
- A lot of room for creativity in design choices
- If a tile breaks, it is easy to replace
- Creates an uneven surface compared to other materials that are all just one piece
- If grout is unsealed it is susceptible to stains
- Be careful with moisture: it can lead to the growth of bacteria, especially in cracks
Cost: $10-$80 per square foot, installed
Photo by Pieter Estersohn for Elle Decor
- Has a natural softness in texture
- Its appearance is known to fit in seamlessly with older , traditional, and cottage-style homes
- Needs to be polished with oil
- Not as resistant to scratches as other materials, and may crack over time
Good to know: When you first get soapstone it's a light grey, but will darken over time. Some people really like that the color of the material naturally evolves, while others aren't as crazy about it.
Cost: $70-$100 per square foot, installed
4. Butcher block
- Has a natural, warm appearance
- Very fitting for traditional and country-style kitchens
- Can be used as a cutting board; many people love the change in color and texture of the wood over time
- Wood's shape changes with moisture
- It is prone to bacteria, so needs to be disinfected often
- May have a lot of upkeep, as you should apply oil to it to protect surface
Good to know: If wood countertops are installed around your sink, they are likely to discolor. Additionally, many people choose to use butcher block in just one area of the kitchen, like the island (see above).
Cost: $35-$70 per square foot.
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