Countertops are a central part of room design and often times design revolves around the countertop choice. There are many varieties including: bamboo, butcher block and wood, concrete, copper, granite, laminate, lava stone, marble, palm wood, pewter, quartz, quartzite, reclaimed wood, recycled glass, recycled HDPE, recycled paper, resin, sintered stone, slate, soapstone, stainless steel, tile, and zinc. Believe it or not, I’ve had most of them! What I haven’t had, I’ve worked with. What I’m currently digging: recycled paper countertops. Check them out!
Need help choosing what’s best for you? I’ve put together this simple countertop guide based on my experience with each one. Want the pdf? You can download it here.
$30 – $50 per sq. ft.
Looks and feels like wood
Very light blond color but can be darkened
Since it is actually a grass, there are many layers glued together to form a slab
Have to watch out for volatile chemicals and if you have a nut allergy you might have an allergic reaction to it
Needs oil maintenance
Has anti-bacterial properties
Very green, sustainable and durable
It can scratch, dent and burn
Modern, unique look and feel
Butcher Block and Wood
$30 – $200 per sq. ft.
Homey, quiet and forgiving
Wood countertops were always used in the butler’s pantry to keep preparation quiet and easy on the china and glassware.
Naturally bacteria resistant, scratches, cuts and burns look like they belong
Need to seal and oil
$75 – $200 per sq. ft.
Hard and heavy
Can chip and crack
Can stain and etch
Cool looks by stamping, staining and polishing
$100 – $150 per sq. ft.
Looks good in farm houses to contemporary houses
Can scratch and dent but it can handle the heat
- Ages beautifully
It is a living finish that evolves over time and what it is exposed to, though some prefer to polish. That would not be me.
Sanitary, antimicrobial and inhibits the growth of bacteria and other microorganisms
Make sure you use 24 gauge
I had a copper faucet in California. It was a beautiful verdigris color
$90 – $250 per sq. ft.
Strong, heavy, durable
Heat and scratch resistant
Porous, can stain and etch even when sealed
Loud and be careful setting down a stemmed glass
Can break and crack. Mine did in the 1994 Northridge California earthquake. Also, had a client standing on her bar to change a light bulb, she was standing in the middle of a drawer below it and it cracked.
Not very green unless locally sourced. At this writing, most is coming from Brazil, Italy, India, and China.
Super hard on little ones heads when running and looking back at siblings chasing them. Many hematomas and stitches.
$20 – $50 per sq. ft.
Very resistant to etching and stains
3D printing has added a great variety of looks and some surface texture
Can scratch and burn
Can fade with a lot of direct light
Not very green
$250 – $400 per sq. ft.
Beautiful, colorful and most expensive
Natural occurring resource that is environmentally friendly
Super easy maintenance
Heat, cold, temperature fluctuation, stain, chemical and impact resistant
Will not fade so use indoors and out
Love it! Interested? Check out Pyrolave, LavArte and MGO
Lava Stone Art Nouveau
metro signs in Paris
$120 – $300 per sq. ft.
Stays cold so great for rolling dough or laying on when hot
Porous, can harbor bacteria
Recommend a honed finish
If you have a red wine tasting party, have a clear acrylic top made for it to protect it
My favorite: Blue Lumen
- In the 1990’s, a friend installed white marble in her entry, within a couple of weeks her son got sick and was prescribed a red cough syrup, it made him sick to his stomach, and on his way to the bathroom he threw up that red acid right in the middle by the front door, then his brother came running to see and he slipped and hit his head and they were off to the emergency room to get 12 stitches. By the time Mom got home with 2 sick kids the floor was ruined. You just can’t make this stuff up.
$40 – $80 per sq. ft.
Stronger than oak
Affordable and recyclable
Comes from old palms past their fruit bearing age
$100 – $200 per sq. ft.
Very similar to Zinc
Non-porous and easy to clean
Matte look but shinier than Zinc
Quartz Solid Surfaces
$90 – $200 per sq. ft.
Carefree marble look
Very durable and hard but can scratch and burn
Easy to clean
Green if sourced locally, but most are sourced from India at this time
$90 – $250 per sq. ft.
True quartzite is harder, denser, and less porous than granite
Very heat, etch, and scratch resistant
Needs to be sealed once per year
Use pH balanced soaps to prolong finish and sealer
Beautiful natural stone in a vast array of colors
Super white is a good choice if you want the look of marble without the upkeep
$50 – $100 per sq. ft.
Salvaged wood from old buildings are turned into countertops
Easy to recycle
Many looks are easily achieved
Have to watch out for chemicals
Reclaimed wine barrels are being used too
old freight car floor turned into a countertop
$50 – $130 per sq. ft.
Strong and durable
Hard and loud, mostly green in color and green for the planet
Easy to clean
$50 – $80 per sq. ft.
Hard, durable, impervious to water
Made from post consumer and construction products that would end up in landfills
HDPE is shredded, compressed and bound with resin to form countertops
$40 – $100 per sq. ft.
This stuff looks super cool and it’s green
Eco friendly and easy to work with, super tight seams (LOVE)
Non-porous, strong, durable indoors and out
Scratch, dent and chip resistant
Heat resistant to 350 deg and no bleach or alkaline soaps because they can dull the surface
$50 – $130 per sq. ft.
Lots of variety
Durable, impact resistant
Make sure you are buying an acrylic or epoxy resin and not a polyester resin
$40 – $50 per sq. ft.
Sintered stone is made with a mixture of minerals, metals and ceramic powders processed under heat and pressure to create a very dense and strong product.
Comes in many finishes
Can look like marble, concrete, copper, etc.
Panels come in different thicknesses
- Can be used on walls, floors, and mitered edges can make it look like a thick chunk or a thin waterfall over and down to the floor.
Very resistant to heat, stains, chemicals and abrasions. Can be used inside and out.
Eco-friendly and 100 percent natural. It is completely recyclable and it is common to find that up to 52 percent of sintered stone is made of recycled natural content.
$100 – $200 per sq. ft.
This stone is a cousin of Soapstone. It only comes in dark, matte colors but you can use lemon oil to get a wet look.
- It is durable, non-porous, won’t stain and naturally anti-microbial. It is resistant to chips, scratches and heat. If it chips or scratches, most can be buffed away with steel wool.
- Green choice if locally sourced
I have had a couple of houses with slate floors. They are cool to the touch. One house had black and the other had a combination of green, gold and blue. They were easy to keep clean, my dogs could get pretty good traction on them without too much scratching but they are hard and not forgiving if you fall or drop a glass.
$70 – $120 per sq. ft.
Limited colors from light gray to charcoal, some with beautiful veining
Needs to be oiled
Non-porous, heat, chemical, stain and etch resistant. Very chemical resistant, That is why it is used in chemical labs
It will dent and scratch but won’t chip or crack. It is a very forgiving natural stone and sanitary. I love it
When it gets wet and you rub it, it foams up like there is dish soap in it
It’s green, if you buy from Alberene Soapstone Company in Virginia. This quarry was founded in 1883 and is the only remaining supplier of American soapstone.
Originally used by American Indians to carve bowls and cooking slabs, after the industrial revolution soapstone became the go-to material for chemistry labs, hospitals, even famed jewelers Tiffany’s used soapstone for their acid tanks. As the 20th-century progressed soapstone made its way into homes as laundry tubs and griddles and was used commercially for electrical components.
natural and oiled slab
$70- $145 per sq. ft.
Wont’ rust, etch or stain
Heat and impact resistant
Can scratch and shows fingerprints and smudges
I don’t really like it
$3 – $100 per sq. ft.
Unlimited choices allowing for creativity
Doesn’t etch or stain (talking tile here not grout)
Can crack with high impact
Can handle heat
$150 – $200 per sq. ft.
Another living finish that ages to a soft, powdery gray blue
Can be carved into beautiful motifs
Can scratch and dent
Extreme heat will warp the metal and even melt it
It is used in Europe’s finest kitchens
Most use simple beeswax for maintenance
Like copper it has antiseptic properties that kill bacteria on contact
Have questions? Just ask! Comment below or send us an email. We’d love to hear from you!
Let’s create great design.
Sustainable design continues to gain traction in the design community and with good reason. Technological advances make it easier than ever to produce quality, green products without sacrificing beauty. If you are interested in learning more about eco-friendly recycled surfacing check out Alkemi.
Be Kind to Mother Earth
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