As a kitchen and bath designer, I get asked about countertop materials often, usually in the context of “I’m looking for something other than granite to use for my counters—what are my options?” While it’s true that the majority of my kitchen and bath projects get granite counters put in them, there are times when granite just won’t work.
Granite is incredibly popular and that is not without good reason, but there are some great alternatives to choosing this material that will provide you with the same high end look to your brand new kitchen countertops.
Granite’s a great counter material but it has a tendency to hog the spotlight. The mirror finish on most granites makes it difficult for granite to be subtle. There are times when this works, but there plenty of other times when it doesn’t.
Fortunately, there are a good number of options out there and their number just increases over time. Here are some of great, non-granite surfaces to use for counters. All of them are readily available. Combined, they add up to a trend that’s pushing back against granite’s dominance.
This kind of counter will look and feel like real stone, without the drawbacks of things like having to reseal them every few years. Normally customers choose granite over quartz because they want the look of natural stone but quartz is much more durable actually. This product is really quite indestructible and will stand up to wear and tear over time just as well as granite will.
Quartz composites are a newer and growing category in the countertop world. Composites are made from stone aggregate and polymers that compressed under high pressure. The resulting material is practically non-porous and just as strong as most natural stones. Since it’s a manufactured product, it has consistent colors and patterns.
This is an up and coming trend from Europe. It is similar to tiles in terms of texture but it is actually manufactured in a slab so it is stronger and more heat resistant.
This is kind of like a plastic, but it is kind of fading out. It used to be really popular when there were less alternatives to your counter top selections, and it became known that this product scratches quite easily so it much more care must be taken with this kind of counter.
Solid surface is the product category, and Corian is the brand. All solid-surface products are made from mineral powder blended with acrylic and sometimes polyester binders.
You can get this in almost any colour because glass counters are back painted and therefore they will compliment pretty much any kitchen, and you have a lot of options when ordering this product. Glass counters are also tempered glass so they are heat resistant.
The counter shown here is made from glass that’s been painted on the back side. Glass is a great counter material, and the thickness of glass used as a counter gives it a strength that’s difficult for other surfaces to match. It’s such an unexpected material for this use that it never fails to get a positive response.
This material looks great in almost all kitchens, and that is the reason most people choose it, but it tends to crack and stain easy so it does require so much more maintenance than many other counters.
Concrete is a growing segment of the countertop market as well. In the hands of a skilled craftsman, there is practically no shape, color or finish it can’t transform into.This is another concrete counter, though the addition of glass aggregate gives it the appearance of terrazzo. Because all concrete counters are one-of-a-kind, adding different colored glass or stone to the mix while it’s being made can be just the thing if there are specific colors you’d like to integrate into a design.
This is a new kind of material that is up and coming in the industry. Due to how it is constructed great care must be taken when manufacturing and installing this kind of counter, but once it is installed properly it is incredibly durable and is comparable to materials like quartz.
Soapstone is a soft, non-porous, natural stone. Despite its softness, it’s some pretty resilient stuff. It is always a dark stone, very nearly black and it always has a honed surface. People who cook love it because it’s an excellent heat insulator.
Wood is not really durable in the kitchen and does not stand up well, however it is very popular in eating areas because it makes the area feel warm and inviting. Wood counters have never really gone away and are currently enjoying a bit of a renaissance. Adding a wood top to an island while using a different material for the perimeter counters is a terrific way to add some interest and function. Wood counters require periodic oiling to prevent them from drying out but they add a warmth no other material can. Wood works in bathrooms, too, as this mahogany beauty shows eloquently. This is a beautiful bathroom for any number of reasons, but I love that the designer used wood for the counter and sheathed the wall.
This kind of counter has been seen previously as a low end, or cheap option, for your counter however they have come a long way. There are a lot of options now for laminate counters and they are incredibly durable. This is a valid option for those looking for a low maintenance, durable option for your kitchen.
This is the hardest counter material to maintain but it will always look timeless and elegant in pretty much any kitchen. It will require resealing every 3 – 5 years but as long as it is well maintained it will be well worth the investment required.
Marble is not for everybody though. It is a softer stone than granite is and it scratches and stains. It’s an inherent characteristic of the material and frankly it’s part of why I like it so much. I like materials that age and show wear. If you don’t, then you are not a candidate for marble counters.
Stainless steel was invented in the early 1900s and made its way into commercial kitchens shortly after that. It was a short step from commercial to residential kitchens and it’s been a standby ever since. Stainless steel is a classic, though one with an industrial edge. The birth of foodie culture in the United States has brought with it a renewed interest in stainless steel as a counter material.
While granite is a great option for your kitchen countertops it is not the only option and there are some great alternatives to this material that might be easier on your wallet or more durable for your lifestyle. By doing your research you will be able to find out granite kitchen countertops alternatives which one is right for your new kitchen.
What do you think? Does the kitchen of your dreams have granite countertops, or is it time for something new?