How to Choose A Countertop

How to Choose A Countertop

Choosing the right countertop for your remodeling project is important visually and functionally as well as financially. But how do you choose and what is the difference between quartz and natural stone and other materials?

I typically begin the countertop decision-making process by asking clients, “How long do you plan to live in the house?” What I am trying to determine is are they going to retire there or are they looking to sell in a few years? The answer, of course, helps drive the decision. Do we opt for materials for the long-term or for the short-term?

Below are short descriptions of popular countertop surfaces to help inform your selection process (and if you still can’t decide, never hesitate to contact the experts at Inspire Kitchen and Bath Design):


We all know this type of countertop as “Formica” which is actually just a brand of laminate (just like Kleenex is a brand of facial tissue). Laminate is basically paper laminated to a substrate with a clear finish applied over it. The substrate can be a variety of materials, but typically it’s MDF (multi density fiberboard) or particle board. Other brands include Pionite, Wilsonart, Nevamar. What’s it’s life expectancy?  Of course, the answer depends on how well you take care of it. Laminates will burn, mar, and scratch, but for how inexpensive they can be, laminates are pretty diverse and durable. It’s an option I like to call, “wallet friendly.”

Solid Surfaces

Solid surface is a manmade polymer consisting of bauxite or acrylic. One of the most well known is Dupont’s Corian. Solid surface countertops will stain, but the color goes all the way thru the product and therefore the stain is removable. These types of counters are bacteria proof. The beauty of the product, in my opinion, is that it is consistent and seamless. Where two pieces come together, they are glued and sanded so that it is virtually impossible to see the seam. You can also have a solid surface integrated sink (no seams, glue, or silicone to wear away over time), and you can have a coved/integrated backsplash (no detectable seams again). It’s downfalls are that it’s not heat resistant and it costs in the mid- to upper price range.


Granite and Quartz (also known as “engineered stone”) are my two best recommendations for kitchen countertops. They are both durable and somewhat stain and heat resistant. I personally love the beauty of natural stone because it is unique. No two slabs are the same. The cons to natural stone are that it can be porous and it can stain. Again, whether it’s the right choice for you all depends on how you take care it. Wipe up oil-based spills, red wine, or dark colored juices quickly and you should be fine. Keeping acidic products such as citrus or vinegar from sitting on it will prevent “etching.” You should also seal this type of countertop once a year depending on how much you use it. Sealing it is easy; just like the Karate Kid, “Wipe On, Wipe Off.” Granite has become more affordable with its popularity. You can also go with either a honed finish (matte), shiny, or antiqued depending on your color theme.

Manmade Quartz

This product is 93% natural quartz held together with a resin.  The resin mixes with the chopped quartz to fill in the voids which makes the product non-porous.  There are many companies that make this product. (LG, Silestone, Caesarstone, Hanstone, Zodiaq, Cambria, and more). They all have the same recipe; it’s the color palette that sets them apart from one other.   The warning I always use with this product is beware of heat. Do not put a hot pot on this surface because of the resin.  If the resin rises to a certain temperature, let’s say, “boiling pot of water” temperature, it can expand and crack or discolor.

Other Surfaces

New surface materials continue to become available. One newer product is called Dekton.  Made by Consentino, this material is pretty much indestructible. It’s heat resistant, freeze resistant, scratch resistant, and has no issues with UV light. Slabs come as large as 126” x 56”.  This product is in the higher price range, but it’s sure worth the investment if you want something that is incredibly durable.  The color palette covers the latest trends of Contemporary and Transitional, and the product also comes in a matte finish or a textured finish.

Put Our Knowledge and Creative Expertise to Work for You

These are only some of the more popular choices. If you are looking for other unique surfaces, the experts at Inspire Kitchen and Bath Design would be more than happy to help you find the right one for your project. ​Contact Inspire Kitchen and Bath Design today. Our founder and president, Erika Couture, is a Certified Designer with the National Kitchen & Bath Association. For more than 17 years, she has been working with Vermont homeowners to bring their remodeling ideas to life, with a particular focus on kitchen and bath projects.


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