7 Countertop Options to Consider When Creating Your Perfect Kitchen – 2023 Update

Countertops - Krista in front of cabinet holding quartz samples

If you’re reading this, you’re in the energizing space of imagining possibilities for your home. Each element deserves careful consideration, and making so many selections may feel like too much of a good thing. Countertops can be quite costly, and they take up a great deal of design footprint in kitchens, bathrooms, and laundry rooms. What makes a good countertop? A lot of that is up to your discretion. When making this selection, you must consider your lifestyle and the realistic expected use of this countertop. If you have young children, you may not wish to take on the maintenance of marble compared to other options. We’ve compiled a list of our top 7 countertop options. They are listed by material type, and then we’ve offered general information, maintenance, cost, and environmental impact to help you make a countertop choice you’ll be happy with long-term.

Contemporary Kitchen with quartz countertops and light grey cabinets.


Though the name suggests quartz countertops are one solid slab of quartz, they are, in fact, engineered stone countertops. Quartz countertops are comprised of a combination of only a small amount of quartz, with the majority of the stone being crushed up granite, marble, and other recycled materials. As an engineered stone, quartz countertops can mimic granite and marble patterns.

Maintenance: Quartz does not require re-sealing as the base of the binder is a polymer resin or concrete blend. This makes it less porous than even granite. It is stain and heat-resistant, but as with all other materials, it is best to be mindful of spills and hot dishes.

Cost: Quartz countertops cost less than granite but are still very similar in price.

Environmental Impact: Though some resin binder ingredients are synthetic, many are now using organic resins derived from vegetable oils. As this is an engineered stone made from leftover materials, there is less physical environmental impact from the act of quarrying out of the earth. One could argue that quartz countertops could not exist without the by-products of quarrying granite and marble, and so the environmental impact remains the same as solid natural stones.

Marble look quartz countertop with subtle but strong veining throughout is carried up the backsplash. A double undermounted sink sits in front of a large window. Black fixtures and instant hot water dispenser adds to the luxury. Light warm wood cabinetry brings it all together.

2. Sintered STone

Stain, heat, and scratch-resistant, sintered stone countertop products have made their way into many designs due to their durability and strength, even when thinly sliced.

Mimicking the look and feel of natural stone, sintered stone is a low-maintenance alternative that will still offer the veining and aesthetic of natural stone.

Maintenance: Sintered stone does not require re-sealing due to the process of sintering. It is comparable to quartz in hardness and durability. It is stain, heat, and chip-resistant.

Cost: Due to the laborious and time-consuming process of sintering, it is no less costly than natural stone. Sintered stone is priced similarly to granite and marble.

Environmental Impact: Sintered stone is made from fusing minerals under extreme heat until they liquefy. As it does not have resin or concrete, it’s made of natural materials and can be broken down recycled.

Luxurious traditional kitchen with gas range, wall ovens, marble counter, and a mix of wood and white millwork.

3. Marble

Marble is a smooth stone with a matte finish and exquisite lines through the stone. It is less durable than granite as it’s porous and not resistant to acidic foods or heat. If you are in love with the look of marble, it may be a wonderful addition to your spa bathroom rather than your kitchen, unless you are comfortable living with what we call patina.

Maintenance: It’s important to note that marble requires resealing every six months, and spills must be cleaned up immediately, or it will stain. There have been developments recently in the sealing and protecting of marble, but if patina will make you crazy, then you are best to go with quartz instead. Marble is softer and can be susceptible to scratching, so care must be given to protect the surface. Placing a hot pot on a marble countertop may cause it to crack, so pads must always be used.

Cost: Marble and granite are very similar in price, but marble takes the higher price point when comparing high-end versions of the two.

Environmental Impact: Marble and granite are both mined out of the earth, and a great deal of energy is taken to retrieve and ship the slabs from overseas to North America.

Traditional white kitchen with modern pendant lights. The kitchen is an odd rounded shape and the island mirrors this.

4. Granite

Granite is a strong, slightly porous, natural, mined stone. It provides a clean and glossy finish to any kitchen and comes in a wide variety of colours and patterns. Granite mined from India often has a tight pattern of stone flecks and reads as a solid colour from a distance, however, there is variation in pattern. Granite mined from Italy often has strong veins running through it. Brazilian granite offers a wide variety of patterns and colours, which can be a statement piece in your kitchen or even your tabletop.

Maintenance: Granite requires minimal maintenance, with resealing every two to three years. Though it is less porous than marble, it is still possible for it to stain and crack, so wipe up those spills and place pads underneath hot dishes. Cleaning granite is simple as its surface is smooth. Use hot, soapy water or non-abrasive chemicals to clean counters quickly.

Cost: Granite is one of the mid to higher-cost options and is comparable to marble.

Environmental Impact: Marble and granite are both mined out of the earth, and a great deal of energy is taken to retrieve and ship the slabs from overseas to North America.

Four cubes of grey soapstone sit on top of a light warm stone countertop.

5. Soap Stone/ Steatite

Soapstone is soft to the touch and often has strong white talc veins running through it. Its finish is matte-like marble and works well with modern looks. Architectural soapstone is retrieved from Brazil, India, and the United States, while its softer sister stone, artistic soapstone, is primarily quarried from Canada. The former is an excellent option for countertops as it can withstand almost anything and retain its carved shape. Soapstone has been used for centuries as its density makes it one of the most durable natural stone option. It will darken over time (patina) to tell the story of your family and this can be enhanced by using a mineral oil. This is not necessary for longevity but adds to the look of your soapstone.

Maintenance: Soapstone does not require a sealant, and as its particles are so dense, it is not susceptible to bacterial growth. It is not likely to stain from acidic foods, but grease and oil will cause dark spots and should be wiped immediately. As it is heat resistant, a hot dish or pan being placed on the countertop will not harm it. A cutting board should always be used, or it will chip and show knife marks.

Cost: Soapstone is comparable to quartz and granite when including installation in the price.

Environmental Impact: Soapstone is a quarried stone and can have varying impacts depending on where it is quarried from. As most soapstone countertop materials come from overseas, the shipping impact is similar to that of granite and marble.

Stock photo of butcher block countertop with white cabinetry and a large window.

6. Butcher Block

Butcher block wood countertops add to the rustic feel of a kitchen. If well-maintained, they offer a long, useful life. They are often made of maple, cherry, or red oak. A butcher block is formed by gluing long pieces of wood together and oiling them.

There are three primary options for butcher block styles to choose from.

  1. Edge grain has long wooden strips glued together with the narrow edge facing up and showcases the grains of the wood.
  2. Face grain has long wooden strips glued together with the wider edge facing up. It has fewer grains than edge grain and provides a more solid look.
  3. End grain is formed by square blocks of wood glued together in an almost checkerboard formation. It is the strongest and most expensive option due to its ability to hide knife marks and that it will not dull knives as easily as other options.

Maintenance: Butcher block requires some extra maintenance compared to other countertops. Every six months, you must oil your countertop. Wood sealants are not suggested for kitchen surfaces as they are not food-safe. If using a butcher block countertop in another area of the home, such as a bathroom or laundry room, a sealant may be an option and will allow for less strict maintenance.

Cost: Butcher block countertops are more expensive than granite and less expensive than marble or other natural stones.

Environmental Impact: As butcher block is comprised of wood, a renewable resource. It is less impactful than natural stone, but still has an energy impact through its manufacturing process and use of glues. If sustainability is a concern, butcher block countertops can also be created using bamboo, which grows at a far faster rate than other wood options.

Stock image of concrete countertop with honey and sour dough bread on top. A large window casts a soft warm light.

7. Concrete

Concrete is a versatile, customizable countertop option. You can add flecks of stone to mimic natural stone surfaces. Add optional colour pigments to match your home’s colours, or keep it solid grey, sleek and modern. As concrete is made by pouring a mould. It can be easily customizable with angled drainage for drying dishes by the sink. As many manufacturers form concrete countertops by adding glass fibres, concrete can be incredibly strong and light. While natural stone countertops need to be well-reinforced if an overhang is desired, concrete can do so with little or no reinforcement. Best of all, no seams!

Maintenance: Concrete countertops are somewhat porous and can stain, so they need to be resealed and waxed regularly. Spills must be cleaned immediately.

Cost: While concrete materials are not as expensive as granite and marble, concrete countertops are a custom product. Forming the moulds takes time and labour. This means that concrete has a high-end price tag.

Environmental Impact: Cement production causes emissions to the environment. It takes a lot of energy, but concrete can be recycled when it is no longer usable as its initial function. Concrete countertops use local ingredients, so they are not as impactful on a global scale.


There are plenty of considerations as you embark on the journey to prepare the heart of your home. I hope this blog helped you understand some of the key technical factors about countertop material options. The countertop is the surface where you teach your children how to roll cookie dough and prepare your idyllic family meals. It’s where you place your glass after you toast to that momentous occasion with your loved ones. When you’re ready to experience the full breadth of a KHD kitchen renovation, let’s talk.