With its bold veining, endless colors and durability, granite has been the star of kitchens for the past 10- 15 years. Though it does its job well and continues to look great for years to come, granite countertops have decreased in popularity with the rise of alternative options. From natural soapstone to high-tech laminate countertops, there are new materials available for every kitchen that strays away from the been-there-done-that granite option. Let’s take a peek at a few alternatives that still provide the durability, function and beauty we all love to see in a kitchen countertop.
Quartzite is a natural stone produced when sandstone is pressure-cooked in the earth’s crust. The end result is a beautiful stone with a wide variety of streaks, patterns and rich colors. Some varieties, like Taj Mahal and Mother of Pearl, offer a similar look to traditional marble without as much maintenance and upkeep.
Quartzite can withstand heat, but not for an extended time, so make sure to use trivets for prolonged exposure. Though slightly more durable than granite, some quartzite does still require sealing once or twice a year for stain resistance so make sure to check with your stone fabricator on the details, as it varies by type. The beauty of quartzite is all its variations: vein-cut styles look more contemporary and sleek, while cross-cut styles have a more organic feel. Depending on the fabrication, expect your quartzite countertops to start from $80 per square foot and up.
Used in laboratories due to its resistance to stains, bacteria and chemicals, there’s no wonder soapstone is becoming an increasingly popular choice for homeowners looking for a durable, natural countertop. Always a dark charcoal or almost black color, its non-porous, honed surface can both hide and repel dark stains while still remaining slightly soft to the touch. Soapstone is a great choice for those who love to cook and households with little sticky fingers, as it’s unaffected by heat and easy to wipe clean. Keep in mind that like any natural stone, soapstone can chip and scratch. It also darkens over time, but sanding can easily return it to a lighter shade. Starting at $80-100 per square foot, soapstone is a slightly more expensive choice over granite, but it comes with a lifetime of durability.
Also known as “engineered quartz,” quartz composite is a material comprised of crushed quartz and polymer binders that are tinted and compressed under high pressure. The end result is a surface that is non-porous and resistant to stains, scratches and heat. Even better, a simple wipe with warm water and soap is all you’ll need to worry about in regards to maintenance. Because it is a manufactured material, quartz composite is consistent with color and patterns. This durable countertop material does come at a price—around $90-110 per square foot installed.
High-pressure molded plastic countertops—who would have thought that these would be a durable and long-lasting alternative to granite? Laminate countertops are a blend of acrylic or polyester resins, powdered fillers and pigments. This unique mix allows for easy buffing of scratches and marks and its surface keeps stains away. The beauty of laminate countertops is their unique ability to be molded into unusual shapes and sizes, which works especially well in sleek, state-of-the-art contemporary kitchens. Because this material is plastic, it is sensitive to prolonged heat exposure, so make sure to use trivets and cutting boards to extend the longevity of the countertop. These high-tech countertops start at around $50 per square foot installed.
What granite alternatives have you used in your kitchen?
***Guest Blog by Kerrie Kelly. Interior designer Kerrie Kelly is an expert on countertop materials in the kitchen and writes about her knowledge for The Home Depot. If you are interested in researching many of the materials Kerrie discusses in her article, you can visit Home Depot’s countertops page online.