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What Kind of Countertops Should I Choose?

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This is a question most homeowners ask when remodeling their kitchens. Because there are so many choices on the market with so many different names, features, and price points, homeowners end up with so many more questions than answers. What is the most durable countertop material to use? The most popular? Expensive? Cost-effective?

In this article we will explain the differences, and which will help you choose the best option for your own situation.


This is probably the most budget-conscious and low maintenance of all the countertop choices. Laminate is made from thin pieces of laminated plastic that are glued to a base material like particle board or plywood. It was first used for countertops in the 1950’s and at that time had very plain finishes. Today laminate has come a long, long way and can look like a real stone or wood, with a wide range of color and pattern choices. You cannot tell it is not really stone until you get up on it, when you used to be able to tell from a mile away. Laminate is often known by the brand names of Formica®, Nevamar® or Wilsonart. It is a wonderful choice for the kitchen or even the Gameroom or home office.

Natural Stone

Natural stone is a beautiful choice, and the most popular ones are granite, marble and quartzite. Granite is spotted, marble has veins of color, and quartzite can look like marble in bold colors with bright veins or lighter colors with more subtle striations. All natural stone is beautiful and each with its own unique markings. For the last 20 years, granite has been the most popular in Houston area. The more exotic stone you pick, the higher the price point.

Marble is more porous, and it cracks more easily, along the veins or threads. If it cracks, a natural stone countertop cannot be repaired. All natural stone countertops need a seal put on them, to protect them from liquid damage. It is recommended that the countertop be resealed every year, with a product like Natural stone is naturally anti-bacterial, easy to clean, very durable, and can take many years of wear. It is a very useful if you are a baker to work on dough.

Man-made Stone

Examples are quartz, being the most popular, and other good choices are Corian, Earthstone, terrazzo, and Silestone. When compared to natural stone, man-made stone is far more durable. Man-made stones can look more contemporary and can be flat, shiny and sleek. Others can look very much like marble or granite.

Typically, man-made stone is made from pieces natural stone bonded together with resin to create a solid service with a smooth beautiful finish. These are very durable but not as heat resistant as natural stone. Quartz is the new trend, instead of the last 20-year popularity of granite.


In the past couple of years, wooden countertops and butcher-blocks have made a comeback in popularity. Real wood is more durable than laminate, and cheaper and easier to maintain than stone. The beauty of a real wood countertop is that wood ages well and can be sanded and re-oiled to change the look of it, or to rejuvenate it. The downside is that these countertops can get water damage because wood is naturally porous. The way to prevent this damage and to preserve the wood is to oil it every year with a clear food-grade butcher block oil. One brand is called Watco, another is Boos.

Mystery Oil.

You can get a normal type wood to be practical or an art-piece wood to have an exotic look. Maple is the most popular because of its natural hue, hardness and solid nature. Acacia is naturally waterproof and resistant to mold and termites. White oak is one of the hardest domestic woods and is the most durable. Black walnut, cherry, bamboo, wenge, hickory, and tigerwood are also good choices.


Concrete can have a rustic, or a contemporary look and it is good for lofts, for a farmhouse look and for an industrial style. It is trendy and unfussy. It can be cast into any shape and pigmented, stained and textured with lots of shades of color. You can imbed it with tile and stone. It can crack unless it reinforced with rebar or natural wire mesh. Settling of your house can cause small cracks and these can be repaired. Concrete is susceptible to stains and scratches, can absorb liquids, and even bacterial growth if not properly sealed.


Some glass is harder than stone. It is heat proof and non-porous, therefore low maintenance. Glass countertops can be made of any finish. You can have glitter, speckles, artwork or photographs sealed in the glass. As an example, in a commercial application we designed, a restaurant logo was sealed into the tabletop. Something similar could be done in a residential setting.

One Design Place can help you with your countertop’s choice or with a total kitchen remodel or anything in between, in person or through our On-Line Design Program.


One Design Place is a full-service interior design firm specializing in transforming Houston homes and can help with upgrades for enjoyment or with a sale in mind. Cynthia Cannizzaro, owner of One Design Place, believes that “when a person has a home that is created with their lifestyle in mind, it truly makes a difference in their everyday life.”

One Design Place was recently showcased in the Memorial Lifestyle Magazine.
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One Design Place 713-446-7330

Article written by:
Marie Scarpulla
Pointed Arch Marketing
484-478-348 cell

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