The Best Kitchen Countertops for Home Cooks

A group of home cooks preparing a meal on a counter top.

If your kitchen is the heart of your home, then the countertops are the arteries–the surfaces that see constant use for food prep, cooking, eating, and more. As a home cook, you need durable, practical countertops that can stand up to daily wear and tear. But you also want surfaces that are attractive and match your kitchen's style.

The 6 Best Countertops for Home Cooks

With so many countertop options out there, from natural stone to engineered composites to metals, how do you choose the best countertops for home cooks? This guide breaks down the pros and cons of the most popular countertop materials to help you pick the perfect one for your cooking needs and kitchen aesthetic. Let's get cookin'!

1. For Everyone: Granite Countertops

Are you surprised? The king of kitchen countertops, granite is beloved for good reason and makes for arguably the best countertop for home cooks. This natural stone is formed over millions of years from cooled magma, making it incredibly hard and dense. Granite rates a 6-7 on the Mohs hardness scale (which measures hardness), so it stands up to scratches, cuts, and heat. You can place hot pots and pans on granite without worry as long as you slip a pad or mitt underneath them.


A granite countertop for home cooks.


Granite's durability also makes it very low maintenance. Just use a trusted, food-safe daily cleaner made specifically for natural stone, and it will last decades without losing its luster. Though granite is porous, sealing prevents stains from setting in, so be sure to invest in a food-safe granite sealer as well.

Beyond being a workhorse in the kitchen, granite brings visual impact with its natural beauty. The slabs can display speckles, swirls, and veins in shades like black, white, gray, red, green, blue, and brown. So you can find a granite pattern to coordinate with any color scheme.

Keep in mind that granite must be professionally installed and can be moderately expensive, ranging from $80-150 per square foot installed. Granite is also very heavy, so make sure your cabinets and flooring can support the weight.

Overall, granite is hands down the best bang for your buck when it comes to durable, low-maintenance countertops that add instant value to your home. If you want your counters to last decades without much fuss, granite is the way to go.

2. For The Modern Cooks: Quartz Countertops

For a sleek, contemporary vibe, quartz countertops bring streamlined style. Quartz is an engineered material composed of more than 90 percent crushed stone, polymer resins, and pigments that are blended together and molded into slabs. This man-made process allows for consistent colors, patterns, and quality.

In terms of durability, quartz nearly matches granite. It rates around a 7 on the Mohs scale, making it more scratch and chip-resistant under normal use. Quartz holds up to heat and resists stains because it is non-porous. It never needs to be sealed either, but because it’s made of more than 90 percent stone, it’s also susceptible to harsh cleaners not formulated for quartz or stone, unlike products from Granite Gold™.


A quartz countertop for home cooks.

Maintenance is effortless – just use a gentle cleaner and you're done. Quartz withstands heavy usage, yet the material is also lighter than natural stone and remains relatively affordable at $50-200 per square foot installed.

Some might feel quartz patterns look artificial compared to natural stone, but there are also limited colors available, usually whites/grays or beiges. If you want a bright, crisp, contemporary kitchen, quartz is sure to impress.

3. For The Sophisticated: Soapstone Countertops

For a touch of old-world charm, soapstone counters bring rustic elegance. Soapstone is a metamorphic rock composed mainly of talc and other natural minerals. It has a soft, smooth texture and a subtle grayish hue that ranges from lighter grays to dark charcoal.

Soapstone's best assets for cooks are that it is quite stain-proof and heat-proof. You can set any hot cookware on soapstone without damage, and if food or liquids spill, they won't penetrate the surface. Soapstone is also antibacterial, making it ideal for food prep.

Over time, soapstone develops a patina that adds to its character. Some light oil application helps bring out soapstone's natural luster. Small scratches can even be sanded out fairly easily. With proper care, soapstone lasts for decades. It costs about $70-100 per square foot installed.

The drawback is that soapstone is relatively soft, so knife work and dragging cookware can scratch it. It also needs periodic oiling. But its natural styling is timeless. Soapstone gives any kitchen a relaxed, vintage feel.

4. For The Chefs: Stainless Steel Countertops

For serious cooks, stainless steel is a smart practical choice. Commercial kitchens use stainless counters for good reason – this metal takes the heat. You can place scalding hot pots, even from a 500F oven, directly onto stainless steel without worry. Spills wipe right up, and stainless steel is inherently antimicrobial.

Stainless steel countertops for home cooks.

Stainless has a sleek industrial aesthetic that works well in modern kitchens. It comes in various finishes from a soft brushed sheen to a highly reflective polished look. Stainless steel costs around $70-225 per square foot installed.

The downsides are susceptibility to scratches, noise and condensation. Stainless steel shows every smudge, spill and scratch. It can also be noisy when you set down cookware. And the surface stays cool, so you may get water condensation. Stainless requires a bit more maintenance to keep its luster. But for cooking performance, it is unbeatable.

Using a targeted all-surface cleaner like Guardsman® Stainless Steel Cleaner provides a streak-free, food-safe clean without phosphates or ammonia. Check out our video below for how to use it:

5. For The Creatives: Tile Countertops

For an artisanal, handcrafted look, tile countertops are charming and budget-friendly. Ceramic or porcelain tiles come in every imaginable shape, size, color and finish – matte, shiny, patterned and textured. Glass, metal or granite tiles add even more options.

Tile allows you to get creative, mixing and matching textures and hues. Or you can opt for an organic feel with handmade subway tiles or encaustic tiles. Installation is also DIY-friendly. Tile has a wide, flexible price range, from just $1-350 per square foot, and you can install it yourself over a weekend.


Tile countertops for home cooks.

The grout lines do require sealing to prevent staining, which requires a food-safe grout cleaner. Cracked tiles will also be replaced, but tiles hold up well to cooking, the patterns hide messes, and you can replace only the damaged section, not the whole counter. If you want custom flair at a value price, tile checks all the boxes.

6. For Those Who Love A Classic: Butcher Block Countertops

For a traditional touch, butcher block brings warmth and character to cooking spaces. Butcher block is made from glued and compressed wood strips, usually maple or oak. The durable end-grain construction can last a lifetime if properly cared for. Butcher block develops a rich patina over time that enhances its natural beauty.

Butcher block costs a very affordable $30-40 per square foot installed. It resists bacteria and adds an artisanal look that pairs well with painted cabinets and subway tiles. You can use mineral oil to condition and protect the wood.

Butcher block countertops for home cooks.

The drawback is that water and heat damage can occur if you're not careful with your butcher block. Always use cutting boards and trivets. Butcher block requires more maintenance too, with regular oiling and sanding to keep it looking pristine. But for vintage styling on a budget, butcher block is a smart choice.

7. For The Bold and the Stylish: Concrete Countertops

For an edgy urban vibe, concrete countertops for home cooks are bold and contemporary. Concrete offers the look of an artist's loft with the sleekness of modern design. Poured concrete counters can be polished smooth or left with an organic textured finish, including exposed aggregate with pebbles or glass fragments.

Concrete countertop for home cooks.

Concrete is nearly indestructible, surviving any kitchen calamity from dropped cookware to spilled wine. The finish is also antimicrobial, so you don't have to worry about bacteria lingering in crevices. Stains can be sanded out, and concrete improves with age, much like a nice patina.

Concrete costs around $100 per square foot installed on average. The heavier weight requires cabinet reinforcement, and the surface is porous and susceptible to etching from acids. Annual sealing is a must. But for a one-of-a-kind industrial modern look, concrete adds rugged elegance.

8. For The Budget-Conscious: Laminate Countertops

If you're on a tight budget, laminate countertops offer lots of bang for your buck. Laminate consists of plastic sheeting glued onto a plywood or particle board backing. The plastic layer is a photographic layer that mimics natural stone, wood, and other materials for a fraction of the price.

A person installing laminate countertops.

Laminate comes in every color and finish imaginable, whether you want a retro speckled pattern or a sleek solid color. At $10-35 per square foot installed, laminate lets you easily refresh your kitchen's look. The material is seamless and water-resistant too.

However, laminate lacks the durability of natural stone and there is no heat or scratch resistance that makes a countertop for home cooks desirable. Instead, laminate shows wear fairly quickly, losing its luster within 5 years. But it fills the role of an affordable kitchen facelift. Just don't expect it to last decades. Think of laminate as a temporary placeholder until you can afford a higher-end counter.

For The Trend Setters: Mix and Match Countertop Materials

Don't feel confined to just one countertop material. Mixing and matching is a great way to take advantage of different material properties based on need. Use durable quartz or granite near the cooktop and sink for heavy-use areas. Add warmth with butcher block for prep zones

Cook Your Heart Out and Protect Your Countertops With Granite Gold™

Whichever countertop you choose for your home cooking, you’ll need to protect your investment–and your hungry family! Make sure to use food-safe products created specifically for your surface. Granite Gold™ offers a range of cleaners, polishes, and sealers suitable for a variety of natural stone and other counter surfaces. Shop our full range of specialty cleaning products today and get cooking.


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