When the time comes to start a kitchen renovation, our clients get really excited about custom cabinets and new countertops. It’s easy to understand why—they’re very noticeable, and there’s a wide variety of beautiful options out there.

Aside from looking chic, kitchen countertops need to be practical. They can be made of different materials, some of which require more intensive maintenance while others just require a wipe down to remove any debris from food preparation and spills.

Let’s take a look at the different kinds of countertop materials and look at the pros and cons of each.

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Granite Countertops

Ah, the granite countertop – still the reigning queen of kitchen countertop materials. Throughout Ottawa, granite is one of our most-requested materials for new kitchen designs and a very popular choice for bathroom vanities as well. Let’s face it: it’s gorgeous and instantly adds elegance to your kitchen with a deep, glossy shine. Made of natural granite stone, every slab has a unique design, from a subtle pattern to big, bold markings. If you’re looking for natural kitchen design ideas, go with granite!

Granite countertops are also durable and scratch-resistant. However,  you’re going to pay for the durability and elegance, and it does need regular re-sealing to protect against stains. Even when sealed, it’s stain-resistant but not impregnable, so be sure to wipe up any spills fast.

Granite and other natural stones are also extremely heavy, so you need to make sure you have solid, well-built kitchen cabinets that can take the weight.

If you decide to go with granite, be sure to use a proper stone cleaner for everyday cleaning instead of an abrasive cleaner.

Corian® Countertops (aka Solid Surface)

Corian® is a 100% man-made material that is easy to care for. Because it is nonporous, it’s also very durable and highly resistant to staining—without the need for sealing or other regular maintenance.

One of the main benefits of Corian® is that you can easily repair any damage; minor scratches and burns can be sanded out, and deep cuts can be filled in. As a result, they’re highly requested countertops in Ottawa.

There are also limitless options in appearance, so you can perfectly match your countertop to your favourite sink, backsplash, flooring or cabinet doors. Just be wary of darker colours; they tend to show more wear and tear.

Quartz (Composite) Countertops

Quartz countertops are actually composites under brand names like Caesarstone, Silestone, or Cambria. Composite quartz countertops look a lot like natural stone but, upon very close inspection, lack the natural variation. Constructed of 93% quartz mixed with resins, it gets you very close to a natural look while retaining the toughness and easy care benefits.

Quartz kitchen countertops are a relatively low-cost option, making them an Ottawa favourite.

Marble Countertops

Marble is a luxurious natural stone with elegant veins running through it. We don’t often see large expanses of marble used in many kitchens these days, though.

Why? First, marble comes with a hefty price tag. Next, it’s fairly high maintenance; you’ve got to be very careful what you use to clean it, and it’s not very heat resistant. Lastly, to avoid stains and scratches, marble requires sealing—often.

For these reasons, customers often request marble for smaller surfaces like kitchen islands or bathroom vanities. Still, marble is undeniably beautiful and using it will elevate any space.

Wooden Countertops

Wooden countertops are made of straight planks of wood carefully glued together to create an exceptionally sturdy worktop.

These counters are rising in popularity as people move toward eco-friendly options, but, as you can imagine, a butcher block or wooden counter is more prone to nicks and scratches. So, to keep them in great shape, consistent maintenance is required. If you opt for a polyurethane finish, it will need to be applied every few years. If you have your heart set on a natural mineral oil finish, that will need to be reapplied every few weeks.

But, for some homeowners, nothing compares with the Zen beauty of wood. And, we understand; it’s very versatile design-wise. You can achieve anything from a sleek and modern look to a downright rustic farmhouse vibe with the right custom kitchen cabinets. In addition, for great visual impact, simply increase the thickness of the wood.

Soapstone Countertops

Another natural option is soapstone. It’s usually grey in colour with blue or green undertones and some veining.

Although it has many pros, like heat resistance and no need for a sealant, it certainly isn’t maintenance-free. It’s a “soft” stone surface, prone to nicks and scratches. Oiling can keep these imperfections at bay, but soapstone will develop a patina over time. This creates an antique look that is perfect for some kitchen design styles. If you aren’t willing to embrace a vintage look, you might want to consider another countertop surface.

Concrete Countertops

Contrary to popular belief, concrete comes in many colours. It can be custom pigmented, so the possibilities are limitless.

Concrete countertops have come a long way. A few decades ago, they were poured in place, and hand trowelled, resulting in a less than smooth surface and cracks. Today’s concrete countertops are pre-cast to your needs, cured (which can take a few weeks), and then brought to your home and installed.

Some concrete countertops are reinforced with rebar or other materials, but cracking will always be a concern. It also needs regular sealing to protect against stains.

One benefit is that concrete is much less expensive than wood or granite—only laminate is cheaper.

Stainless Steel Countertops

There’s a reason we continue to see stainless steel surfaces featured in design magazines and on Pinterest boards: it’s tough! Avid chefs want extremely rugged countertops that boast a contemporary, restaurant-inspired look. Stainless steel counters are perfect because they can (literally) take the heat and endure just about anything that is spilled on them.

The cons? You guessed it: fingerprints! If you want your countertop to look shiny and perfect, be prepared to wipe it constantly. And while extremely durable, stainless steel is a metal, so dents are possible. Also, price-wise, stainless steel countertops are fairly expensive.

Laminate Countertops

Poor laminate. It often gets left behind in the style stampede towards the more upscale or natural stone countertops. The truth is that laminate (also known by the brand name Formica) is low maintenance and incredibly budget-friendly. If your kitchen is in a starter home or you have an Ottawa property you plan to rent, you might be completely satisfied with laminate. In addition, newer modern laminates can be really stylish; they’re offered in virtually any colour or pattern.

One thing you need to watch out for with laminate is that it is not as durable as some of the other options out there. It can be damaged by heat easily and can be scratched by something as simple as a dropped knife. It can also potentially peel, so you should never sue it with undermount sinks.

Kitchen Countertops – Ottawa, ON

If you’re looking for countertop samples of countertops in Ottawa, we have a wide selection of materials at our Ottawa showroom. Come by to compare options!

While you’re looking, keep in mind that choosing the right countertop has a lot to do with how important a natural look is to you, how intense a cook you are, and how much maintenance work you’re prepared to do.

Our designers can help you navigate the countertop selection process and even give you a ballpark estimate for your kitchen renovation project. You’ll soon be on your way to creating a dream kitchen that meets the needs of your family, budget and lifestyle.

If you have any thoughts on the best materials for kitchen countertops, go ahead and share them in the comments below.