Pros: holds up to heat; comes in a range of almost 3000 colors; looks permanent and substantial; will last a lifetime; new sealers are almost maintenance-free; 2nd highest hardness rating after diamonds; has a high value to home buyers.
Cons: expensive, but becoming more affordable; requires some maintenance; some stones absorbs stains if not sealed; knives can become dull if you cut on it; can crack if stressed or improperly installed.
Pros: Resistant to stain and acid; easy care.
Pros: comes in a rainbow of colors and patterns; seamless; stain resistant.
Cons vulnerable to hot pans and stains which can damage the surface; can be moderately expensive.
4. Ceramic TileCeramic tile is durable and easy to clean. Add to that inexpensive and you've got a really good choice for countertops for the average home. Because it's installed a section at a time, it can be done by most resourceful homeowners.
Pros: takes hot pans; easy to clean; wide range of price, color, texture and design.
Cons: counter surface is uneven; tiles can easily chip or crack; grout lines become stained; custom-designed tiles are very expensive.
5. LaminatesLaminate counters bear trademarks such as Formica, Nevamar, and Wilsonart. They're made of plastic-coated synthetics with a smooth surface that's easy to clean. The pieces are cut to size and finished on the ends.
Pros: you can buy laminates in lots of colors; easy to maintain; durable; inexpensive.
Cons: scratches and chips are almost impossible to repair; seans show; end finishing and front edge choices can be pricey.
Pros: easy to clean; smooth; can be sanded and resealed as needed.
Cons: can be damaged by water and stains over time; scratches must be oiled or sealed according to manufacturer's instructions.
Pros: takes hot pans; easy to clean.
Cons: Expensive; noisy; may dent; fabrication is expensive; you can't cut on it.
Pros: rich, deep color; smooth feel; somewhat stain resistant.
Cons: requires regular maintenance with applications of mineral oil; may crack and darken over time.
9. MarbleBecause of it's extremely high price tag, marble is not often seen on the countertops of whole kitchens. To get the luxurious look, use it on an island or inset at a baking center. Marble requires constant maintenance, as it easily stains. Some new sealers retard staining.
Pros: waterproof; heatproof; beautiful.
Cons: expensive; porous; stains easily unless professionally sealed; can scratch; may need resealing periodically as per manufacturer.
Pros: heat and scratch resistant; can be color-tinted; looks exotic and unusual; new treatments eliminate cracking; additives reduce porosity; new finishes are more decorative.
Cons: mid to high range on cost due to custom work; cracking is possible; can look somewhat industrial; porous but can be sealed.