Stone surfaces have long been a favorite material for kitchen countertops, but soapstone has come into its own in recent years. It’s heat and stain resistant like granite, non-porous (and thus liquid resistant), and has a softer texture than you’ll find with many stone surfaces. Just be careful, as there are two actually different materials that are sometimes called soapstone; one of these is talc, which isn’t going to give you the surface that you’re looking for. The soapstone that you want to get is steatite, which fortunately is much more common when shopping for countertop materials.
Granite has been popular as a counter surface for years, but has always had the drawback of being a porous material, meaning you have to be careful with spills. Leathered granite solves this problem while giving the classic stone a modern update as well. The surface of the granite is slightly roughed by diamond-tipped brushes, enhancing the stone’s natural color while cutting back on some of the shine and closing those infamous pores. The end result is a durable stone countertop with a unique look and a slight texture that really does feel similar to leather.
Like granite, quartz has been used as a countertop material for years. So what’s the deal with engineered quartz? Unlike traditional quartz countertops, these are made with ground quartz mixed with resins to create a very hard and natural-looking surface. Colors can be added to create tints to match a wide range of decorating styles. Engineered quartz resists staining, corrosion, and damage from most cleaners. Just keep in mind that, like natural quartz, these countertops can still be damaged by heat.
There are a few different brands of solid-surface acrylic countertops available, notably including Corian and Swanstone. These countertops mix acrylics with resin to create a stain-resistant surface that’s available in a wide range of colors, and that can be sanded to repair scratches or other small bits of damage. Perhaps more importantly, the man-made nature of these countertops means that they can be easily customized to meet the specific needs of your home. Their main drawback is that they tend to be vulnerable to heat damage, given that they are still made of plastic.
Over the last several years, concrete countertops have become very popular in modern kitchens. They can be made on-site to ensure that they match your unique kitchen perfectly, and their dense nature means your countertops can take a beating without suffering much damage. Textures, acid-stained colors, and more can be added to the countertops during the creation process, and additives or sealants can significantly reduce the porosity of the concrete itself. These countertops do occasionally have issues with cracking, though modern methods have reduced this significantly. Even when they do crack, however, most concrete countertops can be repaired on-site.