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Which Kitchen Countertop Material Should You Pick?

What’s the “best value-for-money option” might not be the right choice for your kitchen. We unpack it all here!

When it comes to renovating a kitchen, finding the right countertop should be on the top of your list of things to do. If you make your own meals, you're probably aware that this surface is responsible for much of the heavy lifting when things get busy, whether it’s food preparation or serving as a secondary dining table in an open kitchen.

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In any case, there are a number of materials that this hardworking kitchen structure can be outfitted with: laminates, KompacPlus, engineered quartz, solid surfaces, wood and natural stone. Here’s a guide to help you find the right surface for your kitchen.

  1. Laminates
  2. KompacPlus
  3. Engineered quartz
  4. Natural stone
  5. Solid surface
  6. Wood
  7. Sintered stone

1. Laminates

In general, laminates are made from several layers of kraft paper boards and melamine resin. This makes them more affordable compared to other surfaces. So, if you’re looking for a budget-friendly option, this is the right one for you.

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Maintenance is easy and straightforward as well. All you need to keep your laminate countertop in tip-top condition are warm water, soap and a gentle wipe down with a sponge or cloth.

  • Direct impact with a sharp object like knives and scissors can result in chips
  • Prolonged contact with hot cookware can cause it to melt
  • May become warped over time

Get a laminate countertop if: you’re looking for a pocket-friendly option that is both hygienic and style-flexible.

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2. KompacPlus

Touted as “an alternative to conventional kitchen countertop surfaces”, KompacPlus (or KompacTop) is one durable material that you may wish to consider for your kitchen.

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You don’t have to hack away your existing countertop finishing to install it either. The KompacPlus can be conveniently mounted over the current counter.

  • Scratch-, heat-, impact-, bubble- and stain-resistant, waterproof and non-porous
  • Can also be installed on your floor, walls and furniture
  • Installation can be completed within 3 working days
  • Keeping it clean is easy – wipe it down occasionally and you’re good to go
  • Slim build of 3mm and 6mm in thickness
  • Limited in design
  • Visible joint lines
  • Prolonged exposure to sun can lead to discolouration
  • Direct contact with hot objects can result in cracks

Get a KompacPlus countertop if: You are looking for minimum fuss and maximum flexibility.

3. Engineered Quartz

Countertops made of engineered quartz are manufactured by mixing crushed natural quartz with polymer resin. This combination gives it high durability and a wide range of colours.

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However, unlike their natural counterparts, engineered quartz surfaces is non-porous. With this surface, you’ll almost never need to worry about tough-to-remove stains or bacterial growth because of water exposure.

  • Impact-, scratch- and stain-resistant
  • Wide range of colours, can emulate the look of natural stone like marble
  • Non-porous and hygienic
  • Durable and less likely to chip or crack
  • Pricier than other alternatives
  • Visible seam joints
  • Direct contact with hot objects can damage the surface because of the resin

Get an engineered quartz countertop if: You have sufficient budget and want a tough, maintenance-free, natural stone lookalike.

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4. Natural Stone (Granite, Marble)

Since engineered quartz can closely mimic the veiny look and smooth feel of natural stone, are there actually any perks in choosing a granite or marble surface?

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We'd say yes. Natural stone countertops are mostly cut from pure stones, they’re eco-friendlier. If you’re someone who’s more environmentally conscious (and have a bigger budget to work with), this is a great option to consider.

  • Unique veins and grains for a one-of-a-kind look
  • Durable and can last for years if taken care of properly
  • High-end look
  • Wide variety of colours
  • Edgings can be crafted
  • Can be quite costly
  • Highly porous, will require sealant upon installation
  • High maintenance, spills should be cleaned up as soon as possible to prevent staining
  • Must be installed professionally

Get a natural stone countertop if: you want actual stone (and don’t mind doing regular maintenance).

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5. Solid Surface

As their name implies, solid surface countertops are made out of a thick layer of synthetic acrylic. It’s non-porous, germ-resistant and an overall great choice for homeowners who want a zero-maintenance countertop.

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Solid surface countertops aren’t the toughest material among the options presented but are the easiest to repair. Simply scrub or sand away the scratched/burnt layers to get an (almost) brand-new look!

  • Durable
  • Can integrate your sink and backsplash for a seamless look
  • Wide variety of colours and patterns
  • Can mimic the look of other materials such as marble and concrete
  • Easily damaged by heat and impact
  • Not stain-resistant

Get a solid surface countertop if: you live with young children and/or pets (or if you’re just accident-prone).

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6. Wood (Butcherblock)

Just like how no two pieces of natural stone look the same, almost no two pieces of wood share a similar pattern. You’ll definitely get a unique look with wooden/butcherblock counters.

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That said, it shares the same weakness as natural stone: porous layers. Like always, you can prevent water seepage with a non-toxic sealant.

  • Sustainable alternative
  • Available at a wide range of prices, depending on choice of wood
  • If sealed and maintained correctly, it can last you for up to 20 years
  • You can use household cleaners to clean it
  • Easily stained
  • Using a cutting board is a must in order to keep your surface dent- and scratch-free
  • Prone to water damage
  • Expands and contracts depending on temperature it’s exposed to

Get a wooden countertop if: you like the warmth of real wood.

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  • Custom manufacturers
  • IKEA

7. Sintered stone

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Due to their similar designs and properties, many homeowners tend to compare sintered stone with quartz – particularly when it’s about designing their kitchen countertops. But the thing sintered stone has (that quartz doesn’t) is its superior resistance to external elements such as heat and scratches.

Plus, unlike quartz, they’re made with purely natural minerals without pigments or resin. But of course, having all these impressive qualities won’t come cheap, with prices that can be especially daunting to a penny-pinching homeowner.

  • Superior heat resistance that lets it withstand hot cookware without a coaster
  • Highly-resistant to scratches
  • Weatherproof
  • Has a more natural, organic look similar to natural stone
  • Easy to maintain
  • Versatile – can be used for floors, walls, and even furniture pieces
  • Pricier than other options

Get sintered stone countertops if: you’re willing (and able) to invest in premium materials.

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This article was first published on 11 Jan 2018 and last updated on 21 Sep 2022.

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