While granite gets most of the attention these days, there are many great choices for counter tops. They make up a big portion of the overall look of the kitchen, and they all have their own pros and cons.
Granite can be beautiful if you're willing to pay for mid to high end colors. It stands up well to knifes, heat and wear. Like most stone products, it must be sealed once in a while.
Solid surface materials such as Corian are good for achieving a consistent color. Because it is nonporous, it is maintenance free, no sealing or special cleaning required. It can be suseptible to scratches and burns, but that can be sanded out. Corian can be installed without seams as well, giving a more polished look.
Chemically identical to natural stone, quartz is a man made product that can very closely resemble natural stone with the maintenance free benefits of solid surfacing. This is our most popular option, though some may find the limited variation of pattern a drawback.
Marble is an elegant choice for kitchens that stand up to heat and maintains a cool temperature which makes it the perennial choice for bakers who need to keep their dough firm. Marble is susceptible to stain, scratch and chip.
Soapstone is a product that is growing in popularity. Very resistant to heat make it a good material for the kitchen. The common belief is that soapstone needs to be oiled often. Soapstone does not require oiling however, it is done to maintain a darker color and prevent staining, soapstone is naturally a light to medium gray.
Concrete is another nascent counter material that works well for contemporary styled kitchens. Because each piece is custom cast, unique inlays such as glass fragments, rocks and shells can be added. Concrete does require some type of sealing since it is porous, and may develop cracks in time.
Wood is the warmest counter top material and it works with most styles of kitchens. It does show scratches and dents, but many people enjoy the patina it garners with age. Wood counter tops can have a variety of finishes, which may or may not require oiling. Scratches and dents can easily be sanded away.
Paperstone is a new material that bills itself as the most sustainable choice for counter tops. It resembles a solid surface due to its flat finish and even coloring. It is a pretty tough material, but is susceptible to scratches and chemical damage.