Monday, August 15, 2011

Been There, Done That: Alternatives to Granite Countertops



Karen Chanan of Number 4 Design, a talented designer in the Chicago area, is sharing her favorite alternatives to granite today. While granite still seems to be the number one choice of people house hunting or looking to update a kitchen, there are so many other exceptional options on the market to consider! Janell

I’m dreaming about my next kitchen…it will look something like this.



Maybe the cabinets will be gray; maybe they will be white, not sure about the floor.
One thing I know for sure, there will be no granite anywhere in sight.

Granite has long been the usual go-to for countertops, and it’s starting to feel a little redundant. With so many choices, both natural and man-made, you can really make a statement, yet be practical at the same time.

Before you go looking, consider these factors:

1. Your budget. This is the first place to start, considering your budget will help narrow down your options.

2. Use. Are you an avid cook? Do you avoid the kitchen at all costs? Some countertops may or may not be the most sensible choice for you based on use.

3. Maintenance. This is a matter of personal preference. Some countertops are super high maintenance, and some are not. Let your lifestyle dictate the direction you take.

So now that we’ve gotten those decisions out of the way, let’s talk options:

Without a doubt, my all-time favorite is Carrera Marble. It’s high maintenance and shows wear, but I don’t care. I love it. Beautiful, elegant, classic. That said, you have to accept that it will show etching and patina over time. I think that’s what gives it character, but if you like a more pristine look it may not be for you.


Concrete is gaining popularity in countertops, as it can be transformed into any shape, finish or color. It’s also heat and scratch resistant. This is another one of my favorites, but keep in mind this is typically a custom project so it may not be right for the budget conscious.


Engineered countertops are made of natural stone mixed with resin, so they are more durable and practically maintenance-free. They are available in a wider variety of colors than granite and have a nonporous surface that resists scratches and stains. You may recognize them under their brand names: Zodiaq®, Cambria Quartz, Cesar stone and Silestone.


If sustainability is one of your goals, Paperstone is a great alternative. It’s a green product made from post-consumer recycled paper mixed with resin. It’s strong, waterproof, and available in a wide range of colors. But keep in mind that the resins in this product can cause the color of the countertop to change over time.


Many associate stainless steel with commercial kitchens, but it can give a great industrial look to residential spaces. While it’s highly durable, heat resistant and easy to clean, it definitely shows scratches, so if you want flawless surfaces, you may want to move on.


Soapstone is a soft, non-porous, natural stone which is distinguishable by its dark, almost black, honed surface. Great for cooks because it's an excellent heat insulator, at the same time it is one of the higher maintenance surfaces requiring regular applications of mineral oil.


We’ve covered only a few of the dozens of options out there…take your time, do your research, don’t be afraid to venture off the road of conformity. You’ll be happy you did!

{images via Houzz}

11 comments:

- Laura said...

Beautiful, all of them!!

My perfect kitchen would be a combination of counter tops. I like to bake so I'd like the marble on an island or separate area of the counter.

However, because maintenance is not my strongest skill set I would put a Cesar stone of some sort on the rest. :)

Ahhhh, it's fun to dream!!!

Susan and Mark said...

Lovely photos!

My "want" for our kitchen is recycled glass counter tops-I have a pic in my Pinterest file that has a white background and pale sea glass colors strewn throughout...just so pretty.

I ♥ a chunk of marble on an island as well for baking.

Some granite patterns can look like nothing more than an amoeba splotch;I like the metallic ones, but passed on granite in my last kitchen for large tumbled marble tiles.

mustang said...

I am SO OVER granite!! I have Silestone now and love it. If I were re-doing my kitchen, I still pick Silestone but perhaps the one that looks like marble. Yep, gray and white. The first photo is my absolute favorite kitchen of all time.

Delishhh said...

Great info. I am not a granite fan and have been looking at Silestone but had no idea it would stain that easily. . .hmm. For a daily cook, but want the best price/quality what would you choose?

Trissta said...

Thanks for the tips! I'm looking to redo my own kitchen and countertops are the biggest thing on the list. Definitely going to keep my eye out for more options thanks to you!

Much Love,
Trissta
Living on the Chic

number4designs said...

Engineered countertops are a great option, as they are extremely durable. They used to only mimic the look of granite, but now come in a huge range of colors and finishes.

good2Bqueen said...

Thank you SO MUCH for clearing up the erroneous belief that concrete is cheap! DH designs/manufactures concrete countertops and every one assumes they are easy and cheap. They take a great deal of time and effort to pour and cure (correctly, it's not a simple as pouring a sidewalk) and have a greater potential for scrap.

mackenzie said...

I'm a fan of granite countertops but only because they look nice. I never realized how many other options there were. I really like the concrete countertops. That might be my next project. Thanks for the great information!

Cristophher said...

I always love to have the marble counter display in my kitchen. but it's just dream that it's too pricy for me yeah but i wish it could be.

Gexton said...

Thanks, you guys that is a great explanation. keep up the good work in oyur granite blog.
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Mike Ross said...

All of these are beautiful. Looks like my counter tops in Edmonton.