Marble – Certainly the most expensive and considered by many to be the most desirable. While nothing quite matches the veined beauty of Marble, it can stain and it does requires care
Granite – By far the top choice in recent years. It’s elegant and versatile and with a variety of strong shades, black, white, green, coral. It also comes in multiple finishes, finely polished or matte.
Limestone – Softer, more porous, demanding more delicate use and greater care.
Soapstone – With it’s rough pewter tone and it’s tendency to darken, Soapstone is a top pick for historic renovations of cottage or bungalow style homes.
Engineered Stone – Available in wide assortment of colors, Engineered Stone is made from resin and quartz chips and is far more durable and easy to maintain. Expect to pay granite prices.
Solid Surface – Formerly knowby the name Corian, Solid Surface is made from polyester and acrylic. It is non porous and comes in multi colors. If not the most sophisticated it’s variety and easy up keep make it a practical and economical choice.
Laminate – By far the most affordable of the traditional offerings, Laminate comes in many colors and designs. Made from a blend of resin and paper fused to particle board, it can scratch easily and is susceptible to the scorch of hot pan.
Wood or butcher block – Generally easy to maintain, Butcher blog can scratch and scorch. It also requires disinfecting and oiling on a regular basis.
Tiles – Though not as popular as it they once were, ceramic tiles are a creative option to consider with limitless design possibilities for mixing and matching colors. Tiles all also available made from recycled materials.
Up and coming…
Stainless steel – Popular in commercial kitchens, Stainless steel has been moving into the residential kitchen of late. It’s indestructible, resists heat and polishes up nicely. Some may find it just a bit too cold.
Concrete – Another choice for consumers that’s gaining in popularity, Concrete comes in different finishes/textures (trowel smooth, sanded to expose sand aggregate or even pressed to reveal a marble-like veining) and can be dyed different color. Extremely durable it can be poured on site or made in advance. One draw back, because it is so porous it should be sealed four time a year because.
Lastly, there are some new and very eco-friendly countertops that have come on the market in recent years for those looking to utilize recycled or renewable materials including glass, paper and wood. Bamboo is an attractive and affordable alternative to traditional butcher block as is Kirei Board, which is made from sorghum or wheat. There are even countertops made from compressed 100% post-consumer paper covered in natural resin. You can also mix and match combining recycled glass with concrete.
For more info: Countertop Guides