The countertop is a critical component of kitchen design. From a design perspective, it helps tie the room together, even if it’s seldom the actual focal point. And in terms of performance, the surface takes a beating every day, from dropped pots to heated pans to corrosive liquids.

At the 2016 Design & Construction Week in Las Vegas, many of the biggest countertop manufacturers are showcasing their latest wares, which continue the trend for gray, neutral hues in the kitchen.

If you’re embarking on a remodel, or just looking to give the space a gentle facelift, here are a handful of options that combine good looks with the promise of solid performance.

Wilsonart’s Dusk Ice Solid Surface
We love solid surfacing in the bathroom, where the sink and vanity top can be molded out of a single piece of material; plus the material is waterproof and small scratches can be buffed out. Wilsonart is unveiling 19 new solid surfacing designs at the show, including the soft gray quartz-inspired pattern above with medium particulates and mirror chips.

Formica’s Gray Josef Linen is one of the countertop trends of 2016

Formica’s Gray Josef Linen
If you do want your countertop to be a focal point, or if the counter is located in another part of the house, say a play room or craft space, this new laminate pattern from Formica, created by designer Jonathan Adler, will certainly turn heads. Inspired by Josef Albers, the German-born American artist, it has a distinctly Mid-Century Modern feel, with its geometric shapes in shades of charcoal, smoke gray, and white, beneath a fine gray linen. Laminate holds up well in Consumer Reports' countertop tests, except when it comes to knife cuts, so on a countertop this fabulous, you’ll definitely want to use a cutting board.

Caeserstone’s Symphony Grey
The color gray continues to trend in kitchens and quartz is the toughest material in our countertop tests, so this countertop could start to show up in more Pinterest boards and Houzz photos. Its diagonal lines and veining provide an interesting geometry to the streaming shades of light and dark gray.

Choosing the Right Countertop