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Q&A: What's the most popular countertop for kitchens?

Consumer Reports News: June 08, 2010 04:00 PM

We plan to replace our kitchen counters and are interested in using stone. Is granite still a hot choice?

Granite remains the biggest seller, having accounted for 56 percent of kitchen-countertop sales in the past year, according to the NPD Group, a market-research company. Quartz (Caesarstone and Silestone) and laminate (Formica), each with 13 percent of the countertop market, trail granite in popularity, followed closely by solid surfacing (DuPont Corian).

Best Kitchen Counters Granite
Granite remains a popular kitchen countertop.
It will be interesting to see whether granite's dominance holds. Consider that about 75 percent of certified kitchen designers specified quartz, according to the National Kitchen & Bath Association's "2010 Kitchen & Bath Style Report," as we recently reported in " What's Cooking in the Kitchen: 7 Trends in Remodeling and Design."Granite earned its spot as the most popular counter courtesy of its good looks and durability. Indeed, in our countertop tests (watch this video of how we test), granite was the only stone that could resist heat, scratches, and, when properly sealed, stains.

When it comes to natural stone, marble and limestone also offer aesthetic appeal but have their drawbacks. Marble, more porous than granite, is not as stain or heat resistant and scratches and chips easily. Limestone withstands heat very well, so scorch marks aren't a problem, but this soft, porous material is easily sliced, nicked, and scratched; it also stains easily, even when properly sealed.

When you're shopping for a granite countertop, remember that veining and pattern can vary enormously from slab to slab, so be sure to visit the store or stone yard to find a piece you love. You can save some money by using 3/ 4-inch-thick stone instead of the typical 1 1/ 4-inch-thick material. (Note that our test results are based on a thicker stone.) Granite costs about $45 to $200 per square foot, including installation.

Kimberly Janeway

Essential information: Learn how to maintain your stone counters. Read more about different countertop materials and look for our latest review of countertops in our annual kitchen special section in the August 2010 issue, on and newsstands On June 29.

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