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The best countertops for busy kitchens

All counters look good new but which stand up to years of abuse?

Published: February 17, 2015 10:45 AM

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Replacing your kitchen countertops, just the countertops, seems like a reasonable, affordable way to give your kitchen a new look. All countertops look terrific when they’re new but not all can stand up to a busy kitchen. Here’s a look at the pros and cons of some of the countertop materials that Consumer Reports tested. Warning: It’s not always pretty.

Who doesn’t want countertops that are easy to maintain, withstand daily abuses, survive parties, and last years, maybe decades? So we stained, sliced, scratched, and nicked 14 materials from leading brands and found huge differences in the materials, but little difference in competing brands, except for recycled glass.


Pros. Some quartz countertops are beautiful. This combination of mineral, color, and resin is meant to mimic the look of stone yet doesn’t needed resealing. Hot pots, serrated knives, abrasive pads, and most stains were no match for quartz, making it the top-scoring material.
Cons. Edges and corners can chip and you’ll need a pro to repair them.
Cost. $40 to $100 per square foot.


Pros. The real deal. It’s stone, so each slab is unique. Heat, cuts, and scratches didn’t harm granite in our tests. Polished and matte finishes resisted most stains when properly sealed.
Cons. Periodic resealing is needed to fight stains, and corners and edges can chip and must be repaired by a pro.
Cost. $40 to $100 per square foot

Soapstone, limestone, and marble

Pros. They’re not as common as granite countertops and they are stunning, at first. Soapstone was superb at resisting heat damage, and small scratches can be repaired by sanding finely and applying mineral oil. Marble and limestone offer a classic look and limestone resisted heat.
Cons. Soapstone nicks, cuts, and scratches easily and some stains are too tough to be washed away. Marble and limestone also have those drawbacks, and heat damaged the marble.
Cost. $50 to $100 per square foot for soapstone and limestone; marble, $50 to $150.

Check our full countertop Ratings to find out how the other materials did in our tests. You’ll see recycled glass, laminates, tile, solid surfacing, concrete, stainless steel, butcher block, paper composite, and bamboo. Plenty of choices for different budgets. 

Kimberly Janeway

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