Exploring the pros and cons of the different types of kitchen countertop materials for your next kitchen makeover project.
This article was updated on 3 September 2020.
The kitchen countertop is certainly the centrepiece of your brand new kitchen. Finding the perfect kitchen countertop for your new home means balancing durability, aesthetics, and cost. Then, there’s also the other criteria for picking the material for your kitchen countertops. Who knew there could be so many?!
In this article, we will be focusing on the most popular kitchen countertop materials in Malaysian household. These will hopefully aid you in comparing and learning more about the pros and cons of each material.
We weigh the pros and cons of each of them, along with providing a rough cost estimate to help make your dream kitchen a reality.
Note: The costs of the materials vary depending on the size, thickness and quality of slab. Prices mentioned here does not include the cost of installation.
Made of pure, solid stone, granite is one of the most common and preferred countertop materials because it’s solid, durable, and long-lasting. As it’s made of natural stone, you can be sure that no two pieces of granite will look the same—so you’ll definitely own a one-of-a-kind centrepiece in your kitchen. Expect granite to be very heat-resistant, up to temperatures hotter than your stove. However, that doesn’t mean you should place hot pans straight from the stove and onto the countertop without a trivet. It’s also quite the hardy material—it’s difficult to unintentionally break, scratch, or crack.
While there are a number of colour options for granite, it’s definitely not as many as quartz. To ensure the longevity of granite, you will need to apply sealant, though not as often as you would need to on marble.
Select granite for a kitchen countertop with a more natural stone look that doesn’t break the bank as much as marble or quartz.
|Stain-resistant||Unsealed or poorly sealed granite counters can be porous|
|Incredibly durable, not susceptible to scratches||Prone to cracking|
|Heat-resistant||Comes with a hefty price tag|
Price: Between RM10 to RM500 per sq ft
Other than being super trendy, most people are also attracted to the unique veined patterns of marble. Similar to granite, you’ll never have two exact patterns. This natural stone will really allow your kitchen space to pop, especially when paired with similar colour hues for the shelves and cabinets.
In contrast to granite, however, marble is not as durable. It’s soft and porous, so it must be sealed often to protect it from damage. One mistake with a knife while preparing dinner and you’ll have a permanent scratch on your beautiful marble countertop. Liquids can also leave permanent stains if not cleaned fast enough.
Pick marble if you are a fan of the unique veined patterns only marble can provide, but be wary of its porous surface. You’ll need to constantly maintain it in order to protect the surface.
|Vulnerable to scratches||Marbles can be very expensive|
|Heat-resistant||Prone to scratches|
|Design is timeless and can fit into any kitchen||Due to its porosity, it also stains easily|
Price: Between RM20 to RM250/sq ft
Unlike granite or marble, engineered quartz is actually a manmade countertop material that mixes natural quartz with a variety of materials (some companies say it’s resin, others claim it’s broken granite, marble, or glass). The inclusion of quartz crystals into the materials make quartz kitchen countertops inarguably more beautiful than granite or marble, with many different colours and styles available to choose from. And because it’s manmade, it’s more durable and scratch-resistant. It has a non-porous surface so you will never have to worry about permanent stains.
On the other hand, quartz countertops are premium, which means that they are more expensive than any other countertop material. But for the price, you’re paying for long-lasting quality. Choose quartz if you have the budget to go for the very best. With the number of colour options available, you should be able to create your desired dream kitchen.
|Non-porous and does not require any sealing – ever||Can discolour over time when exposed to direct sunlight|
|Extremely durable – won’t crack, scratch, or get chipped easily||Can be very expensive|
|Require little to no maintenance||Susceptible to heat damage|
Price: Between RM70 to RM600+/sq ft
This isn’t the same concrete mix used to build houses, roads or sidewalks. Concrete kitchen countertops are thoroughly polished and can be dyed, curved or stamped to give it texture. As it’s a heavy material to work with, concrete kitchen countertops are cast from the ground up in your kitchen – good if you have to work around certain limitations in your kitchen space.
|Can be cast into any colour, shape or pattern||Can be cracked, stained, or scratched|
|Customisable, built seamlessly to suit your kitchen layout||Can discolour from moisture or warp under extreme high heat|
|Scratch and heat resistant||Needs regular resealing to maintain its finish, otherwise, the surface will become porous|
Price: From RM50 per sq ft
For those with a tight budget, laminates can mimic the colours and textures of natural materials like granite but with a cheaper price tag. It’s usually composed of resin, textile and/or fabric sheets although this varies between manufacturers. It’s easy to clean and holds up well under regular use. Just be careful not to hack the surface when chopping vegetables.
|Solid and non-porous, can resist spills and stains||Can be scratched or chipped by sharp knives or scissors|
|Looks and feels like natural materials||Fades in direct sunlight, while some corrosive cleaning materials might ruin the surface|
|Easy to maintain, can be wiped down with soap and water||Cannot avoid visible seams|
Price: From RM50 per sq ft
6. Stainless Steel
If you prefer an industrial look for your kitchen, stainless steel is the way to go. This heat resistant material can be constructed according to your specifications for a seamless kitchen countertop. It’s the go-to material of choice for restaurant kitchens, so it should work just as well for your home.
|Extremely heat resistant, doesn’t need a trivet||Can be quite noisy when working on the countertop|
|Gives a modern, industrial look to your kitchen||Expensive, you’ll need to fork out a pretty penny|
|Probably the easiest countertop material to clean||Easily scratched, you have to use chopping boards|
Price: From RM250 per sq ft
Read more: 6 easy DIY kitchen upgrades anyone can do
7. Solid Surface
Made from thick synthetic acrylic layers and stone-derived materials, solid surface is another great option for a maintenance-free countertop. It might not be as tough as quartz, but solid surface is easily repairable. Any scratches or burns can be scrubbed or sanded away. A solid surface countertop can be installed with no visible seams.
|Easy to repair – scrub or sanding can make it look just like new||Susceptible to damage like scratches or chips|
|Non-porous to resist spills and stains||Doesn’t handle heat very well|
|Comes in various colours and designs||Limited availability to only a few vendors|
Price: From RM150 per sq ft
Wood is a timeless kitchen countertop material. It gives your kitchen a rustic, warm vibe and is able to match just about any design you have in mind. Plus, wood has its own natural vein patterns that make no two countertops look the same. The only problem with wood is that it can be expensive because it’s not as readily available as stone.
|Easy to clean and long-lasting||Easily dents and scratches, stains leave marks|
|Customisable, since the material is easy to work with||Susceptible to water damage and bacteria, which rots the wood|
|Can be matched with rustic or modern décor ideas||Must be maintained periodically with seal and wood oil|
Price: From RM200 per sq ft
Everyone has a different idea about their dream kitchen. But most importantly, it’s about getting the look you want within your budget. Seek different vendors and renovators to get the best price comparison.
Once your kitchen countertops are ready, find out what is needed to maintain the countertop. Regular maintenance, using a chopping board instead of cutting directly on the surface, and cleaning up spills as soon as possible goes a long way in extending your brand new kitchen countertop’s lifespan.
In fact, go all the way and watch out for these 8 dirtiest spots in your kitchen and how to clean them. You may also pick up some extra inspiration for your future kitchen from these stylish mini Malaysian kitchens.