Countertops aren’t just about aesthetics; they’re the workhorses of your kitchen. Whether you’re whipping up a gourmet meal, hosting a family get-together, or simply preparing daily snacks, the surface you choose plays an influential role.

It’s more than just selecting a beautiful slab—it’s about functionality, durability, and aligning with your lifestyle. This article will help you explore the different options available so you can identify the perfect countertop for your Madison kitchen remodel.

Key Questions to Ask Yourself When Selecting Kitchen Countertops

But before looking at the different materials and their pros and cons, here are some initial questions to consider that will help you in your decision-making.


How will you use your countertops?

Your countertop’s primary function depends on your regular kitchen activities. If you have a family with children, especially teens, the countertops you choose will likely endure constant use – from everyday family meals and frequent snack preparation to coffee chats and dinner parties.

It’s therefore important to consider both aesthetics and practicality when choosing a countertop material. Rigorous daily use will require durability and resistance to food stains, heat, and scratches.

How much maintenance/upkeep can you handle?

Countertop maintenance can range from minimal intervention to periodic treatments that take time, effort, and sometimes money. While some materials are highly resilient to daily wear and tear, others require consistent care.

Porous surfaces like marble, limestone, and granite often demand yearly sealing to preserve their beauty. Wood countertops, for instance, might need semi-annual treatments with specialist oils.

It’s essential to bear these requirements in mind when selecting materials. With careful planning, you can strike a balance between upkeep demands and the aesthetics you’re looking to enjoy.

What are your kitchen requirements?

When planning your new kitchen counterspace, it’s crucial to understand the space you have available. A good place to start is by determining the linear feet of the countertop you’ll need, noting any non-standard dimensions specific to your kitchen’s layout.

These details allow you to gauge approximate costs for different materials. When it comes to design and budget, you might think about ways to mix and match materials. For example, an island might feature a wood top that would contrast beautifully with marble or granite countertops elsewhere in the kitchen.

What’s your budget?

Kitchen countertops are available at a wide range of prices, from a modest $22 per square foot for basic laminate to a lavish $250 for premium marble or granite. However, when choosing, it’s usually best to focus on the countertop’s potential longevity.

A cheaper material might not hold up so well to general wear than a more expensive alternative, which won’t be as cost-effective in the long term. A superior butchers block might surpass the price of entry-level granite, so it’s also important to judge durability and quality based on each individual product.

What is your design aesthetic?

Your personal design preferences and those of your family play a significant role in your countertop decisions. As already mentioned, balancing both practicality and aesthetics is essential when choosing suitable materials, especially in such a functional and often-used environment.

For example, if you love red wine and have your heart set on white Carrara marble, you might be hesitant about potential red wine stains. In this instance, alternatives like Quartzite offer comparable beauty, durability, and low maintenance at a more affordable price point.

The material you ultimately choose depends on how you intend to use the kitchen as much as on the countertop’s visual appeal.

Popular Kitchen Countertop Materials and their Pros and Cons

Now let’s look in more detail at some of the most popular kitchen countertop materials and their benefits and drawbacks.


A blend of natural quartz and resin, quartz countertops are both stylish and resilient. They’re non-porous, which means they are resistant to stains without needing sealing. With a consistent appearance, they’re less varied than natural stones, but their engineered nature offers a broad design palette. While tough against scratches, they can be pricey.

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Quartzite and other Natural Stone

Quartzite is a hard metamorphic rock with an undeniable natural charm and beauty. It’s highly resistant to heat and scratches but does require sealing to prevent stains. While durable, it can be costly. Other natural stones like soapstone and limestone offer unique aesthetics but vary in maintenance and durability.


Granite countertops exude luxury and longevity. As a natural stone, each slab boasts a unique pattern, adding character to your kitchen. Its hard surface resists scratches, and when sealed properly, it’s impervious to most stains. While it’s a pricier option, its visual appeal and long lifespan justify the investment for many homeowners. With a plethora of color options, it can fit various design aesthetics.



Cherished for its unique veining and luminous appearance, marble has become a hallmark of luxury. However, marble is naturally porous, making it prone to stains, especially from acidic substances. Regular sealing is essential to preserve its pristine look, but even then, it remains vulnerable to etching. While marble requires dedicated care and attention, its unparalleled elegance makes it a popular countertop choice.

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Butchers Block

Butchers block countertops bring a warm, rustic charm to kitchens, adding a tactile quality that’s both functional and visually appealing. Made from various wood pieces bonded together, they offer a resilient surface for direct chopping and food preparation. Regular maintenance, such as oiling, is necessary to prevent drying and cracking. You can also sand down the surface to remove scratches.

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Bespoke and versatile, concrete can be tailored in shape, color, and finish to match a desired kitchen design scheme. While heat-resistant, concrete is porous, which means it needs regular sealing to prevent stains and moisture damage. Over time, minor cracks may appear. With proper care, it can serve as a sleek and durable statement piece in a variety of kitchen styles.


Porcelain countertops offer a blend of elegance and resilience. Manufactured from refined clay fired at high temperatures, they provide an ultra-durable surface resistance to scratches, UV rays, staining, bacterial growth, and heat. Available in an array of colors, designs, and finishes, porcelain can emulate natural stone, wood, or even cement finishes. One drawback is that heavy impacts can chip the material.

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Laminate countertops, often associated with brands like Formica, offer a budget-friendly option with a vast range of designs and patterns. Though they’ve sometimes been viewed as less upscale, modern laminates have evolved to mimic the appearance of stone, wood, and other natural materials. They’re durable, easy to clean, and resistant to stains, but they can be susceptible to heat and sharp objects.

Undecided which countertop material is best for your home kitchen? That’s where our team of kitchen design experts can help you.

Work with a Design Build Remodeling Specialist in Madison, WI

At Sweeney Design Remodel of Madison, WI, we’ve been helping homeowners create the homes of their dreams since 1954, including essential repairs and maintenance.

As one of the most trusted names in remodeling, we ensure fantastic results for every project we complete. Our 4-step design-build methodology seamlessly integrates both the design and build elements of a project.

Our experienced and friendly team guides homeowners through a proprietary design-build process where customers remain informed, engaged, and 100% satisfied. We can do the same with you.

Take a look at our special approach to kitchen and home remodels, sign up for our newsletter, and reach out to us directly. We look forward to discussing how we can help you achieve the perfect home.