A story about 10 of the hottest kitchen counter-top materials, currently on the Yahoo! homepage, seems to have struck a chord with Yahoo! Homes readers. The comments section is buzzing with homeowners' accounts of their own experiences with materials like stainless steel and poured concrete.
In fact, we're finding so many of the comments useful that we thought we'd dedicate a blog post to organizing some of them, so that you don't have comb through hundreds of observations to find ones relevant to your own questions. We do acknowledge, though, that we're taking commenters at their word on their identities and experiences. Don't consider this a scientific sampling!
Feel free to add more in the comments below or on the original article.
Note: We've lightly edited these, mostly for length and grammar (though we're sure we've missed some misspellings and such). We've tried to stick to comments from people who seemed to have personal knowledge of the materials they mentioned.
"My company does restaurant interiors. Never put wood tops in a kitchen -- they move and crack, stain like crazy and are a trap for bacteria. Pewter scratches and looks [terrible] in a month. Cork stains, and it cuts too easily. Marble stains and isn't certified for food prep. Quartz is great, as is granite and stainless steel. Soapstone is OK, but slate stains too. If you can't afford those, stick with laminate -- at least you can clean it." -- Jack of All
"I have been a chef for 38 years. Stainless steel is great stuff, but I would not put it in my personal kitchen. It's too cold and institutional. I really like the poured concrete and the reclaimed wood. We remodeled an old farmhouse and the kitchen got most of the attention. Very easy to cook in. ... We had our sink molded in -- works great, and [there's] no little area between sink and back splash that gets all dirty. Corian marks easily and the sink will stain if not cleaned, but other than that it's all good." -- LRRPS SARGE
"As a former professional cook, I love stainless and butcher block but am also aware of the care required for both. For my home, I would prefer concrete -- I love natural stone but have a problem with the 10-year cycle of destruction, so concrete is perfect for me. However, I am compelled to tell potential buyers of pewter ... of the high lead content involved in pewter. If one is preparing food on a pewter/lead counter top, they are doing harm to themselves and others." -- Squeezlebot
"Most people will say they want a 'granite' counter top. Usually what they mean is they want a solid surface, durable, low-maintenance, stone-like surface. As a retired kitchen designer who catered to people who actually use their kitchens, I am rolling my eyes at a few of these options. Most people are bothered by burn marks, permanent stains, and scratches. But, hey, if you don't actually use your kitchen, they are all great options." -- Hmmm
"I'm in the counter top industry, and here is the 'real deal':
Nothing beats the beauty and color variety of granite. Many of the more common granites like Uba Tuba and Santa Cecilia are very affordable now. Granite is exceptional for counter tops because of its heat- and scratch-resistance.
Some new laminates have also come out that look very similar to granite and are good choices if you can't afford granite.
Marble on kitchen counter tops is OK; it's softer than granite and doesn't have the range of color like granite.
I can't recommend wood on the counter top if you have a busy kitchen and/or family with kids. We like to use wood in a 'wet bar' or powder bath area of the home where it doesn't see much use.
I cannot recommend cork for the same reasons; it is not as durable as the article claims.
I like quartz, but most customers will choose granite over quartz because the granite is cheaper.
Recycled glass can be very beautiful but also very expensive; none of my customers choose it.
Slate tends to flake if it's not sealed.
Metals on the counter tops are going to be like your stainless steel appliances, finger smudges, although I really do like the look of the new pewter tops.
We like soapstone and use it for sinks, but there is just no color variety for soapstone.
We don't do concrete countertops but I know the prices for concrete are similar to granite and most people just choose the granite." -- An American
"I am a contractor who has worked with each of these surfaces many times. From extremely high-end custom homes seen on TV, to small little onesie-twosie remodels, to commercial projects, I have had the privilege to be exposed to many great ideas.
Recycled glass is crazy expensive.
Concrete tops wear out near sinks and high-traffic areas.
You are not allowed to install quartz in bay windows or outside because the UV rays will change the color of the stone; plus, you cannot put hot things on it.
Stainless steel: I hope you like cleaning every time you get a glass of water or simply touch the surface. Good thing is they do not stain, but they do scratch like no other.
Cork will stain by just looking at it.
Butcher block is good, but I would not do an entire kitchen in it (island only, side decks in other surfaces).
Slate and soapstone are nice, but you are very limited in colors and it can scratch by sliding a pot on them (a light sanding can repair those scratches).
Why would you want to tiptoe around a pewter top and not use it like a normal kitchen?
Reclaimed wood is always a nice look, but like the butcher block, use it more as a accent piece.
I am sold on granite. You can use it inside, outside, you can put hot pans right from the stove directly on it. Yes, you should seal it (especially the lighter colors), but that is a simple wipe on. wipe off once every couple years. Granite has hundreds of colors to choose from averaging $17 per square foot. The surfaces can come polished, honed or leather giving you that rustic, modern or contemporary look." -- Isky
"I completely agree with [Isky, comment above]. People are not thinking about durability. These surfaces are expensive and will not last, unlike granite. I work for a granite company and we sell granite, marble, quartz, soapstone, recycled glass and more. But nothing can beat the granite, and our customers are aware of that when they purchase." -- Katrina
"As a kitchen installer for 25 years, [I find] issues with most of them. Stainless steel is the worst, always dirty and smeared-looking, and it scratches unless you never, ever use anything abrasive, so if you have a maid or kids, forget it. The best is granite by far, and it can be cleaned in a second with Windex and so many other cleaners. ... If you're single or a couple and willing to do the work, go for the others." -- Daniel
"I wouldn't have anything stainless steel again. It's anything but stainless!" -- Woody
"My parents bought their house in 1976 and it came with stainless steel countertops. They still have them and after raising 4 kids with them they still look great. They do not show fingerprints, don't stain, no noticeable scratches and don't look cold. I wish I could afford to have them." -- L.
"My church has shiny stainless counter tops. They were installed in 1940. They still look fantastic today!" -- Paige
"we had stainless in our restaurant and there is 0 chance I would have it in our home! Too hard to keep clean and always shows fingerprints and spots! No thanks I want to enjoy cooking not spend all my time cleaning! Restaurant stainless is ok since no one sees it except the inspectors and employees." -- Time To Wake Up!
"Hate my stainless appliances. Fingerprints are everywhere, all the time!" -- Heather
"If you go into a REAL gourmet kitchen, you will find that there is stainless steel all over the place. And these cooks and chefs will prepare a better meal than most of you could ever imagine. All on stainless steel." -- Jeffery
"As far as stainless, I sell appliances and would encourage anyone with stainless appliances to try the new Pledge commercial line. It is a polymer base instead of an oil base. Great shine, great clean, FAR less fingerprints!" -- Don
"I did my kitchen a few years ago. I put black granite tiles on the counter tops and they looked beautiful! Only about 350 bucks for about 20 feet of counter space made it affordable and very attractive!" -- Patrick
"I have gorgeous, dramatic granite in my kitchen, as I wanted something as a focal point. It is virtually bulletproof, and I can clean it in a hurry with just Windex. It will outlast me -- and as far as getting my investment back, kitchen remodels on average return about 67% of their cost, among the very highest remodel returns. BUT, in the meantime, I'm living with it and enjoying every minute. No matter what, walking into the kitchen improves my mood, and yes,
I get just how lucky I am." -- Lalaland
"I just spent $60K remodeling my tiny condo kitchen. I used gorgeous granite because I bake and roll pie crusts. It's beautiful and sturdy. No maintenance required. Love it!" -- Christine
"I saw a granite counter shatter when a woman put a fry pan with hot oil on it. I have also seen granite crack for no reason." -- Ctops
"Switched from ceramic tile and butcher block to granite and can't believe how much easier the granite is to keep clean." -- G
"I hate our new granite top. It dulls and breaks everything. I miss our old Formica top!!!" -- Roderick
"I love granite I have it in my kitchen for 10 yrs and still love it." -- Zaff
"After reading all this, I'm happier than ever with my granite. No worries about nicks, dings, dents, hot pots, staining, scratching. I don't care if it goes out of style, I'm in it for the long haul :)" -- Em&Jo
"Everyone here [in the comments] is talking high cost vs. low cost when dealing with laminate or granite. The truth is a single slab is expensive, but I went with granite tile. I butt-joined it and used wood that matched my counter tops for the edging. The cost was $6 a square foot. About 1/5th of a slab and it looks great." -- Truth Be Told
"Nothing has the character of reclaimed wood. I have a salvaged 6.5-foot-by-3-foot dining table made with barn nails and dowels. It has been used and used and used -- had paint and chemical spots. All imperfections blended together when I just washed it up. Now I put wet glasses, people spill on it, etc. It is one lived-on table!" -- L
"We have lived in the same house for 33 years. Built it w/butcher block counters. HATED the maintenance. Have had laminate for thirteen years. Love it. Still in great condition & I use my kitchen hard, including canning of garden produce." -- Mini Martin
"So odd, I was just about to leave to go look at granite countertops for my kitchen,and I just happened to sit at my desk computer,and this article is on my homepage. Now after reading your comments, and the article of course(i learn more from comments), I don't know if I should even worry about it. I have original butcher block laminate countertops now, and they look new even after 25 years." -- Landofcotton
"I enjoy my 'butcher block' counter top I made myself from distressed 2x4s. It is stained and sealed and looks just as good as any in [the article's] pics, and the cost was less than $100!" -- Tico
"My brother in the UK has a house that is over 400 years old and it has the original wood counter tops AND original stone floor! Looks totally fantastic!" -- Brian
"I built my center island using solid oak wood flooring as the counter top. Easy to do, cheap, and has held up great. Finish with the same oil/wax product you would use for butcher block." -- Robert
"I used a good grade of plywood, stained it, then polyurethaned it. It looks good, was cheap and will last for years." -- Rocker Gee
"My grandma's kitchen had a hardwood counter top. It was put there in 1890 and taken out with the old cabinets in the '80s. It worked very well and actually looked like an old breadboard with knife marks that my great-grandparents made. The value was second to none." -- Harlo
"My wonderful old 1,500-square-foot home is gonna be 90 years old on December 4. It's very well built, original floors with original finish, shellac -- could go on and on. The kitchen counters are the original white maple, with two little dips that I don't mind that were the little wear caused by the little old German lady probably cutting repeatedly in those spots -- maybe for her martini lemons. She was here from 1922 to 1988. These walls talk to me all the time. The counters clean to perfection. ... This place was a gift from God." -- Jo
"I like to make tables out of reclaimed wood, although I am not a expert; I just do it for fun and as a hobby. However, reclaimed wood doesn't have to be from old barns or older homes -- I use construction-site wood that's about to be thrown out, or scraps from carpenters." -- A Yahoo! User
"We once got butcher block -- and it was a big pain in the butt! Had to be extremely careful about water or wet spots and nothing hot on it -- not very user-friendly." -- Denise R
"I love my Silestone! Hot pots & pans, no problem! No scratching, no denting, no sealing! No worries! Awesome!" -- Play Fair
"Notice all the granite cleaners in stores? See any quartz cleaners? That's because quartz always looks like new, no matter what you do to it. It doesn't stain, doesn't get oily spots, doesn't scratch or burn, even Easter egg dye doesn't faze it. I LOVE my quartz countertops." -- Carlye
"The quartz you put on your counter top does not come straight from the ground like granite. Quartz is man-made and a lot of time from recycled granite. Been selling and distributing it for 10 years. And Carlye, I replace at least five quartz tops a year from staining. Everything from orange juice to actual rust. Point is, if you don't clean up your messes, it doesn't matter what you buy -- it will stain." -- JoshuaD
"For 35 years we had a laminate counter. My wife decided to remodel the kitchen and got a quartz top. The quartz is nice, but the old laminate still looked new and was a whole lot cheaper. Also, if you damage your top, it is far less expensive to replace the laminate." -- Ergo
"After 40 years of having laminate counter tops (in every home we ever had), last year we splurged on a quartz counter top when we did some kitchen remodeling. I cannot say enough good things about it. Price was decent, too: $3,535 for a peninsula that measures 37 inches by 8 ft. and a 10-foot-long counter, with one nearly invisible seam, done by a local counter top business. The price even included a double 16-gauge artisan stainless steel sink, removal and disposal of the old counter top, and reinforcing the cabinets to handle the additional weight of the quartz (the peninsula alone weighed over 400 lbs.)." -- Smitty
"We replaced our old laminate counters with quartz. Had our laminate for 20 years and were still in great shape when we redid our kitchen. I just LOVE our quartz counters. They are trouble-free. Never have to be sealed and have a beautiful shine. Yes, very expensive but well worth it." -- Susan
"I have Silestone, which has quartz in it, and it looks very nice. The home is about 6 years old. You cannot put a hot pot on top of it, but I clean it with Windex and use an inexpensive polish from Home Depot on it (one-step spray and wipe) and it looks great and wears well. Because Silestone has epoxy or resin in it, there will never be any water marks." -- CZL (who has one house with tile and one with Silestone)
"Remodeled my 1970 kitchen two years ago and LOVE LOVE LOVE the quartz counter tops!" -- Golden Dogs
"We installed quartz in our cottage and it looks great. It doesn't scratch, but it can chip. Hit it with something hard, especially along an edge, and it is pretty easy to chip out a very small piece." -- Jonathan
"Concrete needs to be resealed often and is a bigger pain ... than it's worth." -- Morgan
"I made my own counter tops from concrete. Put a black tint in it covered it with a clear acrylic and it looks great. It's also so heavy you don't need to fasten it down. Cost is extremely cheap. I used about nine bags of quick crete. Spent less than $400. Now I move on to the cabinets. A little bit of work but worth it." -- lyaayas
"My kitchen has over 100 square feet of counter top so for uniformity, I used concrete. Stained it mottled brown/cafe to match the walnut cabinets and copper vent hood. The look is great but more importantly in a busy kitchen it is seriously functional with low maintenance. Cost ($65/sq ft) is a bit more than granite but upkeep and look makes it worth three times the cost of granite." -- Flag P
"My son is a contractor, and because we did the work ourselves, splurged a tad on the kitchen reno. Got a concrete counter top in a classic look, can't tell it's not granite, and it's beautiful." -- Ladybug
"Polished concrete? I had it on the floor of my loft. Showed every speck of dust. I had to sweep almost daily. Polish came off in about six months, even lightly trodden areas. I'm sticking to affordable laminate for counters, because it lasts for years and doesn't go out of style among my budget-conscious friends." -- Greg
"You can DIY concrete counter tops; all you need to build is a wooden box as your mold. Don't mess around with sealing, though. Research, research, research." -- Amanda
"My aunt and uncle have poured concrete countertops and they're really easy to clean and useful. With the whitewash cabinets it also has this beautiful clean look -- love it!" -- Krista McCall
"One thing new I have learned: Colored concrete NEVER comes out the way you think it will. Each time, each batch, is a crapshoot." -- None
"I poured my own concrete counter top four years ago and stained it and people thought I was crazy. It looks great to this day and gets better with age, just like the article says. Funny how the world of snobby fashion goes." -- Sinister
"I did the poured concrete thing--looks absolutely gorgeous. White cabinets, Gray counter top, and dark wood flooring in my kitchen. Wouldn't have it any other way." -- LaurenM
"I just put soapstone in a house I am rebuilding for a client. Never again. Too soft [and] not soaking up oil like they said it would. Too high-maintenance." -- Tired Of It
"I had soapstone for five years. Hated it. Never looked clean and every water drop/ring or speck of dampness left a mark. Oiling a pain, never again." -- CLL
"We put soapstone tile on ours when we remodeled our kitchen two years ago. It is cheaper than a slab as soapstone is pricey. You set the tiles as close as possible together then fill with epoxy that is tinted black. Oil it every once in a while with mineral oil and you are done! The only issue is that it is soft so it can scratch pretty easily, but it is heat-resistant and nonporous." -- Aimee R
"We remodeled our kitchen three years ago. Put in soapstone counter tops. Love them. You can put hot pans on them. Nothing special required to clean them." -- Patricia
"I have a quartz and recycled glass counter top. It is easy care, can be used to chop things on, doesn't stain and you can put hot items on it without worry. I love it!!" -- Rita
"I love the idea of recycled glass counter tops. It's green, it's relatively affordable, and it's so customizable (in terms of color). I'm giving some thought to redoing my kitchen and I'd like red-toned recycled glass counter tops and white cabinetry. While I understand that these choices may not do much for my home value, it's my own enjoyment that I'm considering. And after seeing the mock-up of my kitchen, I think I will be very pleased. ... Doing granite for my entire kitchen would cost about $8,000. The recycled glass counter tops will run me about $5,500, and that's even with the custom color. Maybe the price difference is because I'm working directly with a manufacturer rather than going through a dealer." -- A Yahoo! User
"I've got laminate. Had it for 20 years and it still looks like new. I cut on it, put hot pots on it and it has no cuts or burns. And there's very little -- if any -- upkeep. Can these new counter tops claim the same?" -- MarilynB
"I love to cook. I must have a countertop that, after being abused for several years, is cheaper and easier to replace than any of the above options. It's laminate for me, from the salvage store. I always find nice stuff that gives my countertops a new look, and it doesn't break the bank." -- Blueyes
"I love my 40+-year-old white Formica with gold specks -- still looks good. It's all in the care. Many meals made on them over the years. Look good with real wood white cabinets and black-and-white tile floor. I think they call it retro now." -- John
"The same laminate counter tops have been in my current house since it was built in 1964. They still look brand-new. When people come over, they all love my retro kitchen. I wanted to change them but am waiting for them to show their age." -- Alice
"I used to hate laminate, but that's mainly because of the ugly styles from the '70s and '80s. I just remodeled my kitchen (for under $5,000) and the laminate looks just like granite complete with minor pits and flecks." -- A Yahoo! User
"Did over the kitchen a few years ago and ran into major problems which blew our budget. Ended up using laminate with beveled edges and vinyl wood panel flooring. The beveled edges make the laminate look like granite and unless you actually get on the floor, you cannot tell it isn't wood. I had an aunt do that because she didn't believe us." -- J
"The laminate in my home has been there since it was built in 1982. Outdated, yes, but still looks good considering it has been there 30 years. Those of you [commenters] saying [laminate] will last only five years, etc.: nonsense. Makes me question what the heck you do on your counter tops! I do plan to renovate my kitchen, and I may very well opt out of laminate, but to say it is ugly, cheap, or doesn't last long is complete rubbish." -- ShutUpMeg
"I have laminate countertops that look like slate! Beautiful and super easy to take care of!" -- Paula
"IKEA wood grain laminate looks awesome in our kitchen." -- Tammy
"Always interesting to see what the 'trends' are, but I use my kitchen heavily. ... I have a high-quality Formica and it looks great and won't cost me a fortune to update when I get bored, or to maintain. You need to use what is right for your budget, not what someone says is the thing to do, since that's how we got in this housing mess." -- Mom
"When we had an addition built including super-size kitchen, I went with laminate that is a close match to the ceramic wall tile we had [elsewhere]. That was over 13 years ago and the laminate is in impeccable condition. If and when I decide I'm tired of the look, I can afford to replace it, whereas I wouldn't be able to afford to replace granite. Most [visitors] are impressed by how warm and welcoming our kitchen and home are." -- Kim
"I have laminate counter tops that are over 25 years old and still going strong. The newer, very expensive counter tops are a result of people buying into all the marketing/design hype." -- Abby
"Laminate is the way to go. I can re-laminate the tops with Wilsonart Laminate myself for about $600 in material, and the rental of a router. To do the same in granite would cost over $5,000. It's not hard to DIY. Lots of videos online to help." -- Steve
"Twenty years after moving into the home we had built, it is time to remodel the kitchen. My ceramic floor, which my husband said would last 100 years, has small gouges and cracks in it. The woodwork on my top-of-the-line custom cabinets is worn and chipped, and the handles on them are in disrepair. I have already had to replace my double oven, refrigerator, stove and dishwasher. The only thing that is still good -- and in perfect shape -- is our laminate counter top, which is slightly textured to look like stone. We figured the counter top would be the first to go, since that is where we skimped. Go figure." -- Judy
"We refaced our old laminate for the fraction of replacement and it looks great. One-day installation with a three-step eco-friendly spray-on system." -- Steve W
"I grew up with laminate counter tops and saw all the damage and wear and tear done to them -- i.e., buckling, chipping on the edges, scratches, stains, etc. I think my mom had to replace the counter tops about three times." -- Lockness
"I did a tile counter top with black grout. You can put whatever you want on it and will not hurt it a bit. I 'seal' the grout once a year. I have a tile back splash too with a design on it. LOW maintenance. I 'rounded' the counter top, so not any sharp edges." -- Shawn
"Nothing beats porcelain or ceramic tile. It cleans easily, resists stains and can be replaced/repaired." -- Buck (who just so happens to be a tile installer)
"My countertops are ceramic tile and I love them. They are long-lasting, don't absorb food or stains, and come in endless variety. The only downside is that the grout lines DO absorb stains and have to be sealed." -- Mary Sue
"I would love to have either granite or quartz , plus a 14-by-14 section of marble for candy making. When we did a cheap remodel of our kitchen seven years ago I opted for tile. I've wished ever since that I had spent the extra money for the upgrade." -- Susan D
"I like the look of large tiles with small grout lines. I have a home with 6-inch white tiles, and it still looks great after 24 years. I bought a steam cleaner years ago and clean the grout with that and apply a sealer. I have Silestone in another house and it looks nice and cleans easily, but I cannot set a hot pot on it like I can on tile. ... The only thing that I don't like about tile is that I cannot roll dough out and cut cookies because it's not a smooth, flat surface due to grout lines. Tile looks very nice though. I have a large marble slab for rolling dough and working with candy. Pain in the butt to lug out, but it does the trick." -- CZL
"Have redone nearly everything except the kitchen, which is underway. I have looked at counter tops for a l-o-n-g time and found problems with nearly all, so I chose good ol' ceramic, which looks great. New grout does not stain or discolor. Heat-resistant, beautiful and not expensive. What's not to love?" -- Tellitlikeitis
"I like Corian tops. I was able to install one when I was young. I made templates to be absolutely sure of the angle cuts lining up. In those days everything was nearly off-white but nowadays there is a very wide selection. Our kitchen is heavily used." -- Jethro
"We have had off-white Corian counter tops for 22 years, and they are still wonderful! Stains come off quickly with scouring powder and it is about as carefree as it gets." -- Carolyn
"I put in less expensive Corian and it looks great, cheap and easy to clean, and with the money I saved, I can eat out and go on vacation! Most of my neighbors have very expensive granite and such but I could care less about keeping up with the Joneses!" -- Kelly
"I had a Corian-like product (Hi-Max) put on my counter tops. All one piece -- no seams. Scratches can be buffed out. Best stuff for counter tops." -- WendyA
"One of the counter top materials that was not mentioned was Corian. It is a solid material that does not take sealing and if damaged it can be sanded down and buffed. I love it. When you use counter cleaner it has a great patina. ... I have laminate in a kitchenette downstairs. Looks good and does the job. If and when I decide to sell, I will upgrade that, but just for buyer's sake." -- Susan
"I suffered for 20 years with yellowed tile and ghastly grout, then finally did Corian in blue in 1995. Still is bee-you-teeful." -- Patricia
"Recycled paper, such as PaperStone, is environmentally friendly, durable, very affordable, and looks great. That's what's being installed in my kitchen in just the next couple of months." -- Joseph
"I would add one more material, 'composite surface.' Mine is made by PaperStone and is made from 100% post-consumer recycled paper and natural resins, so sustainable and environmentally friendly. It is very, very hard but warm to the touch as well as easy to maintain. I have it in my kitchen, now three years old, and just love it." -- Seejay
"With black cabinets being all the rage lately, we spent $20 on a gallon of satin black paint and $700 on stop-sign-red counters and wow, what a change. Good to go for another five years." -- Robert