Guide to Kitchen Countertops

Yes, your kitchen countertop needs to look beautiful (we know it’ll serve as the background when you Instagram that pie you just made).
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But, it also needs to be tough, stain-proof, scratch-proof, heat-proof, clumsy guest-proof, kid-proof, and virtually indestructible. You don’t want to be that person telling everybody at your cocktail party to use a coaster.


And you don’t want to run into any counter-related renovation mishaps, either. Like, you order a carefully-selected, one-of-a-kind slab of granite, only to have the wrong one delivered (or have it crack en route to you). Or your contractor’s counter measurements are off by an inch, and now the sink you’ve paid for doesn’t fit and you have to find a new one. Or you shell out for a marble countertop, then break in your new kitchen with a glass of lemonade, spill a little—and suddenly you’ve got a scratched, etched counter on your hands.


The good news is you can have nice things. And, because we want your kitchen to last, you can have nice things that do their jobs, too. Skipp’s countertop options are carefully selected for their durability and design worthiness, so you literally can’t go wrong. You’re welcome.


Kitchen Counter Materials


What kind of countertop to choose? We’ve narrowed the options to three hard-working, good-looking materials.


Engineered Quartz


Engineered Quartz Countertop


Skipp offers Caesarstone, Daltile, and other brands that are sometimes called “quartz”, but they’re actually engineered quartz, made of up to 93% super-strong quartz bits and coloring mixed with polymer resins to bind it all together. The final product is super strong and dense, and designed to be nick-, scratch-, and chip-resistant. And because engineered quartz counters are non-porous, they’re stain- and spill-proof, easy to clean, and require no maintenance to keep them looking good: no sealing, no staining, no need to be too careful.


Plus, quartz countertops come in nearly every color and pattern imaginable. Love the look of marble? You can get this surface to look just like it. What about concrete? That too.


🧰 Pro Tip: Engineered quartz counters can take just about anything you throw at them, including heat: They can handle anything up to 300 degrees Fahrenheit. (Setting a pan down right out of the oven? Use a trivet.)


Paper Composite


Paper Composite Countertop


Paper kitchen countertops sound like they’d be a pulpy, gross mess. But PaperStone—a paper composite countertop made of 100 percent post-consumer recycled paper mixed with pigment and resins, then compressed and heated—is super strong, durable, water-resistant, non-porous, non-toxic, and incredibly eco-friendly, too. It’s available in a variety of neutral tones and colors, and you can treat counters with mineral oil to prevent staining and maintain moisture. Just be careful using soap on them—alkaline soap can dull the color.


🧰 Pro Tip: “Paper composite counters are warm to the touch and take on a matte patina that is really beautiful,” says Malachi Connolly, principal architect of Malachi Connolly Design. They can scratch, he adds, "although those scratches can be buffed out with a rag and whatever prescribed solvent the manufacturer provides.”


Butcher Block


Butcher Block Countertop


Butcher block—cuts of wood adhered together into one surface—not only adds a rustic, organic look to the kitchen, it’s friendly to use, too. Wood countertops are more forgiving if you happen to drop a dish or glass on them. You can cut fruits and vegetables right on butcher block, so long as you give it a good wipe-down afterwards. Your butcher block counters will require a little TLC in the form of twice-yearly oiling to keep them from cracking; every once in a while, you can gently sand out any nicks and scratches. “Butcher block can definitely stain and get marked up over time, but that’s always part of the bargain with wood,” says Connolly. 


Some of the most common woods used to make butcher block are oak, maple, cherry, walnut, and birch. The most important thing to keep in mind, besides looks and tone? Walnut, American cherry, red oak, and birch tend to be softer, therefore prone to indentations and scratches, while Brazilian cherry, white oak, and maple are harder—good if you want them to stand up to more wear and tear. And while price varies depending on the type, cut, and thickness of the counters you choose, butcher block is generally wallet-friendly.


💰 Money-Saving Tip: For butcher block on a budget, go for edge-grain: It’s less expensive than face-grain and end-grain, with all the practicality and warmth.


Kitchen Counter Colors


Kitchen Countertop Colors


What color kitchen countertops to choose? No pressure but—along with cabinets, flooring, and paint—your countertops will be one of the defining design elements of your kitchen. A bit of advice? Generally speaking, light-toned counters look crisp and bright, though they tend to show crumbs. Butcher block mixes well with cooler, harder materials like stone and brass, while patterned countertops like Caesarstone help camouflage any little stains. And a darker-toned counter adds drama to white- or light-colored cabinets, but can show smudges and fingerprints of its own, too.


Special Design Elements


Backsplashes


Kitchen Backsplash


For a streamlined look, where possible, opt for a backsplash in the same material as the countertop. It’ll make your kitchen look cohesive—and help protect your walls, too.


Waterfall Countertops


Kitchen Waterfall Countertop


Waterfall counters—where the countertop material “cascades” vertically down the side of the cabinets or island to the floor—is a luxe, dramatic look that stands the test of time. It looks super high-end—but, when done with paper composite, Caesarstone, or even butcher block—it doesn’t have to come with a high-end price tag.


Integrated Drainboards


Integrated Drainboard with Sink


Here’s a case where a little forward thinking can create a kitchen that works harder for you. With an integrated drainboard—grooves carved right into the countertop beside your sink—drips and runoff from wet, clean dishes run right into the sink. No more bulky dish racks or soggy towels.


Hold On. Why Doesn’t Skipp Offer Marble?


Kitchen with Countertops


You might be wondering why we haven’t talked about marble, soapstone, and granite here. There’s a reason, and it has to do with our mission to select the best, most quality options out of a dizzying sea of choices.


Caesarstone, Daltile, PaperStone, and butcher block are time- and toughness-tested, built to handle just about every mess and mishap you can throw at them, with minimal upkeep—so, unlike high-maintenance, easily-stained, -etched, and -chipped natural stone, they’ll always look like new. Engineered surfaces and butcher block have none of the harmful off-gassing that laminate installations can have, and are reliable and predictable, so you know exactly what you’re getting, looks-wise—no unwanted surprises when it arrives in your kitchen. 


Most importantly, the countertops we offer are more eco-friendly than slabs of natural stone. They’re made of natural, renewable materials (butcher block), leftover bits and pieces of stone (engineered quartz), and recycled goods (paper composite). And unlike a countertop material like concrete, which contributes to about eight percent of the world’s CO2 emissions, engineered and butcher block counters have a low carbon footprint; PaperStone, for example, is always made in the US. And Skipp works only with fabricators who have demonstrable health and safety standards for their workers, so you know you’re getting countertops that are environmentally conscious, long-lasting, and design-forward.


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