6 Leading Kitchen Island Surfaces Pros & Cons List

6 Leading Kitchen Island Surfaces: Pros & Cons List

If you’re shopping for a kitchen island or planning to replace a worn island top, there’s a wide range of kitchen island surfaces to consider. Granite, quartz, limestone, laminate, butcher block, and stainless steel are just a few options that are likely on your shortlist of options. For the pros and cons of each island surface type, read on!


Kitchen Island Ideas for Granite Countertops


If modern and contemporary kitchens are your bag of tea – or perhaps the ideal surface for a steaming cup of tea – then granite is surely on your list for a kitchen countertop. Incredibly unique in both color and texture and always 100%, unlike any other, granite is a very strong pick for homeowners today.

Granite Pros & Cons

With beauty, durability, and class in mind, granite is a strong choice. But here are a few other factors to consider when making your pick:

Pros:


  • Granite is a beautiful, natural material that resists heat, cuts, and scratches.
  • When properly sealed, granite resists most food stains.
  • A granite slab with veining or in a rare color will cost more, but it will certainly be more unique.


Cons:


  • A high-end granite surface can be costly.
  • Despite its strong veneer, granite is extremely porous.
  • Be sure to prevent permanent stains by periodically resealing the surface.

Pro Tip: The most expensive granite colors are neutrals – brown, cream, or beige. Consider other color options to save money.

Quartz Countertops

In many kitchens, quartz is currently the “toast of the town” right beside its contemporary, granite. Unlike granite, quartz is not porous, which makes it more sanitary and lower maintenance, which naturally appeals to many homeowners.

Quartz Pros & Cons

Next to granite and butcher’s block, it’s common to see quartz countertops in some of your favorite home remodeling shows. Quartz is made from a blend of minerals, color, and resin.

Pros:


  • Quartz is available in a wide range of colors and blends that resemble marble and granite.
  • Hot pans, serrated knives, and surface stains have little to no impact on quartz.
  • Wine, oil, coffee, and other notorious stain creators won’t stain quartz-like they will with untreated granite.


Cons:


  • If a corner or edge chips, it will need to be repaired by a professional.
  • While it is heat resistant, quartz is not heat-proof. It is known to tolerate temperatures up to 150 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Though highly scratch-resistant, dark and tight-grained quartz can scratch – and if they do, it’s tough to fix.

Pro Tip: Choose a round-edge top to prevent chips.

Limestone Countertops

Formed from calcium carbonate, limestone is a natural and rather common rock that forms from mineral solidification. While limestone is generally off-white or even pure white, it can be brown, gray, red, beige, ivory, or even yellow.

Limestone Pros & Cons

Since limestone is so bountiful, especially in the Americas and Europe, it’s common to see limestone in construction across the spectrum of residential and commercial applications.

Pros:

  • One of the most popular kitchen island materials, natural limestone has an elegant appearance, but without the veining of granite or marble.
  • Limestone surfaces are heat-resistant.
  • With distinctive texture due to its porous nature, some people prefer this type of aesthetic.

Cons:

 
  • Limestone scratches far more easily than granite or quartz so some stains may be difficult to remove which means that it may not be a good choice for an active family and you should keep looking for other kitchen island ideas.
  • Care will need to be taken to maintain the beauty of limestone – do not leave hot pans sitting on the surface and be careful with sharp kitchen tools.
  • As a pliable stone, it’s not only less scratch-resistant but also more susceptible to color change.

Laminate Countertops

For luxury and “forever” homes, laminate is a less popular pick. However, modern advances in laminate have changed the commercial landscape for this material. Often bonded to particleboard or some other supporting surface, laminate is actually layers of plastic; making it less expensive and in exchange, arguably less luxurious.

Laminate Pros & Cons

Since laminate is plastic, it does have a lot of versatility for dubbing as other countertop surfaces, such as faux-granite or even stainless steel.

Pros:


  • Budget-friendly and easy to install, a laminate surface is perfect for a growing family that has little time for kitchen duties.
  • Intriguing new colors, patterns, and stone-look surfaces have recently been introduced.
  • Laminate is tough – stain-resistant and heat-resistant. If it’s been a while since you’ve looked at laminate, you may want to take a second look.

Cons:


  • Due to its popularity and low cost, laminate won’t add to the resale value of your home.
  • Cutting directing on the surface with a kitchen knife or other sharp tool will damage laminate, so it’s best to use a cutting board.

Pro Tip: A new laminate surface can be easily installed over an existing, old laminate top.

Wood and Butcher Block Countertops


For many, the warmth and beauty of a natural wood top can’t be beaten. From the texture to the warm tones, it gives any home a warmer and more natural essence. While beautiful, you can expect to sand and refinish butcher block roughly every 10 to 20 years depending on the nature of use. An occasional application of mineral oil will also help to keep the surface in good condition.

Butcher Block Pros & Cons

Pros:


  • Butcher block is easy to install and repair.
  • A properly sealed butcher block top will prevent food stains from seeping into the wood.
  • Knife nicks and scratches will inevitably occur, but these imperfections can be easily sanded away.
  • New and quality butcher block countertops are generally considered a selling point for a home.


Cons:


  • Natural wood is porous and will absorb moisture which means that spills should be wiped up quickly.
  • The surface will require refinishing between every 10 to 20 years depending on how frequently, and what you specifically use your countertops for. This involves sanding the old finish and then applying a new protective coating.

Pro Tip: Varnish a butcher block top to stop stains from penetrating the surface.

Stainless Steel Countertops

Stainless steel is arguably a victim of its own success decades earlier. Clean, sleek, and modern, stainless steel has debatably waned in popularity outside of industrial and commercial applications when it comes to countertops. (Appliances are another story, as this is the most common residential use of stainless.) However, trends do tend to ebb and flow and it’s doubtful that stainless steel’s best days are behind it. Even today, if you’re looking for a kitchen island surface that is modern, sleek, and shiny, stainless steel will fit the bill. The shiny surface will readily show smudges and fingerprints, however, so a more frequent wipe down may be necessary.

Stainless Steel Pros & Cons

Pros:


  • Stainless steel is nearly indestructible and virtually maintenance-free which is why it’s used in most commercial kitchens.
  • Stainless steel has a hygienic, non-porous surface which means that germs, bacteria, and mildew won’t take hold. It is highly resistant to the big three problems – heat, stains, and moisture. A hot kitchen pan can be left on the surface without damaging it.
  • Stainless steel doesn’t stain – making it perfect for families with kids who like to help out.


Cons:


  • Like most surfaces, steel can be marred by sharp objects. Luckily, any scratches give the stainless steel an attractive soft patina, over time.
  • Stainless steel may be dented by heavy objects. Some small dents and dings are natural to acquire, over time. The steel gauge you choose will affect the amount of dents. The thinner the steel, the more susceptible the surface will be to ‘bruising’.
  • Minimize dents by asking your countertop professional to install stainless steel over a hardwood base.

Pro Tip: Choose a stainless steel top that is manufactured in one piece, with the sink attached. A smooth transition between the countertop and sink means easier clean-up. For more on stainless, check out our “Stainless Steel Kitchen Island Guide"

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