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The 4 Best Kitchen Countertop Materials for the Money

The 4 Best Kitchen Countertop Materials for the Money

If you are in the thick of a kitchen remodel and exploring the best countertops for your unique needs, price point and aesthetic, you don’t want to miss this post. Today, I am narrowing down all of the overwhelming material options and only sharing the most durable, beautiful and affordable types of countertops…

In terms of kitchen design, aside from cabinetry, counter materials will most likely be your biggest monetary investment (at least this has always been the case for me).

stylish and affordable kitchen countertop ideas

And while it is relatively feasible to successfully bargain hunt for light fixtures, rugs and even hardware, when selecting finishes for something as hardworking as a prep and work surface, you really don’t want price (or even looks) to be the sole determining factor in your final decision.

So with that said, you can rest assured knowing that I have made the following material selections based not only on price per square foot and visual aesthetics, but on durability and functionality as well. This is why you won’t be seeing marble countertops on this list despite the fact that they take my breath away (cue the 1980’s synthesizer).

Without any more cheesy attempts at humor, I present to you the best types of materials to consider for your new kitchen countertops..

1. Quartz Countertops-

most affordable kitchen countertops

Once I was finally able to replace the dated kitchen countertops back at my 1980’s rancher after saving up the funds for what felt like ages, I ultimately went with Silestone quartz.

While I loved the look of marble, after doing my due diligence, I learned that the porous material was not forgiving of wine stains (which was an absolute hell no for this here wino). Marble is also considered a softer stone than this engineered stone and not quite as indestructible.

Wanting something predominately white with grey veining, quartz offered a wide variety of such color options while also being stain resistant, durable and a little more easy on the wallet than marble. Although I had also considered granite countertops, I was never able to find a granite that had the veining like quartz and marble.

quartz that looks like marble

And while quartz can range anywhere from $50-$200 per square foot (sometimes pricier than granite), I was able to get this slab for $65 a square foot from Home Depot. While this particular slab is typically around $90 per square foot (the slabs that look like marble are typically on the higher end of the price spectrum), I lucked out and got it when they were running a sale.

After almost five years of use and abuse, I can attest to the durability and low- maintenance selling points of quartz. Even better? When it came time to sell my home, the new countertops contributed to the increased property value of my home.

durable kitchen countertops on a budget

To stay within a pretty tight budget, I only replaced the counters on my kitchen island and bar (the perimeter remained in a lower-end, speckled looking quartz).

While quartz is said to be less heat resistant than natural stones like granite, marble and quartzite, I never found it to be an issue. That being said, although I was always pretty careful to use a trivet under hot pans in my kitchen, as for my bathroom, I left a curling iron on my quartz counters once and never noticed any burn marks (don’t test this out for yourself!).

best countertops for the money
Studio McGee

To determine if quartz is the best choice for your needs, I have included a list of pros and cons below.

Pros of Quartz:

  • many color options and veining available
  • practically indestructible
  • no maintenance required
  • scratch and stain resistant
  • somewhat heat resistant
  • non-porous

Cons of Quartz:

  • manmade and not as unique as real stone
  • not as heat resistant as granite or other natural stone countertops
  • depending on the slab, can be more expensive than granite

2. Granite Countertops-

stylish and budget-friendly kitchen countertops inspiration
The Lifestyled Co.

If synthetic materials are not your vibe or you simply prefer a material than can endure high temperatures more so than quartz, you may want to consider granite.

Now… I know that granite has gotten a really bad wrap from the questionable design choices of the early 2000’s, but it has come quite a long way in recent years.

In fact, in the beautiful “dirty kitchen” designed by The Lifestyled Co. (photo above), I am loving how the black granite counters (Black Mist Honed to be exact) really add a modern pop to the space. If you aren’t dead set on a veiny, marble look, when properly sealed and cared for, granite can be both cost-effective (typically around $40-60 per square foot) and durable.

modern affordable countertops for kitchen
aaNovo Design + Build / Sarah Shields Photo

If you love the look of black soapstone but prefer something more scratch-resistant, honed varieties of black and grey granites (like on the island in the photo above) may prove to be the winning material for your contemporary kitchen. To see if granite is right for you, be sure to read the following summary…

Pros of Granite:

  • more heat resistant than quartz and other natural stones
  • natural stone
  • can be more cost-effective than quartz, marble and quartzite
  • once sealed, non-porous

Cons of Granite:

  • requires some maintenance/must be properly sealed
  • does not have the veining of marble or quartz (only a speckled look)

3. Wood Countertops-

most affordable kitchen counter ideas

If budget is your biggest concern, you really can’t go wrong with timeless and cost-effective wood counters..especially if you aren’t afraid of DIY projects. For under $50, I was able to build these DIY wood countertops in my butler pantry (pictured above).

And while pre-fabricated butcher block has gotten a little pricier in recent years ($30-$50 per square foot), it still proves to be a bit more affordable than stone or laminate countertops as this material is easy to install yourself- forgoing installation fees.

Just be aware that wood counters do require regular maintenance and are not very forgiving of scratch marks and stains. With time, they can also sometimes appear dull.

best budget-friendly countertop ideas for kitchens
Jean Stoffer Design

Pros of Wood Counters:

  • budget friendly
  • you can install yourself
  • timeless look
  • food safe (if you seal with food-safe oil)

Cons of Wood Counters:

  • stains and scratches easily
  • high- maintenance (requires regular sealing)

4. Quartzite Countertops-

stylish and durable kitchen countertop ideas on low-budget

If you just can’t shake the high-end vibes of marble, but prefer not to go with a composite material like quartz (because of course you deserve the real thing, boo), quartzite is a natural stone which comes in many different types of colors and patterns.

When sealed properly, it is more heat resistant and durable than marble (not to mention it typically costs less).

While many quartzite slabs can be more expensive than quartz and granite, it really all just depends on the slab you choose. My friend was actually able to get her quartzite counters for less than my quartz (and hers are beautiful). So don’t be afraid to shop around!

Helpful Tip: If durability is of the upmost importance to you, be careful not to unknowingly select a soft quartzite (not all slabs are created equally)! Communicate with your stone fabricator that you want a true, hard quartzite.

best kitchen counter material for the money
Studio McGee

Pros of Quartzite:

  • can mimic marble
  • real stone
  • heat resistant
  • as long as it’s properly sealed, more forgiving and durable than marble

Cons of Quartzite:

  • sometimes labeling can be deceptive (be sure you are getting a true quartzite slab)
  • must be properly sealed
  • depending on slab, can be more expensive than quartz or granite

At the end of the day, the cost required for any of the listed materials will depend greatly upon the square footage needed and the actual slab you choose (certain patterns are more costly than others and materials like quartzite vary pretty significantly in price). This is why I would advise you to actually start visiting local stone fabricators and comparing quotes now that you are more informed about each of the materials.

I hope today’s information has taken most of the guesswork out of the process and helped determine the right countertop material for your unique needs and preferences.

My home improvement goals for this year involve new kitchen countertops for my lake cottage, so I hope to be sharing some slab reviews with you in the near future (I am leaning towards quartz or quartzite).

Thank you so much for stopping by and spending some time with me. If you found this post helpful, could you please pay it forward and share it with a friend or on social media? ….

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stylish and budget-friendly counter materials for a kitchen

Now get out there and design some good vibes along with a fabulous life!



My journey in interior design and home improvement began with transforming my first fixer-upper home, all while managing a budget and raising two young boys. My work, a reflection of my passion for creating beautiful, uplifting spaces, has been recognized by top publications like Better Homes and Gardens Magazine, HGTV, and more. I invite you to explore my site and witness the transformation of my home and the vibes we've designed.Read more...