Thinking of renovating your kitchen soon? It might be hard to pick the right choices, especially when it comes to finding the best kitchen surfaces for your upcoming renovation. Marble countertops have been a favorite for years, and reasonably so. Marble is a natural stone with a high price tag that looks amazing and provides a “clean”, timeless look for your kitchen. Everyone will tell you how amazing marble is, but only a few will mention the drawbacks of these highly praised countertops.
White marble with light gray veining. White marble is one of the most expensive materials for your kitchen surfaces, and the whiter the marble, the higher the price.
Why is marble so popular?
Since marble is a natural stone, and not man-made like some alternatives that will be mentioned later on this list, it comes at a much higher price. Marble kitchen surfaces are especially popular among bakers because it’s naturally cooler than other materials. They are somewhat easy to clean and they are quite durable. However, if you’re looking for something that doesn’t require a lot of maintenance and care – maybe marble won’t be the best choice for you.
The drawbacks of marble kitchen surfaces
If you live in a household where your kitchen is very busy, your marble countertops might not survive for long. Marble is a porous material, meaning that every little spill can seep into your countertops and stain them for all of eternity. They will also be exposed to scratching, etching and chipping, and when it comes to heat, your kitchen surfaces won’t take it well. Marble is also known for developing a patina over the course of time, meaning that it will change its color and visibly wear over the years. Using harsh chemicals to clean your counters can also result in damaging them. You need to be prepared to reseal them every year or two at most if you don’t want to end up with a countertop disaster.
As someone who spends most of my day in the kitchen, personally, I wouldn’t want something that requires as much maintenance as marble. If you spend a lot of time in the kitchen too, have children that are bound to cause a few spills here and there, or simply want something more durable that you won’t need to care for as much, check out the best marble countertop alternatives below.
All-white kitchens are becoming more and more popular. White marble will open up your kitchen and tie everything together, however, you will need to take extra care of it.
Granite is the perfect alternative for marble. Not only can you find granite that looks almost exactly like marble, but it’s more scratch resistant and extremely resistant to heat. The best part of installing granite kitchen surfaces is the fact that you have a lot of options to choose from, both color and pattern wise. With the variation of colors granite comes in, there are a lot of greyish-white granite alternatives with gorgeous, subtle veining that highly resemble the famous white marble, including: White Pearl, Super White, River White, Moon White and Colonial White.
Greyish-white granite with a black and grey pattern. This is an example of a “busy” granite texture. I personally like granite that is lighter and less busy than the one in the photo. This type of granite can be combined with a lot of different colors and textures.
Granite Benefits and Drawbacks
Durability – Unlike marble, granite can take a lot of heat and isn’t as easily scratched or damaged. You can even cut directly on your granite countertops, however, I wouldn’t recommend this if you don’t want dull knives.
Variety – There is a granite countertop for almost every kind of kitchen. You won’t have much trouble finding the perfect surface that looks amazing in your home as they do come in almost every color and pattern you could think of.
Resistant – You can use chemicals to clean your granite surfaces, although I wouldn’t recommend going overboard if you don’t want to get rid of your sealer.
Price – Granite isn’t considered to be an affordable alternative for marble surfaces. However, it is a great alternative for it if you are looking for something that looks similar, but requires less maintenance.
Porous – Just like marble, granite is porous and prone to staining. You can remove these stains with chemicals or leave them to evaporate over time.
Sealing – Your granite countertops also need to be sealed. On the other hand, you won’t have to seal your kitchen surfaces nearly as often as you would with marble. Granite is sealed approximately every 10 years.
Quartz is another popular alternative for marble when it comes to kitchen surfaces – due to it’s versatility and durability. This stone is engineered, meaning that it is combined with other materials that give it color. You won’t have trouble finding countertops in any color, neutral or vibrant. This material is extremely resistant to damage, wear, scratching and chipping and requires little maintenance, making it perfect for young families or if you simply spend a lot of time in your kitchen. There are some popular quartz alternatives to white marble, including Calacatta Nuvo, Cashmere Carrara and White Attica.
A white, modern kitchen with dark floors might be my personal favorite if I had to choose. Personally, white quartz is my favorite alternative to marble as it can look almost identical, but doesn’t require nearly as much hassle.
Quartz Benefits and Drawbacks
Maintenance – Quartz is much more forgiving when it comes to staining as it isn’t a porous material. You can easily clean your kitchen with no worries using water, soap and a soft cloth.
Durability – Your quartz countertops won’t scratch or etch like marble or granite, they are combined with other materials that make it much durable.
Variety – You can find quartz in almost every color and pattern you could think of.
Non heat resistant – Unlike granite, you should be careful not to place hot pots and pans on your quartz surface as they aren’t as heat resistant. Pot holders will become your best friends, seriously.
Price – Quartz comes at a similar price as marble and granite, making it a less affordable alternative.
Contemporary – Some people love the look of natural stone which quartz won’t provide you with. However, some people actually prefer the contemporary look of quartz so this might not represent a drawback to you.
Not to be confused with quartz, quartzite is a natural stone that is actually quite similar to granite. I think of quartzite as the “upgraded” version of granite, due to the fact that it looks just as good but has more benefits, and less drawbacks. Quartzite is becoming extremely popular due to the beautiful white and gray options that add a stunning touch to your kitchen. If you are looking for quartzite that looks like white marble, some of the most popular alternatives include: Princess White, Taj Mahal and Super White.
White quartzite can look good in almost any kitchen. Even though you won’t have many color options when it comes to quartzite, it’s a stunning natural stone that is easily mistaken for the famous white marble.
Quartzite Benefits and Drawbacks
Durability – Quartzite offers extreme durability unlike granite. Quite resistant to damage and chipping, a quartzite countertop would be the perfect alternative for marble if you have a busy kitchen.
Maintenance – You won’t have to purchase special cleaning supplies for your quartzite surfaces. Clean them with water and soap and a soft cloth.
Resistant – Your surfaces will look exactly the same as quartzite easily stands the test of time, so it won’t change color, wear over time or stain.
Limited colors – Quartzite comes in mostly white, grayish colors in its natural state, so you will be pretty limited when looking for the perfect option for your kitchen. However, if you are looking for something “marble-like”, quartzite can be a great alternative.
Prone to scratches – I recommend always using a cutting board when chopping something in your kitchen, as quartzite isn’t as scratch resistant as other materials.
Non heat resistant – Hot pots and pans placed directly on your gorgeous quartzite countertops can easily lead to damage. Always put something under your hot kitchenware.
Concrete will provide your kitchen with a rustic feel combined with industrial. Concrete surfaces are becoming more and more popular as a statement piece in your home – but are they worth the rave? You might think that this mix of cement and sand is one of the most indestructible materials that you can place in your home, but concrete comes with a few pros and cons itself. If you’re looking for something that contrasts marble but looks just as stunning in any kitchen space, concrete can be a great choice for your upcoming renovation.
A dark kitchen with concrete floors and countertops. Concrete fits perfectly into the loft or industrial style, adding a grungy, “effortless” touch to your kitchen.
Concrete Benefits and Drawbacks
Durability – When it comes to durability, rarely can any other choice for your kitchen surfaces compete with concrete. This hard rock can take a lot, but it isn’t indestructible. However, you will have a lot of freedom when it comes to concrete countertops as opposed to any other material on this list.
Price – Concrete countertops are not only an amazing contrasting alternative to marble, but can be installed at a much lower price as well. Keep in mind that concrete does take around a month to completely cure, so if you are in a hurry with your kitchen renovation – concrete might not be the best option for you.
Uniqueness – Concrete can look stunning and provide your kitchen with a raw feel that isn’t found in every other house.
Staining – Concrete is prone to staining because it’s very porous, making it the perfect place for bacteria to spread as well.
Maintenance – While it does look great, you will need to take extra care of your concrete surfaces and make sure to clean them properly with stronger cleaning agents.
Prone to wear – Your concrete countertops will develop a patina over the years and change its appearance, which some people might prefer as it provides an added rustic feel.
5. Solid Surfaces
Solid surface countertops have been popular for quite a while. Solid surface countertops are perfect for those looking not to spend too much money on their upcoming kitchen renovation. Buyers looking for something better than laminate, but at a similar price might find a solid surface to be the best option. Solid surfaces can resemble stone, making it a great, inexpensive alternative to a marble surface. Solid surfaces are basically made to look like stone but aren’t porous – and I find them to be amazing at their job.
Samples of solid surfaces. As you can see, you will easily find a solid surface in almost any color or pattern, giving you lots of different combinations to choose from. Being able to imitate almost any natural stone texture, solid surfaces have recently become a crowd favorite.
Solid Surfaces Benefits and Drawbacks
Non-porous – A solid surface countertop is as non-porous as it gets. If you choose a solid surface as your winner, you won’t have to worry about staining your counters. Wine, tomato juice, coffee – you name it, you won’t have to worry about any spills seeping into your countertops.
Easy Repair – If you damage your solid surface countertops, you can have them easily repaired and at a low price.
Easy to Clean – More sanitary than natural materials, solid surface countertops won’t require a lot of maintenance and are extremely easy to clean. Since they aren’t porous, bacteria won’t spread inside your counters, and the only things you will need to clean them are water and soap.
Prone to scratches – Always use a cutting board, solid surfaces are weak and easily damaged.
Non heat resistant – Make sure to never place your hot pots and pans directly on your solid surface countertops as they are not as resistant to heat as other materials. Solid surfaces can deform when heated.
6. Ceramic Tiles
This is where you can get extremely creative. Choosing ceramic tiles for your kitchen countertops will provide you with a large selection of different styles and colors to choose from, and you can also purchase them in bulk. Popular because of their affordability, installing your ceramic tile countertops is simple and you can even do it yourself – however, I would recommend always hiring a professional to make sure that everything is perfect.
You will have endless options if you choose tile as your surface material. Here are examples of tiles that can be a great alternative to marble. You can even have tiles custom-made to fit your kitchen perfectly.
Ceramic Tiles Benefits and Drawbacks
Extremely Heat Resistant – Your ceramic tile countertops can take a lot of heat, meaning that you won’t have to worry about damaging your cooking surfaces.
Easy Repairs – If you happen to scratch, damage, or chip your ceramic tile countertops, you will only need to replace the broken tiles – not entire slabs. Repairing them will also be quite affordable.
Variety – You can choose any kind of size, shape, color or pattern when looking for the perfect ceramic tiles to fit into your kitchen.
Grout Lines – The thick grout lines in between your ceramic tiles are prone to staining and absorbing bacteria. Make sure to clean them thoroughly every so often and redo your grout work regularly with a quality grout cleaner.
Prone to Chipping – Although it is easily repaired, you don’t want to damage your countertops every other week. Tile is much softer than any natural stone, making it less durable. I also recommend always using a cutting board.
Glass is a gorgeous material for your kitchen as it fits into almost every style, has a large variety of options to choose from and is easily paired with any other material. It provides your home with a clean, crisp look, is great for people who bake often and can give your kitchen a unique touch. It is also an inexpensive alternative to marble that looks just as beautiful.
There are different types of glass countertops to choose from. Pick between crushed glass tops, painted glass tops, solid glass, textured glass and even LED glass. Glass adds a gorgeous, high-end touch to your kitchen.
Glass Benefits and Drawbacks
Durability – Extremely resistant to heat and wear over the years, your glass countertops will look as good as new even after some time.
Maintenance – Glass is as non-porous as it gets when it comes to countertop options, making it easy to clean while you won’t have to worry about damage, staining or bacteria spreading.
Eco Friendly – Made from recycled materials, glass is a much cheaper alternative than natural stone and eco-friendly at the same time.
Not Indestructible – Glass is so amazing, that “not indestructible” is considered to be a con. However, just as with any other surface, you need to be careful when it comes to the glass in your kitchen to avoid chipping and dents.
Repairs – The “not indestructible” part would’ve been less of a drawback if repairs weren’t extremely complicated and expensive when it comes to glass countertops.
Expensive Installation – Your glass countertops won’t cost an arm and a leg, but installing them in your kitchen just might.
Copper might not be the first option you think of when choosing countertops, but you should definitely look into it. Copper countertops provide a rustic feel to your kitchen with its warm, rich color and could become quite the statement piece in your home. Fitting amazingly into country and vintage style homes, you can pair your copper countertops with other copper elements in your kitchen. However, copper isn’t considered to be an affordable alternative to marble.
Even as an accent piece like in the photo, copper can be a gorgeous addition to your kitchen. You won’t be able to find any other material with the natural richness in color that copper naturally has.
Copper Benefits and Drawbacks
Easy to Clean – You won’t be needing any special cleaning agents. Soap and water are the only things you’ll need to clean your copper surfaces.
Hygienic – Research has proven that some types of copper are extremely successful in killing microbes, which means that your kitchen will be germ and bacteria-free. Paired with how easily copper is cleaned, this is one of the most hygienic solutions for a busy kitchen.
Durability – Your copper countertops can easily be damaged with hot pots and pans, as well as kitchen knives. Cutting boards and pot holders will become your best friends.
Maintenance – If you want to avoid tarnishing, sealing your copper countertops is a must. However, this process will prevent stains and keep your countertops in great shape for the years to come.
Price – Copper costs as good as it looks. Often considered to be one of the most expensive materials that you could choose for your surfaces, you will have to spend a pretty penny if copper is your winner.
9. Butcher Block
If you’re looking for an affordable option for any style of home, butcher block countertops are one of the least expensive alternatives you could find. Not only will wood look good in your kitchen, it’s also long lasting and quite forgiving. However, just as with any other countertop option, there are a few things to consider before making your decision.
A great example of butcher block countertops that fit perfectly into the kitchen style. It looks simple but unique at the same time.
Butcher Block Benefits and Drawbacks
Easy to Clean – A sponge, soap and water will become your holy grail. Use vinegar to disinfect your kitchen and clean it thoroughly from time to time, and remove any stains with salt and lemon juice. It’s that easy!
Endless Options – You will have abundant options for your wooden countertops to choose from – hardwoods, wood grains and colors, meaning that you will be able to fit them in any style of home.
Affordable – Being one of the most affordable alternatives on this list, butcher block surfaces are definitely worth taking a look into.
Soft – Wood is softer than any other material, meaning that it will probably be left with marks if you take the name “butcher block” too seriously and cut directly on your surfaces. While using a cutting board is always an option, don’t worry about dents or scratches in your wood surfaces, just sand them and they will be as good as new.
Liquid Sensitive – Wood is known to be sensitive to liquid, change shape, spread bacteria and produce mold. You will need to seal your countertops quite often (at least once a month) to make sure that it won’t absorb any liquid. Thankfully, you can use mineral oil, wipe it over your counters and they will be lasting you for a very long time.
One of the most popular affordable options that came around in the 1940s, laminate countertops have seriously come a long way and received a major glow up. Popular because of how inexpensive they are, laminate countertops now offer a crazy selection of colors and patterns to choose from, making it more than possible to imitate other high-end materials.
Laminate is a classic, simple choice if you aren’t planning to spend a lot of money on your kitchen renovation. While it doesn’t provide much dimension or uniqueness to your kitchen, it’s a budget-friendly material that will easily fit into almost any style.
Laminate Benefits and Drawbacks
Affordable – Placing laminate countertops in your kitchen can come at more than half of the price of granite or marble. You can also choose to install them yourself, further cutting your costs.
Variety – Pick any kind of pattern and color you could think of, you can even design custom countertops if you choose to go with laminate. However, keep in mind that custom designs do cost more.
Easy to Clean – Laminate countertops are plastic, meaning non-porous and easy to clean. Soap, water and a sponge or soft cloth will go a long way. You also won’t have to worry about staining, liquid spills, etc.
Short Lifespan – Burns, scratches, and chipping won’t be strange to you with laminate countertops. You will need to be extremely careful with hot kitchenware and your knives. Let me repeat myself: always use a cutting board.
Repairs – You would think that repairing your laminate countertops won’t be much of an issue. However, laminate is extremely tricky to repair and oftentimes, you will need to replace your countertop entirely.
Finding the perfect kitchen surface is completely individual, as you and I might be looking for something entirely different. Finding the best countertops should be based on your specific needs and preferences and how much hassle you are willing to put up with when it comes to your kitchen. Marble is definitely gorgeous – but not the best choice for everyone. Have fun with your choices, and happy renovating!
Jen is a master gardener, interior designer and home improvement expert. She has completed many home improvement, decor and remodeling projects with her family over the past 10 years on their 4,500 sf Victorian house. She is also a passionate farmer who keeps goats, chickens, turkeys cows and pigs on her farm, and an instructor for her community’s Organic and Sustainable Farming project.