Durable countertop options other than granite?

Kitten1313December 17, 2012

We will be having an island, part prep, part eating area (to seat a family of 5). I don't think I want granite, but I want a surface that is durable - you can cut on it, put hot pots on it, etc. I love the look of butcher block - and I don't mind the weathered look - but I wonder if it would get too beat up too quickly? I have 3 young boys, so "weathering" is inevitable.

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We have a 42"x26" prep area in 1-5/8" maple butcher block that I installed 26 years ago. I cut, chop and do just about everything in that space, and it looks great! Another option to consider would be Soapstone, impervious to chemicals and even wine, but with the soft hand of wood, it can be sanded down if needed when unwanted scratches do appear...

    Bookmark   December 17, 2012 at 9:34PM
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There is no perfect countertop material!

you can cut on it, put hot pots on it, etc

Those two attributes tend to be mutually exclusive. But first, what do you mean by "can" -- as in "can cut on it" or "can put hot pots on it"? You can cut on granite, but you won't want to, as it will dull your knives.

Can cut on it:

Can put hot pots on it:
ceramic tile
stainless steel

granite and concrete: Maybe; depends on sealer and if the heat does not crack the granite!

You may consider using wood, but dying it black using india ink. There have been some nice examples here on GW.

Here is a link that might be useful: India-ink-dyed countertops

    Bookmark   December 17, 2012 at 10:21PM
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I've put some pretty hot pots and pans on our maple and it just starts to leave a ring. I'm sure if you took a red hot cast iron skillet and placed it directly on the maple you'd have a brand you could talk about for years...

    Bookmark   December 17, 2012 at 11:33PM
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Granite or some other natural stone like soapstone is the only typical material that will tolerate both cutting and hot pans. Glass would also work but it would be quite expensive as you'd need a very thick top to tolerate thermal stresses from hot pans.

quartz tops can be burnt and the resin in the material will take scratches.

FYI wood tops have the worst performance with respect to hygiene meaning they have the highest bacterial count after cleaning. After seeing the residual bacteria test results on wood I would never have it in my kitchen.

    Bookmark   December 19, 2012 at 11:44AM
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You can cut on anything you want but will either dull your knives or get scratches. I have soapstone which takes a complete beating in my house but I have an end grain cutting board for cutting. I put screaming hot pans directly on my soapstone, roll dough on it, and eat at the overhang. WE can drip anything and it all cleans up great with no need to worry about type of cleanser. The only thing I don't do is cut directly on it. It would leave a faint scratch. Easy to sand out but I just use my cutting board. If you go the soaspstone route... get samples so you can determine how much "weathering" you can live with. Some soapstones are much softer then others.

    Bookmark   December 19, 2012 at 12:14PM
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Cutting boards and trivets are your friends no matter what type of counter you choose. Making the use of both a habit in your home will give you a lot less heartache in the future.

    Bookmark   December 19, 2012 at 12:26PM
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With kids, staining can be a big issue for counter tops. We tested a sample of Cambria quartz composite and left a tea spoon of home made tomato sauce on it over night. The next morning it came right off and no stain was visible. This was on a piece of Bellingham (shades of white through black). No sealing is needed unlike granite.

    Bookmark   December 19, 2012 at 7:41PM
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