Modern kitchens are built spacious and glamorous, and you’ll want to have your meals right there as you enjoy some chit-chat with other family members. They are no longer spaces where you hurriedly prepare meals and leave for the comfort of the living room or dining. Since your countertop takes up the larger visual space in the kitchen, it is always regarded as the main event, so choosing the right countertop material is very important.
Some of the most affordable stone countertop materials are soapstone, granite, quartz, and travertine, just to mention a few. The different properties, quality, and availability of each of these materials bring about their varying price points.
In this article, we’ll guide you through the factors to consider when picking a countertop material and the most affordable stone countertop materials you can use in your kitchen and other home structures. If you are interested in other options for surface material, check out this post.
Things To Consider When Picking a Countertop Material for Your Kitchen
Here are some of the factors you want to keep in mind when sourcing the ideal material to use in your kitchen countertop and other home structures:
You don’t want a countertop material to keep your budget for sealants and special cleaners after every few months. Porous materials such as marble will require instant clean-ups to increase their lifespan.
On the other hand, materials such as wood may rot away after use in damp environments. While materials like granite may need regular sealing to maintain, it can be considered a better option than using a material that may need a total overhaul after some time.
The good thing about sealants today is their ability to extend the period you’ll need before the next seal. Just keep a calendar of your next seal to avoid overstaining your countertop.
This is yet another important factor that comes to most peoples’ minds when installing a kitchen countertop. Whether you operate a heavy-duty kitchen like a big restaurant with high traffic or just a home family kitchen, a countertop material that will stand extreme heat levels, scratches, and burns should be a priority.
With that in mind, materials such as engineered stones and granite are your go-to kind of choices.
How does your budget compare with your requirements? Countertop materials vary sharply in prices depending on most of the factors listed in this section.
While it’s obvious that costs will vary depending on the material you choose and where you buy them from, you’ll still find varying prices within the same material. For example, a locally sourced marble within the US will be affordable compared to marbles imported from Africa.
On the other good side, you’ll always find one material available in different categories and with varying prices to choose from. For instance, a wooden countertop may have different prices depending on the type of wood used—the same applies to other materials like stones.
Appearance and Home Layout
Every homeowner has an idea of how they would like their interior décor to appear. That is why finding a countertop material that complements your kitchen interior layout is of equal importance, just as its functionality.
Impact on Health
Food spills in your kitchen when not properly cleaned can easily promote the growth of bacteria and fungi. To avoid such health-threatening risks, consider a countertop material that will be easy to clean without leaving dirt residues behind. This should be a countertop material without grooves, as is the case with tile countertops.
How often do you use your kitchen? Is your kitchen always busy, and do you have enough time to clean? These are important questions to ask yourself when picking on a countertop material.
Some materials used on countertops, such as marble, are prone to cracks due to their porous nature, affecting their durability if not properly maintained. Bright countertops such as white granite may also not be recommended for active kitchens that experience frequent spills.
Our Top Picks for Affordable Stone Countertop Materials
Stones are among the most preferred and widely used materials on kitchen countertops. They come at different types and prices. Here, we’ll walk you through some of the most affordable stones, yet ideally recommended, for countertop material.
- Best Overall: Soapstone
- Best for Budget: Granite
- Most Versatile: Marble
- Best Engineered Stone: Quartz
- Best for Outdoor: Slate
- Best Value for Money: Quartzite
- Best Alternative: Travertine
Soapstone, also known as steatite, is a gorgeous and versatile stone that, apart from its usage in home structures such as kitchen countertops and backsplashes, the stone has also been used in carving some of the world’s most famous statues. However, the soapstone used in carving is softer and with high talc content compared to those used in countertops.
When used as a kitchen countertop material, one unique soapstone feature is the smooth, natural darkening ability. Over time, soapstone assumes an antique-patina that blends well with some kitchen designs. To speed the natural darkening process, soapstone can be treated with mineral oil, giving it a silky and elegant feel.
Soapstone is a favorite for many homeowners due to its smoothness and low maintenance. It is durable and will stand most wear and tear tests. Countertop soapstone has affordable options for as low as $55 per square foot with an average cost of $65 across most of its types.
- Fairly resistant to heat
- Damages can be repaired by sanding
- Deep rich color
- Impossible DIY installation
- Scratches easily
- Requires mineral oil treatment
Soapstone is an ideal countertop stone option if you are looking for durability and a historical look in your kitchen. Although the material scratches easily, the scratches may blend well to add to the unique antique-like patina. Other than using it in the kitchen countertop, soapstone is also a great option for your home bathroom and backsplashes.
Made by cooling hot liquid magma, granite is one of the hardest and widely used natural stones on kitchen countertops today. Anyone who has used granite stone countertop material will attest to its scratch-proof nature.
Apart from the tough build, granite stone is very elegant and comes with various color options for every kitchen décor. These colors may vary in price depending on their availability. For instance, Van Gogh Granite is a rare granite with a mixture of aqua blue and mint green colors. It costs higher than common granite colors like white and black.
Available in many colors and patterns
Can withstand extreme heat conditions
Doesn’t emit harmful radiation
DIY installation is not possible
May need special cleaners
Requires periodic resealing to maximize durability
Granite is a celebrated material that has been used for ages in kitchen countertops. It is tough and can last a lifetime with proper maintenance, and it also comes in many different colors to complement any kitchen décor.
Although it is more expensive than other stones, granite is available in different price ranges that will fit your budget. For instance, prefabricated granite sells for as low as $25 per square foot. Prices might vary depending on different locations.
Quartzite is an incredible natural stone that is always seen as a viable option for marble due to its striking resemblance in color and veining present in most quartzite stone types. However, quartzite slab is a more durable stone that will offer you many years of service when used on a kitchen countertop or as a backsplash.
Quartzite is a scratch-free and heat-resistant stone that is ideal for your home remodeling. The most common white quartzite stones available in many stone yards cost between $65-$85 per square foot installed. Other exotic options will cost up to $100 per square foot but with an assurance of value for money.
Available in a variety of price ranges
Exotic options are expensive
Softer types are more porous and require frequent sealing
Quartzite natural stone has all the good reasons you should consider it for use in your home kitchen and bathroom countertops, backsplash, and other structures.
Apart from the elegance, durability, and different color options, quartzite caters to most homeowner’s budget ranges. While exotic options go for as high as $200, white quartzite will cost you about $75 per square foot installed.
Marble stands out as one of the most elegant natural stones preferred by many homeowners for kitchen countertops, bathrooms, backsplashes, and other structures within the home.
Marble stones come in different colors and an unmatched variety of beautiful veining that puts it on top of many homeowners’ wish lists. This stone has also been used to carve some of the world’s prominent statues and structures. You can imagine the beauty it can add to your home décor when used on kitchen and bathroom countertops.
Additionally, marble stones come in a variety of options to choose from. The marble slabs are uniquely distinctive from each other, even for the marbles mined from the same quarry. Depending on your color preference and décor style, you can be sure to find what will appeal to you.
Made from naturally occurring material
Durable with proper maintenance
Available in many unique varieties
Degrades with time
Very heavy (impossible DIY installation)
If you are looking to construct or upgrade to a material that will add some sense of refinement and grandeur to your home, then look no further than a marble stone. This unique slab-to-slab stone has varying prices that will fit in most homeowners’ budgets since most varieties are moderately priced.
For example, one of the most popular marble is Carrara—a white-to-blue gray Italian marble that has been in use since the Roman Empire. Its popularity is largely attributed to its classic look and affordability. The stone costs between $45-$55 per sq. ft., labor and fabrication costs inclusive.
Quartz (Engineered Stone)
Quartz is another top choice for kitchen and bathroom countertops, vanities, backsplashes, and other home structures. Quartz is not a natural stone but is engineered to offer very strong surfaces for your countertops.
Quartz surfaces are water and stain-resistant and also non-porous. However, quartz material is not heat-resistant and requires handling with great care. Hot pans, when placed on your quartz kitchen countertop, will easily cause permanent damage.
Since quartz is an engineered material, it can easily be customized to look exactly as one desires. This allows quartz to be produced in different colors, allowing a variety to choose from depending on your room decor. This material is also very durable and with low maintenance cost. Quartz stone surfaces are super easy to clean.
Comes in a wide variety
Prone to heat damage
Discolors when exposed to direct sunlight
Have noticeable seams
Your home kitchen deserves the highest standards of hygiene achievable through hassle-free cleaning of every surface. Quartz stands out as one of the easiest to clean countertop materials that don’t require any special cleaning detergents. The customizable nature can almost guarantee that you’ll find the exact type in terms of color that complements your home décor.
Quartz prices are also within the affordable range, and you can expect to spend something between $45 and $75, installation inclusive. Cutouts and countertop edges may, however, slightly impact the price.
Slate is a beautiful natural stone that comes in shades of dark grey. It is a great pick for room decors with matching and contrasting designs.
You can use slate in both kitchen and bathroom countertops to give a sophisticated feel and class to your home. Slate material is both heat and stain-resistant, making it a perfect material choice for a busy kitchen countertop. The stone is easy to clean and is both fungal-free and anti-bacterial.
Slate surfaces are appealing to the eye and will add glamour to your kitchen environment for a more relaxing feel. The stone is also among the rare non-porous countertop materials that will not require you to seal from time to time. Slate is also a great option for use in backsplashes and outdoor kitchen countertops.
Limited color options
Apart from the limited colors for slate stone countertop material, this stone combines most of the important features you’d look for in ideal countertop material. The stone is durable, both stain and heat-resistant, easy to clean, non-porous, and very durable. Slate is also available within affordable ranges of between $77 and $100 per sq. ft.
Travertine is a beautiful natural occurring stone that is also a type of limestone. There are, however, other existing differences, meaning you cannot use the names interchangeably.
Travertine is ideal for use in kitchen countertops, bathrooms, backsplashes, and other home structures. You should, however, be careful with acidic substances, such as coffee, juice, or soda, as these spills may damage the susceptible travertine surfaces. This makes the travertine countertop material ideal for low-traffic kitchens.
The stone is moderately strong, and in the Mohs’ Scale of Hardness, it scores 5 out of 10, where ten is the hardest.
Shiny with a brightening effect
Easy to install (cut and shape)
Requires periodic resealing
Prone to damage on direct heat exposure
Suitable for low-traffic kitchen
Sensitive to acidic spills
Although travertine is a natural, aesthetically-pleasing stone that you would wish to occupy most of your kitchens’ estate, it is highly porous. It may lead to both fungi and bacteria growth if not disinfected regularly.
A travertine stone material would therefore be an ideal choice to install in the bathroom or vanities. However, the stone is moderately priced with costs of between $50 and $100 per sq. ft., affordable to most homeowners.
Other Available Options for Countertop Materials
Stone countertop materials are the most preferred for obvious reasons such as durability, glamour, and the natural feel they bring to our homes.
Depending on your unique circumstances, here is a list of other countertop materials you can use. You may need to explore more about their features before making any purchase.
- Ceramic tiles
- Solid Surface material
- Stainless steel
Stone materials are the best among all other available options for your kitchen countertop and other home structures. Availability in many different options, even within the same stone type, is enough reason why you should consider stone countertops in your home.
Even the most expensive stone materials have affordable options within the same stone type, which is why you shouldn’t have an excuse for not installing a stone countertop.
Depending on other personal preferences, you can choose among the top 7 most affordable stone countertop materials, as we’ve seen in the article, or go for other available material options.