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Kitchen Countertops Buying Guide: The Ins And Outs Of The Best Options On The Market (PHOTOS)

07/09/2013 05:45 pm ET | Updated Jul 09, 2013

Remodeling a kitchen can be exciting... but also very overwhelming. Between researching appliances, choosing new cabinets and looking at tiles, there are just so many choices to be made. While we can't be there next to you at the paint store (remember, the color looks lighter on the strip!), we can take the guess work out of one big decision: the kitchen countertops.

There are literally dozens of products to compare, but we've narrowed down seven common options that you can't go wrong with. Whether you're an avid cook, a bit on the messier side or looking for a budget-friendly alternative, one of these materials will surely be a perfect fit.

1. Stainless Steel

What is it? It's exactly what it sounds like. Sheets of the metal are retrofitted to fit your unique design.
Why we like it: Chefs love how they're antimicrobial and super easy to clean and we love the metallic glow they give any kitchen.
Downfalls: Metal will scratch and etch over time, but this is part of the beauty of its patina.

2. Butcher Block

What is it? These beauties are typically made from a hard maple that is laminated and sealed.
Why we like it: If you're looking for the warm, rich look of wood, they're right up your alley.
Downfalls: This product needs to be sealed regularly because it is very porous. Unfortunately, it can scorch, stain and scratch.

3. Laminate

What is it? Paper or fabric sheeting is glued to a plywood substrate.
Why we like it: It's available in thousands of colors and styles, it's inexpensive and pretty durable.
Downfalls: You'll see seams, you can't cut on it and it will scorch if you put a hot pot on the surface.

4. Granite

What is it? A strong natural stone which can be polished or honed.
Why we like it: This can be found with many beautiful color variations, it resists chemicals and bacteria and it's relatively easy to maintain if you seal it once in a while.
Downfalls: There aren't too many issues, but it must be sealed and there will be some visible seams.

5. Solid Surfacing

What is it? Plastic resins with a stone look.
Why we like it: This material can be made virtually seamless and it comes in many colors and patterns.
Downfalls: It's not as heat resistant as natural stone.

6. Quartz

What is it? A combination of natural quartz stone and manmade resins.
Why we like it: It's extremely durable, non-porous and it resists heat. It also needs very little maintenance.
Downfalls: This one is pretty expensive and you will see some seams.

7. Marble

What is it? An elegant natural stone with notable veining and markings.
Why we like it: It's truly beautiful, and reminds us of French patisseries.
Downfalls: It can stain and etch pretty easily and has a hefty price tag.

Make sure to check out our slideshow of ten home projects you probably shouldn't DIY.

10 Projects You Shouldn't DIY

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