5 Countertop Choices for your Chicago Kitchen Renovation Project

kitchen countertop

Gone are the days of laminate and Formica countertops from your parents’ kitchen. We are now in the age of quartz.

My mother, a lifelong HGTV watcher and lover of good design, came to me recently asking me what our clients were choosing for their countertops in our latest kitchen renovation projects. She wanted to know what was trending as she ponders updating parts of the kitchen in my childhood home. Just so you know, the dated countertops in question are Corian, a material that originally debuted in the 70s and certainly looks it.

Our Corian has a speckled, sandy, slightly matte appearance, and the color is Fawn. The surface is hygienic due to its nonporous nature, but you cannot place hot pots or pans directly on it without risking heat damage. So I agree with my mother, we can certainly do better than that! Maybe you also have a dated laminate, formica, or Corian countertop. Whatever countertop you are looking to update, this article will help you get educated about some alternate choices for your space. Let’s go through some countertop choices together so my family can determine the best choice for us, and you can determine the best choice for your upcoming Chicago kitchen renovation.

kitchen sink


The number one countertop choice from our clients, and the number one in our hearts, is quartz. Quartz has that classic look and is a hard and durable choice for your Chicago kitchen renovation. Whereas the busy granites of the past contain flecks of multiple colors, quartz can get you those clean colors for a soothing kitchen with a refined color palette. Quartz comes in countless unique varieties, with specific colors and incredible veining. You can also get man-made or natural quartz. If you are interested in a wider selection of colors and patterns, man-made quartz will give you the variety you are seeking. Man-made quartz countertops are made by combining crushed quartz with resin and pigments. This mixture is then poured into molds to create slabs of various sizes and thicknesses.

Natural quartz countertops, on the other hand, are made entirely of natural quartz stone, which is mined from the earth. Natural quartz countertops are available in a more limited range of colors and patterns, but they have a unique beauty that comes from the natural variations in the stone.

In terms of durability, both man-made and natural quartz countertops are resistant to scratches, stains, and heat. However, man-made quartz countertops may be more resistant to chipping and cracking, as the resin used in the manufacturing process helps to bind the quartz particles together. Both types of quartz countertops require minimal maintenance and are easy to clean. However, because natural quartz countertops are porous, they may require periodic sealing to prevent staining. Man-made quartz is nonporous and does not require yearly sealing.


Even though quartzite sounds so similar to quartz, it is an entirely different material. Quartz is a mineral that is commonly used in the production of various items, while quartzite is a naturally occurring metamorphic rock that is formed from quartz sandstone. The main difference between the two is that quartz is a mineral, while quartzite is a rock, sandstone to be specific.

Quartzite is mined from a quarry and then cut into large slabs. The slabs are cut into smaller pieces using a diamond saw, polished, and glued together to form a countertop. Due to the labor-intensive mining and refining process for quartzite, it is typically more expensive than quartz. It will also require regular sealing just like naturally occurring quartz does. It has the durability of man-made quartz without compromising that natural sliced-from-the-earth look.

Quartz and quartzite can be slightly cheaper than granite and marble, depending on the variety you select.


The word “marble” derives from the Greek word “marmaros,” which means “shining stone.” It has been used since ancient times for art and architecture. The world-famous Taj Mahal is constructed out of white marble. Marble is a type of metamorphic rock that is composed of recrystallized carbonate minerals, usually calcite or dolomite. It is known for its distinctive veining and range of colors. Marble is a softer stone, with a lower rating on the Mohs hardness scale, so it is porous but easier to polish and maintain. It’s also classically gorgeous.

Carrara and Calacatta have had their moment in the sun during the all-white kitchen trend, but lately, more colorful varieties with unique and beautiful veining have come into fashion. If you want a very low-maintenance marble, I recommend going with engineered non-porous marble. It is important to know that the price of all these stones changes, but marble can skew the most expensive on our list, depending on what you select. If you are selecting Calacatta, which only comes from one quarry in Italy, prepare for that price tag. Marble is a popular construction choice and we often see it on walls or building facades, but it is also an excellent choice for countertops.


If that industrial minimal look is calling your name, be sure to check out concrete countertops. Hardened polished concrete has a similar hardness to quartz and quartzite. Concrete is a composite material comprising cement, water, coarse and fine aggregates (such as gravel and sand), and various chemical admixtures. When these ingredients are mixed together, they form a hard, durable substance that can be used for a wide variety of construction purposes.

Although you may initially think that concrete countertops are cheaper than stone, there are higher labor costs associated with this handmade choice. The plus side to this customization is that concrete countertops could be made in any desired shape, although in larger casts the seams will be visible. If you want to have specific shapes and patterns on the edges of your countertops, concrete could be the right choice for you due to its ability to be stamped during installation. Concrete can also be very resistant to high heat. It can also have a unique texture and develop a patina over time. And if the plain gray doesn’t do it for you, concrete countertops can be made in a variety of colors. Concrete could be a distinctive choice for your kitchen renovation.


Although granite is not currently as trendy as quartz, it is still a solid choice for your kitchen renovation due to its durability and longevity. Granite is a type of igneous rock composed of multiple minerals such as quartz, feldspar, and mica. One of the biggest pros of granite countertops is their ability to resist scratches and heat damage, it can be the same or slightly harder than quartz. This makes them an ideal choice for kitchens where they will be used regularly.

Granite countertops also come in a variety of colors and patterns, making it easy to find one that will match your home’s decor. Granite can be expensive compared to other countertop options, due to the mining and refining process. Additionally, granite countertops will require regular sealing to prevent stains and damage from liquids. The pattern and flecks of a granite countertop mean that they do not have to be cleaned as often. As long as you select updated slabs and patterns to complete your kitchen space, granite could be a great choice for you if you like that timeless, natural look.

Final Thoughts

In the end, your perfect countertop choice is up to you. Hopefully, this article helped point you in the right direction or inspired you to do more research about your favorite countertop material. Some choices we did not include in this article include wood, tile (porcelain, terrazzo, etc), metals such as stainless steel, modern laminate, glass, resin, and countless others. Having a countertop made out of recycled materials, such as sea glass, could be a perfect choice if you are thinking more sustainably about your countertop material.

You can evaluate the performance and appearance of each material that works best with your lifestyle and aesthetic taste. Do you like a darker countertop or something light? Do you care more about durability or appearance? What is your budget for countertops?

Contact Our Chicago Kitchen Remodeling Professionals At Arete’

If you still need any help deciding what countertop material is the right choice for you, we invite you to visit our showroom and talk to our design team. Our staff at Areté The Art of Design are eager to help you hone the vision for your beautiful new home. Our designers can offer their insight and experience, and in our Chicago design showroom on Montrose, you can look at photos and samples to help you feel good about a glamorous new Chicago kitchen renovation.

Areté The Art of Remodeling can also help you through the build process of your kitchen remodel. We are here for you, don’t hesitate to reach out with questions! We believe in building relationships based on trust and transparency, and we’re dedicated to delivering quality workmanship that stands the test of time. Contact the renovation professionals at Areté today at 773.683.3033 and let us help you make the most of your countertop choices for your kitchen renovation.