Searching for the best kitchen countertop

"There are tons of choices to choose from, tons of colors, and it's overwhelming. It's completely overwhelming," said Katherine Mceleney, who recently remodeled her kitchen.

Consumer Reports tested 11 countertop materials to see which one is the best. Granite, quartz, laminate, and paper composite were among those put to the test.

The first test was stain resistance. Consumer experts put 20 different substances, including food coloring, tomato sauce, and mustard, on each countertop. The tests revealed that with certain countertops, sealers are important to help keep those stains away; however they didn't always pull through.

"Unfortunately, we found that DuPont's Kashmir White sealer in one of the instances actually spread the stains instead of repelling them," said Cecilia Kuperszmid-Lehrman of Consumer Reports.

The second test was rather heated. Consumer experts filled a pot with 400-degree oil and placed the pot on each surface. While most countertops did well, a varnished butcher block ended up with a scorch mark.

Finally, testers dropped a heavy, blunt weight through a tube to see how easily the surfaces chipped. Quartz and granite were not very resilient.

Overall, Consumer Reports found quartz was the best choice for a busy kitchen. It is low maintenance, stain-resistant, and heat-resistant. A more inexpensive option was laminate, which was also excellent in resisting stains and heat damage.

Paper composite countertops did not fare very well. It proved to be susceptible to wear and tear. When testers tried to cut something right on the counter, marks were left behind.


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