The Best Kitchen Countertop Materials Ranked by Stain Resistance -

The Best Kitchen Countertop Materials Ranked by Stain Resistance

Stains will be inevitable in your kitchen, find out which materials are the best to resist stains for your kitchen countertop.

A kitchen is a place of joy, but it’s also a place of mess. From tea to turmeric, our kitchens are full of things that want to leave their mark on our countertops. That’s why it’s important to know what the best countertops for stains are, what’s within your budget, and which materials are a no-go if you pride yourself on a sparkling clean kitchen.

Our guide ranks all common countertop materials by how well they hold up to stains. We’ll also consider factors like how vulnerable they are to scratches, whether they need to be sealed, and the price tag – let’s sort the best countertops for stains from the wipe-clean to the accidentally technicolour.

Why It's Important to Buy Stain Resistant Countertops

First and foremost, kitchen stains simply aren’t nice to look at. Once a counter has been stained, you’ll never quite know if it’s “properly” clean again, no matter how much you wipe. While the best rule of thumb is to judge cleanliness by the colour a wet paper towel comes up after a wipe-down, it’s a bittersweet victory if the paper towel is white and there’s still a visible yellow mark on the sideboard.

It also saves you work. Some materials clean up well enough – but only after intensive scrubbing. Others can only be cleaned properly using abrasive agents that might not agree with your skin (remember to wear rubber gloves!) Keeping your kitchen clean is always a labour of love, but it shouldn’t be any more labour than necessary.

For this reason, you should know what the best materials for stain-resistant countertops are before you plan a remodelling project. It helps you realize that some expensive options are very high-maintenance, while there are plenty of affordable, beautiful options that are extremely easy to keep clean.

How to Choose the Best Countertops for Stains

Choosing the best countertops for stains doesn’t follow the same criteria as choosing counters that aren’t prone to cracking or scratching. Beautiful, hard-wearing materials like granite may seem like fantastic all-around options, but the truth is that unless they’re sealed thoroughly, they take on stains more easily than you’d hope.

Equally, it’s not always a matter of “you get what you pay for”. Marble is considered one of the most desirable materials for a kitchen, and it’s easy to understand why – just look at it! However, marble is surprisingly high-maintenance for a material that comes with a high price tag.

Stain Resistant Countertops by Material: Ranked

Without further ado, let’s consider the best countertops for stains and which you should install in your home.

1. Quartz – Overall Winner

Quartz is a beautiful, affordable stone surface that is so much easier to look after than most other stone options. Stone counters are highly sought-after in kitchens everywhere because they’re so pleasing to look at, and they’re hard-wearing. The one thing that tends to put people off is the cost, but they should also be wary of most stone surfaces’ tendency to stain.

By contrast, quartz doesn’t take on stains easily. It’s extremely easy to clean using non-abrasive materials and during manufacture, the quartz crystals are combined with antimicrobial agents. This makes them resistant to many types of bacterial growth in your kitchen – where there’s a spillage, there’s a risk of microorganisms trying to grow. These will increase the chance of staining and also compromise your kitchen’s hygiene.

Furthermore, quartz has an extremely high heat tolerance. This sets it apart from some other stain-resistant countertops that might be easy to wipe down but will blister or scar if you place a hot pan down on the surface. Its gorgeous appearance and low maintenance requirements combined with how affordable it is compared to other stone counters make quartz our clear #1 choice.

2. Solid-Surface

Solid-surface counters are made from a combination of stone and mineral dust and various additives such as resin and plastic. They’re a popular choice because they’re very affordable and tend to be very easy to clean.

Most can be wiped clean of stains easily using regular kitchen cleaning products or traditional solutions like lemon juice or vinegar. These options tend to be a little cheaper than quartz, and as they’re largely constituted from stone dust, they’ve got that attractive, natural-looking appearance.

A slight disadvantage of this material is that because it includes resins and plastics, it doesn’t have the heat resistance of quartz. This means that there’s a higher risk of it suffering from burn damage if you put a hot pan down. Other than this, it’s a great low-budget choice for your kitchen.

3. Stainless Steel

Stainless steel is a popular choice for industrial counters in kitchens because it doesn’t stain easily and is very easy to clean. It also boasts an incredible heat tolerance – you don’t need to worry about putting hot pans down on stainless steel surfaces.

They pick up marks from fingertips and debris more easily than quartz, so you’ll need to regularly wipe the counter down to get that shiny-bright effect. Stainless steel is also quite affordable depending on the thickness you choose – it’s one of the best countertops for stains and is approved by chefs worldwide!

4. Copper

Copper possesses most of the same qualities as stainless steel but is arguably more attractive for the home kitchen. So why is it below steel on our list of stain-resistant countertops? Mostly because copper is quite expensive.

Copper will also discolour over time, fading to a greenish shade if exposed to oxygen. Some people love this – it’s part of the classic aesthetic. This depends on your preference, but copper is a great material for stain-resistant countertops.

5. Glass

Glass is very easy to clean and tends to resist heavy staining. Antibacterial glass surface sprays are cheap and easy to find, so you can wipe down your counter anytime and leave it sparkling.

While glass is a great choice if you to avoid long-term stains, it’s arguably not the best choice for day-to-day “shine”. This is because any contact with glass will leave a smudge, whether this is from food or your fingertips. This means that you’ll probably need to clean your glass countertop every day to keep it looking as fresh as an alternative like quartz.

The glass used for countertops is toughened, but it’s still more prone to cracking than quartz or solid-surface counters. Some people also dislike the sound of plates, cups, and pans touching down on glass. However, if you’re fine with this, glass makes great stain-resistant countertops!

6. Slate

Slate is very attractive although somewhat expensive. It’s very hard to stain slate, and it’s generally quite easy to clean, although you should probably use non-abrasive cleaning products to maintain its beautiful appearance.

A disadvantage of slate is that it scratches very easily. Slate counters often come unsealed, unlike other stone options – this means that scratching is an ever-present risk from sharp knives and hard edges. Otherwise, slate is one of the best countertops for stains.

7. Richlite

Richlite is designed to look like wood but is much less prone to staining. It’s affordable and makes a great budget choice if you want stain-resistant countertops on a budget. It tends to come sealed to protect against marks.

A disadvantage of the sealing method is that it’s prone to scratches. This can then lead to stains if the scratches aren’t remedied.

8. Porcelain

Porcelain tile is gorgeous and is very easy to clean – this is what makes it so popular for bathrooms. Simply wipe stains away with a cloth and detergent (it holds up well to harsh chemicals, too).

There are 2 main issues with using porcelain tiles for counters:

  1. It cracks easily compared to other stain-resistant countertops
  2. It requires grouting to make it waterproof

Grouting will hold stains and isn’t easy to clean. It also needs to be replaced periodically – porcelain tile is fine but doesn’t create the best countertops for stains.

9. Ceramic

Ceramic tile is very similar to porcelain. It’s often slightly more affordable than porcelain but is still prone to cracking and doesn’t have the gorgeous sheen that porcelain tile offers.

As ceramic tile also requires grouting, it’s not the most appropriate choice if you’re looking for the best countertops for stains. Grouting will pick up stains and might start coming loose after a while.

10. Granite

Granite is one of the most popular luxury kitchen counter materials. It’s hard-wearing, almost impossible to scratch (when it’s not sealed), has incredible heat resistance, and looks so beautiful. So why can’t it crack the top 10?

When it comes to the best countertops for stains, granite needs to be sealed, or it will discolour easily. It doesn’t cope well with oil, and spices like turmeric will leave ugly marks that are difficult to wipe clean. You can purchase sealed granite, but it doesn’t look quite as nice, and the sealant is also prone to scratching – which will expose the stone to staining.

Granite is so expensive that if you’re looking for stain-resistant countertops, quartz is a superior and cheaper option. It might look great, but handle that olive oil with extreme care when dressing a salad.

11. Soapstone

Soapstone is, as the name suggests, very easy to keep clean! It resists staining as it’s non-porous, it looks great, it’s heat-resistant, and it doesn’t require sealing. So what’s the catch?

Soapstone is very expensive. It’s quite rare, and the price tag can be prohibitive for most households. It’s great if you can get it, but offers mostly similar benefits to quartz at a far higher price.

12. Wood

Wood is a beautiful, natural choice for so many home furnishings, including countertops. However, it’s very prone to staining. Tea or coffee spillages, drops of oil, and red wine will all stain wood. While it can be sealed or treated with protective oil rubs, it’s high-maintenance.

13. Marble

Marble is hard-wearing, resists scratches, and looks stunning. Unfortunately, it needs a lot of care and attention to prevent stains from developing. You’ll also want to avoid using abrasive chemicals on marble to preserve its stunning lustre. Finally, marble is expensive! Quartz is a much more affordable and stain-resistant countertop option.

14. Concrete

Sealed concrete is quite affordable and holds up to stains fairly well – as long as the seal holds. If the seal is scratched or damaged, concrete will stain easily. It’s also not environmentally friendly and less attractive than many stain-resistant countertop materials like quartz.

15. Plastic Laminate

Plastic laminate can be wiped clean of oily or greasy stains with regular kitchen cleaning products. However, it discolours easily from spillages and often looks less attractive than other countertop materials. Cheap laminate is also prone to cracking, and scratching, and has a very low heat tolerance – if you put a hot pan down on plastic laminate, you’ll have to replace the entire counter.

Heavy staining is difficult to get rid of, and it needs to be sealed at the walls to prevent water from getting under the surface. This may cause it to come loose and make it more vulnerable to cracking. Not highly recommended.

Best Countertops for Stains: Sealed vs. Unsealed

Materials like quartz don’t need to be sealed to make them the best countertops for stains. This is a huge advantage because:

  • Unsealed materials look nicer
  • Seals need replacing over time – this costs money
  • If the seal cracks, the material underneath will become vulnerable to staining
  • Sealed stone only has the heat tolerance of the sealant and not the stone – this makes unsealed quartz more heat-tolerant than sealed granite
  • You’re paying for the sealant to be added to an already expensive material such as granite.

Most Affordable Stain-Resistant Countertops: Final Verdict

We consider quartz the best countertop for stains because:

  1. Quartz doesn’t need to be sealed
  2. It has antimicrobial properties
  3. It is highly heat-resistant
  4. It’s beautiful
  5. It’s affordable!

Take a look at our stunning range of quartz stain-resistant countertops and book a consultation with Caviar Kitchen today!