Designers reveal the outdated countertop materials we should all be avoiding

Meta description: Kitchen designers share which countertop materials like laminate, ceramic tile, and granite are now outdated. Get their tips on trendier eco-friendly options.


When remodeling your kitchen, choosing the right countertop material is one of the most important decisions. The counters see heavy daily use and take a lot of abuse. You want a surface that is durable, easy to clean, and visually appealing.

However, some countertop materials that were very popular in past decades are now considered outdated by many kitchen designers. Tastes, trends, and technology have changed. Homeowners today often want countertops made from eco-friendly and sustainable materials that are low-maintenance.

In this article, we’ll look at the types of countertops that leading kitchen designers say you should avoid. We’ll explain why these surfaces don’t make the cut anymore and reveal which eco-friendly countertop options are rising in popularity.

Laminate Countertops

Laminate counters were hugely popular in the 1970s and 80s. This affordable material consists of layers of kraft paper or fabric infused with melamine resin and topped with a plastic laminate coating. While laminate counters offer lots of color and pattern options, most designers now view this material as dated and subpar.

Why Designers Avoid Laminate Today

  • Durability issues – The resin in laminate counters can bubble, blister, crack, and peel away from the substrate over time. Hot pans and spills can easily damage the surface.
  • Resists staining but prone to scratching – While laminate resists staining, it scratches easily from cutting or sliding heavy objects across the surface. Scratches harbor bacteria.
  • Can’t withstand water – Laminate swells and de-laminates when exposed to lots of water. The seams are particularly vulnerable.
  • Limited material thickness – Laminate counters are only about 1/16” thick. This allows more sound transfer and flexing compared to solid surface materials.
  • Dated looks – Laminate now has a cheap, outdated appearance. The seams are also more visible than seamless modern materials.

Eco-Friendly Alternatives to Laminate

Instead of laminate, many designers now recommend these eco-friendly countertop materials:

  • Paper composite – Made from paper and resin, paper composite counters like PaperStone are durable, stain-resistant, and NAF (no added formaldehyde). Stylish patterns are available.
  • Bamboo – Bamboo is a renewable grass that makes a durable counter material. Bamboo counters have an attractive grain and warm coloration.
  • Recycled glass – Counters can contain up to 100% recycled glass, keeping waste out of landfills. The glass can be mixed with concrete or resin.
  • Concrete – Concrete made with eco-friendly ingredients can produce strong, stylish counters with industrial appeal. Integrally pigmented concrete doesn’t need toxic stains.

Ceramic Tile Countertops

Tile was once the most commonly used kitchen countertop material. It offers a durable surface that resists cuts, scratches, heat, and stains. So why are designers moving away from ceramic tile counters today?

Downsides of Tile Countertops

  • Grout lines – The grout between the tiles can become dirty. Grout needs regular sealing to prevent staining and mildew growth.
  • No built-in drainage – Water pools on tile counters instead of draining. This allows spills and cleaning water to seep down into base cabinets.
  • Uneven surface – The grout lines and uneven tiles create an irregular surface that makes prepping tasks like rolling dough difficult.
  • Prone to chipping and cracking – Dropping a heavy object on a tile counter can chip the surface or loosen tiles. Cracked grout also poses a hygiene risk.
  • Makes accessories hard to install – Drilling into tile can crack or dislodge tiles. This makes installing accessories like soap dispensers tricky.

Sleeker Alternatives to Tile Countertops

Many homeowners are now choosing these seamless countertop materials over tile:

  • Quartz – Engineered quartz is a blend of crushed quartz and resin that creates a smooth, nonporous surface without grout lines. It’s stain, scratch, and heat resistant.
  • Solid surface – Materials like Corian consist of acrylic, minerals, and binders. No grout or seams exist, making cleaning and installation easier.
  • Stainless steel – Commercial stainless steel counters are durable, hygienic, and heat-resistant. The seamless surface makes them ideal for busy kitchens.
  • Soapstone – Quarried soapstone is naturally antibacterial and stain-resistant. Oil applied periodically accentuates soapstone’s natural patina.

Granite Countertops

Granite used to be the most coveted material for luxury kitchen countertops. This natural stone has a timeless, elegant appearance. However, even high-end designers are moving away from using granite.

The Case Against Granite Counters

  • Porous surface – Granite is naturally porous and prone to staining. It requires yearly sealing to prevent sauces and liquids from soaking in.
  • Can etch – Acidic substances like tomato sauce and lemon juice will etch granite’s vulnerable surface. Etching damages the polish.
  • High radiation – Granite contains trace amounts of uranium that make it naturally radioactive. Levels are higher in granites with rich, dark colors.
  • Limited eco-friendly options – Most granite needs to be shipped long distances. Regional eco-friendly granite options are still quite limited.
  • Vulnerable seams – Bacteria and liquids can penetrate the seam adhesive used in granite counters. This allows unhealthy buildup in the seams.

More Eco-Friendly Alternatives to Granite

Here are some of the green alternatives designers recommend over granite:

  • Concrete – Locally produced concrete made with environmentally responsible ingredients is durable, heat-resistant, and stain-proof when sealed.
  • Soapstone – Mined in a few North American locales, soapstone is naturally antimicrobial. It develops a patina that hides scratches.
  • Recycled glass counters -Agglomerated recycled glass counters contain up to 85% recycled bottle glass. This diverts waste from landfills.
  • Richlite – Made from recycled paper and natural resins, Richlite has realistic stone and woodgrain patterns. It’s durable and resistant to stains.

FAQs About Outdated Countertops

Is laminate still used for countertops today?

While laminate counters are still installed in some budget kitchens, most designers avoid using this material. Laminate easily becomes damaged, appears cheap, and lacks the seamless look of newer materials. Eco-friendly options like paper composite provide a more durable and upscale alternative.

Are ceramic tile counters hard to maintain?

Ceramic tile requires diligent maintenance. The grout lines have to be sealed regularly to resist staining, mildew, and bacteria. Spills need quick cleaning so they don’t seep beneath tiles. Dropping heavy items can crack tiles or grout. New materials like stainless steel and quartz provide a grout-free surface that’s much easier to clean.

Why are granite countertops considered outdated?

Granite must be sealed yearly to prevent staining. It can also etch from acid. The high porosity allows unhealthy bacterial growth. Radiation levels are a concern too. Plus most granite is imported, lacking eco-friendly appeal. Many designers now view granite as outdated compared to greener options like concrete, PaperStone, and recycled glass.

What are some pros and cons of concrete countertops?

Concrete counters offer great durability, impermeability, heat-resistance, and stain-resistance when properly sealed. Since concrete can be produced locally, it’s considered a good eco-friendly choice. On the downside, concrete is prone to cracking and can develop alkaline etching. The weight requires sturdy cabinetry too. But for many homeowners, the pros of concrete outweigh the cons.

Are stainless steel kitchen countertops hard to maintain?

Professional grade stainless steel provides a seamless, hygienic surface. It holds up well to heavy use and resists stains, heat damage, and bacteria. While stainless shows fingerprints, it cleans up quickly and easily. Designers often recommend it for busy kitchens. Using matte finishes or brushed patterns helps hide marks too.


Many kitchen countertop materials popular in past eras like laminate, ceramic tile, and granite are now shunned by designers. New countertop options offer greater durability, more eco-friendly appeal, easier maintenance, and smoother seamless surfaces.

Homeowners today often want to avoid outdated choices like laminate and instead opt for green materials like concrete, bamboo, recycled glass, and paper composite. This allows them to gain stylish, functional countertops while also keeping environmental impact in mind. Carefully researching the pros and cons of each material is key to making the best choice.