When you invest in a new countertop for your kitchen, it’s only natural to plan for longevity. You may keep this countertop in the family home for generations or it may travel from owner to owner for decades before another remodel replaces the stone. In fact, some natural stone countertops are still gleaming and pristine in kitchens that are centuries old.
How long will your countertops last? The answer depends on the original material and how well your counters are taken care of. Join us as we dive into an in-depth exploration of countertop material, lifespan, and what you can do to make your countertops last the longest.
Natural Stone Countertops Last a Lifetime
Natural stone is thousands of years old forged in great mountain ranges and close to the center of the earth. Pressure and time has made it strong and local minerals have made each slab uniquely beautiful. With proper care, a natural stone countertop can last another thousand years, but we’ll say 100+ as a safe margin.
1. Granite Countertops Can Last 100+ Years
Granite is the hardest type of rock in the world, second only to the diamond (but on par with a few other gemstones). Your granite countertop has stood the test of time and will last another “forever” as your kitchen counter, if provided the proper care. As long as you keep your granite countertop sealed and uncracked, it will remain steadfast – and breathtakingly beautiful – for over a century.
2. Marble Countertops Can Endure 50+ Years with Care
Marble countertops are the envy of homeowners everywhere with the creamy, elegant grains and luxury designs. Of course, marble is a much softer stone than granite and is more prone to scratches, stains, and damage over time. This is why the prescribed lifespan of a marble countertop is around 20 years. However, marble is a natural stone and with proper care, your marble countertop can last up to fifty years or more.
3. Limestone, Soapstone, Sandstone Countertops Last 20-50 Years
Limestone, soapstone, and sandstone are all softer stone varieties that make elegant, solid-color countertops in modern kitchens. However, all three are very porous which means a high risk of scratches, stains, and even hidden mildew if not properly sealed. Fortunately, countertop sealant has come leaps and bounds over the years, and you can protect your porous stone countertops for over 20 years and, with care, closer to 50 years.
How to Make Natural Stone Countertops Last
How can you keep your granite, marble, or soapstone countertops looking beautiful without scratches, stains, or cracks? With the right care and a few kitchen safety policies, you can make your stone countertops last decades, maybe centuries longer.
- Thicker Stone Slabs
- A thicker slab is less likely to crack during installation, in reaction to impacts, or when heavy items are placed on countertop lengths.
- Reseal Every 2-5 Years
- Keep your stone sealed to prevent scratches and stains. Even soft or porous stone countertops can stay perfect and add decades to the lifespan with proper sealant.
- Re-seal your countertops about every 2-5 years, or when you notice damage to the sealant layer. Often, the sealant will stain or scratch but the stone is safe underneath, so a new layer is as good as repairs.
- Avoid Acidic Exposure
- Countertop sealant and the stone itself can be damaged by acids. Do not use strong acids in the kitchen and don’t leave mild acids like vinegar or lemon juice in a spill for any length of time.
- Always Use Cutting Boards and Trivets
- Don’t put your countertops at risk of scratches or heat discoloration. Always use cutting boards to cut and trivets (hot pads) for placing hot pans.
- Don’t Allow Sitting on the Counters
- The one thing that can crack a solid counter (other than a sledgehammer) is a heavy object. A seated human 100+ lbs on an unsupported length of the counter can crack the slab. Thicker slabs and a no-sitting rule can easily prevent this.
Non-Stone Countertop Lifespans Vary
1. Quartz Countertops Withstand the Test of time (100+ Years?)
Quartz countertops are artificial stone slabs made of mostly quartz mixed with stones, metal flecks, dyes, and held together with resin. Quartz countertops are beautiful, with an unlimited color palette, and very strong. They are waterproof without sealant due to the resin but susceptible to heat. A quartz countertop can, theoretically, last over 100 years, but they haven’t existed long enough to test that theory.
Making Quartz Counters Last
- Don’t expose to heat, always use hot pads and trivets
- Resin in the quartz will discolor and melt at high temperatures
- Use cutting boards to avoid scratches
- Do Not Sit
2. Concrete Countertops Last 20+ Years
Concrete countertops make an elegant, smooth surface that can be cool solid gray or customized with swirls of color. While very sturdy, concrete is both porous and temporary. Expect scratches and crumbling at around 20 years unless hard use damages them sooner.
Extending the Life of Concrete Countertops
- Keep sealed and re-seal regularly
- Protect the corners
- Concrete’s greatest weakness is crumbling, so protect your corners to protect the slab.
- No sitting
4. Laminate Countertops for a Short 20-30 Years
Very few people choose laminate countertops anymore because they are known to age poorly. You mostly see laminate now with portable kitchenware and countertop tables. Don’t expect your laminate to last more than 20-30 years, with discoloring along the way.
Laminate Countertop Lifespan
- Keep them clean
- Don’t expose to direct sunlight
- Laminate’s biggest weakness over time is sunshine. It fades and yellows in the sun, so keep your kitchen curtains closed.
- Protect the edges
- Always use hot pads and trivets
5. Wood Countertops Lasting Anywhere from 10 to 100+ Years
Wood countertops are a recently popular fad, but a return to ancient countertop traditions. The lifespan depends on the type and hardness of the wood. Hardwood countertops can last upwards of 100 years with care, while soft and more renewable wood countertops are actually designed to be changed out in the next 10-30 years.
Maintaining Your Wood Countertops
- Clean immediately
- Wood countertops are the only type flexible enough to be safe for sitting – if your cabinets can support the weight.
- Oil regularly
- Sand out flaws
- The best thing about wood countertops is that you can buff out scratches easily
- Use real cutting boards
- Use trivets and hot pads to avoid scorch rings
6. Tile Countertops Can Last 100+ Years with Care
The last type of countertop to think about is tile. Good, strong tile countertops can last 100+ years, but only with proper care. Tiles can break and the grout between tiles will need constant cleaning – and even occasional reinstallation. But your tiles will last and perhaps become a piece of history.
How to Make Tile Countertops Last
- Avoid impacts and heavy objects
- Take care of your grout
- Repair cracks and chips
- Tile is the only type of countertop where a crack is a quick fix instead of a whole reinstallation
- Don’t allow liquid spills to sit – dry quickly
We hope this exploration has answered all your questions on how long each type of countertop can last in your home. If you are considering a new countertop installation, discover your dream slabs and designs at Arch City Granite. Contact us today to explore the possibilities of your kitchen that might just last a lifetime.