What is the best countertop?
The first thing that should be stated is that with all the counter top choices available, there is no one utopian top. They all have different characteristics. You must choose what the best fit for your lifestyle is.
There are many different countertop materials available including natural stone, solid surface, quartz, laminate, wood, metals (stainless steel, copper, etc.) concrete, paper stone, glass composites etc. The three most commonly used are stone, solid surface and quartz.
Natural stone (granite, marble, soapstone, limestone etc.) exhibits a variety of colors and patterns. Since it is natural, no two stones are alike. This creates a top that is truly unique. The main benefits of natural stone are that it is heat and scratch resistant. Its downfalls are that it is porous, which requires more attention to clean up and periodically requires a sealant. Also if the design dictates a seam the seams will be visible.
Solid Surface materials (Corian, etc.) are made of a thermoplastic material that is available in a variety of colors and patterns but is a finite offering. The benefits of solid surface materials are that it is non porous and is easy to clean as well as it does not require a sealant. The seams are also inconspicuous and often invisible. If the top is damaged most often a professional can repair the top in place. The repairs are often invisible as long as there is material left from the same batch. The installer should leave you a sink or cook top cut out for this reason. Its downfalls are that the material is not heat resistant and you cannot put a hot pot directly on the top. It is also not very scratch resistant but the homeowner can usually easily repair it.
Quartz (Caesarstone, Cambria, Zodiaq, Silestone) is a becoming a very popular top choice. The material is a combination of natural stone (quartz) and binder. Quartz is like solid surface in that it is non-porous for easy cleanup and does not require a sealant. It is like natural stone in that its look is more stone than solid surface including visible seams. Quartz is not heat resistant like stone but more scorch resistant than solid surface.
Determining the best countertop choice for you is something that you should discuss with your kitchen designer.