Natural stone, composite, polished concrete, etc. You’ll find variations of all of the above along with a range of quality products depending on who you’re talking to. It all boils down to your expectation of usage for the space and budget.
When it comes to natural stone it’s hard to beat a lueder slab, cost-efficient, nice heavy look. There are a couple variations of color options (light grey/charcoal/chocolate). They do have some weight to them but compared to other options, considering thickness, there’s not too much additional blocking. Support is needed in keeping costs down. Being a natural stone, they are porous, they will scratch, stain and if you decide to seal them that will turn into a continued maintenance item. Once you seal you will need to continue to reseal. Typically you will find pits, veins, and “character” throughout the slab, so if you’re looking for more of a consistent surface, that’s definitely something to keep in mind.
A lot of people inquire about granite & quartz options. Depending on overall style this may or may not be a good fit. These materials are usually installed at a 3CM thickness. In most of our outdoor settings, we prefer a heavier look for a countertop surface. Paired with the price, potential time delays in fabrication & sourcing material, as well as maintenance, I’m not a huge fan of this option.
We’ve had a lot of success with polished concrete, being that you can control thickness, edge profile, and color. All of the aesthetic accommodations make it an easy decision if the budget allows. You’ll definitely pay more going with a custom concrete top, but dealing with less maintenance, larger & more integrated pieces, as well as not having to stress about staining and being able to simply wipe down counters after use makes it nice. Minor details such as slight color variations, thickness, and the edge profile really come into play when assessing the overall finished product. These tops should be templated & created in a controlled environment offsite then brought back for installation. If your contractor is talking about fabricating and constructing your tops on-site, I’d keep looking.
When putting together your space and considering all the options, budget and function typically tend to narrow it down. Hopefully, this info can help point you in the right direction. Our showroom allows you to compare products side-by-side, touch, feel, and really build a visual as well as the cost associated side-by-side of the differences.