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Countertops are usually made from various slabs of stone, but also from a wide range of other materials, from wood to plastics to metal to concrete. These days, the most popular kitchen countertops are made of quartz, which looks like stone but is actually a mashup of minerals and resins and usually colored with patterns that mimic granite or marble. Granite is still very popular, with soapstone, marble, and laminates gaining ground.

No matter what type of material you select, you can save plenty by shopping for the best price. The table below reports prices our undercover shoppers were quoted by local companies to supply and install countertops using the exact same design. We collected prices for two options: Alaskan White sealed and polished granite and Silestone Blanco Maple quartz.

As you can see, prices varied dramatically, from $3,366 to $5,429 for granite and $2,509 to $5,400 for quartz.

Of course, quality of fabrication and installation is at least as important as price. In our “Countertop Suppliers & Installers” section you’ll find customer reviews of area outfits. Also check with friends, ask to see examples of a company’s recent installations, and note how closely a company’s staff listens to you and how carefully they measure.

Ask retailers about their warranties. Do they cover repairing or replacing counters if they stain, chip, or crack? Know that it’s far easier to get a warranty on quartz or another manufactured product than on granite; since manufactured countertop materials are brand-name and engineered, they usually come with a guarantee against chips, scratching, or warping for 10 to 20 years. Granite and natural stones are usually ineligible for such warranties.

Be sure your designer or countertop seller comes to measure your space beforehand to prevent cutting mistakes.

As with cabinets, get in writing vendors’ turnaround-time estimates. Although we found that backlogs for countertops were shorter than those for cabinets, we still encountered longer-than-usual waits. Before the pandemic, most vendors cut and installed countertops within a week to 10 days.