You know what they say: if you can’t handle the heat, get out of the kitchen! Your kitchen has a lot going on at any one time, so it’s imperative that it can take the heat, both literally and figuratively. While it’s still important to use hot pads or trivets wherever possible, knowing that your countertop can handle the accidental or occasional hot pan can bring you significant peace of mind.
Unfortunately, not all countertops hold up well against heat. If your house is full of careful cooks and bakers who always use a hot pad or splatter guard, you should be fine with whatever you choose. However, if some chefs in your house are casual or haphazard with a trivet, you may want to invest in a countertop with a high tolerance for heat. Below are some of the common countertop options and how they rank on the heat tolerance scale.
Laminate: Laminate is probably the most affordable option on this list, and it definitely offers the most colors and patterns of any other countertop material. The problem with laminate is that it is plastic and can scorch, burn, and literally melt off of your countertop. If it gets too hot, it may even break into chunks and peel away from the countertop.
Solid Surface: Solid surface is another very affordable countertop option, but it also does not hold up well against heat. The material is usually an acrylic or plastic compound that can crack, warp, or melt into puddles if it gets too hot (about 320° F or more). That can be problematic in a kitchen with a lot of haphazard or apprentice bakers.
Butcher Block: Butcher block is an excellent option for many reasons, but how it handles heat isn’t one of them. It won’t discolor or melt the way some of the other countertop materials do, but it can scorch or burn if the pan is too hot. Luckily, it’s easy enough to refinish if that does happen – a level of grace other countertops options don’t offer.
Quartz: Quartz has a lot of upsides (scratch resistance, stain resistance, chip resistance, to name a few), but for all of its perks, it has only a medium resistance to heat. The colorants and resins that go into making quartz can handle a warm pan, but anything hotter than that can melt or discolor the manmade components.
Concrete: – Concrete countertops are becoming a stylish option, and they actually absorb and dissipate heat reasonably well. The problem is that any time you use a sealing product (something you will need with a concrete countertop), you run the risk of the sealer discoloring.
Dolomite: As a general rule, natural stone slabs hold up better against heat compared to manmade or other organic countertop materials. Dolomite is a type of limestone that is beautiful and heat resistant like marble but doesn’t scratch or etch as easily.
Soapstone: Soapstone countertops are incredibly resistant to heat – in fact, soapstone is one of the materials of choice in chemistry classrooms because of its heat tolerance. Soapstone is usually a dark gray color that develops a patina over time. Soapstone is mostly made up of talc, a soft material, so it scratches somewhat easily, but it’s also fairly straightforward to fix the scratches.
Quartzite: Quartzite countertops are very heat resistant (quartzite also makes a great fireplace surround), but you should still be careful placing very hot items directly on the surface. It can handle a hot plate or semi-hot pot, but anything too large or hot could crack the quartzite (especially if the quartzite happens to be cold at the time.) Temperature-related damage is unlikely, but it’s still always best to use a hot pad or trivet.
Marble: Marble slabs also have a high tolerance for heat, and they look oh, so beautiful all the while. Marble is strong and durable, though it has a reputation for being a little more finicky to care for because it stains and scratches more easily than other natural stones.
Granite: Granite probably holds the candle for being the most durable and heat resistant countertop option on the market. It is also widely available, which makes it more affordable than some of the other options. Granite countertops work really well in the kitchen and can handle the heat from hot pots and pans, though you should still use trivets whenever possible. Durability, scratch resistance, and stain resistance are three other significant benefits of granite.
All countertop options have pros and cons, so you will need to find one that best fits your family’s lifestyle and budget. If high heat tolerance is important to you, consider a natural stone countertop made from granite, marble, or quartzite. With relatively low maintenance, these options bring elegance and beauty as well as durability and longevity to your kitchen and home.