From pubs and casual eateries to fine-dining establishments, countertops can elevate or add character to any commercial space. The right countertops can help you establish a specific style in your bar or restaurant and act as durable work surfaces. Depending on the type of business you operate, you may need different countertops for various areas of your establishment, including front-end, back-end and waiting areas. Common commercial countertop applications in restaurants and bars include service counters, food preparation areas, restroom vanities and bar tops.
Learn more about the different types of commercial countertop materials, including how to choose the best one for your business.
What to Consider When Choosing the Right Material
Countertops are an investment in your business that, when chosen carefully, will last you years to come. Whether furnishing a new building or remodeling your existing one, here’s what you need to consider when choosing commercial counters for restaurants and bars:
- Budget: Many business owners overlook the cost of ongoing care and maintenance when selecting commercial kitchen countertops. Some countertops require specific care products and instructions or may be more susceptible to damage than others. In some cases, you might find it in your best interest to combine durable, low-cost counters with a few accent pieces in key areas around your establishment.
- Porous vs. non-porous: Certain materials are more porous than others. The more porous a countertop is, the more likely it is to absorb moisture, stain and harbor bacteria if not cared for properly. Many local and state building codes have restrictions regarding the use of porous materials in food service environments.
- Maintenance: Some business operators prefer low-maintenance countertops, so they don’t have to interrupt workday operations when it’s time to repair, resurface or reseal them. For other establishments, maintenance is a small price to pay for the stability and style that come with some higher maintenance counters.
- Durability: Countertop durability refers to its ability to resist scratches, burns, stains, dents, rust, moisture, corrosion and high temperatures. If you plan on doing a lot of cutting or high-heat projects, choose a surface that can withstand those conditions.
- Weight: Though all types of food service counters and restaurant bar countertops require cabinet or bracing support, some materials are heavier than others and need more strength to keep them stable. You may need to factor in the cost of the additional support into your budget.
- Appearance: Finally, appearance is one of the most important factors for customer-facing counters. You want them to look clean and professional and reflect the unique style and character of your establishment. Note that a few counter types, like soapstone and butcher block, change appearance as they age.
Common Countertop Materials
Which material should you choose for your commercial space? You have several to choose from, available in a range of prices, styles and strengths. These are the most common materials used for restaurants and commercial bar designs.
Granite, a type of natural stone, is a favorite among home and business owners. It begins as rock compressed for millions of years, which causes different minerals to merge together. This merging creates the white and gray swirling that granite is known for. You can find granite in several polished or textured finishes.
In addition to its clean, classic appearance, other advantages of using granite include:
- Granite is strong and recyclable, making it more eco-friendly and long-lasting than many other countertops.
- As a classic design choice, granite holds its value, so you don’t have to worry about depreciating value.
- Granite is sanitary, easy to clean, does not stain or scratch easily and is very heat resistant.
- Every slab has its own distinctive marks, so no two countertops will ever be the same.
Though it’s a suitable choice for many commercial applications, keep the following in mind:
- As a type of stone, granite is very heavy and requires strong support.
- Granite requires frequent sealing to avoid stains.
- Once installed, you cannot change the style or color of a granite countertop.
- Though some consider its uniqueness an advantage, it’s not desirable for business owners who want a more uniform appearance.
Slate is a bold design decision, and you can easily adapt it to different styles or settings. Though most commonly found in gray or black, some slate is also available in purple and green. Many people choose slate for its rough, textured appearance.
A few other reasons to consider slate countertops are that:
- They are very heat and moisture resistant.
- They are fairly easy to clean and maintain.
- They provide an attractive focal point when used in customer-facing applications.
A few things to note about slate countertops include:
- They aren’t as customizable as other materials, and edges are naturally rough if you don’t choose a rounded design.
- Regular sealing is recommended to protect against staining from oils and acids.
- Slate is not as durable as some materials and may crack or chip.
Marble begins as limestone but is shaped and molded after being exposed to high levels of pressure and heat. During this process, any physical impurities combine to create the thin veins and bands of color that make marble so easily recognizable.
As one of the few materials that manage to be both on-trend and a timeless design choice, marble could be the right choice for your restaurant or bar for several reasons:
- Marble gives off a stylish, elegant appearance that you can style up or down, depending on the look you want to achieve.
- As a naturally cool surface, it is highly resistant to heat, making it ideal for use in bakeries or other areas where you will work with temperature-sensitive ingredients.
- Marble is available in a variety of colors, and you can choose from different engineered designs.
- Though not quite as durable as other materials, marble can usually withstand minor chipping.
Though marble is a great choice for many businesses, consider the following:
- Marble is naturally porous and stains easily, especially when it comes into contact with alcohol and acids.
- It can be a more costly material than others, though more affordable designs are available.
- Marble is a soft stone and may chip or scratch, which can be challenging to repair.
- They are high-maintenance and require frequent sealing.
Quartz countertops are engineered out of quartz, resin and pigment to create a solid, stylish surface. Some quartz countertops have coarsely ground stone inside, for a flecked appearance, while others have a more uniform design.
A few advantages of choosing quartz for your kitchen or dining area are that:
- It looks great — and as an engineered product, you have an endless selection of colors and patterns to choose from.
- Quartz is durable and non-porous, so it requires no sealing and is easy to clean.
- The glossy finish is stain and crack-resistant, making it a long-lasting investment.
A few things to keep in mind about quartz countertops:
- If you’re seeking a unique, natural appearance, you may not like the uniform design of a quartz surface.
- These countertops can be costly, depending on size and design.
- Quartz is very heavy, so you will need strong supports wherever you plan to install the countertops.
- They are not as heat resistant as other counter materials.
Laminate contains layers of plastic and resin attached to a sturdy particleboard backing. Laminate countertops can be ideal for application in smaller, less-trafficked businesses.
A few advantages of laminate countertops include:
- It can mimic the appearance of higher-end selections, but usually at a lower cost.
- Laminate counters are easy to clean.
- They are lightweight, so you don’t need heavy-duty support.
That said, laminate countertops are also:
- Prone to scratching, burns and some stains.
- Excessive moisture can cause the layers to peel and wear.
- It’s hard to repair laminate counters.
Soapstone is another type of quarried stone countertop, with smooth, matte colors that range from light gray to near-black. Some soapstone slabs might have hints of blue or green or a slight pearlescence to their finish. Over time, soapstone develops a dark patina. Though some may prefer a more consistent material, others enjoy the charm of naturally aging soapstone.
Some advantages of using soapstone in your kitchen or dining area include:
- Soapstone is subtle and understated, easy to fit in with several different designs.
- Similarly to marble, soapstone stays cool enough so you can work pastry dough and other ingredients on its surface.
A few things to be aware of regarding soapstone are that:
- It needs to be regularly polished with oil to stay in good shape.
- It is susceptible to chips and cracks.
- It does not hold up well to scratches.
- Its natural texture can scuff or scratch delicate glass and china.
Stainless steel counters are a classic choice for the food service industry because they are non-porous and offer unparalleled durability and bacteria resistance. Their polished shine also looks professional in any setting.
Stainless steel countertops are ideal if:
- You want a surface that is easy to sanitize.
- You need a heat-resistant work surface that does not require sealant.
- You want a recyclable counter material.
Though beneficial, stainless steel may not be the best choice in certain situations, such as:
- Though you can usually choose the style of your countertop edge and finish, stainless steel leaves little room for creativity.
- Most types of stainless steel counters smudge easily, so you’ll need to clean and buff fingerprints out regularly.
- Due to the density of the steel, these countertops make for a noisy workspace.
- Stainless steel countertops are prone to denting and etching and sometimes require professional restoration.
Concrete countertops are made of mortar and pigment, then sealed to create a non-porous surface. You can also mold concrete into different shapes and add visually interesting in-lays to create unique pieces. Though initially used in industrial designs, this material is increasing in popularity thanks to its ability to fit other styles, including minimalist and rustic establishments.
Concrete might be the right choice for you if:
- You want a stain and heat-resistant work surface that can stand up to frequent use.
- You are looking for something versatile that you can adapt to your space.
- You need countertops that won’t get ruined outdoors.
A few things you should know about concrete countertops include:
- Concrete is hefty, so you will need an adequate support structure.
- They require regular sealing to avoid stains and maintain the non-porous surface.
- Small cracks may form over time.
Butcher block is for more than cutting boards and kitchen islands — they make warm and inviting countertops, too. Though colors and grains vary between types of wood, there are two primary styles of butcher block available — edge grain and end grain. Edge grains run parallel to one another, while end grains create a checkerboard pattern, usually in multiple shades of wood to add interest.
Here are a few reasons butcher block may be a good fit for you:
- They are visually appealing and an easy way to add interest to a room.
- They are more cost-efficient than several other materials.
- When sealed properly, they are anti-bacterial and easy to clean.
- They are biodegradable.
Before installing this material in your commercial space, be aware that:
- Wood naturally swells and contracts when it absorbs moisture, so regular sealing is crucial.
- Butcher block is prone to scratching, but some find this a part of its aesthetic appeal.
- You might need to sand and resurface the countertops in the future to retain a like-new appearance.
Corian is a solid-surface countertop material manufactured by Dupont, though the name is often used as a general way to describe all solid surfaces. These counters are fully engineered and contain a mixture of materials, like acrylic and stone-derived filler. The result is something similar to granite, though more versatile.
Here’s what you should know about these cost-efficient countertops:
- They are available in an extensive range of colors and styles, and seams are easy to hide during installation.
- Solid-surface material is resistant to most corrosive acids and does not require sealant.
- Due to their engineered design, they are ideal for business owners seeking a clean, uniform design.
Solid-surface countertops are a great addition to any commercial space, but keep these facts in mind:
- Corian is not as heat and stain resistant as some other materials.
- It’s easy to scratch solid-surface materials, but you can typically buff or wipe markings away.
- Fully engineered designs mean you will not get the same character or natural appearance you would get with something like concrete or quartz.
Request Your Free Quote From H.H. Ross Today
If you need countertops for your bar or restaurant, Henry H. Ross & Son, Inc. has restaurant countertops for sale. For more than 60 years, our family-owned company has helped business owners like you create inviting, professional commercial establishments with high-quality counters and surfaces. Learn more about the products and services we offer or contact us for your free quote today!