Durability and Allure Are Pricy – But the Countertop is Important, Don’t Short Yourself!
The biggest cost in your kitchen remodel, whether it be minor or a total overhaul, an apartment or giant kitchen with a wet bar, is usually the countertop. Countertops, along with cabinets, can cause major grief and headaches if they aren’t done exactly the way you had imagined.
Countertop choices are seemingly never ending and can be overwhelming. As you try to sort through every option imaginable, here are the key features that many homeowners consider to have at the top of their lists.
• Look/Design – Everyone has their preferences here, just keep in mind that beauty, as always, comes with a price tag.
• Chip resistant – Is the material you want prone to damage from the simplest drops?
• Stain resistant – Accidents happen, make sure whatever surface you decide to go with won’t be ruined from one, clumsy accident.
• Heat resistant – Are you going to be facing disaster from a few seconds of a hot frying pan coming in contact with the surface?
• Acid/caustic material resistant – Will your surface of choice suffer damage from coffee, alcohol, lemons, or certain cleaning materials?
• Cut resistant – Some materials can almost serve as a giant cutting board, others can be cut into if you’re not too careful.
• Daily maintenance – How easy is the surface to keep clean? What about to make it shine? They are not one in the same.
• Long term maintenance – Are there costs to look out for in order to keep your new countertop looking new for a long time?
• Resale value – What can/will the countertop you choose do for your home value should you decide to sell?
• Cost – Perhaps the most important. Countertop costs have a huge range depending on the material used. Are you getting the most bang for your buck?
What Countertop Choices Do You Have?
|Cost: $100 - $400/square foot|
Marble comes in endless styles and colors, it has a beautiful smooth surface, and is incredibly chip, dent and heat resistant. Scratching and/or etching is a possibility. Coffee, alcohol, harsh cleaning products, and some citrus fruits and acids all have the potential to scratch. Marble can be protected with a seal, but there is no guarantee it will work 100% of the time. The sealant will also have to be applied one or two times a year for optimal protection.
|Cost: $100 - $400/square foot|
Granite is more durable than marble, coming with all of the same benefits and more. No chipping or denting, heat and water resistant when sealed, stain resistant, and impervious to scratches. It has a great resale value, so if you have the money to spend you will likely get it back. Granite also comes in a wide variety of colors and is low-maintenance.
|Cost: $225+/square foot|
Lava stone comes in a wide variety of colors. It has a high resistance to cold and heat, is non-porous, and won’t stain or scratch. It prides itself on high durability and low-maintenance.
Cost: $100 - $300 / sq. foot
|Cost: $100 - $300/square foot|
Stainless Steel is incredibly durable. It can stand up against the harshest acids and cleaning chemicals, it won’t stain, and is heat resistant. Clean up is a breeze and standard maintenance is low. However, you can run in to problems with shine over time unless you use a cleanser such as Barkeep and it can be nicked and scratched.
|Cost: $60 - $300/square foot|
Glass is non-porous and has no problems when it comes to resisting heat. Cut away on the surface worry-free. Some big things to watch out for: haze, fingerprints, and water spots are hard to treat completely, making daily maintenance difficult. Cracks, chips and breaks are beyond repair once they happen, so if you have a small family glass is probably not the way to go.
|Cost: $80 - $150/square foot|
Concrete is a very smooth surface and is probably your toughest option – having no problem resisting scratches and heat. There is a wide variety of concrete surfaces to keep your options open, and you can shape it any way you desire because it requires custom cast to fit. You will have to seal and wax its porous surface which can make long term maintenance a little bit of a hassle.
|Cost: $75 - $150/square foot|
Soapstone can be scratched but they can be removed by sanding or oiling. It is also resistant to etching from acids. The downsides: It can be stained, cracks and chips can be bad enough to be beyond repair, it requires regular maintenance and the color has a tendency to darken over time.
Engineered Stone (90% Quartz)
|Cost: $50 - $150/square foot|
Engineered Stone is very low maintenance and will not require sealing. It’s nonporous and will resist scratches and stains no problem. A big benefit is that it looks very much like natural stone, but add in some pigments to the mix and you can broaden the appearance almost endlessly. Be warned: engineered stone is NOT heatproof.
Solid Surface (Corian, etc.)
Cost: $45 - $150 / sq. foot
|Cost: $45 - $150/square foot|
Pros: Smooth surface, easy to integrate sink and backsplash, highly durable, stains and scratches can be sanded away, variety of colors and patterns, and can imitate marble, concrete, and other materials.
Cons: Non-resistant to scratches, dents, stains, or heat.
|Cost: $40 - $150/square foot|
Wood counters are a great prep surface and make you feel like you’re in a working kitchen. There are some big disadvantages of wood to be aware of. First of all, it is easily scratched, dented, and stained. Second, it is a high maintenance surface which can deter anyone looking to put it into a family environment. It’s also believed that small scratches in the surface are prone to storing bacteria, so if you do opt for wood you’ll want to put on a food-safe sealer. Lastly, direct sunlight and sink spray can cause fading.
|Cost: $2 - $150/square foot|
Ceramic tile can be very cost efficient which can attract many people looking for new countertops. It is also relatively durable, installing and cleaning is a breeze, and it’s heat and moisture resistant. The downsides here are an uneven surface which can make food prep inconvenient, the grout is susceptible to staining, and the tiles can scratch, chip, and crack.
|Cost: $45 - $75/square foot|
Paper-based composite is a green solution countertop manufactured from recycled paper. It is not stain and heat proof, but is stain and heat resistant. Scratching is a possibility and will darken over time, but they are typically regarded as being very durable. You will need sealant as it is a porous surface. Keep in mind that it is not something readily available so you’ll need to special order.
Bamboo & Paper Composite
|Cost $30+/square foot|
Bamboo & paper composite is a green option which many find appealing. It’s a durable, food safe surface and is hyper allergenic. You will also experience benefits in it being scratch and stain proof, water-resistant, and no discoloration over time. You have lighter color options than paper-based composite and it looks like wood. Keep in mind that regular maintenance is a must.