High Style, Low Cost
Considering new countertops for your kitchen reno? First, reflect on your lifestyle. Busy families might favor a material that’s low maintenance and durable, while a devoted baker may be willing to splurge on marble for its smooth surface and its ability to maintain a cool temperature.
For most homeowners undertaking a kitchen renovation, budget is a key factor when settling on whether you’ll be prepping meals on granite or laminate. The trouble is, if you’ve never had to replace your countertops before it's hard to know how much to budget for them. Here are 10 countertop materials that look great and—while there’s nothing “cheap” about a kitchen renovation line item with two to four zeros in the figure—are at least cheaper than materials like granite or marble. If you really want to save some money, consider DIY-ing your kitchen countertops with materials such plywood, concrete, and tile. Read on to get inspired—and get cooking.istockphoto.com
Modern laminate countertops just keep getting better and better. Thanks to advanced printing techniques, laminate countertops can now mimic stone or wood—and they're harder than ever to tell apart from the real thing! Although laminate used to be notorious for scratching, new sealants make that a thing of the past.
Cost: $50 to $120 per square foot installed
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If you’re looking for a darker-colored countertop consider soapstone, as its limited palette tends toward rich, dark hues. Soapstone is a nonporous natural stone that does not crack easily. This durable material is also heat resistant. While it does not require sealing, applying a thin layer of mineral oil to darken the countertop is recommended. Otherwise, spilling oil on soapstone countertops will create unsightly dark splotches.
Cost: $70 to $120 per square foot installedistockphoto.com
For modern, industrial flair in your kitchen, it's hard to beat concrete counters. They offer the same solid, earthy feel that natural stone does but at a fraction of the cost, especially if you can DIY the job. Dazzling stains and finishes give concrete counters a vibrancy that goes way beyond dull gray and allow the material to suit nearly any kitchen design.
Cost: $50 to $135 per square foot installed
RELATED: How to Make Concrete Countertops for Your Kitchen
If you want the durability of natural stone but don't have the budget, consider tile countertops. Tile comes in a spectrum of colorful and natural-toned designs, and can save you significant cash over custom-cut slabs of stone. Add interest by using more expensive types of tile as borders or accents alongside classic, more affordable styles.
Cost: $25 to $32 per square foot installed
RELATED: How to Install Tileistockphoto.com
While marble and granite can give off a cold look, wood, bamboo, or butcher block counters add warmth to a kitchen. Wood has the added benefit of being significantly cheaper than stone. Maple, oak, and walnut are popular choices, but a number of other species are available as well. If you opt for wood countertops, remember that they require oiling every 2 to 3 years.
Cost: $60 to $100 per square foot installedistockphoto.com
Although stainless steel isn't a particularly cheap choice as a full-kitchen custom-made countertop, a freestanding stainless steel worktable, like this one from FDW, can double as both kitchen island and countertop, and save you a considerable amount of money. Many freestanding stainless steel counters offer storage shelves underneath for easy access to commonly used items.
Cost: $80 to $225 per square foot installed
Like Corian, quartz countertops are created from a blend of natural materials—in this case, quartz stone—and resin. The difference between solid-surface and quartz is that quartz contains a higher percentage of stone, typically around 90 to 93 percent. Quartz countertops, which are also known as engineered countertops, are a bit more durable than their solid-surface cousins, but they’re also more expensive. The good news is that they are still cheaper than, say, granite.
Cost: $50 to $200 per square foot installedistockphoto.com
While it may sound unorthodox, plywood can indeed be used to make countertops. This affordable material works particularly well in a rustic-style home. Use ¾-inch-thick sanded plywood in pine, birch, maple, or a species of your choice, and stain or paint to your liking. Seal it with a clear, durable sealer.
Cost: approximately $5 per square foot, if you DIYistockphoto.com
Recycled glass is perhaps not the most popular choice for countertops, but it can be a striking option. Broken glass bits from wine bottles, windshields, and other sources are combined with resin or cement-based materials to create an almost infinite variety of countertop hues and designs. These countertops are easy to clean and fairly durable, although pieces of glass might occasionally pop out and would need to be replaced.
Cost: $55 to $140 per square foot installedistockphoto.com
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