Although kitchen countertop replacement is challenging, it will increase the value of your home. Spend a time researching all about countertops before you start remodeling your kitchen.
In this guide, you will learn about the different kinds of countertop materials, and how to choose the right countertop for your kitchen, plus receive a few answers to common questions.
Considerations When Replacing Kitchen Countertops
There are several factors to consider before you decide to replace kitchen countertops. You may choose to repair your existing countertops, which would save time and money.
Kitchen Countertop Expenses
Before you do anything, figure out what you want and set a budget. There are so many choices when of kitchen countertop styles, which are available at different price points. You can choose a simple laminate countertop, which is the cheapest material on the market, or a luxurious option, like copper or marble.
Pricing also dictates quality and maintenance. Low-end countertops are built for high traffic use but are less appealing and have shorter lifespans.
High-end countertops are made of attractive materials but require more maintenance, while some surfaces require specific cleaning chemicals.
Prices start at $20 per square foot for cheaper materials, whereas high-end countertops can go beyond $200 per square foot. Mid-range countertops, like solid surfaces or ceramic tile, are easier on the budget and hold up to regular use.
Kitchen Countertop Material Composition
There are two types of countertop material – natural or engineered. Metal, stone, and wood make up natural countertops. Engineered materials, like resins, binders, powders, and pressed laminates will create nice surfaces.
Artificial materials are cheaper than natural ones, and are more durable and have less maintenance. Solid surface countertops are a cheaper alternative to stone countertops.
Manufactured countertops offer flexibility and room for creativity as they’re available in a variety of colors and patterns.
High Traffic Kitchens
Some materials are not suitable for high-traffic kitchens. For example, recycled glass or travertine countertops would not withstand a busy kitchen. Research countertop materials so you’ll have durable material that can handle your kitchen’s traffic.
Stainless steel countertops can handle high traffic as they withstand use in commercial kitchens. They are a more expensive option. Quartz countertops have higher durability than granite, require little maintenance, and are easy to clean.
Pay attention to what kinds of material can withstand high heat. Scorching hot pans will burn the top of a laminate countertop, whereas granite can resist the hottest kitchen temperatures.
If you don’t use your kitchen counters often, you may want to consider a wood or marble countertop.
Countertop Warranty Protection
Most countertops manufacturers come with a warranty, ensuring that your product is free of defects from the factory.
The most important warranty to check into is the fabricator’s warranty. This warranty covers the installation of the countertop, including seams and sinks.
Seams can break due to your house settling, cabinets not being installed right, or the sink pulling apart from the countertop.
A warranty can help repair and replace these types of damages.
Replace Your Cabinets
If you are ripping out all of your countertops, you may want to consider replacing cabinets at the same time.
You can match new cabinets to your countertops instead of trying to match countertops to existing cabinets.
Most kitchen countertops are attached to the cabinets. If this is the case, it could be complicated to detach them.
You also risk damaging your countertops if you have to replace kitchen cabinets down the line.
Repair Old Countertops
Some types of countertops can be repaired instead of replaced. It all depends on the material of the countertop.
Wood countertops can be buffed out. Natural stone repair kits can repair stone countertops. Laminate countertops may be able to be repaired if scratches are minor, but it isn’t easy to match the color and texture.
Repairing existing countertops is a great way to save money and be earth-conscious.
How to Save Money On New Countertops
Here are some tips and tricks to make your countertop installation costs lower.
Buy Wholesale Granite Countertops
You can save a bunch of money on your new countertops if you cut out the middle man.
Skip shopping at big-box retailers and go straight to the countertop manufacturer. Granite countertop businesses used to be for contractors and dealers, but that has changed over the recent years.
Most granite countertop manufacturers are now open to the public. You can save a good amount of money dealing with them instead of the hardware stores.
Check with your installer and see if you can get a deal on your installation and costs if you do your demolition.
Demolition may sound easy, but it takes thought and care, so you don’t damage flooring and appliances.
Ripping out your countertops requires a lot of strength. Stone countertops are heavy so see if you can recruit help from friends or family.
Use Contact Paper
You can freshen the look of your old countertops with contact paper. You can use contact paper on wood, laminate, quartz, and granite countertops.
Contact paper is temporary, so you can take it off and replace it once it has worn out.
Installation is easy, and anyone can do it. Make sure your countertops are clean, peel the backing off, and apply it to the surface. Smooth out any bubbles.
Guide to Kitchen Countertop Material
Choosing a countertop material can be a daunting task. This section contains an overview of each type of countertop material, the pros and cons, and the price range to help you make an informed decision about kitchen countertops.
Solid Surface Kitchen Countertop
Solid surface countertops are cheaper than granite and other high-end surfaces yet can resemble natural stone.
These countertops are 1/3rd binding resins and 2/3rds minerals. The minerals in solid surfacing include aluminum trihydrate and bauxite. The minerals give the resins a smooth consistency that resembles fine stone.
Solid surfacing is non-porous, is easy to buff scratches, and is solid. However, solid surfaces are not heat resistant. They’re also challenging to work with during a DIY countertop installation. The material is soft and scratches.
Solid surfaces require a sink cut-out and cannot have an undermount sink installation.
Countertops made of solid surface cost around $50 per square foot, and the average project ranges between $2,500 to $5,000.
Granite Kitchen Countertops
Granite countertops are natural stone cut in large slabs quarried from deposits worldwide.
The stone is rough, textured, and porous. Granite requires grinding and polishing, which needs maintenance.
Granite comes in different hues, including pink, white, black, and gray. Part of the fun is matching granite slabs with your kitchen and cabinets.
Granite is made into slab countertops, but granite tile is becoming more popular. Granite also looks great on a kitchen island and for backsplashes.
Countertops made of granite have excellent durability when maintained and resist scratches and heat. However, granite must be sealed and maintained, or else the stone can stain and even harbor bacteria.
The price of granite countertops varies with the quality of the stone. You can find discount granite for around $20 per square foot, but the pieces may be damaged or not attractive. Average granite material costs around $50 per square foot. Premium granite prices can be as high as $125 per square foot.
The cost of granite material and new countertop installation ranges between $2,500 to $5,000 for most homeowners.
If you decide on granite countertops, invest in a high-quality granite care product.
Maintenance tips include:
- Wipe up spills – acidic foods and liquids do the most damage
- Do not let wet kitchen items sit on the granite
- Do not use dish soap on granite
- Do not cut on the granite surface
- Do not clean with ammonia, vinegar, or citrus cleaners
- Use granite specific cleaners
Granite comes with a factory seal, so consult with the manufacturer about keeping the seal in good condition.
If your granite countertops get chips, you can use a DIY stone repair kit to fix the damage.
Its best for professional countertop installers to put in granite countertops. Installers cut, edge, and polish the granite stone slabs, which requires specific experience.
Marble Kitchen Countertops
Marble slab countertops are a luxurious choice and require special maintenance to keep the natural stone in excellent condition.
Treat marble countertops like you would granite, wiping up spills, not cutting on the surface, and using specialty cleaning products to keep the stone maintained.
Marble is a little bit more expensive than granite. Marble countertops cost between $40 to $100 per square foot, with premium marble rising to $180 per square foot. The average countertop installation will cost about $5,000.
You can buy marble in whole slabs for countertops and add a marble backsplash to complete the look.
Ceramic Tile Countertops
Ceramic tile is an excellent choice if you are looking for versatility in colors and patterns. Tiles are easy to clean and do not stain.
Ceramic tiles are made from fired clay and are the least expensive tile available. Ceramic tile countertops can use small or large tiles. If you choose small tiles, there will be more grout lines which can be harder to clean.
Many homeowners choose large tiles on their kitchen countertop. Small tiles are preferred for backsplashes and accents.
Use glazed tiles for surfaces that are susceptible to water exposure.
Ceramic tile kitchen countertops have an uneven surface, so things like a cutting board or platter may not sit right.
The price for a ceramic countertop varies on the type of tile you choose. Basic tiles can be as low as $2 per square foot, whereas high-quality designed tiles can go up to $30 per square foot. The average cost to install countertops made of ceramic tile is around $2,000, making it one of the more affordable options.
Quartz Kitchen Countertops
Quartz countertops are a classy-looking surface that is a nice alternative to natural stones. The quartz surface is an engineered stone with small crystals bound by resin. This mix of resins and crystals creates a stunning surface that looks similar to natural stone but without the price tag.
Quartz engineered stone should not be confused with quartzite – it is a different material altogether.
Manufactured quartz countertops can range in pattern, texture, and color. Quartz can resemble smooth stone, marble, concrete, and granite.
Quartz countertop surfaces are durable, are resistant to heat, and do not chip or damage. This kind of counter is low maintenance and can be wiped down with ease.
However, the surface is porous, making the countertop prone to staining. Therefore, the quartz surface must be resealed on a regular basis.
Quartz cost about $4,500 to install countertops, with an average of $60 per square foot.
Quartzite is a natural metamorphic rock, unlike quartz engineered stone. Quartzite has unique beauty and variations in color and pattern. It is more durable than granite and is more affordable yet has a similar look to granite.
Quartzite is not as porous as other materials, but it requires regular sealing to keep it in the best condition.
When you shop for quartzite countertops, you will find a large selection of slabs that cost between $50 to $100 per square foot installed. Price variation depends on the attractiveness of the natural colors and patterns. Quartz countertops cost around $5000 to install.
Stainless Steel Kitchen Countertops
Stainless steel countertops are seen in commercial kitchens but can be used for the home if you want a professional kitchen style. You can use stainless steel on a kitchen island, and for bar tops too.
Fabrication shops customize stainless steel countertops for residential homes. All holes, cuts, and bends a prefabricated into steel sheets.
There are several finishes for stainless steel:
- Antique matte
- Satin polish
Stainless steel is non-porous and resists bacteria and microbes. It is also resistant to heat, burns, and rust.
One significant drawback to stainless steel countertops is the noise. Doing anything on a stainless-steel surface is loud, like placing a hard object on the surface.
Stainless steel scratches, dents, and collects fingerprints. Heat transfers into the steel from hot pots and pans.
The price of a stainless-steel countertop ranges on the expensive side. The thicker the steel, the more the price increases, with sizes ranging from 20 to 14 gauge. The price ranges from $80 to $200 per square foot, with complete countertop installation costs about $6000.
Laminate countertops are the most affordable surfaces on the market and are a good, low-maintenance option.
A combination of paper and plastic formed into thin layers creating the laminate surface. These layers are colored and textured, then laminated into particle or chipboard.
Laminate countertops can be installed in kitchens, bathrooms, and laundry rooms. It is easy to work with, making laminate a good choice for DIY installation.
There are many laminate countertops on the market, and the price varies based on the quality. High-end laminates have a better sheen and texture compared to low-end laminates.
Do note that damaged laminate cannot be filled or repaired. You can’t use laminate with undermount sinks. Also, laminate does not have any heat resistance and burns with ease.
The price of laminate countertops ranges around the $25 to $35 range per square foot installed. Higher-end laminate can be as high as $60 per square foot. A complete installation costs around $2000.
Copper Kitchen Countertops
Using copper for countertops is trending as it has a distinct warm look that is lustrous and full of character. As copper tarnishes, a unique patina develops, giving the copper an authentic, classical look.
Copper has natural antimicrobial qualities and is a sustainable building material. It is easy to clean and to work with.
Copper does discolor, which is an inherent property of the metal. It is also soft and is prone to scratches and dents. These all add character to the copper, but if you are not a fan of change, then copper countertops are not suitable for you.
Copper countertops are the most expensive on the market today, an even higher than granite and marble. The price of a copper countertop ranges from $100 to $200 per square foot, with complete labor and install cost of $7,000.
Travertine countertops are a less popular style compared to other natural stone countertops, such as marble and granite. However, it is rising in popularity due to its unusual colors and textures.
Travertine is less expensive than other stone options, with price points starting at $25 per square foot. Travertine is known for its reflectivity, which brightens up a space.
Several reasons may give you reservations about choosing a travertine countertop. The stone is reactive to acids. Lemon juice, vinegar, and wine will stain travertine. It is soft and porous and is susceptible to scratching and chipping. It is best to stay away from travertine countertops if you have high use in your kitchen.
Recycled Glass Countertops
This countertop style uses recycled glass pieces from curbside glass recyclables and demolished buildings. The glass rests in a binding agent, such as resin, and creates a mosaic look that can have a variety of designs, shapes, and colors.
Recycled glass countertops use the mosaic terrazzo style, but you can also find homogeneous glass countertops made of melted glass.
Glass is non-porous and is resistant to stains. However, the binding agent may be susceptible to staining, so check with the manufacturer for countertop maintenance methods.
Glass countertops can be prone to chipping and cracking when pots and pans are put down on them too hard.
The cost for recycled glass countertops is on the higher side, with prices ranging from $50 to $80 per square foot.
Butcher block style wood counters have a warm, organic feel that is gentle on kitchenware and even absorbs sound. You can choose from woods such as mesquite, hickory, or walnut.
Wood countertops use a traditional butcher block design. It is a great material for DIY builders who can fashion the wood around sinks, corners, and appliances.
If your butcher block wood countertop does get cut, gouged, or even burnt, the wood can be mended.
Note that wood expands and contracts, so butcher block countertops can warp and gap. You will need to maintain your wood butcher block with oils on a frequent basis.
Wood countertops have a wide range in price, depending on the type of wood. You can find wood ranging from $20 to $70 per square foot, with an average complete installation costing around $3500 including the labor cost.
Concrete has a cool, modern industrial look that is customizable for many spaces in the home. You can color concrete, add texture, and inlay stones and glass aggregate.
Concrete is durable as most contractors fortify the mix with glass fibers, making the countertop lightweight and heavy-duty. Reinforcement of the concrete allows for long stretches without seams and can create overhangs.
Although concrete is durable, it picks up stains as it is porous. You can seal the concrete, but that changes its inherent matte aesthetics.
Concrete countertops are high in cost, with a beginning price tag of $65 per square foot for simple designs. The price tag can go way up when you add color, texture, and aggregate.
You can build your own concrete countertop, but the project is complex and requires curing time and lots of tools.
Other Types of Kitchen Countertops
There are several other countertop options, including:
- Soapstone countertops – is a natural material and is porous and unsealed, which requires special upkeep. Soapstone countertops are expensive, ranging from $70 to $120 per square foot.
- Limestone countertops – are one of the cheaper natural stone surfaces available, with a price starting around $30 per square foot. Limestone countertops do require regular sealing.
- Slate countertops – are a dark gray stone that has a sleek, elegant look. It is unusual to see slate countertops, but it has become more prevalent in recent years. Slate countertops cost around $40 per square foot, making them one of the more affordable stone options.
- Porcelain countertops – are heat resistant, easy to clean, and stain-resistant. Porcelain is poured into large slabs and is lighter than stone. Expect to pay $60 per square foot for porcelain countertops.
The possibilities for countertop materials are endless. It comes down to what you can afford, how much maintenance you want to perform, and your aesthetic.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)FAQ
Can you replace granite countertops without damaging the backsplash?
You can, but the process is challenging. You need to remove the countertop from the wall to access the backsplash. If you do not, you risk scratching or cracking your countertops.
Can you install your own kitchen countertops?
It is possible to do your own kitchen countertops, but having experience in construction is advisable. Certain countertops, such as granite, marble, and stainless steel, need to be installed by a professional.
What is the easiest countertop to install?
The best materials for DIY countertop projects are solid surface, plastic laminate, and wood. These materials are lightweight, cut easily, and can be repaired.
Can you put new laminate over old countertops?
You can put new laminate over existing material, but the surface must be even and smooth. Repair any gouges and scratches before gluing the new material in place.
What is the cheapest way to replace countertops?
There are several inexpensive ways to replace countertops, including any type of laminate. Tile is also one of the cheapest options. Wood can be cheap if you install countertops yourself. You can also salvage used countertops and restore them.
Kitchen Countertops Replacement Conclusion
Kitchen countertops are a vital component of your kitchen and need to incorporate functionality and durability while also looking attractive.
When deciding on a kitchen countertop, think about how you often use your kitchen. If you are hard on surfaces, choose something that can withstand cuts, dents, and heat.
If you don’t use your kitchen often and you’re concerned about aesthetics, high-end materials may be the better option.
Overall, kitchen countertops offer style, class, and comfort into your home.