Kitchen countertop choices
Because kitchen countertops
represent such a substantial investment -- installing new countertops
can easily cost anywhere from $2,000 to $10,000 or more, depending on
the size of your kitchen and the material you use -- there's no shortage
of online advice. In assembling this report, we consulted sources ranging
from the websites HomeStyleChoices.com, Kitchen Countertops and Kitchen
Countertop Spot (all vast compendiums of information on various types
of countertop surfaces) to the websites of popular TV channels and shows
(HGTV.com, BobVila.com, ThisOldHouse.com) to the occasional overview
of kitchen countertops from reliable magazines like Popular Mechanics
and Consumer Reports.
With a few notable exceptions
-- for example, Consumer Reports is much more bullish about laminate
countertops than some reviewers -- these sources pretty much concur
about the advantages and disadvantages of various types of countertop
surfaces, ranging from the increasingly popular granite and quartz countertops
to cheaper plastic laminate and Formica to even cheaper ceramic tiles.
Some websites, like DoItYourself.com, address kitchen counters from
a DIY standpoint.
In general, experts
say to consider the following when shopping for a kitchen countertop:
- Decide how much you can afford. Countertop prices span an enormous
range, from as little as $1 per square foot for ceramic tile to
over $250 per square foot for high-grade granite or quartz. Even on
the cheap end of the granite spectrum, a kitchen with 30 square feet
of countertop space will cost more $2,000 to cover.
- Read up on maintenance issues. Some countertop surfaces (like
quartz and solid surfaces) can be pretty much installed and forgotten.
Others (like granite, concrete and wood) need to be maintained regularly
with mineral oil or sealants. Decide how much time you have for
this necessary chore, and choose your surface accordingly.
- Factor in your long-term prospects. The best granite and quartz countertops
can add significantly to your home's value and can really pay back
when part of a larger kitchen renovation. Real estate professionals
say that an investment in the kitchen is money well spent when it comes
time to sell your home.
- Don't overestimate your DIY capabilities. Unless
you're working with prefab laminate countertops, installation is
best left to professionals. Laminate and Formica are the best choices
if you want to do the work yourself because cutting laminate counters
involves standard power tools. It's also possible to lay ceramic tile
on your own if you're confident in your abilities.