If you’re thinking about improving your kitchen countertops, it’s better to do it right. You place everything on your counters, and it provides a strong design statement as a complement to or contrasts with your cabinets.
Almost any material can serve as a countertop. However, you can now use several common materials as countertops because they have unique characteristics. It makes them particularly attractive and affordable for your countertop.
Before you begin, the most important question you need to ask yourself is about your budget. These materials range from low to sky-high. One way to figure out the cost is to measure how much material you will be needing? An easy way to do it is to break it down by cost per slab.
While natural stone surfaces sound luxurious, several alternatives are made to mimic the timeless design for much less. Let’s have a look at some of the most affordable countertop materials that are functional and aesthetic for your new home.
Laminate is a material created by bonding two different materials together. Often laminate mimics a plastic photograph of wood or stone bonded to a fibreboard’s backing.
This construction method is flexible and low in cost. Besides, laminates are shiny, glossy, high-grade material that will remind you of the real thing. The downside of laminates includes a relative lack of durability. You can use some laminates for years, but they’re prone to scratches and burns. Some of them can even start to peel down the road.
Particularly with kitchen countertops, you want to be sure that you can effectively clean the material. With low-grade laminate countertops, you’ll catch food pieces; start seeing poor decorative bumps, grooves, and water seeping through the porous seams. The result of such poor quality countertop leads to a bacteria factory.
On the other hand, you can clean and maintain the right laminate with ease. You can easily wipe down the smooth counter. Post forming, the material eliminates most seams; antibacterial treatment ensures it eliminates any bacteria that will settle on the material.
In any discussion about laminates, it’s the draw of the low-cost that generally rings loudest. You can find laminate surfaces at just $20/sq.ft. And onwards.
They have been popular for the past decade. Solid Surface is made by combining stone-based materials with acrylic to create easy-to-maintain, strong countertops. The attraction of the acrylic in the material is to provide flexibility better than any other luxury material. Solid surface offers a fantastic array of colors and designs.
The downside of solid surface countertops is they’re susceptible to burns, scratches, and chipping. However, the design going all the way through the material, you can sand out smaller discolorations.
Further, cleaning a non-porous solid surface countertop can effectively kill bacteria. Solid surface countertops are also one of the most affordable countertop materials ranging from $30 – $90 /sq.ft.
Although granite’s cost varies from mid to extremely high for unique varieties, you can still get a great deal with planning and research. If you can’t fit it in your budget, you can opt for cultured granite, which generally costs $50 – $80/sq.ft.
Besides looking great, granite is also highly functional. Granite is scratch, burn, and moisture resistant. It can last for decades.
Although it does require regular sealing to prevent stains and scratches, however, newer sealing materials make resealing simpler and last longer than it was before.
You can obtain almost any color you can dream of for a relatively similar price, but the pattern will be consistent, unlike granite’s natural variations. While quartz can get pricey, you can find some beautiful budget-friendly options too. Expect to shell out $50 / sq ft. or more.
With resins mixed in, there is no future sealing for engineered quartz. Relative to granite, however, engineered quartz is less heat-resistant. So you can’t put hot pots and pans directly onto the countertop. There are even reports of quartz scratching, meaning a cutting board will be a wise choice.
Soapstone countertops are less common than granite and quartz. This stone has the advantage over granite countertops. You don’t have to seal it frequently to clean it.
Architectural soapstone is commonly used in countertops in your kitchen. Although it’s not as durable or hard as granite, homeowners love it as you can install it in any shape, design, or form.
One of the biggest pros of soapstone is it doesn’t stain and is one of the most affordable countertop materials. It’s a dense and non-porous material, which means it’s resistant to heat, can stand up to acidic materials, and is super low-maintenance. Also, if you accidentally chip or crack, it becomes inherent in its beauty.
On the contrary, there’s not a whole lot of color variation. If you’re looking for a particular color except for grey or darker blue, soapstone isn’t for you. Soapstone ranges from $35-$80/sq.ft.
If you love the look of wood and how it warms up the room, this material is for you. The natural coloring of wood tones is commonly used in modern farmhouse styles. It’s a soft-surface material, so it doesn’t make a banging sound every time you place a dish or a pan over it.
If you carefully maintain it, it’s a long-lasting and durable choice. Another pro with butcher blocks is that it’s easily repairable. You can just sand it to remove any cracks, and it will be as good as new.
However, one of the biggest cons with butcher blocks is that it’s not heat-resistant. It also swells or cracks in extreme heat or dry climate, and excessive wetness can rot the material.
Alternatively, butcher blocks are among the most affordable countertop materials. You can find your favorite design for $35/sq.ft and upwards.