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Countertops are a functional centerpiece in any kitchen, bathroom or bar area. So, when you’re purchasing countertop materials for your home, it’s important to consider what they’ll be up against every day. Countertops for a kitchen will have to withstand scratches, nicks and burns, for example, while a bathroom countertop will have to combat high moisture levels and frequent heat. Ultimately, selecting the style and material that bests suits your lifestyle and your budget will ensure that you end up with countertops that make you happy -- and that you don’t have to spend more money on countertop repairs or replacements down the road.
The cost to install a countertop averages around $2,912, but that’s by no means a hard figure. The cost of your countertops will vary depending on the type and materials you choose, whether an existing countertop needs to be removed, and whether you’ll need to resize your new countertops to fit an awkward space. Then there’s edging, grouting, staining and sealing, and a host of additional cost considerations. We recommend that you speak with a countertop contractor about all of the steps and costs involved in your countertop project. A professional will be able to give you the most accurate quote.
Here’s a rundown of some of the most commonly chosen countertop materials:
Natural stone countertops are long-lasting and durable, and they’ll also increase the value of your home. But some types of natural stone, such as marble, are prone to cracking, chipping and staining, making them a poor choice for high-traffic homes. If your counters get a lot of use, you might consider one of the stone counter materials below -- the cost of which will vary depending on the size of the surface area, any special touches you’d like to include, and the purpose for which the surface will be used.
Granite countertops are among the most popular countertops in kitchens today. Installing granite countertops cost between $3,100 and $4,500, depending on surface size and materials. Generally, granite is cut into long slabs, negating the need for seams and grout. Then it’s polished and sealed to protect against extreme heat, scratches and stains. This protection will last anywhere from 10 to 15 years with the right maintenance and cleaning. Granite comes in a variety of colors and textures, making it a versatile material that works in almost any kitchen.
The cost to install a 100-square-foot soapstone countertop averages between $7,000 and $12,000. Soapstone’s coloring is usually dark green to green-black, though you can sometimes find it in lighter, almost gray tones as well. The material comes in smaller slabs, so seams are visible in countertops longer than seven feet. Soapstone withstands heat and acidic materials well, which also makes it a good choice for bathroom flooring and fireplaces surrounds. It’s also non-porous, which means it won’t stain. The downside to soapstone is that it is soft, making it susceptible to scratches and deep indentations.
The cost to install a 100-square-foot slate countertop averages between $7,700 and $10,800. Slate is a hard, nonporous material with a subdued finish. It comes in variations of black, brown and gray, and it can be found with blue, green or red highlights throughout. Slate is a non-porous material, making it stain resistant and easy to clean. Slate corners can be sharp and brittle, but a professional can round them off with a sander.
If natural stone is out of your price range, consider solid surface materials like Corian, Wilsonart and Avonite. These materials are made with acrylic, polyester or a combination of the two, and they mimic the look of stone and other materials. Solid surface countertops are resistant to scratches, burns and other common wear and tear. They also come in a wide variety of colors, many of which may be matched with solid surface sinks. Here are some materials to consider:
The cost to install corian countertops averages between $2,200 and $5,000, though prices will vary depending on a number of factors. Corian countertops are among the most popular solid surface cabinets available. DuPont produces Corian and offers the material in more than 100 styles and colors. Corian is non-porous, which makes it mold- and mildew-resistant with proper maintenance. And, unlike other solid surface materials, Corian has a seamless appearance after installation. Because of its low moisture resistance, Corian is a poor choice in humid climates and near undermount sinks.
Installing quartz countertops around 100 sq. ft. ranges from $5,900 to $14,000. Quartz comes in many colors and styles, and it is considered the most durable kitchen countertop material available. When comparing granite to this material, Quartz countertops are factory-produced and bonded with polyester resins, which makes them non-porous and scratch- and stain-resistant. Sometimes, they’re also bonded with recycled glass to give them additional color and strength. Quartz countertops do not require sealing. Brands like Zodiaq, Silestone, Cambria and CaesarStone offer a newer kind of Quartz, known as Quartz composite or engineered stone, that is comprised of 90 percent quartz. This is softer than engineered stone, and it’s also a bit more expensive than other solid surface materials.
The cost to install a 100-square-foot concrete countertop averages between $8,500 to $10,000. Concrete countertops have evolved since the 1980s. They used to be poured into a mold; now they are precast and delivered as finished products. Precast molds are flat and smooth, and they can run from 1.5 inches to 10 feet long.
You can also order precast concrete molds in a number of different colors. These counters can be stained and glazed to nearly any color, so coloring is not an issue. They typically come in between 1 1/2- 2 inches depending on your preferences. Despite popular opinion, concrete weighs about the same per square foot as granite. There are special sealers and coatings that seal out all possible stains and colors that you do not want. The real advantage with these counters is that they are new. Everyone has been so tunnel-visioned on granite for so long that nothing else would do. The problem now is that you can't find a home that doesn't have the same counter top as every other home. Pretty soon granite will be just as dull as people think laminate is now, if only because everyone will have it.
While cracking and chipping is always a concern with concrete counters, recent innovations have made them less prone to damage. Countertop contractors strengthen the material using wire mesh, rebar or fiberglass. And, slabs can also be sealed to prevent staining. Because it’s naturally strong and heat-resistant, concrete is a great option for kitchens countertops.
On average, it costs $3,000 to $4,000 to have a 100-square-foot laminate or formica countertop professionally installed. Laminate is one of the most affordable countertop options. It comes in a wide variety of colors and styles, and a professional can install the material in just a few hours. The downside to laminate is that it is prone to chipping, scratching and fading. If your kitchen counters get a lot of use, laminate may not be our best choice. However, some laminate countertops may be sealed to protect against heat damage, stains and scratches.
Professionals will quote about $3,000 to $5,000 to install a porcelain ceramic tile countertop, though quotes will vary for areas 100 square feet and larger. Tile isn’t the most popular countertop option (most homeowners prefer putting tile in as a backsplash these days), but it does come in a number of different colors and patterns. One downside to tile is that it requires grout maintenance to prevent movement and potential breakage. Further, since tiles break and scratch easily under force and high heat, it’s best for kitchens that are used primarily for baking and light cooking. If you do a lot of cooking, consider tile for secondary surfaces like bars, islands and dining areas instead.
Generally speaking, the cost to install a wood countertop averages between $3,000 and $6,000, but costs will vary depending on the type of wood from which the countertop is fashioned. While wood countertops are popular, they also require monthly sealing. If you don’t think you’ll be able to stay on top of the maintenance, wood countertops may not be the best choice for your home. Wood countertops are great for baking and food prep, but they’re also easily damaged by the heat from pots and pans. And they’re also susceptible to damage from moisture from sinks and showers.
Butcher block countertop installation averages between $1,700 and $3,100. Also known as end-grain countertops, butcher block countertops are made of short, square wood blocks that are joined with glue. They can be anywhere between 4 and 12 inches thick and are commonly used to top islands and bar areas. Like other wood countertops, butcher block is susceptible to moisture and heat damage. It is also generally more expensive than other countertop types.
If you are replacing an existing countertop with a new one, be sure to factor the following costs into your budget:
Remove the old counter and haul them away
Move any plumbing pipes
Rewire any necessary appliances
Cut your new counter to fit the space
Here are some of the steps a professional will take on how to replace your countertops:
Disconnect sink plumbing. Turning both sink handles to bleed off excess water. Disconnect the water and drain lines.
Scrape off old caulking. Separate the countertop from cabinets and wall.
Apply caulking to cabinets. Lift the new countertop into place.
Seal countertop to the wall. Apply a thin layer of caulking adhesive around the countertop border.
Be sure to speak with your contractor about the removal process before you start your project. It’s also a good idea to measure your current countertop and get measurements for your new counter. The better you prepare the space for your contractor, the less you may be charged for the work.