If your kitchen or bathroom needs a face-lift, replacing the countertops is often an easier way to update the space without completing a full-blown renovation. This project can slide either way on the expense scale and depends greatly on the countertop material you choose. For instance, granite and marble are pricier in terms of labor and materials costs, while laminate is less expensive to buy and install. If you’re thinking about replacing countertops, here’s what you should know before you start the renovation process.
1. Know Your Countertop Options
There are a number of countertop materials available from which to choose. Each material sits at a different price point and requires a unique installation process. Here’s a list of the most common materials used in residential construction:
- Laminate: This durable material set the standards for countertops many decades ago. Today’s laminate options come in a wide variety of colors, patterns and textures.
- Solid surface: This man-made material is available in an assortment of colors, patterns and finishes. Solid surface countertops are one of the few materials that can include an integrated sink, offering a seamless installation and final look.
- Concrete: Concrete countertops are a do-it-yourself enthusiast’s dream. If you can make the mold, the possibilities are endless.
- Quartz: Quartz is a man-made material that’s similar to granite in terms of durability. Its wide variety of color and pattern offerings has broadened its appeal for home decor applications.
- Marble: Marble is a natural stone that’s often used within residential projects. Distinct flecks and rich color options make marble one of the most popular flooring and countertop materials.
- Granite: Over the last decade or so, granite has been the most commonly used countertop material. Its beauty and durability, combined with an array of available color and pattern options, have lead to its popularity.
2. Decide if You Need to Hire a Pro
Replacing countertops requires some degree of skill. However, some home-improvement centers offer premade laminate kitchen countertops that you can easily cut to size and install yourself. In addition, precut bathroom countertops are available to purchase, and some come complete with cabinets. However, unless you have previous construction experience, you should leave the process of installing new countertops to a professional in order to achieve the best results.
3. Understand Costs vs. Value
The countertop material you choose will greatly depend on your budget because pricing varies so much. For instance, granite will cost a lot more than laminate, in terms of both the material and installation costs, because granite is a heavy, durable stone and requires several people to set it in place.
Once you choose your material, you’ll have to choose which color, pattern and, for some options, grade you prefer, which may also affect pricing. For example, the cost of granite is determined by its grade and quality. Granite wholesalers use a scale between two and five to grade the quality of individual slabs, with five being the finest. Several parameters are used to determine its grade, including thickness, color, veining, markings and its originating country. If you are updating your forever home, grade-five granite might be worth the investment. However, if you are planning to sell the home in the future, lower grade granite might prove to be the most cost-effective.
If you have a limited budget, or are looking to update your kitchen without breaking the bank, you may want to consider opting for updated laminate countertops. Laminate patterns often mimic those found in granite or natural stone, and can add a similar appeal at a fraction of the cost.
Aside from paying for your new countertops and their installation, you can expect to have to pay additional labor costs to cover plumbing, cabinet reinforcement and paint touch-ups. In addition, if you live in a hard-to-reach area or a high-rise apartment, you may incur additional labor costs.
4. Review the Installation Timeline
Most countertop installations are completed in a day. This estimate does not take into account the time required to fabricate the countertops. The fabrication times will vary depending on the material you choose, its availability and the schedule of the company you hire to complete the project. On average, most countertop companies can measure, fabricate and install new countertops over a two-week period.
5. Explore Alternatives to Full Replacement
If you don’t have the time or budget to completely redo your countertops, there is one popular alternative to consider. If your counters are generally in good shape, you may want to replace only one section, such as the island countertop, with a high-end material. This can help to enhance the appeal of your kitchen’s existing counters and cabinets at a much lower cost.
Whether you’re completely renovating a space, or it just needs a face-lift, new countertops can completely transform a room. For more home-improvement ideas, head to the Gott Real Estate blog.