New countertops can really freshen up your home. For projects from simple makeovers to full scale remodels or new construction, a wide variety of countertop choices are available. Five of the most popular include plastic laminate, solid surface, granite, tile, and engineered stone.
Plastic Laminate Countertops
Plastic laminate purchases account for more than two-thirds of the market. Low cost laminate is durable, comes in plenty of colors and patterns and can be installed by homeowners.
Maintenance is a matter of keeping seams sealed and substrate dry. Some laminates, including dark solids and glossy finishes, show cuts and scratches. Consider laminate for bath or laundry rooms instead of kitchens and food preparation areas.
The average cost of plastic laminate is about $10 to $20 per square foot, installed, with a one-year warranty. DIY: yes.
Solid Surface Countertops
Solid surface countertops require minimal maintenance and can actually be re-sanded to restore the ‘new’ look.
Made of acrylic and polyester, solids are available in hundreds of styles and colors. They’re durable and non-porous, making them ideal for kitchen and food prep areas. If damaged by scratches or burns, re-sanding restores the appearance. Professional installation is required.
Solid surface countertops cost from $50 to $100 per square foot, installed, with ten-year warranty. DIY: No.
Granite countertops have become much more affordable in recent years. Available in many colors, designs and edging options, granite is a popular choice for kitchen, laundry and bath.
Granite countertops do require the application of sealer once or twice a year to maintain finish. Unsealed granite surfaces can be stained by hot grease and seams are more visible than other countertop materials. Professional installation is required.
Granite countertops run from $75 to $125 per square foot, installed, with varying warranties. DIY: No.
Inexpensive tile offers plenty of design flexibility. Porcelain granite and glazed tiles are good for kitchens since they are non-porous surfaces.
Limestone, unglazed clay and marble are often used in bathrooms. These tiles are more absorbent and softer, so some maintenance is required.
Glossy and solid color tiles show scratches. Using any tile means making grout decisions. Standard grout requires frequent sealing. Epoxy grout is more durable but may yellow and is harder to install than standard grout.
Prices for tile countertops generally run from $25 and up. Warranties vary depending on installer. DIY: yes.
Engineered Stone Countertops
Engineered stone gives homeowners the beauty of natural stone and the functionality of solid material countertops. Synthetic resins bind crushed natural stone. Little or no maintenance is required.
Durability, scratch resistant, stain resistant and non-porous qualities make engineered stone an excellent choice for any part of the home. Limestone and marble engineered stone countertops are available but are soft and porous so aren’t recommended for kitchen and food prep areas.
Engineered stone prices run approximately $65 to $90 per square foot, installed, with 10 year warranty. DIY: no.
If in the market for countertops, don’t be surprised to find an overwhelming array of color and design options. Countertops have evolved and prices have decreased, making more options affordable for the average homeowner.
Make a splash in home dÃ?Â©cor with a new countertop. Home value increases along with home enjoyment.