Kitchen Countertop Ideas
Start by Choosing a Material, Then Consider a Custom Backsplash and Edging
Countertops are one of the most prominent features of a kitchen both in terms of appearance and performance. Finding the perfect countertop, then, can be a daunting task, especially in light of all the choices available. This buying guide aims to make your decision easier by explaining the most popular countertop materials as well as customization options that can really make your counters stand out.
While demand for stone countertops has increased sharply over the last decade steel, glass, wood, and synthetic materials all have something to offer, including, in most cases, a lower price tag than stone.
Granite: The hardest stone countertop available, granite is nearly impossible to scratch or dent. Of course, many homeowners choose granite countertops for their natural beauty alone.
Marble: It's useful to think of marble as higher end granite. Unlike granite, however, which has actually become a fairly common kitchen feature, it's rare to find a home with marble countertops. The only downside to marble is its porosity; regular sealing is required to prevent staining.
Soapstone: Soapstone is softer, and therefore easier to work with, than stones like marble and granite, but it's also non-porous and highly resistant to heat, attributes that make it great in the kitchen. Most soapstone counters are gray, but you can use mineral oil to darken and protect it.
Tile: Relatively inexpensive, nonporous, and sold in a huge variety of colors, countertop tile is a great compromise between economy, utility and beauty. Grout lines, though, can trap debris and need routine maintenance.
Butcher Block: Wood is a warm, attractive, and durable countertop option. It stands up well against knife scores and cuts and is very easy to repair (most damage can be sanded away). Butcher block countertop islands are a great option for foodies.
Laminate (Formica): Laminate countertops appeal to homeowners who want style and performance on a budget. The material is available in a nearly inexhaustible range of colors and it stands up well to common physical abrasions.
Solid Surface: Sold under trade names that include Corian and Avonite, these countertops are made from reinforced plastics. Solid surface counters are nonporous, so food particles, mold, and bacteria won't accumulate on them. Some models closely resemble real stone. Light sanding takes care of most surface damage.
Engineered Stone (Manufactured Quartz): These counters combine the good looks of real stone with the performance of solid surface. They're made from over 90% natural quartz with resins and plastics added for stability and toughness.
Recycled Glass: Despite being made from recycled and reclaimed glass, these counters are extremely resilient. Solid in many different styles and colors, including striking mosaic tile, glass countertops are one of the newest and most stylish kitchen surface options.
Stainless Steel: Stainless steel countertops look great in a modern kitchen. They typically come with a molded backsplash, resulting in a single, solid countertop with no seams for water or food crumbs to hide in.
Other Countertop Considerations
Countertop space is at a premium in the kitchen; most people find that they simply don't have enough. Rather than undergoing a complicated and expensive kitchen remodel to add more functional surface area, consider installing a kitchen island or a breakfast bar. Providing a place to sit as well as a food prep area, either option will improve the functionality of your kitchen.
Installing a custom backsplash to go along with new countertops can introduce some character to your kitchen. While backsplashes are typically the same color and material as the countertop, you could just as easily buck this trend and create a head-turning contrast. A backsplash can also be a part of a seamless countertop surface.
Custom edging is another way to set your countertops apart. A bullnose, ogee, or step edge (among others) adds character without adding too much to the installation cost.
Kitchen Countertop Prices
- Granite countertopscost $75 to $150 per square foot installed.
- Solid surface countertops cost $50 to $100 per square foot installed.
- Average box store ceramic tile countertops costs $35 to $50 per square foot installed.
- Laminate countertops cost $20 to $25 per square foot installed for average materials but better-quality products can cost as much as $80 per square foot.
- Engineered stone countertops cost $100 to $200 per square foot installed.
- Stainless steel countertops average $80 to $100 per square foot installed.
- Average quality butcher block countertops cost $40 to $80 per square foot installed; some species of wood might push costs up to $100 or more per square foot.
- Soapstone countertops cost $60 to $120 per square foot installed.
- Marble countertops cost $120 to $200 per square foot installed.
- Installing a custom backsplash can add anywhere from $100 to $1,000 to the total cost depending on the amount needed and the material chosen.
- Custom edging costs $5 to $15 per linear foot of countertop.
- A modest kitchen island or breakfast bar with countertop can cost as little as $500 or as much as $2,500 depending on the cabinets and countertop material chosen.