Guide to Kitchen Countertop Options and Average Installation Costs

Kitchen countertops are one of the most-used surfaces in homes. And because they’re in the kitchen where food is prepared, pans are heated, and dishes are washed, they tend to see a lot of abuse.

If your countertop is showing its age and looking worse for the wear, it may be time to replace it. In this guide, we discuss three popular types of countertop materials to choose from and what other options to consider when picking a new counter. We’ll also go over what you can expect in terms of cost.

Kitchen Countertop Materials

When it comes to countertop materials, three of the most popular options on the market are solid surface, granite, and quartz.

Solid Surface

Solid-surface countertops are made from acrylic. They often resemble natural stone, but because they are manufacturer, a wider variety of color options is possible. Unlike stone, they are mostly nonporous, which means there is less possibility of cracking and breaking.

This type of countertop has been around for decades and has become increasingly popular as a cost-effective alternative to stone that looks much nicer and sturdier than laminate.

Pros:

  • Easy to repair: Because the material is solid and the same all the way through, scratches can often be repaired with fine grain sandpaper.
  • Stain-resistant: Because the solid surface is nonporous, it is extremely resistant to staining.
  • Relatively inexpensive: When compared to granite and quartz, solid surface is easier on the pocketbook.

Cons:

  • Scratches easily: Although the solid surface is easy to repair, it is more likely to get scratched if you aren’t careful using a cutting board with your knives.
  • Less heat-resistant: While solid-surface countertops can usually handle the temperature of boiling water, if they get much hotter, they can deform. It is not recommended to place hot pans on them.

Granite

Granite countertops are large slabs of rock carved from a quarry. This makes getting them to your kitchen a much more involved process than with solid-surface countertops, which are synthetically made. Because of this, granite tends to be more expensive.

Granite can come in various colors, only limited by nature, but some colors are rarer than others, which also causes a cost differential. For example, white, green, and gray granite tend to be less expensive, while colors like red and blue will cost more.

These types of countertops can also have different patterns and may have streaks of color for added beauty. Often, more streaks also correlate to a price increase. The surface of granite countertops can be finished differently, either leathered, honed to a matte finish, or polished.

Pros:

  • Scratch-resistant: It is very difficult to scratch granite because it is solid rock.
  • Heat-resistant: Hot pans can often be set directly on the granite, which will quickly absorb and disperse the heat due to the rock’s mass.
  • Can increase home value: Due to their desirability, granite countertops can increase your home’s value. ** Cons:**

  • Not always stain-resistant: Granite can sometimes stain if porous enough.
  • Cost: Granite can be relatively expensive, although not as expensive as quartz.
  • Can crack: Granite countertops can sometimes crack or chip, despite their durability.

Quartz

Quartz countertops are made from a combination of ground quartz and resins, polymers, and pigments. They may also contain other rocks and materials in their composition. The quartz can be finely ground or left in larger pieces to vary the look of the surface.

While quartz is often one of the more expensive countertop materials, it is also one of the most durable, less resistant to breakage, nonporous, and difficult to scratch or stain.

Pros:

  • Variety: Because quartz is manufactured, a wide variety of colors is possible.

  • Depth of appearance: Due to its construction, quartz often has more depth and visual attractiveness than solid-surface materials.

  • Durable: Quartz is less likely to chip and crack compared to granite.

  • Stain-resistant: Quartz is nonporous, making it stain-resistant.

  • Low maintenance: There is no need to seal the surface, and the surface is also extremely scratch-resistant.

Cons:

  • Price: Quartz is one of the most expensive types of countertop materials.

  • Sunlight fading: If quartz countertops are exposed to direct or prolonged sunlight, they may discolor over time.

  • Not as heat-resistant: Because quartz can contain resin and polymers, hot-enough pans or items laid on it can cause deformation or melting of the surface.

The Color of Your Kitchen Countertop

As you decide on a countertop material, you also want to consider color. You want to ensure that your countertop matches the color scheme of your kitchen. However, keep in mind that your taste in color may change over time, so you might consider choosing a countertop color that goes with more possibilities than one that is the exact color of your current paint.

Pay attention to undertones in the room, and choose a countertop color that complements them or one with streaks of similar colors for coordination.

Consider also the lighting and what the countertop color will do with the lighting in the room. For a smaller and darker kitchen, a lighter countertop can make it feel brighter and larger. Darker countertops work best when there are more light sources and can act in a way that makes other colors in the room stand out more.

Some people also prefer a patterned or darker countertop to hide any poor housekeeping efforts, while others prefer light colors to suggest cleanliness.

See if you can acquire samples of materials in the colors you are considering and bring them into your kitchen to get a sense of how good they fit your current decor and lighting. Often, things look very different in a showroom than they do in your home.

The countertop material you chose may limit or change prices according to color options. For example, granite is limited to what nature can provide, while quartz and solid surfaces offer more possibilities. Also, when it comes to granite, the more difficult-to-source colors will go for a higher price.

Average Installation Cost of a Kitchen Countertop

As mentioned, solid surface tends to be the least expensive of the three options listed, with granite in the middle, and quartz on the higher end. But this can vary depending on what you choose. It’s possible to find a solid-surface material that is more expensive than some quartz and some quartz that is cheaper than a lot of granite or solid surface.

The costs associated with installation will include the material, usually quoted per square foot, and the labor costs. There may be some additional material costs, and additional cuts and seams, larger split pieces, and difficult corners or shapes may all cost more.

The edge finish you choose may also change the price a little. A simple eased edge is often the least expensive, with beveled, bullnose, and ogee designs costing more.

The cost ranges for the three types break down as follows:

Other Considerations for Your Kitchen Countertop

When replacing your countertop, you may want to install a backsplash or a new sink simultaneously. A simple tile backsplash costs approximately $1,000 to install. Stone, glass, or steel might be a few hundred more. A kitchen sink will add another $385, on average.

If your cabinets are older, you may also need to replace them. Especially if you choose a heavy material like granite for your new countertop, it’s important that the cabinets underneath can support the weight.

As you decide which countertop is right for you and pick color and pattern, make sure you purchase from a reputable seller to ensure quality materials and professional installation. If possible, see if they offer a warranty.

Trust Sears Home Services for Your Kitchen Countertop Solutions

Whether you’re planning a complete kitchen remodel or looking to replace just your countertop, Sears Home Services experts can help your kitchen look new. Contact us today for a free, no-obligation estimate.

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