Kitchen Make-Overs: Countertops 101

article-new_ehow_images_a07_ub_jf_cost-between-laminate-corian-countertops-800x800Homeowners have a lot of choices when it comes to replacing their kitchen countertops. The many options available vary from moderately priced to expensive, man-made material to natural, colors and consistency. The following are the most popular choices, from least to most expensive.


Laminates come in many different colors and patterns and that is why it’s the most popular category.   Pricing is usually around $15 – $40 per linear foot of countertop.  They usually consist of a core material with a surface veneer applied. Formica and Wilsonart are two common brand names.  This countertop material is not without its disadvantages though.  These surfaces can burn and scratch and are not easy to repair. But since they are so reasonable in price, you can replace it much easier without hurting your wallet if you do damage it or just want to replace it for a design change.

Ceramic Tile

Ceramic tile is available in a wide range of colors, a lot like the laminate kitchen countertops.  Tile also comes in a variety of different textures, sizes and finishes.  The grout lines can also be tinted to highlight or add emphasis, making the grout ‘”pop” or “disappear” into the ceramic tile.  Do-it-yourselfers can install their own ceramic countertops which makes this choice even more affordable for the homeowner.  The cost for ceramic material varies from $10 a square foot, (or less), to $50 per square foot.  Cost depends on tile selection and the installation cost.  Glazed tile is recommended (since they are less like to scratch or stain) with an epoxy grout product.  A disadvantage of ceramic tile countertops are that the tiles can break (however, they are relatively easy to repair) and the grout will be removed and replaced periodically.

Solid Surface

Brand names like Corian and Caesarstone are synthetic surfaces manufactured of polyster or acrylic resins with mineral fillers.  Solid surface countertops are available in many different patterns, colors, and textures.  Some of these types of materials can resemble stone, glass and even wood.  The main advantage of solid surface countertops is that nicks and scratches can be buffed out using an abrasive type pad.   Exposure to heat or scarring by deep knife scratches or stains can be an issue with solid surface countertops and repairs should be left for the professionals.  The pricing can vary but the range is usually between $50 per linear foot to $200 per linear foot.

Wood Surfaces

Wood Countertop surfaces can be a bit tricky and tend to need more care than the other countertops discussed.  The color choices are much more restricted than with ceramic tile or laminate tops.  People who choose real wood countertops do so because they love the color and look of natural wood.  Maple is one of the most popular kitchen counter surface material, but birch, cherry, mahogany, and other woods are also used in this fashion. Butcher-block is the most widely used wood countertop style.  Butcher-block consists of gluing strips of solid wood together.  These types of surfaces can burn, dent, or stain, but can also be restored to a uniformed finish by sanding and resealing with  good results.  But be aware that wood is also vulnerable to water and humidity, thus producing swelling and possibly bubbling if not properly taken care of.  Sealing near moisture or water sources is critical.  Wood surfaces should also be treated periodically with a varnish or wax, products that suitable for food-preparation surfaces.  The cost for wood surface countertops is in the range of $50 to $100 per linear foot.


Granite countertops are by far the most popular stone material but soapstone and marble are also available.  Stone countertops are very durable and unlikely to scratch, scorch, or nick, although cooking oils, coffee and some liquids can produce stain, especially in the marble countertops.  Granite and soapstone require periodic sealing to maintain and also unforgiving to dropped glassware.  One slip of a treasured platter and it’ll be reduced to a pile of shards on the kitchen floor.

Cabinet Restoration

Once you have installed your new countertops you might discover your cabinets need work too.  Consider having your cabinet finished cleaned and restored with a “like new” result.  Cabinet finish can also be darkened with a re-finish restoration project.  The combination of new countertops and restored cabinet finish can give your kitchen the feel of a remodel without the cost.



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