If your countertops are out-of-date or damaged, you may need a replacement.

Cracked or eroded countertops

It’s important to take care of countertops; but, natural wear happens, like cracks and stains. Once countertops begin showing their age, it’s time to have them replaced.

Cracks in a kitchen countertop can be unsanitary. Both dirt and bacteria can accumulate in the cracks and contaminate food. Cracked countertops also present a challenge as they’re hard to clean. This can become a breeding ground for harmful germs and a dangerous health hazard.

A need for space

For many people, life changes, such as having children, can warrant more space. As families grow, larger kitchens become important. Small renovations, such as expanding countertop space, can give you more room.

Aside from a growing family, you may find yourself entertaining guests more often. Or, you make lifestyle changes that lead you to spend more time cooking at home.

Outdated countertops

Even the most well-maintained countertops will lose appeal. This is because styles change. No amount of cleaning or care can make an outdated countertop look less dated. In this case, it’s time to update the countertop. If you do, use materials that are likely to stand the test of time, like granite, marble, or hardwood. Laminate countertops tend to look dated, especially if the rest of your home is modern. In general, you should replace countertops every 10-15 years.

Planning to sell your home

New kitchen countertops can make a significant difference in a home’s selling price. Replacing countertops can add as much as $20,000 to the resale value of your home. Worn countertops can turn away buyers, especially those that want a move-in-ready home. To the buyer, a renovated kitchen means they won’t have to invest any money upfront on upgrades.

Does the countertop need a new coat of sealant?

Granite countertops outlast the competition. When granite begins to show signs of wear and tear it often only needs a coat of sealant.

Some signs your granite needs a new coat of sealant:

  • It’s been over a year since it was last sealed. Granite needs a new coat of sealant once a year.
  • You notice fissures or etch marks. Some may need repairs before adding sealant, so it’s best to consult a professional.
  • You notice moisture rings left behind from glasses. This is a sign that the old sealant has worn off.

Can you put new countertops on old cabinets?

Yes, you can place new countertops on existing cabinets. But it depends on a lot of factors and isn’t always the best option.

If you don't have a huge budget, a new countertop is a great way to make an aesthetic difference. While most people replace their countertops and cabinets at the same time, some opt for one or the other.

Once you install a new countertop, you're committing to the same layout, so make sure that you're happy with it. You might want to rip out your existing cabinetry and install new cabinets in a new layout.

If you leave the cabinetry as is, consider a countertop that is easy to move, in case you replace the old cabinets.

Choosing Kitchen Countertops

Countertops set the tone for the kitchen, so choose materials that reflect your style.

When comparing countertops, consider their maintenance needs. Granite and marble need resealing, while quartz, stainless steel, and laminate don't. Depending on the finish, wood and concrete countertops may need oiling or resealing.

Granite

Granite is one of the most popular choices among homeowners, even if they are on a budget. Granite is available in several grades, patterns, colors and thickness. A slab can cost you anywhere from $25 per square foot for basic stone to upwards of $1,000 per square foot. Granite countertops usually cost between $32 to $75 per square foot. Thickness can drive up the cost. If you want granite on a budget, consider a ¾ inch slab rather than an inch-and-a-half.

granite

Cultured granite looks like natural granite and is often used as an alternative. These surfaces cost between $35 to $70 per square foot, depending on their colors and patterns.

Modular Granite

Easier to install, modular granite tiles are larger than regular granite tiles. Modular granite is also less expensive and easier for homeowners to install themselves.

modular granite

Granite Tile

These small tiles are like ceramic tiles, making them easier for DIY installers. This is the least expensive of the granite options.

granite tile

Laminates

Laminate is plastic-coated and available in a range of colors, textures, and patterns. Laminate countertops are one of the most cost efficient countertop options. They cost $20 to $60 per square foot. But, this comes at the price of durability and longevity.

laminates

Soapstone

Soapstone is a natural quarried stone. It’s nonporous, allowing it to hold its own against liquid, stains, and acidic materials. While it doesn’t need sealing, you should treat it with mineral oil to hide scratches and deepen the color. It’s mined in small pieces, so large pieces will have visible seams. While it's susceptible to scratches, you can buff them out with sandpaper. It’s inexpensive compared to granite, although softer.

soapstone

Travertine

Travertine countertops create a beautiful and delicate aesthetic. They’re durable and are desirable for homeowners on a budget. Travertine countertops cost around $11 to $30 per square foot.

The biggest drawback of travertine countertops is that they can react to acids. If any liquid isn’t wiped off immediately, it can leave you with an etched surface.

travertine

Ceramic Tile

Ceramic tiles are a great alternative to solid countertops. They’re inexpensive and easy to install. With a wide range of colors and textures available, options are endless. But, they can crack under heavy impact and grout can be a pain to clean. Ceramic tile countertops cost between $10 to $15 per square foot.

ceramic tile

Solid Surfaces

Solid surface offers the same seamless look as quartz. The idea was to have a surface that looked like natural stone, yet was non-porous and affordable. Solid surface is a perfect budget countertop as they cost around $20 to $75 per square foot.

Pros

  • Durable
  • Easy to clean
  • Can cut, sculpt, and shape in a variety of ways to achieve the exact look you want

Cons

  • Prone to heat damage, stains, and scratches

Stainless Steel

This industrial-strength surface provides a sleek finish in modern kitchens. It’s non-porous, won’t stain, harder than most kitchen knives, and low maintenance. But, it’s expensive and a lot of work to install.

 stainless steel

Marble

Marble is the perfect fit for a classic kitchen and is the top choice for most homeowners. It can increase the resale value of your home. With proper care, marble can wear for decades. But, it's high-maintenance and you must clean it with a mild liquid detergent and water. Marble is porous and an acidic liquid like lemon juice or vinegar can etch marble. If your kitchen is prone to heavy traffic, then a marble countertop might not be the best option.

Marble costs around $15 to $190 per square foot.

Cultured marble is an alternative to natural marble. These countertops combine polyester resin, pigments, fillers, and marble dust. Cultured marble surfaces are stain-resistant, unlike natural stone. Cultured marble costs between $30 to $100 per square foot.

marble

Concrete

One-of-a-kind concrete kitchen countertops can create a unique cooking space. Concrete countertops work well in kitchens ranging from modern to rustic.

Concrete has a natural feel, with a quality unlike other synthetic countertops. Each concrete countertop is handmade. If you know how to stain concrete, the countertop can incorporate almost any color.

These countertops are also an appealing choice to homeowners focused on environmental issues. Concrete countertops can even incorporate recycled glass, wood chips and other repurposed materials.

Concrete countertops need waxing every six months and resealing each year. Certain products, like lemon juice, wine, and other dye-heavy items can stain concrete.

concrete

Slate

This natural stone is non-porous and durable. It is more affordable than marble and granite.

slate

Wood

Once sealed, wood countertops are sanitary for chopping meat and are heat-resistant.

Treat wood countertops with mineral oil every month. Sand out stains and be sure to re-oil the area to protect the surface.

Some people use wood countertops, although it’s uncommon to see them across the whole kitchen. Instead, many people have found that the best use for wood is as an accent counter or for an island.

While attractive, they do tend to damage more than any other type of countertop.

Butcher block countertops are a great way to add the natural warmth of wood into a kitchen. Butcher block is straight cuts of wood that provide a sturdy work surface.

If you want to prep on any surface without second thought, butcher block countertops are for you.

wood

Quartz

Quartz is a man-made stone formed from ground quartz with resin, pigment, and polymer. As a result, quartz forms a hard surface like granite. More durable than granite, quartz is one of the hardest materials in the world. 

Quartz is easy to care for and known for its accessible price. Quartz countertops usually cost around $15 to $70 per square foot on average.

Coarsely-ground quartz produces a flecked appearance; but finely-ground quartz looks smooth.

The non-porous quality also makes it resistant to mold and bacteria contamination.

quartz

Limestone

Limestone is a natural stone formed from calcium carbonate. They are generally pure white to off-white.

It’s a porous, soft, and sensitive countertop option. Acids or acidic solutions can etch them. As a result, maintenance and care are necessary. These countertops need regular sealing to protect them from staining. Limestone costs between $10 to $70 per square foot, making it a top option for those on a budget.

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