What’s the cheapest type of countertop you can get?


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One of the biggest choices you’ll have to make when renovating your kitchen is what material to use for your countertops, which should factor into your kitchen remodel budget. 

Choosing your material—whether you go for a contemporary look with solid surface areas or opt for a French country feel with marble—will depend largely on your kitchen style, needs, and budget.

Before you settle on a certain product for your kitchen, though, let’s examine the cost of countertops and installation by material.

Related: Using construction loans for homebuilding and renovations

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Countertop Materials and What They Cost

Choosing your kitchen countertop materials will set the tone for the overall look of the space. Though there are variables in pricing based on where you live, market prices, and the materials you choose, here’s a look at some pros and cons of commonly used materials and estimates of what kitchen countertops cost.

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1. Granite

Estimated cost of granite countertops: $40 to $100 per square foot

Granite countertops have long been a go-to material in kitchens due to style, quality, and durability. But if granite is your top pick for countertop material, you may have to plan on stretching your budget as granite is one of the pricier materials to use for the project.

However, there are a number of pros to using granite that may warrant paying the price.

Granite is a hard stone and extremely durable; it’s both difficult to scratch and heat-resistant, so you can move hot pans directly from the stove to the counter.

Granite is also stain-resistant. 

Though it can stain, it is less porous than other materials, making it less likely that a stain will permanently mar your countertops. The polish that the installer puts onto the granite burnishes the stone against all but the most extreme abuse.

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2. Quartz

Estimated cost of quartz countertops: $50 to $100 per square foot

Contrary to how it may sound, quartz countertops are not a natural stone; rather, they are man-made from quartz particles that are then held together with resin. Quartz is one of the hardest minerals on earth, so the resulting material is also extremely durable.

Because quartz countertops are engineered, they can come in many different designs from bright solid colors to patterns that mimic natural stone.

 They also come in different textures from glassy smooth to matte to stone finishes.

Quartz countertops are not porous due to the resin that binds them together, so they are also stain-resistant and never need to be sealed.

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3. Laminate

Estimated cost of laminate countertops: $10 to $40 per square foot

Laminate is one of the cheaper countertop materials, making it a common kitchen choice, especially for homeowners on a budget. Laminate is made from layers of plastic that are then glued to a base such as a particleboard; it comes in a variety of colors, patterns, and surface textures.

Laminate countertops do not stand up to heat as well as stone, and they scratch more easily. They are less durable than other materials like granite or marble, so they’ll likely need to be replaced more frequently.

However, laminate is much lighter than stone countertops—and approachable for most home tool owners to cut and shape—so it’s easier to install for those who intend to make their kitchen remodel a DIY project. Installing laminate yourself can help you keep your overall kitchen budget intact.

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4. Solid Surface

Estimated cost of solid surface counters: $52 to $120 per square foot

Solid surface countertops are made in a similar manner to quartz counters; however, these countertops use acrylic particles bound with resin instead of stone. As another engineered product, they come in a variety of colors and patterns, including those that mimic stone.

They are non-porous, so they’re stain-resistant, and scratches can usually be sanded and polished off the surface. As an acrylic, they don’t hold up well to heat. They can withstand boiling water, but they might begin to warp at temperatures as low as 250°F.

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5. Wood

Estimated cost of wood countertops: $30 to $200 per square foot

The price of wood countertops can vary widely by the type and thickness of wood. Exotic woods can cost a pretty penny, but counters made from cheaper species such as birch tend to cost only a bit more than budget options like laminate. 

Wood countertops are often made of butcher block, which comprises pieces of wood with their edge grain-up, glued together to form a hard, continuous surface.

As a material, wood is relatively soft, so it may get banged up a bit. However, scratches can be sanded out and the surface restored. Wood or varnish may also burn when hot pans are placed atop it so, depending on how you want to use your kitchen can often inform whether wood is a good choice. 

Skilled DIY home renovators can install wood counters themselves, which can help control costs.

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6. Tile

Estimated cost of tile countertops: $5 to $30 per square foot

Tile countertop is another material whose cost will vary dramatically depending on what the tile is made of.

On the cheaper end, ceramic tiles can cost as little as a couple dollars per square foot, while a marble tile might cost more up to $25 per square foot.

Depending on the tile you choose, where it’s from, and how it’s made, the price per square foot can rise considerably.

Tile materials—which can range from ceramic to glass to stone—tend to be durable and both heat- and scratch-resistant. That said, tile may also be brittle, potentially chipping if something heavy is dropped on it.

Tiles can be easy for DIY installation; however, if you don’t have a lot of experience setting tiles, mixing grout and finishing the seams, you could end up with an uneven surface.

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7. Marble

Estimated cost of marble countertops: $40 to $100 per square foot

Marble has a long history as a key art material, dating back to the construction of ancient statues, and is commonly used as a design statement in upscale or trendy restaurants and bars. With a price similar to granite, marble is also an accessible material for home countertops.

As a stone, marble is relatively durable; however, it’s much softer than granite and scratches easily. It’s also more porous, so it stains more easily, as well.

Marble countertops may be subject to damage from acidic foods like lemons, which interact with the stone’s chemical make-up. Marble can be sealed to prevent some of these issues, but the process must be repeated on a regular basis.

Marble is heat-resistant, meaning you can put hot pots and pans right on it. And if you’re a baker, you may be drawn to marble for its use as a surface to make pastries on, as it is prone to staying cool in the summer months. Marble is heavy, so it may be difficult for a homeowner to install himself.

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8. Stainless Steel

Estimated cost of stainless steel countertops: $80 to $215 per square foot

Long used as a countertop of choice in commercial kitchens, stainless steel is popular for counters in residential homes, too.

Countertops made from the metal have a lot of advantages—they are easy to clean, and they don’t burn, rust, or stain. They are usually recyclable should you ever change your mind and remodel your kitchen again.

There are some disadvantages to the materials, though, including that it can be loud—think: pots and pans clattering against metal. And though durable, the material does have a tendency to scratch or dent. 

The thicker the stainless steel, the less likely it is to be damaged. The gauge (or thickness) will also affect the material price.

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Cost of Countertop Installation

The cost of new countertop materials isn’t the only expense associated with upgrading your kitchen counters. There’s also the cost to install the countertops, which will typically vary by material and amount of square footage.

For example, having stainless steel professionally installed can add about $10 per square foot to the price of the countertops, whereas professional installation of quartz countertops can add $60 per square foot.

Installing countertops yourself is a great way to reduce costs, but it can be challenging depending on the material.

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Material Modification Costs

You’ll also need to consider what types of modifications to the materials are needed. Cutting a hole in a granite countertop for a sink, for example, can add to the overall cost and in many cases requires the use of specialized tools with diamond-tipped bits.

One option to control the costs of kitchen countertops is by mixing materials. If you have your heart set on a granite countertop, consider using granite for a small portion of the kitchen—such as a prominent feature like the island—and a cheaper material like tile for the larger counter spaces.

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Estimating Your Costs

To estimate the overall cost of countertops, you’ll want to consider a few different factors: the materials you plan to use, whether they’ll require installation or you can install them yourselves, and the area in which you live.

Choosing materials like laminate countertops or wood can be a smart way to save money for those remodeling a kitchen on a tight budget, while granite, marble, or quartz countertops may be preferable for those wanting a more high-end look. 

For homeowners looking for something unique, tile countertops might be a route to take in order to further customize your kitchen remodel.

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The Takeaway

Renovating your home can be a way to boost your home’s value. If you don’t have the cash on hand to make improvements to your house, one option to consider is an unsecured personal loan.

These loans can be used to cover costs from small repairs to major remodels and do not use your home equity or other assets as collateral.


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