Budget-Friendly Countertops: Pros & Cons

Save money on kitchen countertops with these affordable options.

By Erica Young

 

A kitchen remodel is one of the most expensive projects a homeowner can undertake. With several big-ticket items like flooring, cabinets, appliances, and countertops – it’s easy to blow the budget. The best way to save some cash is to find the most affordable options for each of the materials you will need, while still maintaining your aesthetic goals.

 

For countertops, solid stone materials like granite and marble are durable and beautiful. But unfortunately, they’re hard to find at a bargain price. We’ve gathered up four budget friendly alternatives that will help you stay on budget. Here are the pros and cons of each option to help you decide what will work best for your kitchen needs.

 

Butcher Block

Butcher block counters have experienced a rise in popularity over recent years. They work well in most kitchen designs, especially if you’re going for a farmhouse style or want an eclectic look. Butcher block is made from straight cuts of wood glued together into thick slabs.

 

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Pros: Wood has natural antibacterial properties. It adds warmth and coziness to a kitchen. If maintained properly, butcher block is durable and long-lasting. Scratches and marks can be removed with sanding.

 

Cons: Butcher block counters require maintenance. You should oil it about every six months to keep it conditioned and avoid cracking. Butcher block isn’t heat- or stain-resistant.

 

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Solid Surface

Solid-surface countertops are a step above laminate. It’s a manufactured material made of acrylic resin, polyester resin or a combination of both. Formerly referred to as the only brand available - Corian, it’s now available from several different entities including Avonite, Formica Solid Surfaces, Gibralter, and Staron. It’s available in a range of colors and patterns, some that resemble real stone.

 

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Pros: Solid-surface counters are nonporous, hygienic, and stain resistant. If there’s damage, they are easily renewable – light sanding can repair scratches, chips, and small burns. Like stone counters, solid-surface counters are seamless.

 

Cons: Solid surfaces can be damaged by heat, unlike quartz or granite. They require a hot pad or other protection before setting down a hot pot.

 

Laminate

Many shudder at the thought of laminate countertops, but don’t judge too quickly. This material has come a long way. Made by gluing sheeting onto plywood or particle board, it once was only found in low-budget homes. But advanced printing techniques have improved the appearance of laminate, and new developments in sealants make it more scratch resistant.

 

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Pros: Laminate is stain and water resistant, easy to clean, and durable. It’s available in a variety of colors and patterns, many of which mimic real stone. It’s easy to install, making it a great project for DIYers.

 

Cons: Laminate is often installed with visible seam lines; they don’t look great and can capture crumbs and debris over time. The edges are susceptible to chipping.

 

Engineered Quartz

Engineered quartz is similar to solid-surface, in that it’s manmade. But it’s created from natural materials. It consists of 90 percent ground quartz and about 10 percent resins and pigments. The result is a non-porous slab that’s more affordable than its solid stone counterparts.

 

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Pros: Quartz is stain resistant, heat resistant, and won’t chip or crack. Plus, it’s virtually maintenance-free and easy to clean. Quartz is available in a wide variety of colors and patterns with more uniformity than natural stone.

 

Cons: Pricier than our other budget options, but still less than natural stone like marble or soapstone.

 

As you’re planning your kitchen remodel, keep these countertop options in mind. Your new counters will be one of the biggest purchases you make. Think about how you use your kitchen on a daily basis, and what countertop qualities are most important to you.

 

Images used with permission, courtesy of www.dreamstime.com

Next: Things You Should Know Before Installing a Farmhouse Sink