What You Should Know When Replacing Kitchen Counters
Everyone has their own dealbreaker on a new house, and for many people, it’s the kitchen. If you’re looking to sell your home in the next few years, improving your kitchen is one of the renovations that could pay off. Counters are one of the most common renovations, and there’s a lot to consider when replacing your countertops.
Counters are arguably the most important part of your kitchen, and more specifically, counter space is. In order to have a functional kitchen, you need plenty of space in which to prepare food. If you’re thinking of replacing your counters, the first thing to consider is whether your current setup is optimized for space. Is there a lot of empty room where you could add more counters or an island? If the room was set up differently, could you optimize counter space without even adding more counters? Consider this before replacing your counters, as it will allow you to analyze whether your kitchen truly meets your needs (and those of people who will live in your home in the future).
As important as counter space is the ability to utilize it. Many kitchens are cramped and don’t allow room for people to walk past each other. Others have stretches of counter that are unreachable due to corners. If your kitchen has these issues, think about cost-effective ways to expand the room or utilize space better. Sometimes adding an island is enough. Other times, you may want to remove the counters completely and move them further out. This may involve expanding the entire kitchen, or encroaching on an adjoining room. Consider the pros and cons of both enclosed and open kitchens, and decide which style will work best for your space.
If this seems daunting, don’t worry, this planning will result in either affirmation that your kitchen is designed well, or the knowledge you need to make it better. If extensive renovations are needed, be sure to consult several contractors and ask their opinions on design options. If they know you’re shopping around, you’ll get honest and fair consultations, and you’ll get to pick multiple experts’ brains before landing on the perfect new design for your kitchen.
Counters can be expensive, but they’re often worth the expense. After all, countertops take daily abuse. They need to be well constructed, and able to hold up against constant wear. They also need to be installed correctly so that weight is evenly distributed and you have a flat, even surface.
The most important factor affecting the durability of your counters is the material used. Be sure to research the differences between marble and granite, the two most common countertop choices. Concrete countertops are also very popular right now. They are much more affordable than granite, but will need to be replaced much sooner. You can also explore different types of wood, but not only will that be less durable than stone, but less sustainable as well. Your choice should be made with an understanding of the balance between upfront cost, and amount of time before they need replacement. If you’re moving within a year or two, it may be a good choice to save on the cost of new counters, but be sure to consult with a local real estate expert about how much granite countertops affect buyer decisions in your area.
Here are some of the most common types of countertops you can choose from.
Quartz- Engineered quartz is scratch, heat, and stain resistant. Because of these qualities, quartz countertops last a long time. It is also porous enough that it doesn’t need to be sealed like natural stone.
Laminate- Laminate is affordable and can resemble pretty much any material you like. It is not as durable as hard stones or even wood though.
Wood- Wood countertops bring a rustic charm and are more heat resistant than other budget options like laminate, as long as they’re properly sealed.
Granite- Granite is the top choice among homeowners, largely because of the variation and therefore personalized look that it brings. It doesn’t cost much more than quartz, but does need to be cared for a bit more. Spills need to be cleaned quickly, and resealing annually is recommended.
Concrete- For an industrial look, concrete is the way to go. It can be stained and textured to your desire, and increases the energy-efficiency of your kitchen, as concrete captures heat and releases it as the room cools.
Stainless Steel- Stainless Steel is modern,sleek, and easy to clean; but fingerprints, condensation and other marks show up easily. Because of steel’s antibacterial qualities, this is one of the most hygienic countertop choices.
Tempered Glass- Also modern, glass looks very sleek and if cut thick enough (at least 1 inch) and tempered, can be very durable. Glass is stain resistant, but has the same smudging issues as stainless steel. Unlike some stones, glass can be cut into any shape and texture, and colored however you like, so customization options really are endless.
Tile- Tile is very affordable and easy to install yourself. Over time, dirt and buildup in the cracks between tiles can look unattractive, even when properly sealed.
Marble- Because of the veining in marble, stains and wear are often unnoticeable. Marble does need regular sealing in order to avoid staining and etching.
Soapstone- unlike many other stones, soapstone is nonporous and doesn’t need to be sealed. It does scratch relatively easily, but applying mineral oil to the surface can minimize that effect.
Of course, one of the most important factors in appealing to buyers is aesthetics. Your countertops need to be attractive and complement the cupboards and the surrounding room. You may want to choose counters that not only look good with the current cabinetry, but would look good with other popular cupboard colors. After all, many people move into a house and decide to repaint the kitchen walls and cupboards, as that is a relatively affordable way to make a home better fit your style. If the counters are neutral enough to fit several popular styles, people will see that as a win, as they can repaint the cabinets without having to replace the countertops.
A lot of people consider decor more than design when it comes to kitchen appeal, but if you have an attractive core, it takes less work to make it appealing. This mean less kitchen clutter and less staging you have to do when you show your home to potential buyers.
If you’re considering a kitchen remodel, counters are the best place to start as they are vital to both the form and function of the kitchen. Nothing happens in a kitchen with no workspace. And if the counters look unappealing, no amount of decor will hide that. Once you decide on the counter type and design you need, choosing cupboards to go with it becomes simple, and you can fill in your kitchen appliances in ways that complement the overall design and maximize the ease of use.