Whether you're interested in updating the look in your kitchen or increasing the amount of countertop space, installing a new countertop is a great way to make a huge improvement by only adding or changing one element. Not only can you choose your countertop from dozens of different materials, but you can decide to have it pre-cut for you, do the work yourself, or even hire a home improvement contractor to do the work for you.
Unless you have a specific idea in mind for the kind of countertops you want, you may be overwhelmed by the sheer amount of different types of countertops available. You may even find that your dream material is too expensive for your budget, but with a little research you may find something that will look just as nice but won't break the bank.
Laminates are probably the go-to countertops for those on a budget. The great thing about them is that they come in a huge variety of colors and are easy to keep clean. However, scratches can be difficult to repair and some don't like the seams that are visible, which can sometimes land right in the middle of a countertop.
If you're looking for something a bit more appeasing to the eye but still want to keep the budget down, ceramic tile can be a great option. Of course, the surface will be slightly uneven and special attention will have to be made to keep the grout clean, the tiles themselves can handle heat, are easy to clean, and there is a wide range of colors, textures and prices to choose from.
Some of the most beautiful hardwoods can be rendered into a gorgeous countertop or butcher block surface. Not only can they be easily cleaned and resealed as needed, but they offer a warm look to your kitchen. However, they are resistant to stains and water damage. Any scratches that appear in the wood should be sealed or oiled in a certain way to keep the integrity of wood.
If you like the idea of a stone countertop but are trying to keep the budget down, soapstone can be a very reasonable choice. This material was often used in historical homes, but it is making a comeback not only as countertop material but as shaped sink material as well. Although it does require maintenance, it is mostly stain resistant and provides a lovely, dark look with a smooth surface.
Now we are getting to the materials at the higher end of the scale for countertop installs. Solid surface countertops are solid structures that are custom made to fit your requirements, which is what makes the price a little higher than other options. However, they are well regarded because any scratches can be sanded out, come in a wide range of colors, and are seamless. However, they are not heat resistant.
While granite is generally considered to be the best material for those that have no budget restraints, the next best thing might just be engineered stone. Expensive but not nearly as expensive as granite, this material, made up of 93 percent quartz particles, is easy to care for and is scratch resistant.
Once you've decided on the best countertop material for your kitchen, you're left with the task of hiring someone to do the job for you. Most homeowners don't have a lot of experience doing installation work, so hiring a contractor is necessary to get the right results. Attempting to do the job yourself could leave you worse off if you run into problems you don't know how to deal with along the way. A contractor will be more equipped to deal with any problems, and has the experience, and training to successfully complete your project.
Choosing a home improvement professional shouldn't be a difficult process. The most important thing is to check referrals or even choose a contractor through word of mouth. Don't be intimidated by a contractor that tries to up sell his services, offer additional materials, or include a special offer that is good for that day only. A truly professional contractor will offer you a written estimate and a written contract, not to mention offer referrals on request. Most importantly, a local contractor will strive to install your countertop in a timely fashion while working to exceed your expectations; after all it is your positive referral that helps him to continue to work!
Updating the look of your kitchen doesn't have to be a long, drawn out affair or even a major overhaul. Installing new countertops not only provides a quick pick-me-up to your kitchen but can even improve your home's value in the long run.