New countertops can have a major, uplifting effect on a kitchen, whether you are involved in a major kitchen remodel or are working toward a smaller goal with just a few upgrades. In the sea of choices that are offered to homeowners today, some seem plain unaffordable; in truth, many of them are unaffordable on a moderate income.
Concrete is one of those in-between materials. It's trendy, can look rustic or urban, and can be cheap if you know how to fabricate it yourself. But if you hire a fabricator, expect to spend as much as stone or other high-end materials.
But never fear, your kitchen doesn't have to be spoiled by unattractive countertops, and you don't have to go over budget, either. There are affordable countertop materials that fit within most budgets, and the beauty might just make you think twice about ever considering anything else again.
Tile Has a Good Kitchen Remodel Reputation
Ceramic, clay, and porcelain tile have been mainstays in kitchens for many years, but not everyone loves them.
On the plus side, tile is tough, can last essentially for as long as the house lasts, is scratch-resistant, and has affordable options. While some ceramic costs a great deal, basic 4-inch tiles are less than a dollar each.
Tile is also one of those kitchen remodel projects that a lot of homeowners are taking on themselves. You’ll need a good substrate, such as a basic plywood countertop with cement backer board on top, or you could sand down an old laminate counter and tile directly on that.
The downside of tile primarily has to do with cleaning. While the surface is glazed and resist stains beautifully, the grout lines are altogether something different. Grout has a rougher texture, it’s porous, and grout lines are slightly recessed so the countertop is not totally flat. Although you can seal grout to help limit stains, they are bound to happen in time.
Wood adds Warmth to Your Remodeled Kitchen
Believe it or not, wood makes a beautiful, serviceable countertop. This doesn’t just mean butcher block, either.
Wood countertops are not the health hazards people once imagined they were. You don’t need to bleach them to keep the surface sanitary, as wood naturally resists bacteria growth. Some species are even less porous than high-dollar stone. Wood is also easier to care for than you might think. Many are sealed with a penetrating oil, which helps resist stains. Aside from that, all you need to do is regularly treat the surface with an oil such as mineral oil blended with beeswax. Wipe it on, and buff it off.
The downsides of wood are that they’re easily scratched, a hot pot will char them, and too much water, such as from a leaky faucet, can cause permanent dark spots. That said, wood is really comparable to laminate when it comes to upkeep and durability.
Laminate Gives Numerous Remodeling Options
Laminate is often thought of as the old standby countertop, but it it’s a standby for a reason.
The biggest pros of getting laminate are the wide range of color and design choices and ease of cleaning. Some better laminates are almost indistinguishable from stone. You can wipe down a laminate countertop with a damp rag, and also use non-abrasive cleaners to remove food and grease spots. Because laminate is plastic, it’s non-porous and resists stains. It’s also one of the least expensive kitchen remodel options.
The cons of laminate are known to anyone who has ever had one. They can scratch easily, and if you set down a hot pot, the surface is permanently ruined with bubbles and probably char marks, too. All seams are susceptible to moisture infiltration. Once water seeps in, the fiberboard under the laminate will swell, and it can’t be repaired.
Metal Countertops Add Character to Your Kitchen Remodel
A metal countertop is usually not metal all the way through. More often, there is a substrate, such as heavy plywood or another metal, and a thinner sheet of the surface metal covers the substrate like a wrap.
Some people love metal countertops because of the soft glow that they impart. Seams are minimal, and they wipe clean with a rag. You can opt for stainless steel, or go with warmer looking copper. Copper can be sealed to keep its bright tone, or allowed to age and darken naturally.
Metal isn’t for everyone. Stainless has an industrial look that works great in some homes, but looks out of place in others. Copper’s warmth lends itself to a wider range of decor, but it still doesn’t work with every person’s taste. Stainless steel is also tougher than copper, which is a very soft metal that can scratch and dent.
Selecting an economical countertop for your kitchen remodel doesn’t have to feel like settling for something subpar. Think back, and you will surely remember a time not long ago when surfaces such as granite were only found in the most high-end, grand homes.
Tile, wood, laminate, and metals can be absolutely beautiful when installed and maintained properly. Besides; saving money on the countertop means you could have more to spend on something else!
Are you thinking about new countertops for your kitchen remodel and have some idea of your own to share? We’d love to hear them!