Why Are My Granite Countertops Dull?

Why Are My Granite Countertops Dull?

Are your granite countertops looking dull and lifeless, despite spending so much time, money, and effort maintaining it?

Have you tried all the latest cleaning products and have practically lost hope in regaining its lost luster?

If yes, it's most probably because you have been doing something wrong! Or perhaps there's nothing you can do about it.

Why?

Well, it's because there are so many reasons for granite countertops to dull and so much you can do to prevent it too!

Read on to learn more about it.

 

Why Are My Granite Countertops Dull

The most likely reason your countertops are dull is due to soap residue being left on your countertops. This happens with any type of material used for countertops especially, granite, marble, and quartz. To avoid the residue being left behind you will want to wipe your countertops dry with a different microfiber cloth than used to clean them. It is best to replace the microfiber towel with a clean dry towel as you wipe your wet countertops.

 

Possible Causes for Dull Granite

There are many reasons your countertops can be dull or lack the shine they had when you first had them installed. Below we will cover some of the most likely causes of dull countertops.

Honed Finish

When most people think of countertops the think about the shiny countertop in their kitchen and never consider other options such as a honed finish. Some stones come with a honed finish and are meant to look dull.

If you are purchasing a home that already has a dull granite then rub your hands across the top. Do you feel a slight texture? This is a honed countertop finish.

If this is the case, there's nothing much you can do about it. It's better to hire a pro to re-polish its surface or have the countertops replaced. It is highly unlikely to find anyone that will come polish your countertops. If you do then the expenses will cause you to explore the option of just replacing them. You might as well find something you like in this case.

However, if you had installed a new shiny counter, then there are a few other reasons for its dulling. Keep reading for more information on dull countertops.

Soap or Cleaner Coating

Sometimes the soap or cleaner you use leaves a film on the surface, and it ends up dulling the stone. If this is the case, regular acetone from the hardware store can help clean and reveal its shine once again! You will need to put a little elbow grease in while scrubbing.

Abrasive Cleaning Products

Do not use acidic or abrasive cleaning products to clean ANY natural-stone countertop.

It only eats away at the stone to leave discolored spots or a cloudy appearance. In short, the wrong cleaning product only ends up destroying the stone's polish layer and damaging the surface. If you are using harsh cleaning products try this instead.

Spilled Food o Drinks

Even spilled acidic food and drinks will end up damaging, and dulling the top of the counter with time. The effects are more profound if you drop something organic like coffee, tea, fruit, or something oil-based like grease, milk, and cooking oil. The acids of citrus juice do more damage through etching. Be sure to use a very good sealer to seal your granite especially if you have a white granite.

The effects are more evident if you don't regularly seal your surface.

If you wonder why you need a seal well, selling works as a protective layer that prevents liquids from saturating into the stone. Think of it like Scotchguard for carpet.

Sealing your countertops and wiping up spills immediately will prevent etching and dullness.

Improper Sealing

Sometimes the haze or cloudiness appears because of an improperly sealed countertop. It leads to the sealer drying up on the stone surface and creating a mist. If you noticed a dull sheen after sealing then this is probably the cause of your dull countertops.

The proper way to seal stone is to apply the sealer from directly on your microfiber cloth. Do not pour the sealer on your countertop. Next, you have to spread the sealer into the surface using a clean microfiber cloth until you cover the entire surface. Let the sealer soak in for about 10 minutes. Do not buff the sealer dry.

After about 10 minutes you will want to use a clean microfiber cloth and buff the sealer dry. You will then repeat the process just like above and after 10 minutes of the sealer setting buffing it dry again. Once the second application is complete you can wait a few hours and clean your countertops normally with a granite cleaner and be sure to dry them off with a dry clean towel.

Improper Cleaning Products

Even using improper cleaning products can lead to a dull top.

They don't necessarily damage the stone, but they do leave a film. Even while it's safe to clean your surface with mild dish soap and water, it does leave a layer of dulling soap film.

Even the water in your sponge or towel can cause cloudy counters!

All this happens because granite and even marble are such shiny and brilliant stones. Cleaning them with anything besides specially formulated stone cleaning products leaves streaks similar to the stripes on glass cleaned without glass cleaner.

Instead, use a specially formulated non-acidic natural stone cleaner. It helps remove soap film and hard water deposits.

All you need to do is to agitate the surface and let it dry. This removes the cloudiness, and you can then follow with simple daily cleaning.

A Scratched Countertop

Countertops are not scratch proof. You can cause a dull area on your countertops by using pots and pans on them and not lifting them when moving them. From time to time we may slide our pots and pans across a countertop. A few times may be ok but after a few years of use, this can carve into the countertops and cause a dull area.

Unsealed Counters

Granite doesn't usually scratch easily. It's the many tiny cracks and pores that are prone to stains and minor damage from spills or hot pans placed directly on it.

Did you know that even your engagement ring can scratch unsealed counters?

How?

Well, it's because diamond is a substance hard enough to even accidentally scratch granite!

Cracks

Sometimes sudden temperature changes and shock can crack your otherwise durable surface. So avoid dropping heavy appliances or utensils on it because it can end up chipping or cracking it.

Similarly, placing hot pans directly on either sealed or an unsealed counter encourages cracking through uneven thermal expansion.

Of course, you can always fix cracks using colored resins. However, remember that any form of repair isn't invisible!

The Best Solution to Revive Dull Granite Countertops

Buffing with a fine abrasive is the best way to remove small scratches and bring back the shine to your counter. It is best to hire a professional to do this otherwise you run the risk of causing the dull you are trying to fix to get worse.

Start by thoroughly cleaning the counter using soap and water. Denatured alcohol is great for this also. Next, remove excess soapy water with a dry microfiber cloth. Work in a circular motion across the top of the counter, and change to a dry cloth if it gets too wet.

It's better to polish the stone using your own polish instead of something commercial.

Use a fork to mix three parts baking soda with 1 part water to get a smooth, thick paste. While you can alternatively use a retail polish, read its label before use.

And buy only if it's suitable for your counter.

Coat the surface with a thin, even coating of the baking soda paste and let it sit for about 2-3 minutes. If you are using a retail product, make sure to follow its instructions accordingly.

You next have to bush the surface using a clean, soft cloth and small, circular motions. Start working the polish into the stone from the corner, and work your way over the top. Don't forget to buff the edges too!

Remnant baking soda paste or polish streaks can ruin the look of your beautifully polished granite. It can be avoided and removed by wiping down the surface with a slightly dampened soft cloth.

Don't forget to seal the surface once done using a polymer sealing compound to reduce the risk of future stains.

This polish procedure should restore the shine in most dull countertops. However, it's best to leave the polishing of deeply scratched or damaged surfaces to a granite restoration professional. They have the tools and expertise to make it look as good as new!

 

Useful Preventive Measures

Prevention is always better than cure, even in the case of dull stone surfaces. The following tips should prove helpful at retaining your stone's shine for a longer time:

  • Avoid using cleaners containing lemon, vinegar, bleach, ammonia, lime, or glass to clean the surface. They only break down the sealant and damage the stone with time.
  • It's better to clean using microfiber cloths or terry cloth towels.
  • Do not use general purpose polishing products as they only damage the stone.
  • Always use a very soft cloth for buffing as anything abrasive can end up scratching the surface.
  • Clean up spills immediately with a soft cloth to avoid staining and marks.
  • Always use a cutting board while preparing food to prevent scratching the surface. Also, avoid leaving sharp objects, like knives, directly on the top.
  • Place hot pans, pots, curling irons, and hair strengtheners on heat-resistant pads or insulated mats. It prevents the formation of micro-scratches because of sudden temperature changes, and the sealant from breaking down.
  • Did you know that leaving your cosmetics on the counter can also dull its surface? Yes, it's because the chemicals in it may end up tarnishing the stone and breaking down the sealant with time.
  • Make sure your countertops are sealed every 6 months to a year. You can check to see if you need resealing or not by pouring a few drops of water onto the surface. If it beads up then you are ok. However, if water seeps inside, then it means that the surface needs resealing. You can either apply a sealer or contact a granite restoration professional to do it.

So you see, there are various reasons and solutions to a dull granite countertop. It's not much to worry about. However, what you CAN do is adopt the preventive measures, and retain the stone's shine for as long as possible!

Replacing Kitchen Countertops On a Budget

Replacing Kitchen Countertops On a Budget

Replacing your kitchen countertops on a budget is pretty easy to do. Here are 5 materials to consider when replacing your kitchen countertops while keeping your budget in mind.

Consider Material Options

The first thing to consider when planning your kitchen countertop project is to consider your material options. There are so many options available that it can be a bit overwhelming. Since we are on a budget we will strategize ways to save and discuss options that will be a bit more budget-friendly. Unfortunately, not all budgets are the same. Your budget may be much higher or much lower than someone else reading this so I am trying to keep that in mind.

Remnant Shopping

Remnants are a great way to save. Most granite shops discount their remnants heavily to get rid of them. If they have a lot of the same material from the same lot and bundle then they will likely not discount these remnants because they can be used with the same material at full price.

Your goal is to find remnants that have been there a little longer and have no bundle associated. Most bundle remnants will be placed back with the slabs they came from. This will help you spot the ones to stay away from when remnant shopping.

Remnants of granite, marble, and quartz is a great way to save drastically. I personally have discounted my remnant pieces half the square footage cost. They take up space and these little pieces are dead material from a job we already completed. We pay for a whole slab for a job and the leftover pieces we paid for are still sitting around.

Remnants are scattered everywhere in a granite shop. They take up space and get in the way so most granite shops are willing to part with them much cheaper…just to get them out of the shop!

Your bargaining skills here can get you a hefty discount.

DIY Concrete Countertops

There are a ton of videos on YouTube covering this topic. You can definitely make this happen for your kitchen and honestly, it isn't very hard to accomplish. I have made a few concrete countertops in my day. I like to use melamine and the reverse method which will help with the finish on the top of the countertop.

Concrete countertops are very stylish and offer a unique look that you cannot get with any other material. It is not as expensive as granite, marble or quartz and can be done the DIY way.

Go to YouTube and do a search for DIY Concrete Countertops and you will see many great results. I will post a link to a video I think is very resourceful here:

Granite Countertops

Granite is not that expensive. Most people think of big dollars when they think of granite. If you have the budget for it you can choose a builder-grade material for your kitchen and remnant shop for your bathroom vanities.

Granite pricing can start as low as $27 per foot if you know what you are doing. Your talking game must be good here. I will leave it at that.

DIY Wood Countertops

Wood countertops can be a great feature for any kitchen. These countertops are rustic and warm. I personally love a good wood countertop and just like concrete countertops, there are so many YouTube videos on the subject. Wood is not that expensive but can be if you splurge on the material you use in this project.

Wood countertops aren't as heavy as natural stone so you can recruit a friend or neighbor to assist you with moving pieces around as needed. Wood can be a bit heavy especially if you are making them thicker countertops. Luckily they aren't as heavy as natural stone.

DIY Laminate Countertops

Ok so, laminate is known as the cheaper countertop option but to be honest it is comparable to lower grade wood countertop and granite countertops. These laminates can cost more than natural stone depending on brand and style.

For a rental home, you can swing by your local home store and grab some already made laminate countertops and have them cut to your specifications. Just be sure to get good measurements and an aerial view drawing of your kitchen.

Laminate countertops are easy to do it yourself. They are lightweight and require minimal knowledge. Just be sure to check out a few solid YouTube videos before you tackle this project for some ideas and tips that will prevent any issues. YouTube is your friend here.

Conclusion

While all countertops will cost money there are ways to save and have fun doing it. You can learn a new skill also which is pretty cool if you ask me. YouTube can be a valuable resource when you consider tackling a DIY project. Be sure to research heavily and come up with a solid plan if you choose the DIY route.

Remember that it doesn't have to be perfect. Sometimes imperfections are perfect adding a rustic feel to a project. Natural stone sometimes has fissure cracks and pits throughout which are imperfections that give the stone character.

If it doesn't work out you can always try again. Do you have any suggestions for saving money while replacing your kitchen countertops on a budget? Please feel free to comment with your ideas. I may add it to this list above.

What To Do About A Countertop Separating From A Wall

What To Do About A Countertop Separating From A Wall

Maybe you just bought a home, have lived in your home for many years, or something just caught your eye about a friend’s house, but you see a problem in the countertops. Yes, a gap between the wall and the edge of the countertop…small but noticeable, and now you can’t un-see it.

Now, this happens quite a bit, but how do you fix a countertop that has separated from a wall? You can start off by caulking the separated area and letting it reattach to the wall with the caulk.

Countertops separating from the wall to which they are connected is quite simply an eyesore. No one wants to see their kitchen countertop or bathroom countertop with a noticeable gap between it and the wall. Unfortunately, though, this is a common occurrence. Like any other home project, there are many ways you may desire to go about tackling the issue, and many things to consider as well.

 

What Causes a Countertop to Separate from the Wall?

When a gap breaks out between a countertop and the wall, there are innumerable ways that this could’ve occurred.

  • Improper Installation: One likely culprit is the improper installation of the unit itself. When a countertop unit is installed, you want to ensure that whoever is installing (or has installed) the unit has done so correctly. If the unit is improperly installed, you run the risk of having a gap exposed.
  • Imperfections of the Countertop: Another reason that a gap may develop between your countertop and the wall is due to the imperfections of the countertop. This can depend on the type of countertop you have.
  • For example, if it is a laminate, certain areas may develop bulges and lapses due to moist areas, such as the countertop area around the sink.
  • If the countertop is granite, imperfections in the sheet may prevent the entire countertop from fitting in an exact line against the wall.
  • House Settling: As a house ages, it settles into the foundation on which it was constructed. As a house settles, it makes slight movements and adjustments according to the plot of land on which it sits. Sometimes walls shift in their positioning, allowing more movement in the home’s structure itself. The walls shifting can sometimes cause the countertop and wall to split away, thus creating a small gap.
  • Weight of Cabinets: Sometimes the added pressure and weight of cabinets above the countertop can cause movement in the countertops and cause them to jut slightly away from the wall, again creating a gap.
  • Shinkage: Movement and shrinkage in the floor can also cause movement in the countertop to create noticeable space.

 

How to Avoid a Gap

To avoid a gap from occurring between your counter and wall, you can, in fact, take small precautions to slow down or stop the eventual onset.

For one, if you know that you have a perfectly cut countertop that is going to be installed on a crooked wall, you need to save yourself time and effort and have the countertop adjusted.

Now, this may be expensive, but it will save you time, effort, and money from having to fix that annoying gap.

If you notice that you have floor movement, you can prevent the eventual movement in your countertops from becoming noticeable by tweaking the jack posts (which are powerful, steel columns typically in the basement that extend from ceiling to floor and support the home) so that they are resisting any movement.

The jack posts support the main beam of the house, upon which the rest sits. If you are able to tweak the jack posts to revert to their initial position, then you’ll likely avoid movement in the floors and walls that can cause a gap between the wall and countertop. (Source: Winnipeg Free Press Homes).

 

Fixing and Closing Larger Gaps

Now, in this case, you are going to go about attempting to reattach the cabinet and thereby the countertop firmly against the wall if feasible.

 

Step 1: Remove the Screws

When beginning to tackle the issue, you’ll need to figure out where the screws are that attach the cabinet to the wall. Typically, these are located inside the cabinet and toward the top of the unit.

There should be two to three or more screws nailed through the back of the countertop and into the wall. Another tip for finding these screws: they are usually driven through the reinforcement strip of wood that supports the countertop’s backend.

Now, you need to remove these screws from the cabinet, typically using a drill and a No. 2 Phillips bit.

 

Step 2: Pushing the Cabinet Closer to the Wall

You should then insert a flat bar or pry under the toe kick of the cabinet to then pry the front of the cabinet unit. This action will force the countertop to slide closer to the wall.

If you aren’t able to raise the front much, that’s normal. However, you should get small wooden shims around a half-inch thick. Now, you can use these shims and place them under the toe kick of the cabinet to keep it in an elevated situation.

 

Step 3: Finish the Job!

Now, you can take screws and drive them into new holes you will create through the process. Push them into the wall as far as they’ll go, but beware to avoid tightening them too much.

Once you’ve finished fastening the screws, check the wooden shims to see if they have moved or are loose at all. It is possible that they’ll be loose because when you tightened the screws, the cabinets might have shifted slightly upward.

If the shims are at all loose, you should replace them with pieces that are slightly thicker. You’ll have to fasten these into position by lightly hammering them in.

 

Fixing the Gap With Caulk

After the installation of any vanity or floor cabinet, you may notice a small gap between the countertop and the wall, and, truthfully, a gap is very likely after installation.

You can attempt to get the cabinet, vanity, or countertop as close to the wall as possible to render the gap unnoticeable, but changes in the structure of the home or the cabinet could cause a separation between the two, making a gap.

Many times, the alignment of the wall is not perfect, which will make it difficult to perfectly set a countertop against the wall without any hint of a gap. The likelihood of wall misalignment is much higher in older homes whose floors have settled and sagged and succumbed to heightened moisture.

Sometimes, with wall misalignment, the gap width of your countertop separation can change all up and down the point of contact.

To fix this issue, you can either caulk the area or consider adding trimming to hide the gap.

It is important for you to recognize, though, that gaps close to half an inch thick are not going to be fixable with caulking. You generally cannot fill these gaps with caulk and should consider using the trim option instead.

Anyway, first, you can try closing the gap if possible.

How to Caulk and What to Do

Now if the gap is or you can reduce it to be less than a fourth of an inch, you can fill it with caulk. If the gap happens to be larger than that, you can purchase some backer rod and stuff that in the gap first.

Backer rod is the foam insulation that helps maintain the caulk’s position and also serves to prevent the caulk from sinking, caving in, and creating crevices and holes.

In some cases, you’ll want to use the caulk and backer rod after having gone through the process of unscrewing the cabinet, shimming it, and forcing it back in.

There’s also another option before you officially start your caulking procedure. You could close the gap with a putty knife to stuff the area and avoid having to remove and move the cabinet closer.

 

The Caulking Process

 

Now you’re ready and have the tools to start applying the caulk. Here are some steps to follow as you go about the procedure:

  1. You’ll need to start by applying painter’s tape along the edge of the countertop. You’ll also have to apply the tape to the wall just above the gap to ensure that you keep caulk off both the wall and the countertop. You want to make sure that the areas to which you’ve attached the painter’s tape are exactly where the countertop and wall would meet if they were touching.
  2. Now you can apply your caulk with a caulking gun. You’ll want to make sure that you choose a color of caulk that matches or mimics the color of the countertop. Then, as you apply the caulk, take care to spread a thin and contiguous line of caulk without any breaks to ensure the best results.
  3. Now you are going to “tool” your caulk. While there are many actual tools you can use for this process, most homeowners elect to use either a lubricated finger or lubricated, backend of a plastic spoon. To tool the caulk, you have to draw your finger across the line of caulk you’ve applied with minimal pressure. Doing this will create a concave surface along the line of caulk. To maintain lubrication on either your finger or plastic spoon (or whatever else you choose for this process) keep a bowl of soapy water near you.
  4. Then, you’ll want to carefully remove the tape from the areas you’ve applied it to before the caulk finally sets in its position.

 

If You Choose, There’s Always Trim

Sometimes the gap between the countertop and the wall will be too large to remedy easily with the caulking method or simply jamming the cabinet back into place.

In this case, it may be easier for you if you choose to cover the gap with trim.

You’ll have a variety of trim options if you decide to go down this route. More common selections for this specific issue are among quarter-round trim and cove molding or a rectangular 1X2 inch material.

Then, you’ll have different methods for applying the trim you’ve selected to the area to then hide the gap. In general, here are some easy tips for you to follow to aid you in your efforts:

  • Glue the molding to either the countertop or wall. You’ll have to do this with a thin layer of adhesive, preferably construction adhesive. You’ll want to shy away from using nails as a method of attaching the trim to the wall as it could either damage the countertop or backsplash.
  • You could also caulk either end of the trim with an acrylic or latex caulk and then place the trim exactly on the wall where you desire it.
  • You could also apply a coat of paint (you’ll only need to apply one) or finish after the caulk has set
  • You could also prime or seal the molding after you’ve cut it and finished it. You’ll need to do this before you officially install the trim at any rate. (Source: Hunker)

 

What is the Difference Between Acrylic and Latex Caulk?

Well, as with anything, and especially with home repairs, there are nuances to the types of products you can consult. In this case, if you are attempting to remedy a gap between your countertop and the wall, you may want to use caulk.

There are two different types of caulk you may be so inclined to use: acrylic and latex. But, what exactly is the difference or the benefit between using one or the other? Well, in fact, there are even more possibilities than you might’ve supposed.

Let’s take a look (source: the Spruce):

  • Acrylic Latex Caulk: General use caulks which dry quickly. They can be used in a variety of places for many reasons and are paintable. Acrylic latex caulk is commonly used to fill small gaps or holes in wood furnishings or trim. It is best to use this caulk in dry areas.
  • Latex/Acrylic Caulk with Silicone: Allows more malleability, flexibility, and durability. It can expose to water as it is water-resistant. “Tub and tile” caulk.
  • Pure Silicone Caulk: Great for areas with higher risk of water exposure; also mildew-resistant. These caulks have a longer lifespan. Great sealant around sinks.
  • Butyl Rubber Caulk: Primarily used for outdoor areas. Great for use as sealant for shifty, outdoor areas made of metal such as gutters.
  • Refractory Caulk: Caulk used in high-temperature settings.
  • Masonry Repair Caulk: Great for sealing gaps and cracks, especially useful in driveways or stucco walls.

 

So, Which Caulk Is the Best for Countertops?

If your countertops are granite, then many agree that the best type of caulk to use a pure silicone caulk.

This allows for a finer finish that blends with a granite surface of any variety. Even further, though, the silicone caulk will be beneficial for the section of the countertop by the sink, as it is likely this area will be exposed to water. (source: NATCO)

If, however, you have a laminate countertop, you will likely be able to use the same type of caulk as you would on any countertop. Meaning, truly, a latex acrylic caulk or a silicone caulk will complete the job for you.

You’ll want to gauge your use of caulk on the type of finished product you hope to see form your caulking procedure.

Furthermore, if you wish to ensure that you will have no problems with moisture or water damage, then perhaps a silicone caulk is your best bet, as you’ll benefit from the best water resistance for an indoor caulking substance.

 

Should I Even Bother Fixing the Gap?

The easy answer? It depends.

How large is this gap? Is it noticeable? Is it going to bother the aesthetic balance of your kitchen?

Now, more importantly, is there any chance of moisture leeching into the gap?

If moisture were to leech behind the gap, this could get tricky. You may find yourself noticing that the gap has grown at that point.

The additional moisture can certainly cause even more growth in the gap, as it can cause movement and growth.

The extra moisture can also be dangerous, as it can become a breeding ground for mildew.

Now, the real answer? Yes, you should fill the gap. And filling or fixing some gaps is much easier than others; however, you don’t want to have a small issue of a gap, ignore it, and some time down the line be dealing with a mildew issue.

Instead, you should save yourself money now, and fix the issue now.

So, now you have the tools to go out there and tackle the project that has plagued your mind for however long (or maybe now you’ll just have the tools to fix the problem if it ever arises).

From your kitchen to your bathroom, you’ll have the ability to make sure any gap that happens to come out of nowhere will not stay there and not serve as an eyesore for you to deal with for however long.

How to Remove and Fix Countertop Burn Marks

How to Remove and Fix Countertop Burn Marks

We’ve all done it, maybe the doorbell rang, or an important call came in while we were cooking, and we set a hot pan on the countertop “just for a few seconds.” Upon our return, we find that the pan has left a circular burn mark on the countertop surface that we assumed was heat resistant enough to prevent this sort of thing from happening. We were wrong.

How to remove and fix countertop burn marks? The process for removing burn marks from a countertop varies widely depending on the type of countertop you have. Generally, it involves using an abrasive to remove the mark and then refinishing the countertop.

Choosing the best method for repairing a burn mark will depend on the particular type of countertop. Although there are currently hundreds upon hundreds of different countertop materials available for today’s kitchens, they do fall into several general categories. We begin by reviewing the different types of countertops and how their unique attributes determine the right strategy for repairing burn marks.

The Different Types of Countertops

Countertops can be grouped into several major categories including (1) man-made (synthetic) countertops, (2) stone countertops, (3) ceramic tile, (4) concrete, (5) stainless steel and (6) wood (also known as butcher, or cutting block).

Aside from their aesthetic qualities and cost, countertops also vary in their resistance to staining, cracking and burning from a high-temperature source like a very hot pan. Before you get started trying to remove a burn mark, make sure you know what kind of countertop you're dealing with.

Man-Made

Synthetic countertops are generally more affordable than other countertop materials such as stone and offer tremendous options to choose from such as color and pattern, and can be fabricated to very precise dimensions for a perfect, customized fit. These surfaces are generally not as durable as other materials and typically have low to moderate heat resistance.

  • Solid Surface Countertops (Brands including Corian, Avonite, Swanstone) – made of synthetic materials including acrylics and resins; very practical with a huge variety to choose from; moderately priced; these countertops have fairly low heat resistance.
  • Laminate Countertops (Brands including Formica, Nevamar, Wilsonart) – fabricated by bonding sheets of plastic-coated synthetic materials to particleboard bases or cores; very affordable with thousands of options; laminates, in general, have low scratch resistance and low heat resistance.

Stone

Stone countertops can be naturally occurring, or “engineered” (man-made). Naturally sourced stone is quarried and then form cut to size, while engineered countertops contain natural stone which is first pulverized, then combined with resins and formed into the shape of a slab.

Engineered countertops are available in a wider range of colors and patterns and typically have a more uniform appearance but lack the uniqueness of natural stone countertops. They do, however, have enhanced heat-resistance characteristics compared to their naturally occurring counterparts.

These are the most common types of stone countertops:

  • Granite – very elegant and enhances a kitchen’s appearance; cost-prohibitive for many homeowners and requires periodic sealing because of its porous nature; naturally heat resistant but can discolor or crack if subjected to repeated or prolonged exposure to a heat source.
  • Marble – adds a unique element to a kitchen (no two slabs are alike); naturally, heat and water-resistant but scratches fairly easily and is very difficult to repair; certain foods and liquids can stain this surface.
  • Quartz (natural and engineered) – nearly all countertops of this type are engineered because large slabs cannot be quarried; great variety of colors and patterns; highly heat-resistant and stain-resistant, very heavy and can be nearly as expensive as granite or marble.
  • Soapstone – lends a rustic look and feel to a kitchen and ages beautifully; requires periodic treatment to maintain its finish and typically darkens with age and use; highly heat resistant.

Other Common Countertop Materials

Aside from stone and synthetic countertops, other various materials are becoming increasingly popular, particularly with homeowners seeking a more unique aesthetic to their kitchen space. While some of these materials have high heat resistance, others are susceptible to burn marks or scorching. The use of a cutting board or trivet is recommended

  • Ceramic Tile – another affordable option that is ideal for do-it-yourselfers; tiles themselves are easily cleaned, but grout and sealant between the tiles can discolor and stain over time; most ceramic tiles are highly heat resistant.
  • Concrete – highly polished slabs with a very glossy, mirror-like finish; due to their weight, concrete countertops are often formed and cured in the kitchen itself; moderate to high heat resistance.
  • Stainless Steel – creates a modern or industrial look; the surface is easy to clean but can be scratched; one of the more expensive options and can damage knives if used as a cutting surface; practically heatproof.
  • Wood (Butcher Block) – creates an attractive, rustic look; usually made from hardwoods such as maple or oak; nicks and stains can be sanded out, and the entire surface can be re-sealed; without proper cleaning, bacteria can form in crevices or on surfaces; depending on the type of wood and the sealant used, wood countertops are moderately heat resistant.

Removing and Repairing Burn Marks on Your Countertop

Since the techniques for removing and repairing countertop burn marks will vary with the countertop material, we will begin with the surfaces that are typically the most susceptible to heat damage.

Solid Surface Countertops

Methods of repairing burn marks on solid surface countertops will depend on the depth of the damage. Like stone, concrete, and wood countertops, solid surface countertops consist of solid material throughout and therefore their color, pattern and appearance are consistent from the surface to beneath the surface. As we are about to see, this allows for more aggressive techniques for deep burns.

Step One:

Wash the affected area with a soapy solution of hot water and a mild detergent and dry completely.

Step Two:

For small or minor burn marks, apply a small amount of a mildly abrasive cleaning liquid to a damp cloth or sponge and rub over the affected area in a circular motion. Rinse with clean water and wipe the surface with a dry towel. If the mark persists, try repeating this process using greater force when pressing down while making the circular cleaning motions.

Step Three:

It is possible to sand away burn marks on the surface of solid surface countertops. Be sure to use micro grit sandpaper with a “very fine” type grit (for example, 240). Gently rub the affected area with the sandpaper using an even, circular motion. As you work the burn mark periodically wipe away the residue so that you can observe your progress.

Depending on the depth of the burn mark, it may be necessary to repeat this step several times to achieve satisfactory results. It is important to note that the deeper the burn mark, the more sanding that is required and the more countertop material that is sanded away. A slight dimple may form in the affected area.

Step Four:

Once the burn mark has been successfully removed, it is important to once again wash the area with soapy warm water and dry thoroughly. Depending on the particular type of finish of your countertop, some techniques will restore a matte or semi-gloss finish. If your solid surface countertop has a high gloss finish, it is strongly recommended that you seek the services of a professional restorer.

  • To restore a matte finish – buff the area by gently rubbing with a general-purpose abrasive pad (Scotch Brite 7447 – Maroon is very popular for this purpose) in an even, circular motion.
  • To restore a semi-gloss finish on a light-colored surface – sand the affected area further using an “extra fine” grit (360 or 400) sandpaper. Wipe away residue and wash with warm soapy water and dry completely. Then buff the area by gently rubbing with an ultra-fine scuffing pad (such as Scotch Brite 7448 – Gray) using an even, circular motion.
  • To restore a semi-gloss finish on a dark-colored surface – similar process as restoring a light-colored surface but after sanding with the 400 grit sandpaper, wash and dry the area and sand again with 600 grit sandpaper followed by another round of washing and drying. Use an ultra-fine scuffing pad to buff the area.

Alternate Step:

Another method for removing minor burn marks is to wet an abrasive pad with water and rub the affected area with a circular motion. Use a general-purpose pad for a matte finish solid surface countertop and an ultra-fine scuffing pad for a semi-gloss surface.

Laminate Countertops

Since laminate countertops consist of a sheet of synthetic material (the surface) bonded to a particleboard base, the effectiveness of surface repairs will depend on the depth of the burn mark. In most cases, the laminate sheet itself is no more than one-sixteenth to one-eighth of an inch thick.

If the affected area is at or near the surface of the laminate, then a few household items and some elbow grease may resolve the problem; if the burn mark has gone completely through the laminate to the substrate, then more drastic measures are required.

Minor Burn Marks

To remove minor burn marks on the surface of the laminate, you will need plain white toothpaste, a soft-bristled brush (e.g., a toothbrush), a mild detergent, and a few pieces of cloth.

  • Use a cloth to wipe the affected area with warm, soapy water and then dry completely.
  • Smear the toothpaste onto the burn mark and rub over the affected area; let sit for five minutes.
  • Gently scrub the burn mark with the toothbrush using circular motions.
  • Rinse, wipe, and dry the area; repeat these steps if you see any lightening of the mark.

If the toothpaste is ineffective in removing the burn mark, it may be necessary to use a mildly abrasive cleaning liquid (with bleach) in the place of toothpaste. Repeat the above steps, switching to a brush with firmer bristles if necessary. An alternative to using the cleaning liquid is to prepare a paste of equal parts baking soda and water and rub in the same manner on the burn mark.

Major Burn Marks

If the burn mark has gone completely through the laminate sheeting to the substrate, then the focus should be on removing the section of damaged laminate and replacing it with a laminate patch or disguising or even repurposing the area with a different material.

For burn marks that are smaller in size, patching with laminate may be an option. Ideally, the patch should be the same color and design as the damaged area, so look for hidden or unexposed laminate on your countertop that can be harvested for these repairs.

For example, if you have a laminate countertop that abuts a refrigerator or a range/cooktop, then you may have an edge of the countertop with laminate sheeting that is hidden from view (i.e., the portion of the countertop that runs along the side of these appliances). These sections of laminate may very well measure 1 to 1 ½ inches (thickness of the countertop) by 24 inches (depth of the countertop).

The idea would be to use this “spare” laminate sheeting to patch the burned area. Depending on how your countertop and appliances align, it may be necessary to leave some of the laminate closest to the front in place so that no substrate is visible to passersby.

Patching Laminate Burn Marks

Laminate sheeting is bonded to the substrate by an adhesive which can be activated, or loosened, by applying heat directly to the surface. A very effective method for removing and installing laminate is to use a clothes iron set to medium-high (no steam).

Step One: Measure the burn area and determine the amount of laminate needed to patch the entire affected area. Remember that your repair area will be limited to the amount of spare laminate that you can harvest from other areas of your countertop.

Step Two: Once you have calculated the amount of laminate required, you will need to mark the length of the laminate edge that will need to be removed. Using a utility knife, carefully make an incision at the desired length of laminate (be sure to cut through to the substrate).

Step Three: Slowly move the iron back and forth over the laminate and periodically check to see if the laminate can be peeled away from the substrate. Once it has been sufficiently loosened, carefully pry away from the substrate and set the piece aside adhesive side up and allow it to cool.

Step Four: To ensure a proper fit, we will use the laminate patch as the template for cutting away the damaged laminate. Since our patching piece is a long strip (1 to 1 ½ inches wide) of laminate sheeting, ideally, the repair area can be patched by cutting our longer piece into smaller strips.

For example, if you determine that the repair area is three inches by four inches and the patching strip is one inch wide by 20 inches long, then you will need to cut it into three smaller pieces, each measuring four inches long. These strips will then be laid one above the other to form a three-inch by four-inch patch.

Step Five: Cut your patching laminate strip into the exact sizes that you will need to repair the burn mark area. Then use these pieces laid on top of the affected area and trace the outline of the patch strips on the laminate surface. These will be your cutting lines and should ensure a proper, tight fit once the patch is in place.

Step Six: Carefully cut along the guidelines making sure to go all the way through the laminate sheeting to the substrate. Slowly move the iron over the affected area to loosen the adhesive and remove the damaged section of laminate sheeting.

Step Seven: Position the patch pieces into place and heat them one at a time with the iron to re-activate the adhesive and bond the laminate patches into place. Repeat this process for all pieces until the patchwork is completely bonded. If any of the pieces need to be re-positioned, use the iron to loosen the adhesive enough for you to manipulate it into place.

Re-Purposing the Laminate Burn Mark Area

If the burn mark area is simply too large to be patched with spare laminate sheeting, then you may want to consider re-purposing or disguising the damaged area. With a little creativity, you can remove an unsightly burn mark while enhancing the appearance or functionality of your laminate countertop.

  • Ceramic Tile Inlaid Trivet – since the original damage was caused by a very hot pan or pot, perhaps installing a permanent trivet in the very same spot will make the best of the situation. Ceramic tiles are impervious to heat and can be coordinated to your particular laminate. Place them over the burn area or inlay them flush with the laminate surface by routing the appropriate depth into the countertop.
  • Integrated Cutting Board – one option for re-purposing the damaged laminate area is to install a permanent cutting board into the countertop by routing roughly ½ inch depth into the countertop with length and width of the routed area corresponding to the cutting board size.

Stone Countertops

Nearly all stone countertops, both naturally occurring and engineered, are highly heat resistant. Granite, for example, is an igneous rock that is formed as the result of high pressure combined with high temperature. Virtually all quartz countertops are engineered and are extremely durable. Even soapstone is nearly impervious to heat as this material is also used for hearths and fireplaces.

Nevertheless, repeated or prolonged exposure to an extreme heat source like a cast-iron skillet, for example, can cause discoloration or staining. While most surface stains can be removed with warm soapy water and a little scrubbing, deeper stains will require a little special attention.

The most effective method for removing discoloration or staining caused by a hot pan on a porous stone surface is to apply a poultice.

Step One:

In a bowl, prepare a mixture of all-purpose flour and hydrogen peroxide. Add the flour first, then stir in and mix enough hydrogen peroxide until you achieve the consistency of creamy peanut butter.

Step Two:

Spread the poultice on the affected area, generously applying the paste in an even layer (extending slightly beyond the mark or stain area).

Step Three:

Cut a piece of plastic wrap large enough to cover an area slightly larger than the spread paste. Poke holes into the wrap for ventilation and cover the poultice. Tape down all the edges of the plastic wrap with masking or painter’s tape.

Step Four:

Allow the poultice to dry (this usually takes about 24 hours).

Step Five:

Carefully scrape off the paste with a plastic putty knife or scraper. Wipe the area clean with a damp cloth and warm, soapy water. Dry completely.

Because most stone countertops are porous, it is important to properly seal the surfaces regularly. This will protect its finish and increase its resistance to staining and cracking.

Wood (Butcher Block) Countertops

Much like solid surface countertops, wood and butcher block countertops are uniform and consistent throughout, meaning that if need be, repairs can be performed by removing the surface. Minor blemishes, however, can be removed by manual treatment and cleaning.

Minor Burn Marks

If the blemish or damage is small and at the surface of the wood, then chances are it can be treated with a series of mixtures and simply scrubbed away.

  • Sprinkle salt on the burned area and rub with lemon wedges; allow this mixture to sit for six to eight hours.
  • Using a soft-bristled brush (like an old toothbrush) gently stroke the burn mark along the grain if possible.
  • Dampen a clean cloth with hydrogen peroxide and gently rub the affected area and assess whether the burn mark has lightened or disappeared.
  • An alternative method is to apply lemon oil to the affected area and use super fine steel wool (grade #0000) to gently rub the burn mark away.

Major Burn Marks

For serious heat damage that cannot be removed via treatment and rubbing methods, sanding away the burn mark is the only alternative. It is important to note that wood and butcher block countertops are sealed to prevent moisture damage and staining, as well as inhibiting bacteria growth. Any portion of the countertop that is sanded will need to be re-treated and re-sealed once the burn mark has been repaired.

Before sanding, make sure that the countertop surface is clean and dry. If the burn mark created any scorching or carbonized areas, carefully scrape or chisel off that portion of damaged wood. As with sanding solid surface material, it is always advisable to be mindful of the sandpaper grit that you are using, as too coarse of grit will remove more material than desired or necessary.

Step One: If the burn mark size is small (e.g., smaller than an AA battery), then sanding by hand should suffice. However, for larger areas (e.g., the size of the base of a pot or pan), it would be advisable to use an electric sander to ensure the evenness of the sanding.

Step Two: Begin with coarse-grit sandpaper (80 grit or similar) to lighten the burn mark, using even strokes to remove the damaged area while maintaining even sanding of the countertop. We want to avoid sanding channels, grooves, or dimples into the wood countertop surface.

Step Three: Once the burn mark has been removed, switch to finer grit sandpaper (180 to 220 grit) and sand the entire area surrounding the burn mark to smooth and even out the surface.

Step Four: It is important to thoroughly wipe away all dust and clean the sanded surface with warm soapy water. Allow the countertop surface to dry completely.

Step Five: The next step entails re-treating the wood to seal it and make it impervious to water and other liquids. A common sealant for wood countertops is food-grade mineral oil.

Step Six: It is likely that the sanding process has removed stain or finish in the affected area as well. Re-apply stain or finish to match the rest of your wood countertop.

Other Countertop Materials

If your countertops are composed of stainless steel or concrete, or if your countertop surface is comprised of ceramic tiles, then chances are you will not need to worry about burn marks because these materials are considered highly resistant to heat. Ceramic tile and stainless steel are generally impervious to heat damage.

It is still prudent, regardless of the heat resistance of your countertop, to utilize trivets and potholders whenever possible. Burn marks notwithstanding, virtually all countertop surfaces, regardless of the material, are susceptible to some degree of scratching, and the bottoms of pots and pans are fully capable of creating blemishes on anything from stainless steel to laminate.

Fortunately, with a little know-how and willingness to roll up your sleeves, even serious burn marks can be removed or repaired on most countertop surfaces. Even in the case of laminates, a little ingenuity can transform an unsightly char mark into a like-new countertop.

Do Countertops Increase Home Value? And By How Much?

Do Countertops Increase Home Value? And By How Much?

Many homeowners that want to sell their homes but need to make their homes more appealing to buyers wonder how much help installing new countertops would help with the resale value of their homes. However, much of this depends on the current appearance of your countertops, the new type of material you want to install for your countertops, and the size of your countertops overall.

Do countertops increase home value? And by how much? Yes, installing new countertops does increase a home’s value. However, figuring out “by how much” is tricky because it will depend on the type of new countertops you install, the current condition of your new countertops, the size of your kitchen, and how difficult it will be to install new countertops. In some cases, it is worth it to install new countertops before selling your home. However, in other cases, it isn’t worth it. A general rule of thumb is your new countertops will increase the home's value approximately 3 times the value of the countertops you had professionally installed.

Since there isn’t a lot of information available on the Internet today covering countertops and how they increase home value, we created this guide to help you out. Below we’ will discuss the impact that new countertops have on the resale value of your home and the prices for installing the different types of countertop materials to help you out.

Should You Replace Countertops Before Selling?

Many homeowners wonder if replacing their kitchen countertops will make their homes more appealing when they try to sell their homes. So, if you are thinking about listing your home and you are wondering if it would financially help you to install new countertops, we’ve got you covered. We’ll start by answering some questions about new countertops, and then we’ll discuss the costs of replacing your countertops, depending on the materials you want to use.

What’s the Condition of Your Old Countertops?

Before you try to determine what material you should replace your countertops with, you should take time out to assess if you even need to replace your old countertops. If your current countertops are neutral and still appear to be in good condition, then it probably won’t help you much to replace them before you try to sell your home.

However, if your countertops are dated, stained, or have a poor appearance overall, then the countertops can deter the sale of your home. Whenever a possible buyer looks at your home and sees something expensive that needs to be fixed, they’ll remember it. If you wind up with too many of those bad marks, then it will be more challenging to sell your home. So, if your countertops are ugly or in poor condition, you may want to replace your countertops.

However, you should only replace your countertops before selling your home if you truly feel you won’t be able to sell your home without replacing your countertops. Chances are, you probably won’t get all of your money back in resale value if you do replace your old countertops before selling your home. Some people are still willing to take this monetary hit if it increases the likelihood that they’ll sell their home faster. So, if that sounds like you, you may want to replace your old countertops.

Your Kitchen Countertops

Kitchen countertops often become essential selling points for homes because the kitchen area is usually central to any home. Whether a couple or a family resides in the house, people will wind up spending a lot of time in their kitchens. Also, the person that usually does the food preparation and clean up will most likely want a kitchen they can enjoy.

Selecting Your New Countertop

If you think you want to install new countertops before you sell your home, make sure you choose your materials carefully. You want your new countertops to match still the décor that you have present in your kitchen or bathroom in its current state.

So, think about using something pretty but also versatile. Many people love neutral countertops, so these are good selections. Try to avoid something trendy and go mainstream and not too expensive if you are going to resell your home.

Cost of Refinishing Your Countertops

If you know you cannot afford new countertops at this time, but you still want to do something fresh for your house, you can purchase a countertop refinishing kit for less than $300. With your countertop refinishing kit, some time and a little bit of effort, you can create a new look in your kitchen. Countertop refinishing kits usually feature sturdy peel-and-stick vinyl covers that work well for any DIYer and can be made to look like granite.

If $300 is still a bit pricy for you, then you can consider paint laminate tops, which can also give your kitchen countertop the appearance of granite. You can use a paint laminate top and show off your new DIY project with a beautiful, new look for your countertops in your kitchen. At the same time, you’ll also be recycling your old countertops and keeping them out of landfills, which is a green idea.

Small Repairs

If you’re worried about your budget and you are more interested in touching up your countertop and repairing a few scratches, gouges and chips, you can quickly fix these with a laminate repair paste, or using a color-matched repair pen. You can find both of these options at your local hardware store. When you go there, pick one that closely matches your countertop’s color. You should expect to spend about ten dollars on either one of these repair options.

Remember, when you opt for these types of repair products, you cannot sand off any excess without harming other parts of the laminate once the repaired product dries. So, you’ll need to fill each area carefully and slowly and make sure you don’t overfill. You want to make the defect blend into your current countertop

If your countertop has stains on it, you can easily remove those stains using a paste made from half baking soda and half water. Once you’ve made the paste, place it on the stains and let it sit for several hours. Don’t rub the baking soda paste into your countertop. When you are done, wipe it off with a paper towel. If that doesn’t work, you can use acetone or nail polish remover on those more stubborn stains.

If you’ve tried these ideas and your countertop still doesn’t look great, then think about painting your laminate countertop before replacing it if you are on a tight budget. We’ll cover how you can transform your laminate countertop with some paint and effort below.

Painting Your Countertop

You can create a faux granite look by using some sponges and dabbing your countertop with paint laminate. The entire process should cost you a little less than $150-$200, depending on the size of your countertop.

  • First, clean your countertops with soap and water.
  • Next, wipe your countertop down with denatured alcohol. Then, avoid touching the countertop again.
  • Look for any old caulk and remove it from the seams.
  • Next, use a repair pen or kit to repair the chips and large cracks in your countertop. Let the putty dry.
  • Apply painter’s tape to everything you don’t want to paint.
  • Use 100-grit sandpaper to de-gloss your countertop. Then, wipe up the residue.
  • Apply a primer and let it dry for several hours.

If you want to give your countertops a granite look, you’ll need to pick out three different shades of paint and work from light to dark, or dark to light, when you apply the coats. Your first coat will be the base, and it will have to cover the entire countertop area.

ROI on New Kitchen Countertops

You might be wondering about the return on investment (ROI) that you’ll get out of replacing your kitchen countertops. While it’s impossible to provide a precise number because that answer depends a lot upon your kitchen and the countertop you choose, most people that decide to replace their kitchen countertops get a lot of personal enjoyment and use out of them.

So, if you want to replace your kitchen countertops because you want to enjoy them for a bit before you sell your home, whether you lose money on them or not, we understand. Below we’ll talk a little bit about the ROI you can experience when you install a new kitchen countertop, including personal enjoyment and resale value

#1: ROI on Personal Enjoyment

Since ROI isn’t all about money to everybody, let’s consider the ROI on personal enjoyment if you decide to install new countertops. Typically, most families spend a decent amount of time in their kitchens eating together, doing the cleaning, talking before, after, and during meals, and entertaining guests.

So, if you enjoy cooking, cleaning, having people over for dinner and lunch, then adding new countertops to your home could be an immense uplift for you, which is something we’d encourage. That’s especially true if your old countertops are outdated, ugly, or falling apart.

#3 ROI on Resale Value

Buyers typically gravitate toward homes that have kitchens they like, mostly because they don’t want to have to spend a lot of money and time remodeling their kitchens.

Adding new kitchen countertops can make your entire kitchen look fresher and more modern. Also, if you update some other inexpensive items like paint, decorations, and window treatments, you can make your kitchen look like it’s been remodeled without spending ample amounts of money on your kitchen.

So, now that you understand the different returns on your investment that you can get out of new countertops, we’ll now move on to discuss how much different types of countertops cost. That way, you can decide on the materials you’d like and figure out if the cost is worth the benefits you’re likely to receive when you replace your new kitchen countertop.

The Cost of Countertop Materials

After you figure out whether or not replacing your kitchen countertops will be worth it for you in the long run, you’ll next need to think about the type of material you want to use for your new kitchen countertops. You’ll need to think about your budget and what kinds of faucets and sinks you’d like to use. These all cost money but you could possibly use your existing sinks and faucets. I recommend only reusing your exiting sinks and faucets if they are in good shape. For sinks, I recommend going with an undermount if you opted for natural stone or quartz countertops.

By understanding how much the different materials for countertops will cost, you’ll be able to figure out the elements that will work best for you. Below we’ll cover the cost of some different countertop materials so that you can figure out the type of material that will be right for you and your family.

Determining Countertop Cost

You can figure out how much your countertop will cost once you know the price of the material and the amount of content you’ll need to use to cover your new countertops. You can find some lovely kitchen countertop material choices for as low as $15 per square foot, and some for as much as $200 per square foot. To help you figure out how much each type of countertop costs, we’ll cover information on them in more detail below.

Since there are so many materials out there that you can use to replace your old countertops, we decided we’d focus on the elements that would give you the best resale value possible if you are planning on selling your home soon. While you probably won’t get the full amount of your investment back after you replace your countertop, you will get use and enjoyment out of it, and you’ll also be able to sell your home faster and easier when the time comes. Most homebuyers love a great kitchen countertop in a home they are purchasing.

So, all of the below materials should help you break close to even or not cost you too much money in the long run if you are trying to sell your home.

#1 Marble Countertops

Marble is a very luxurious material to use, but it’s a bit of a pain to deal with in the long run. If you are up to the challenge of pampering your marble countertop, then you’ll be able to have a nice-looking countertop for decades. However, you will need to pay close attention to the manufacturer’s guidelines about sealing, daily care, use, and cleaning. If you tend to use your countertops often or you have young children, then these countertops aren’t typically recommended for you.

Marble countertops typically cost anywhere from $75-$250 per square foot. Marble has a high maintenance cost as well. Some marble options can be in the low $50 range.

If you want to save money on your marble countertops, then consider installing marble tile instead of a slab. That way, you’ll be able to select from more affordable options and shades of marble. And don’t worry, it won’t make your marble countertop any less attractive. Remember that you’ll need to take good care of these countertops, and you’ll save money over time.

#2 Granite Countertops

Not surprisingly, the high maintenance and costs of marble scare away a lot of homeowners. If you feel that way about marble, then don’t worry. There are still plenty of other luxury material options, including granite. Granite is far more popular than marble because less maintenance is required, and granite countertops are traditionally gorgeous. Also, because granite has become so popular recently, it now costs less to install granite countertops, primarily if you use granite tile.

If you can follow the care and maintenance guidelines that come with your granite countertops, you’ll be able to make these countertops last forever. Check out the granite vs quartz article to learn more about maintenance for granite vs quartz Considering that, granite traditionally costs less than marble, running about $30-$200 per square foot. Granite does require some care and maintenance, but it’s far less than what’s needed for a marble countertop.

If you are looking for a way to save some money on your granite countertops, then consider installing tiles instead of slabs. If you do want slabs, you’ll need to pick a more common color of granite, but that won’t make your countertops any less beautiful. We also recommend installing a wood edge on your granite countertop so that you have protection against costly chips.

#3 Quartz Countertops

Quartz countertops are also sometimes called engineered stone. Regardless of what you call it, this material is lovely. With quartz, you’ll get a better variety of colors than granite could offer. Also, quartz holds up better than granite does under certain conditions. However, it’s not quite as pretty as granite by comparison. Still, since this is an engineered product, you can add pigment when you see fit to get a bevy of additional colors, something you could never do with granite.

Unlike natural stone, when you add pigment to quarts, the color looks more consistent than varied. However, you will get a very durable product because the polymer and resin binders combine with the 90% quartz in the product to make a non-porous, durable countertop. Quartz countertops cost anywhere from $45 to $155 per square foot and also doesn’t require much maintenance.

If you want to go with quartz and you are looking to save a bit of money on your countertops, consider getting quartz tiles. Quartz tiles cost much less than quartz slabs. However, with quartz, you might wind up offsetting your savings because quartz tile can take longer to install, and that can increase the price of the labor. However, if you are doing it yourself, you’ll be able to save a lot of money this way.

#4 Concrete Countertops

If you’ve never heard of concrete countertops before, then this might sound a bit funny to you. However, we aren’t talking about the concrete they use for sidewalks, although there are some similarities to that. With a concrete countertop, you’ll get a trendy, stylish countertop look that’s eye candy for any kitchen. These countertops aren’t cheap, however, and typically cost about $75-$125 per square foot.

If you decide to go with a concrete countertop, you won’t wind up with a slab of sidewalk on your countertop, so don’t worry. You’ll get something that’s quite pretty because you can get the surface stamped, acid-stained, or polished to create a bevy of different styles and designs. Also, concrete countertops are durable, attractive, and fully customizable, which gives them a huge benefit when compared to natural stone countertops.

If you do opt for concrete countertops, your countertops will still require a bit of maintenance. However, you can save some money on your concrete countertop by using a more straightforward design with rectangular sections and straight lines. That should help you cut down costs and make the installation of the project easier overall, too.

#5 Stainless Steel Countertops

Stainless-steel seems to waver as a popular material for homeowners, but many who love to cook often in their homes want something durable and sturdy that is easy to clean and able to handle their long cooking schedules. If that sounds like you, then you might want to consider stainless steel. Stainless-steel countertops cost between $80 to $225 per square foot and are very easy to maintain.

If you are considering installing stainless steel countertops and you need a budget-friendly option, remember that stainless-steel comes in several different thicknesses, finishes, and coating options. Unless you cook for long hours every day, you can get a cheap quality stainless-steel countertop, and you won’t need to worry about much maintenance.

#6 Solid Surface Countertops

Solid surface countertops are usually comprised out of sturdy acrylic, which helps make these innovative and long-lasting countertops. Two of the best brands that make solid surface countertops include Corian and Swanstone. Those two manufacturers also offer the most pattern and style options out there. Many of their patterns are made to look like granite or marble.

So, you can use a solid surface countertop if you want an alternative to something more expensive that requires less maintenance.

Solid surface countertops cost about $35-$85 per square foot and are much easier to maintain than either granite or marble. However, you can still get the look of granite or marble for cheaper, and wind up with a material that requires less maintenance and lasts longer.

If you are looking to save money on your solid surface countertop, then consider using standard grades of the materials rather than opting for premium ones. That way, you can save a bit of money and bring down your overall price. Also, you should shop around and get many estimates from different contractors if you are an option for a solid surface countertop. That way, you’ll be able to get the best price on your installation.

#7 Wood or Butcher Block Countertops

If you are the type of person who loves cooking and you tend to spend hours upon hours making gourmet meals in your kitchen, then you might enjoy some wood or a butcherblock for your countertop. Many people that love working in the kitchen enjoy having wood and butcher block countertops. New wood options keep coming out, providing you unique opportunities in butcher block countertops yearly. That also means there is some variety in the price.

Wood countertops or butcher block countertops typically cost anywhere from $55 to $200 per square foot. The maintenance cost of these butcher block countertops is generally high, so you shouldn’t get this type of countertop if you are lazy or you want something low-maintenance.

If you are shopping for this type of countertop on a budget and you want to save a bit of money, then you should consider selecting from one of the more affordable wood or butcher block products out there. This path might work well for you if you don’t want to live in your house for longer than ten years. You can also purchase pre-fab butcher block counters and install them easily yourself.

#8 Tile Countertops

Tile countertops have a bevy of price and style options. Tile countertops can vary widely in price, so it depends on the size, shape, and quality of the tile you are purchasing when figuring out the price. You may wind up with an expensive tile countertop, or a cheaper one. However, tile countertops give you a bevy of options when it comes to customization. Even better, tile is durable, resists heat well, and doesn’t require much maintenance, either.

Tile countertops typically cost between $18-$35 per square foot. The more elaborate your design, the more your price will increase. Also, tile countertops are great for people that don’t want to do a lot of maintenance to their countertops. If you are shopping for a tile countertop on a budget and trying to save money, consider getting larger, individual tiles because they take less time to install and can cut back on your installation costs by quite a bit.

Also, if you avoid intricate designs on your tile countertop, you’ll wind up saving even more money.

#9 Laminate Countertops

Laminate countertops are the most affordable types of materials around, and you can select your countertop from a bevy of colors and styles. Many laminate countertops can be designed to look like granite, marble, and other expensive materials. However, you’ll wind up spending a lot less, and you’ll have a lot less maintenance if you opt for a laminate countertop.

Laminate countertops typically cost between $15 to $40 per square foot. You can save money on your laminate countertops by finding stock and special-order countertops if you ask for them at your local home improvement store. You can also install these DIY pretty easily. If you hire a handyman, it shouldn’t cost you too much to install this countertop.

Final Thoughts

The above material options in countertops are all excellent choices if you are trying to sell your home. While you still may not get your monetary investment back if you replace your countertops and sell your home, you should get something relatively close. Also, besides the monetary value, you’ll get out of your new countertops, you’ll get some personal enjoyment and great functionality. Many people report enjoying more time in their kitchens after they replace their countertops.

So, if replacing your countertop will have any positive effect on you, your family, or the possible sale of your home, then it might be time to consider that new countertop!

Color Coordinating: Should Countertops Match Floor or Cabinets?

Color Coordinating: Should Countertops Match Floor or Cabinets?

Color Coordinating: Should Countertops Match Floor or Cabinets?

Whether you’re building a new kitchen from scratch or renovating your existing kitchen, color coordination is key. Choosing a countertop, is typically where most people start, adding flooring and cabinets next. Then filling in the other cosmetic pieces and appliances once the major components are in place.

Should countertops match the floor or the cabinets? When color coordinating a kitchen, the countertops should complement the flooring and cabinets, but not directly match. When choosing a color scheme, there should be two colors, and a third for accents. The countertops and flooring should be similar, and the cabinets should be the second color, complementing the color of the countertop and flooring.

I’m sorry to say; it’s designing a kitchen isn’t as easy as picking out a countertop and matching cabinets and flooring. If the idea of choosing a countertop along with flooring and cabinets that compliment rather than directly match seems overwhelming, then keep reading. Here you’ll find tips and tricks that will help guide you through the process and will hopefully take some of the stress away.

Color Coordinating in the Kitchen: Start with the Countertops

Countertops are generally the focal point of the kitchen. While the floor covers more surface area than the countertops, the line of vision isn’t directed down. The countertops are usually what people see first.

Also, countertops are often made of materials that have multiple colors involved. This will be an important factor in the overall color scheme of the kitchen when choosing flooring and cabinetry.

Consider Overall Style

The kitchen is where everyone gathers for meals and conversation. It’s the place where people entertain when friends or family come over. Kitchens are basically the hub of a home. No matter how big or small, the kitchen serves as the epicenter of all home happenings. This is why it’s so important that the kitchen directly reflects your style.

Everyone has a vision for the kitchen. It’s always helpful to gather photos, samples, and visuals in one spot while determining the overall aesthetic of the finished product. That way, you have something to refer to as the project continues. When searching for ideas that match your vision, keep in mind your style. There are different countertops that will fit in with each one.

Traditional

This is an overall favorite and one of the most common kitchen styles, hence the “traditional” name. Traditional kitchens are simple and clean, with little elements that add a certain level of comfort. The overall color scheme is light with a lot of white, with a very casual feel. Nothing too fancy.

A kitchen that’s traditional in style is usually a favorite amongst families or people that love to have a company. Countertops in a traditional kitchen are usually neutral in color, with lots of beige or gray. They’re typically natural stone materials, such as granite or marble. Butcher block countertops for kitchen islands are also common in these kitchens.

When choosing a countertop to match a traditional style, keep in mind that it should be durable, because these kitchens are used, and used a lot. Granite and marble are also great options because they can endure a lot of action without a lot of maintenance.

Contemporary or Modern

These kitchens are sleek and minimalist. And, if there are details, they’re usually artistic in nature, and not done in abundance. The focus in a contemporary kitchen is the updated appliances and cutting-edge design, so the countertops are more or less an accessory to these.

Metal or concrete countertops have become popular in contemporary kitchens. Laminate countertop in various colors is another contemporary style option because this countertop material is available in different colors and can adapt to any scheme. Quartz is another choice out there, but only if you have the budget for it.

The contemporary style is also characterized by a lack of decorations, so the countertops aren’t covered in fruit baskets and appliances and tchotchkes. The simplicity of the countertops themselves is the decoration. Therefore, when choosing a countertop material, it’s important to pick one that can be easily cleaned and fits into your cleaning routine.

Transitional

Transitional kitchens are a happy medium between traditional and contemporary. This style if what happens when you love elements from both styles, and you’re somewhat stuck in the middle. It’s great for those of us that don’t like to commit to just one side or the other. If the vision for your kitchen is somewhat in the middle and transitional in nature, you can start with a countertop from either style.

Coastal

A kitchen with a beachy vibe usually has cool color tones and lots of wood or seagrass elements. And light. Coastal style kitchens feature lots and lots of natural sunlight, of course.

Anyone that wants to feel like they’re near the beach might want to stick with a coastal kitchen aesthetic. The countertops are usually very simple and compliment the airy, sunlit color scheme. Butcher block countertops are natural and bring in the driftwood element.

Sometimes the countertops in a coastal kitchen can be a major design element, featuring sea glass or natural stone that channels the sea glass color scheme.

Eclectic

Anyone that wants an eclectic kitchen is in the market for something that’s very personal. A custom-fit kitchen. There’s usually a lot of contrast in colors and textures, so the countertops should reflect this overall feel.

If your style fits into the eclectic box, rather, or outside of any other box, be ready to make lots of choices. Pretty much anything goes within this style realm. However, if you’re planning on committing to this style, you’ll have to be prepared to make decisions and to make sure there’s a balance.

The countertops are a great place to start, so whatever material you choose, it can be the aspect that ties everything together. This is a kitchen that’s all about the look, so it may or may not be used as often as, say, a traditional kitchen. The durability and longevity of a countertop material may or may not be important in this decision.

Craftsman or Rustic

Just like the name says, this style is for the artist. It’s all about natural materials and handcrafted elements, or at least things that appear to be that way. Lots of ornate details are characteristic of this style.

Darker countertops in natural materials like granite or marble fit well into this style. Soapstone is another option for this style. A craftsman kitchen looks and feels like it’s used by someone that knows their way around a kitchen, so the countertops should at least look like they’re an important part of the cooking process.

Farmhouse

With the increasing popularity of some design shows, farmhouse style has become one of the most widely favorited styles, especially in the kitchen. Lots of greenery and sunlight fill these kitchens, along with exposed wood features. These kitchens have a very country feel, so even if you’re not actually on a farm, you might feel like you are.

A farmhouse kitchen is really where most of the action takes place, so the materials on the countertop have to be heavy-duty. Inspirational quotes and signs are commonplace in a farmhouse kitchen, so these are often left on the countertops as decoration. The countertops themselves are the background for much of the other elements.

Butcher block countertops are often spotted in these kitchens. Another favorite is laminate. Sometimes, a wooden look can be achieved with a laminate that looks like wood. However, soapstone and marble are also both commonly used.

Mediterranean or Tuscan

Kitchens with elements that resemble Italian and Greek themes fit into this category. These kitchens often feature natural stone or brick, with lots of neutrals in the color scheme.

Butcher block is also common in the kitchens as a countertop. Also, marble or granite with lots of browns and beige is used frequently. Both are great options, so the choice lies within the preference of the homeowner.

Mid-Century Modern

Imagine the kitchen from The Brady Bunch, only updated. Lots of clean, straight lines with a white foundation. There are pops of color in a mid-century modern kitchen, but just a few. Geometric shapes in the light fixtures and furniture are also featured in this common kitchen style.

Laminate countertops are usually done in this kitchen. They’re the most versatile when it comes to colors. Also, if sticking to a true mid-century design, this is one of the only types of countertops that were available during the time of the actual middle of the century.

Shabby Chic

A farmhouse kitchen with lots of vintage elements can be described as shabby chic. Similar to an eclectic style kitchen, the shabby chic kitchen has very few rules. This style has become popular for those that love the farmhouse feel of an open, inviting kitchen, without ditching those favorite vintage elements.

Any kind of countertop fits into this style. Really, anything goes. However, because this style is very budget-friendly, laminate countertops are often used in shabby chic kitchens, since they can be the most affordable option.

Industrial

With the availability of homes that are built-in nontraditional spaces (think of old urban factories turned into loft apartments), industrial kitchens are on the rise. These kitchens feature little to no design elements. They are there just for regular kitchen use. Often times, there doesn’t have a table, just a bar with stools.

The focus in these kitchens is on the stainless-steel appliances. Concrete countertops are the most common in these kitchens. Gray and black stone, like granite or quartz, are also used. However, the stone would be matte, with very little patterning.

Putting Your Kitchen Together: Consider the Materials

Everyone uses their kitchens differently. Therefore, it’s important to choose a countertop material that will support how much or how little the kitchen is used.

If cooking is an important part of your life, a more durable countertop is a must. Are you the person that’s always hosting the family events? Then you’ll need a countertop that can handle spills, as well as hot or cold items.

However, if your kitchen is just there for looks, or you’re more of a takeout fan, then the material can be chosen more based on aesthetics and style, as well as budget.

Granite

This has become one of the most popular materials because it’s available in so many options. Although granite isn’t the most budget-friendly, it has come down a bit in price due to its popularity.

Granite looks luxurious and rich, but it’s also very functional. It is very strong and can handle hot pots straight from the stove, and even the occasional “oops I forgot a cutting board” moment.

Granite is also great for anyone that wants a low maintenance countertop. There’s very little upkeep required, and it’s easy to clean. However, all of this depends on how it’s installed, and granite does require professional installation. It’s very heavy and most definitely will crack if it’s not done properly.

Quartz

Sometimes called “engineered stone,” quartz is actually a mix between quartz and other minerals. These materials are held together by resin, so it’s not naturally occurring stone that’s been taken out of a quarry.

Quartz is also easy to maintain and can handle lots of spills. Like granite, it can take the heat, too. Quartz doesn’t have to be installed by a professional, although it’s heavy, so it is recommended.

The price of quartz is rather expensive, so it’s not the most budget-friendly option out there.

Soapstone

Soapstone is great in kitchens that have a vintage or historical feel. While the stone itself can scratch, it just adds to the antique look of the soapstone, instead of looking like an imperfection.

This type of countertop isn’t one that lends itself to all kitchen styles, but it does work in a craftsman or farmhouse kitchen. Even a traditional kitchen could feature a soapstone countertop if it’s done right.

Soapstone does require a professional to install it, and there is maintenance required. However, if the countertop does get damaged, in most cases, it can be sanded out.

Marble

This type of countertop material is often featured in fancy kitchens, where budget isn’t a factor. Marble is unique because, well, it’s unique. Each and every slab of marble is different, and because it’s a natural resource, there’s no two slabs alike.

Marble is expensive. Really expensive. And, it’s not the most durable because it does scratch. It scratches rather easily, in fact. However, a marble countertop is waterproof and can take the heat.

But marble is only effective if it’s installed properly and sealed. Maintenance of marble countertops is crucial to ensure its longevity.

Solid Surface Material

These countertops are man-made from acrylics and resins. It can be customized to fit any shape and size necessary. It’s also available in just about any color imaginable.

Solid surface countertops have been popular for a long time, but they’re still a favorite because of their affordability and durability. They don’t stain and they are very low maintenance. Like many of the other options, these should only be installed by a professional.

Concrete

Concrete countertops can mimic the colors and patterns of natural stone, like granite or marble, depending on the stain used. But, unlike granite and marble, these countertops can be made to fit anywhere, so they’re more customizable. They’re actually made right in your kitchen, using forms that fit directly onto your cabinetry.

Concrete countertops can be expensive and require a professional to install. They also have to be sealed often because concrete is so porous. It’s also a very custom material, so it can be negative if the home is going to be sold in the future.

Ceramic Tile

Kitchen designs that feature a lot of detail and design often use ceramic tiles for countertops. They’re very durable and don’t have to be expensive, although there are some incredibly pricey custom ceramic tiles out there.

Ceramic tile countertops are very easy to clean, so they’re great for kitchens that get a lot of use. Another bonus of ceramic tile is that just about anyone can install it. There’s no need for professionals to do that part, so it can save some money down the road.

Laminate

This is a widely used option because of its price and color range. There’s literally a laminate countertop color available for any budget and any color scheme. It’s also highly customizable as far as shape and size.

This is a countertop that doesn’t require professional installation, so again, it can save money. While some of the laminate options are durable, others are not, so it’s important to ask before committing to this kind of countertop.

Butcher Block or Wood

While these butcher block countertops can work in many kitchen spaces, and even function as an accent piece on a kitchen island or table, they’re not the best option for a countertop that’s used frequently.

Because they’re made of wood and wood is so porous, they need to be sealed and resealed often. However, they are easy to clean if sealed properly. Also, with wood, you can sand and reseal if anything happens to the countertop, such as a burn or scratch.

Stainless Steel

With the rise of industrial kitchens and minimalist design, the clean look of a stainless steel countertop has become a popular choice in kitchens. This is a great option because it’s resistant to heat damage and very easy to clean.

One drawback to a stainless-steel countertop is that is can be loud. Making a cup of coffee in the morning can wake up the whole house if you’re not careful. It’s also rather expensive and definitely not a DIY task.

 

Once Countertops Are Chosen, Move Down to the Floor

Whew! There sure are a lot of choices when it comes to countertops, and we didn’t even delve into the millions of color options since that’s a personal preference that you’ll choose when you narrow down the style and material.

So, now that you’ve committed to a countertop, it’s time to choose a flooring option. While there are quite a few flooring options available, it won’t be as difficult because you’ve already narrowed down your style.

Flooring Color

The overall color scheme of your kitchen should consist of two colors, and a third for an accent if you’re feeling spicy. Your countertop color should be reflected in the flooring. The two should be similar, but not exact.

If your countertop is marble with gray and white, then a gray floor tile would be complementary and would work great. Or, if you’ve gone with a granite countertop with beige and brown, then a light version of that beige would be an option for flooring.

Overall, choose one of the colors from the countertops to be featured in the flooring. Not all of the colors. This will look too busy and confusing. The overall look when viewing the countertops and flooring should be cohesive.

Flooring Materials

When you have an idea of a color that coordinates with your countertops, then you can move on to choosing a material. While there are many choices when it comes to flooring, some, such as glass tiles or pebbles, just won’t work in the kitchen. We’ll focus on those that can withstand all of the kitchen activities.

Laminate

This is a flooring type that’s available in many colors and can be a DIY project. It’s also very affordable. Laminate flooring fits into any style and any budget.

Laminate is also very durable, so it’s great in a high traffic area. If your kitchen is a highly used area, laminate flooring is a good option. It’s also easy to care for and doesn’t require a lot of maintenance other than a good cleaning.

But, if your laminate flooring does get damaged, it will have to be replaced. This is why laminate tiles are often used because they can be lifted and fixed without having to lift up the whole floor.

Vinyl

Although many people think this is a dated flooring option, vinyl has come a long way since it was introduced years ago. Vinyl is easy to install. It’s also very, very affordable. There’s high-end vinyl available, too.

Vinyl is readily available and easy to find. Most big box stores carry vinyl flooring options. However, vinyl is not the most durable flooring option. It does have to be replaced from time to time.

Real Wood

These are always a popular option because they will last a lifetime. And they look great. Wood floors fit into just about any style of kitchen. They’re also very durable and can handle lots of action in the kitchen.

While hardwood floors are easy to maintain, they can require sanding and resealing if they become damaged. Real wood floors are pretty pricey, but they do last and are worth the price.

Engineered Wood

Man-made wood flooring is available in any color or style, to fit any kitchen color scheme. However, this is slightly more resistant to the kind of damage that can happen in a kitchen, such as dropping heavy things or water damage. Engineered wood is also easy to find in stores.

While it’s recommended that a professional does install any engineered wood flooring, it can be a DIY project. It’s also very easy to clean and repair if needed.

This flooring is laid piece by piece, so removing the spot that’s been damaged is a fairly simple process. It’s a good idea to keep a few extras around, just in case.

 

And Now for the Cabinets

The hard part is doe – or at least the majority of the thinking and choice making is done. And this part won’t require nearly as much thought. As we mentioned, color coordination is a kitchen consists of two colors, and sometimes a third.

You’ve chosen flooring and countertop with similar colors. Those will account for one of the colors in the scheme. The cabinets should be done in a color that compliments that color scheme but does not match. Ideally, the cabinets should be almost the opposite of the flooring and countertops and will serve as a means to break up the color scheme.

Think of it as a kitchen sandwich, with the countertops and flooring being the bread, and the cabinets as the meat.

  • If you’ve chosen a light countertop and flooring, the cabinets should be dark.
  • With a darker shaded countertop and flooring, the cabinets should be light. The color coordination should be done based on complementary colors, or opposites. Think back to the color wheel lessons in elementary art class.

The one exception to that is if you’re going for an all-over white or very light kitchen, then the cabinets will work if they’re showing the lack of color, or white, also. However, unless the kitchen has plenty of natural light, a darker flooring and countertop will always need a light-colored cabinet. Otherwise, the kitchen will be too dark.

 

Wrap-up

Color coordination is important in a kitchen, to tie the elements together and give the space a cohesive look. While cabinets, counters and flooring don’t have to be matchy-matchy, they should complement one another.

The kitchen is one of the most important rooms in the house for the gathering of family and friends. And it needs to be practical, too. There are a lot of options out there for choosing the style and functionality you need in the color combinations that bring out your home’s personality.

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