Countertop surfaces are available in many textures and colors. Picking just the right color will set your kitchen off in just the right way. Unfortunately, many options are available, and the task of selecting the right textures and colors can be daunting. Before getting bogged down in this process, we recommend considering some other features of countertops that will help narrow your selection process regarding color.
Budget... Hardness... Maintenance... Flexibility... Sustainability...
It's always important to know your options. There is nothing worse than finishing an extensive renovation project and then realizing that the right product was out there for you, but you were unaware of it. When considering today's residential countertop options, the major materials you'll be choosing from will be: laminate, solid surface, natural stone, and quartz surfacing .
People are using all types of materials such as: glass, stainless steel, cement, wood, and ceramic (or other types of) tile. Watching three decades of business trends come and go there is a reason for the separation between the major countertop materials and these others. If you're one of those people that are considering one of the other types of counter surfaces, it's important to research the product and make sure that it truly suits the application in which you are using it.
Before getting involved with color selection, it's a good idea to make sure that the countertop samples you're browsing through correspond to you budget. Different materials can vary considerably in cost, and it can be very frustrating finding the perfect color for your project and then realizing that this material is not in your budget. So how can you determine what IS in your budget?
When considering the major materials, laminate is the most cost effective countertop material. Many people refer to laminate as "Formica", but, Formica is a brand name in the same way as Wilsonart, Pionite, or Nevamar. All of these companies offer a wide range of colors and textures, as well as, edge treatment options. Laminate is least expensive when it is offered as a stock color and finish with a self-edge (standard square edge). However, for those of you that are rolling your eyes about how your grandmother had laminate, and that you would NEVER... Consider that laminate has come along way over the last thirty years.
Today's laminate color brilliance and definition are incredibly sophisticated. Most people that are not from the industry can't tell the difference between laminate and some of the upgraded counter surfaces. High Definition colors and textures provide a unique aesthetic that is very pleasing at a reduced cost to upgraded counter materials. Laminate prices will increase with these special finishes and colors, and if they're accompanied by a bevel edge treatment the cost could be as much as half as those upgraded counter materials.
Typically laminate is priced by the linear foot and can range from $55 - $70 per linear foot installed (Equivilent to $25 - $35 per square foot). However, it's important to realize that if you are considering a bevel edge, this is an additional charge and is priced by the linear foot based on which edges get the finished edge treatment. A center island is finished on all sides versus a sink top that is against a wall.
Solid surface could be the next most affordable countertop material after laminate. The brand name that most people recognize in this category is Corian made by DuPont. Although DuPont invented this product in the 1970's there patent was up over quite some time ago, and many companies have imitated Corian with varying success. Today there are about a half dozen real players in the solid surface industry making acrylic and acrylic-blend countertop material.
Solid surface pricing can be very complicated, as there are varying levels in pricing based on color, decorative edge treatments that can cause labor hours to vary, and seam locations to consider. Typically the larger the agrigate, the more expensive the cost. Also, some companies are providing veined product to resemble marble. Therefore there are many colors that can price higher than natural stone and quartz. If you stick with simple colors and edge treatments, you can find a middle ground between laminate and the stone products.
Natural stone offers a range of materials, but most people that are looking for natural stone as a residential countertop are looking for a type of granite. Granite is the most popular option of natural stones for your residential needs. Other stones are available such as marble or limestone, but granite is usually your best option for the long haul.
Natural stone, like solid surface, can sometimes be difficult to price because of the different color groups. Even a popular stone like Uba Tuba has varying types and levels that can affect cost. Based on the type of natural stone you're interested in the price can vary considerably. This is where I say, "Buyer Beware". It has become popular for stone yards across Long Island and the Burroughs to post giant banners stating, "Granite $40 a Square Foot".
Most granite or natural stone prices between $65 - $95 a square foot with everything included and installation. This price range will get you a good quality stone and you can feel comfortable going to sleep at night. Natural stone that is offered at $40 - $60 a square foot usually comes from Asia and is an inferior stone that is not ideal for residential use. also be careful with those banners, because the yards usually charge for every item separate. Additional charges for edge treatments, cutouts, corners, installation, etc. At the end of the day the tops cost considerably more than $40 per square foot.
Quartz surfacing is the category for engineered stone. Products like Silestone, Cambria, Zodiaq, Caesarstone, and HanStone are the leading brands. Quartz is a natural stone, but unlike granite that is cut in slabs from mountain ranges, quartz usually is broken down in smaller pieces and makes up 93% of the finished product. The whitish, clear stone is then ground down into even smaller particles and color is injected with a polyester resin (the remaining 7%) that gives the product consistency and a nonporous surface, which means NO sealing required.
Most quartz surfaces price between $85-100 per square foot and include template, installation, edge treatment, corner details, undermount preps, and faucet drillings. Most of the quartz brands have a warranty that extends a minimum of fifteen years. Others offer a limited lifetime warranty.