Closing out the breakdown of the endless possibilities for kitchen counter materials, we take a closer look at some interesting alternatives that may have some drooling for that unique and custom look. Having seen some of these options like stainless steel and concrete myself, I know my wish list is growing!
A chef’s dream, a butcher block looks and acts like a wood cutting board.
Upside: Easy to cut on but leaves scratches
Downside: water and heat damage is an issue so a smaller area for butcher block may be considered; scratches and cuts will be noticeable but can be reduced by treating with mineral or linseed oil periodically and can possibly be sanded out depending on thickness.
Cost: Expect $40-150 psf
Ideal for a clean, industrial look and blends well with most any color given its neutrality. This surface is alloy steel that contains a dash of chromium to make it rust-resistant. Stainless steel is typically attached to plywood decking to provide strength and deaden its sound.
Upside: heat and water resistant; easy to maintain.
Downside: Scratches and cuts are not repairable so you shouldn’t cut on them. Plus, they can be noisy and dent if banged with a pot if they are not supported properly.
Like stainless steel, copper can give a polished look to your kitchen. Copper is much softer than stainless steel and can warp or dent. Scratches are considered part of the patina, so you don’t need to worry about them. Over time, copper will change color so you’ll need to polish it or embrace the new shade.
Cost: $85-200 psf
New Trends to watch:
Tempered glass counter tops mix function and fashion and give kitchens a modern look. Consider a bar top or as a back-splash to minimize maintenance but retain the fashionable look.
Upside: Available textured, sandblasted, etched or grooved, glass is sanitary since it’s non-porous
Downside: Though it’s easy to clean it may be hard to keep it looking spotless and free of scratches. Glass is heat resistant and water resistant but can crack if something is dropped.
Cost: $60-300 psf
It may sound like something out of Bedrock, but concrete is practical and versatile. It is easy to shape to any custom layout since it is cast on site. Made entirely of natural materials, this hardened mixture of water, cement, sand, stone and pigment and gaining popularity.
Upside: Heat, scratch and crack-proof; can be finished in any color, texture or style.
Downside: Some types may be expensive and requires regular sealing to resist water and staining. Newly poured counters are more sensitive to heat damage so curing time is important.
Cost: $80-150 psf
If you missed the first parts:
Continuing our review of the vast options available for kitchen counter top materials, let’s take a closer look at solid surface, tile and laminate.
Corian: A trademarked brand of solid surface material, this type of counter is made of solid synthetic sheets formed by mixing a mineral compound with polyester and/or acrylic resins and is color consistent
Upside: custom-made to fit your space; any nicks and scratches can be sanded out and is stain-resistant. Available in a wide range of colors, textures and patterns
Downside: Can be expensive; doesn’t have the same look and feel as natural stone. May crack when exposed to hot pots, will stain or scratch but can be scrubbed or sanded out
Cost: About $40-$90 per square foot.
Itching to update your kitchen with new counter tops? The choices are plentiful with many new exciting trends to watch. To help make the process less intimidating and more rewarding later, I believe it is important to first ask yourself some questions about the types of surface choices and how they may suit your needs.
9 Questions you should ask yourself to ensure a perfect match for your new kitchen counter top surface:
1) Feel: Do you want your counter to be smooth vs textured?
2) Appearance: Do you desire a solid or consistent color vs more natural that has granules, veining or that’s patterned?
3) Material: Do you want a natural vs manmade material?
4) Durability: Can I chop, slice, and dice directly on my counter tops?
5) Water resistance: Will I want to roll dough directly on them?
6) Heat Resistance: Can I set hot pots directly on them?
7) Stain Resistance: Can I spill lemon, orange juice or red wine on them?
8) Maintenance: Do I have the time and diligence to reseal them routinely?
9) Do I want an integral sink that matches the countertop?
Over the next few days, I’ll be discussing the various choices in surface types, along with the pros and cons of each including projected costs. In the meantime, please feel free to ask a question or provide feedback.
Updating a kitchen doesn’t have to break your bank. There are some simple things you can do to give your kitchen a clean and updated appearance.
This was a recent single family home I purchased for renovation and resell. The lower kitchen cabinets were in horrible condition from what appeared to be water leaks. The counters were the old style butcher block laminate and the floors were painted concrete.
Many areas across our country have been hit hard with declining real estate values. As a result, more and more people are looking at ways to stay in their current home and ride-out the decline. As I like to say, learn to “love the home you’re with”. By completing a few critical home repairs or improvements, homeowners can actually add value to their home by increasing its equity and marketability. Even better, there are many options that can be done yourself that won’t break your bank. When you can tackle smaller projects yourself, you save even more money.
Invest your time and money into wise improvements. Before tackling larger projects, consider the resale value of those improvements. Will you get all or most of your money spent back equally in the increased resale value? Renovating your home can also improve your quality of life. Any upgrade should reflect your style, but try to choose colors, building materials and furnishings that will bring you maximum marketability for resale. Even low cost improvements like painting can go a long way.
Will the renovation serve a purpose for your family? Does it fit into your lifestyle? Will it improve the use of a current space? Consider the size, location and layout of any addition to ensure it blends well into your current surroundings.
Let’s face it, with current tax credits available and all the buzz about carbon footprints and going green, this should be a very important part of your investment decision. Not only do energy efficient improvements save money on utility costs or take advantage of recycled building materials, they are becoming a hot selling factor in homes which increases your marketability resale value to buyers. Insulated windows, lighting, solar panels or other energy saving features are among the available options to homeowners. There are also a variety of building materials that are available in eco-friendly options such as flooring, natural fiber carpets, VOC free paints, recycled material countertops, etc.
Popular Options for Home Improvements:
Fresh Paint Inside and Out: By far, this is the least expensive and easiest way to get a lot of bang for your buck. Don’t overlook door trims, exterior paint, corners and doors. Chipped or dirty paint in a desirable color does nothing for resale value, but a fresh coat of paint says “welcome in”. Go over your home inside and out from a buyer’s perspective and ensure your paint is in its best condition and clean.
Landscaping/Outdoor Amenities: As families are getting back outside to enjoy time together and entertaining, patios and decks are a good option for any property. Decks and patio additions can recoup at least 75% of their cost in extra home value. Flower beds, brick walkways, fresh mulch and other landscaping add instant curb appeal. Curb appeal will be the first thing any real estate agent will look at when you go to sell your home.
Kitchen or Bathroom upgrade: These two rooms historically bring the best resale value to homes when updated in current finishes. You might be surprised that by doing even a budget kitchen makeover, it will go a long way on the value you get in return.
Survey your floors and cabinets to determine if they should be updated. Consider sanding, staining, or painting dingy looking cabinets. Replacing old cabinet hardware can add a lot of visual appeal for a low cost. Old and worn sinks and fixtures should be replaced.
For some budget kitchen makeover ideas:
For some budget bathroom makeover ideas:
Day 3 has everyone hopping at my friend’s house! With white cabinets and dark granite, she decided to switch from a stainless sink and faucet to a nice white Kohler sink with a Delta oil rubbed bronze faucet. I love the contrast the new sink provides. I think she’ll be very happy with the finished project.
Continuing with our series on quick and easy home improvement projects, lets move into the kitchen:
Advice: This type of project requires a little more advanced plumbing know how since it may involve some modification of the underside drain plumbing if a new sink’s drains don’t match up exactly to the old ones. However, this is not a complex job that takes many hours, so if you do decide to hire a plumber, allow 3-4 hours at the most in their estimate; the parts should also be relatively inexpensive since they are standard PVC pieces that they are reassembling. A little time and money can be saved though if you do the removal yourself following the steps below!
One of my friends recently purchased a beautiful new home and has decided to complete certain improvements before moving day. Basically, with ivory walls and beige carpet along with white tiles in all baths, the home is a virtual blank canvas for aspiring do-it-yourself’ers!! My friend has generously agreed to let me take photos of the work before, during and after in order to follow the progress; at the same time, I will provide step-by-step advice on how to complete some of the work so that you may choose to do the same in your own home! Some of the projects have a varying level of difficulty that you may opt to hire profession help for.
The blank canvas awaits:
Once you’ve determined the type of cabinet hardware you’d like to put into your kitchen or bathroom, its time to put the icing on the cake!
The installation process is easy. Here’s how:
1) There are a couple of easy ways to determine placement of installation. For cabinet doors, the lower right corner is the typical location. For drawers, you will need a measuring tape to measure the middle distance between the two horizontal edges as well as the vertical edges.
Surprisingly, cabinet hardware is an easily overlooked feature in your bathroom or kitchen that for a little effort and a few bucks, it adds a lot of personality and character to the room instantly (see my earlier story about http://agirlcandoit.com/2010/04/21/6-quick-and-easy-tips-for-a-budget-kitchen-makeover/). The sky is the limit when it comes to choices and prices in cabinet hardware. You can find a decent variety off the shelf at your local Home Depot or Lowe’s, but you can custom order something fancier or look online at some sources below. You should easily be able to find a stylish knob or pull off the shelf for $2-5 each.
Looks are everything
A good place to start would be the style you are trying to achieve first. Contemporary, traditional, Tuscan, retro? Are there design elements in the room already that you can highlight? Something simple is always best if you are feeling indecisive about the style you want.