If you are remodeling your kitchen choosing your kitchen countertop will be one of the more costly decisions and should be carefully considered. When it comes to selecting the type of kitchen countertop there is a wealth of information both online, from countertop dealers, and big box stores. This information will educate you on the pros and cons of the various kitchen countertop materials that are in common use. You will find there are many tradeoffs when considering price and material. The purpose of this article is not to duplicate this information on the pros and cons of the various countertop materials but to highlight some points you may not have considered in your search for the kitchen countertop that is right for your remodeled kitchen.
Selecting a kitchen countertop material
You will quickly find that the old standby, a Formica type countertop, is still available but it has been supplemented by many additional choices. Corian is another man-made countertop surface that has been around for awhile and is considered a step up from the Formica type materials of which there are many. Corian is durable but you should inquire about its resistance to cutting. More recently man-made countertops such as Silestone and Zodiac made of ground quartz have become popular. Some even have surface antibacterial treatments. They are resistant to cutting and come in a variety of patterns and colors. Unlike granite the pattern is more predictable while some of the patterns have a level of randomness to them. They are very resistant to damage and do not require the sealing that natural granite does. Natural granite countertops are often more expensive then quartz based but they offer some rather dramatic patterns, no two of which are alike since they are naturally occurring material. Keep in mind they are somewhat porous and you should be careful to keep them sealed periodically to avoid absorption and staining due to cooking greases or other liquids. Study the literature and online sources and be prepared to ask questions.
Selecting the pattern and color of your new kitchen countertop
One challenge in this area is finding countertop material samples large enough to enable you to make a decision. In some cases such as for quartz you may find that Home Depot or Lowe’s has 3″ x 4″ cardboard take home samples with the pattern and color printed on one side. To get a bigger sample you can take a handful of these and tape them together to lay on top of your cabinets. It is advised that you look at the samples both in natural daylight as well as nighttime lighting. In some areas the Home Depot EXPO stores have large panels ~3′ x 4′ of the countertop material such as Silestone quartz hung on the wall for an in store comparison. In addition selected countertops are incorporated in model kitchen displays.
Selecting the kitchen countertop edge
Selecting the edge for your kitchen countertop involves not only personal taste but also is an area where you can either save or pay a premium depending on what type of edge treatment you select. Multiple curves on edges will cost more then a straight edge with a slightly curved on the top side. Wood edges will cost more then having Formica wrap around the edge. You should also keep in mind the practical aspects of whatever edge treatment you chose. For example is it likely that a member of your household will be the right height so their belt buckle marks the wood edge?
Selecting an installer for your countertop
Most often the company you buy the countertop from will do the installation. Many of the heavier materials such as quartz and granite require heavy lifting, special tools and joining techniques thus having a professional do the installation is advised. When selecting a company talk to others who have used them, determine how many years they have been in business, and look online at the free Better Business Bureau listing for them to determine their track record in terms of customer complaints. In talking with that company have a sketch of the layout of your kitchen and ask them questions like where they would place the seam if one is required and what other things they would suggest. If it doesn’t make sense to you question them on it. Find out if their installation crew is bonded and insured and if they work for the company and the installation is not outsourced. Through questioning find out how willing they are to commit to a schedule. Stress that you want it very predictable on how long it will take them to fabricate and install the kitchen countertop. Write this into the contract. Always remember they are working for you and not vice versa. Finally once you start collecting prices from different companies ask the next company whether they can beat the lowest price you have to that point. Also ask why you should select them rather then some other company.
Be prepared for the measuring and installation
Help facilitate the measuring and installation of your countertop especially if you are doing the remodeling yourself. If you want the countertop made and installed in a timely manner you can help the process by being prepared both for the formal measuring and installation. Ask your countertop contractor specifically what you should have ready in terms of cabinet installation prior to their arrival.
Keeping the cost low
Don’t be bashful in negotiating. Tell them that you would prefer to deal with them but the price is still the only issue keeping you from making that decision. Ask if there is anything you can do to help them meet a price, which you have selected. You can suggest paying them in cash, being willing to be a reference or doing the clean up following installation for example. When looking for low prices to use as a negotiating tool don’t forget to check out online countertop companies as a possibility. If it’s a simpler countertop of modest size and weight, money can be saved by installing yourself.
When remodeling your kitchen and choosing a kitchen countertop, selecting a material is only the start of the process. If you follow the tips discussed you will help insure that you will be delighted with your new countertop.