Within the last few years, concrete countertops have also become a popular option. A concrete countertop is extremely versatile in terms of shape and color. However, it is heavy and can present support issues if it is more than 4 inches thick. A concrete countertop is fairly porous, so occasional waxing is required to prevent stains. Also remember that nonstructural hairline cracks are part of a concrete countertop's character. A concrete countertop will cost $75-$200 per square foot, installed.
Engineered stone countertops are becoming more popular and are more durable than real stone countertops. Engineered stone countertops are made as real stone is broken into pieces and mixed with resin and pigments to make a uniform mixture. Engineered stone countertops don’t have the veins or other imperfections of natural stone countertops and are available in any number of colors and combinations. The toughest of these products is made from quartz, and softer versions are derived from marble. Quartz is a surface highly resistant to stains, scorching and scratches, and has a low level of fluid absorption. Engineered stone delivers distinctive depth, clarity and a cool, solid feel unique to natural stone. Costs for engineered stone countertops range from $40-$125 per square foot, installed.
When replacing your countertops, you will also need to consider the edge treatment of the counter. Many countertops are edged with the same material, but some counters such as tile and concrete can be trimmed with wood or metal. The profile of the edge can be square, rounded, or curved. Besides the look, think about the comfort and durability of the trim you choose.
You will also have to address the backsplash on the walls adjacent to the countertops. This can be the same material as the countertop, or something different that coordinates well with the color and pattern you have selected for your counters. The backsplash should be a minimum of four inches high, though it is common to run the backsplash from the counter up to the underside of the upper cabinets.
As we stated before, make sure your cabinets are worthy of having new counters installed, and remember that you are committing to the existing layout for the next decade or two. You will probably want to include a new sink and faucet in the project, so your kitchen will have a nice face lift that will cheer you each time you walk into your "new" kitchen.
Ann Robinson and Annie V. Schwemmer are the Principal Architects and co-founders of a residential architectural firm focused on life-changing remodeling designs at RenovationDesignGroup.com. Send comments or questions to ask@RenovationDesignGroup.com
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