Laminated countertops are generally the most affordable countertop material available. Made of layers of plastic bonded to particle board, they form a solid surface and come in a limited range of colors and designs. For most homeowners who are doing a kitchen renovation, the budget is a key factor when deciding whether they will prepare meals in granite or laminate. If you've never had to replace your countertops before, it's hard to know how much to budget for them.
Here are 10 countertop materials that look great and are cheaper than materials like granite or marble. If you really want to save some money, consider making your kitchen countertops yourself with materials such as plywood, concrete and tile. Keep reading to get inspired and start cooking. If you're looking for a darker colored countertop, consider soapstone, as its limited palette tends to intense, dark tones.
Soapstone is a natural, non-porous stone that doesn't crack easily and is also heat resistant. While it does not require sealing, it is recommended to apply a thin layer of mineral oil to darken the countertop. Otherwise, spilling oil on soapstone countertops will create unsightly dark spots. To give a modern and industrial touch to your kitchen, it's hard to beat concrete countertops. They offer the same solid, earthy feel as natural stone, but at a fraction of the cost, especially if you can do it yourself.
Dazzling tints and finishes give concrete countertops a vitality that goes far beyond opaque gray and allow the material to adapt to almost any kitchen design. If you want the durability of natural stone but don't have the budget, consider tiled countertops. Tiles come in a range of colorful designs and natural tones, and can save you a significant amount of money compared to custom-cut stone slabs. Add interest by using more expensive types of tiles, such as borders or details, along with classic, more affordable styles. While marble and granite can give a cold look, countertops made of wood, bamboo or butcher's blocks add warmth to the kitchen.
Wood has the added advantage of being significantly cheaper than stone. Maple, oak, and walnut are popular choices, but other species are also available. If you opt for wooden countertops, remember that they require oiling them every 2 or 3 years. If you're looking for an even cheaper option than wood or tile countertops, consider stainless steel. Many standalone stainless steel countertops offer storage shelves at the bottom for easy access to commonly used items.
While it may seem unorthodox, plywood can be used to make countertops. This affordable material works especially well in a country-style home. Use ¾ inch thick sanded plywood on pine, birch, maple, or a species of your choice, and stain or paint to your liking. Seal it with a clear, durable sealer. One of the best types of discounted laminate countertop materials is laminate itself.
It is possible to buy expensive premium laminate materials; high-definition laminate is beautiful and high-end with prices high to match. But overall you'll find that laminate is cost-effective because it is made of thin sheets of laminate material glued to MDF (medium density fibreboard). Therefore most of the countertop material is inexpensive; you only pay for the thin top and side layers. Not only are they cheap but if you buy the slabs in the morning you might have a new countertop in the afternoon; they're that easy to install. A major disadvantage of pre-laminate countertop slabs is the limited selection of colors and designs; even large home centers will have just two or three styles to choose from. If you want other types of laminate slabs you will have to request them in a special way; large housing centers have these pre-laminated slabs but they also have individual laminate sheets giving you more style options.
However laminating the sheets on MDF is difficult for most homeowners but if you are sure that you can use a router this is the most affordable way to get a laminate countertop; one disadvantage is that you won't get those nice rolled edges that you get when buying pre-laminated slabs. Rolled edges are created in a store so it's impossible to duplicate them at home but when they come as part of a bathroom vanity unit laminate countertops are quite cheap plus the sink insert is already made for you; laminate bathroom countertops come in a wide variety of colors and styles. Ceramic tiles have long been the favorite choice of homeowners who want to do it themselves and as a result have a beautiful countertop; ceramics are much cheaper even than granite tiles add some test tubes corners and a splash guard and you have an attractive product. However seams are the problem with ceramic tile countertops; many homebuyers who are avid cooks tend to despise ceramic tile countertops because they are more difficult to clean; in addition if you need a perfectly smooth surface for preparing food you won't get it with ceramic tiles; you'll need to use a cutting board. When you want the look of stone countertops but want to take care of your budget stone tiles may be a good choice; granite and other stone tiles come in 12- or 16-inch squares because the chips are small and handy you can pick them up yourself and load them into most types of vehicles. Natural granite or any natural stone will always be more expensive than other materials but if your budget allows it there's nothing like having real stone in your kitchen.