1. Faux stone kit
If your budget is nonexistent and you want a dramatic new look, you may want to think about refinishing your existing countertops with a faux-stone painting kit. I know what you are thinking—but for just $80 the kits at Giani have received rave reviews, and their sample photos are stunning. This may not be your dream fix, but it could be the perfect temporary holdover until you can save up for the marble countertops of your dreams. Their full range of products can be found on their website.
2. Granite tile
Cost: $2–10 per square foot
Maybe the cost of solid stone is out of reach, but you still want the look of granite. Consider granite tiles, which will give you the look you want at a fraction of the cost. At about 20 percent of the cost of solid stone, granite tiles are a favorite of house flippers for a reason. The Internet is full of how-to videos on installation for the DIY crowd, but there is some trade-off here—you will have to contend with cleaning grout lines.
Cost: $20–50 per square foot
If you haven't checked out laminate countertops in a while, I recommend you do before proceeding with a pricier option. They are durable, low cost, and have come a long way in the past few years in terms of style.
4. Butcher block
Cost: $5–20 per square foot
Oh, how I love Ikea. Where else can you buy meatballs and countertops? They carry a range of countertop choices, including butcher block, at very reasonable prices. These counters could give your kitchen the cozy country vibe you've been after. For those of you who do not live near an Ikea, they can even ship them to you, or you could hire a local craftsman to build them from scratch. Try seeing if your local high school has a wood shop teacher you can hire. This option may cost you less than hiring a contractor, and their workmanship is usually superb.
5. Stainless steel
Cost: $20–150 per square foot
If the modern look, durability and practicality of stainless steel appeals to your taste, be prepared to spend as much as you would for stone if you get a quote from your local home improvement store. Fortunately, there are cheaper alternatives. If you are prepared to DIY, you can get a much cheaper price by contacting a local sheet metal supplier. I would recommend looking at some how-to videos on the Internet if you decide to go this route, but it is not at as difficult as it may seem. You just need to make a plywood mold of your current counters and have the sheet metal bent at the shop to fit around the edge. It can be adhered to the plywood with liquid nails and screws.
Concrete is a newer product on the kitchen counter scene, but it has quickly become a favorite. It is durable, repairable and can be stained to a variety of cool colors. It may shock you to learn that having a pro come in to install concrete countertops can cost you as much as solid granite, but there are cheaper alternatives. If you don’t want to DIY your concrete counters from scratch, you will be happy to hear that several companies sell kits to make the process easier. For less than $400 you can buy a kit that will do up to 60 square feet and includes everything you need with DVD video instructions. The results achieved with these do-it-yourself kits are amazing. Check them out here.
7. Used counters
You might be able to take advantage of someone else's remodel and score their old kitchen on Craigslist. People want to get rid of some pretty amazing stuff, and as long as your kitchen is smaller than the one they are getting rid of, you can have used stone countertops cut to fit your space. Let the buyer beware on this method! You will want to have accurate measurements of your space in hand and a contractor who can help you with installation, but in the end you could score just what you want for a price you can afford.
This is a guest post by April from Grand Blanc, MI
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