Kitchen and bathroom remodels remain among your best choices for gaining the best return on your investment. According to the National Association of Realtors’ 2010 Cost vs. Value Report, a major kitchen remodel can return nearly 69 percent on your investment, and a remodeled bathroom can yield 64.
One of the quickest ways to give your kitchen or bathroom a new look is to upgrade the countertops. That one small change can mean the difference between making a sale or extending the time your home remains on the market.
Though kitchens and bathrooms can bring in the greatest returns, they can be two of the most expensive areas to remodel. If trying to spend a reasonable amount, consider these budget-friendly countertop materials suggested by the International Surface Fabricators Association:
High-pressure laminate: Likely the least expensive option, a decorative laminate, which is manufactured by many companies, often gets a bad rap for the perception that it’s cheap plastic. The ISFA says most laminates are made up of paper that has been pressed between plastic resins using heat, which then is bonded to a firmer material like particle board or plywood.
Popular among homeowners because of its durability and design versatility, laminates come in a wide variety of colors and textures that mimic high-end granites, marbles and slates. Laminates also allow the appearance of materials that aren’t as kitchen-friendly, such as hardwoods. They also can be configured into unique patterns.
Highly rated Fab-Tex Countertops installed a Formica countertop in Chris Lanman’s kitchen. The homeowner says the countertop looks very similar to black slate. He has nothing but good words about his new countertop and his Grand Prairie, Texas, countertop installers.
“We are so pleased with their professionalism and expertise, and love our new look,” Lanman says.
Tile: Tiles are available in a variety of materials, from recycled glass to handmade porcelain. Like some other options, its shape and coloring can be left to the imagination of the homeowner. Cost will vary depending on the size of the tiles, size of the countertop and quality of material.
Concrete: This is an increasingly popular option, because of the homeowner’s ability to customize it according to color and design. ISFA reports that concrete countertops are desirable because rocks, shells or colored glass can be added. While this modern option may be popular, it will likely cost the homeowner more per square footage compared to laminate and tile. Concrete countertops are extremely durable but also lend a nice aesthetic alternative to more conventional kitchen countertops.
Wood: If you're interested in a more traditional and rustic look, an oak butcher-block countertop is an inexpensive option. This option might require more maintenance than other countertop materials. Wax or oil treatments might help prolong the life of a wood countertop.
While you’re shopping for new countertops, be sure to tell the contractor you’re working with a budget. Homeowner Norma Wheeler explained to Limpus Cabinet Sales Co., Inc., her Indianapolis countertop installation company, that she was on a budget and was shown several options of materials.
"[I] decided not to go with granite or solid [countertop] surface, since they had several nice laminates that achieved the look I wanted but enabled me to buy a better grade cabinet," she says.
If the contractor or company can’t provide you options that meet your budget or are unable to work in a price range in which you feel comfortable, check Angie’s List to find more countertop installation companies near you that can help you achieve the perfect look.