On one hand, granite counter tops are a classic upgrade for any home. They are extremely durable and offer brilliant variations of natural grain, color and deep veining which will always put them at the top of the list, for homeowners and their kitchens.
But, granite counter tops are one of the most expensive kitchen counter top options. And, it is not as trouble free as one might think. For example, careful consideration must be taken when choosing granite to ensure there are no cracks or large pits. Also, for a surface that resists stains, heat and scratching, a regularly scheduled sealer will need to be applied.
In other words, though granite is stone, it needs to be used with some discretionary caution.
Average current price, at the time of this writing, is $50 to $150. per square foot. Variation of price is based on availability and style of cut.
On the other hand, there are some frugal and equally fabulous options on the market today that will give your kitchen a granite or stone look without the granite price.
Engineered Composites: At $40 to $80 per square foot looks like stone and will fool all but the most discerning eye. The process of engineering involves mixing a small amount of natural granite with additional colorants that will mimic the natural grain, vein and depth of color. Engineering a slab allows for the buyer to have designer's options in respect to choice of color, density and shaping. This will still need some degree of sealing.
Laminate: A laminate counter top price tag ($15-$40 per square foot) is much lower than granite or the engineered composite but can provide a fantastic, maintenance free surface. Laminate uses a high tech method of copying the visual characteristics of granite by taking advantage of impressive printing technology. These design advancements allow for decorative edging and integration of the kitchen sink.
Custom design is unlimited and this granite imitation will not need sealing and is much more wear resistant.
Polymer Slabs: This wonderful option is not only affordable ($65 - $75 per square foot) but available for home owners who want the granite look but do not want to do a major kitchen demolition. These are custom designed sheets of a granite look alike, that fits over the existing counter top.
Installation takes only about a day with impressive results. Polymer sheets consisting of a mix of stone and polymer are created, that is lightweight and will resist almost anything including extreme temperatures of both hot a cold, scratches and stains.
Solid-Surfacing: The value in this frugal granite counter top option is that it provides superior design flexibility at an affordable price ($50 - $60 a square foot). Perfect for that unusually shaped counter top, it can be formed to fit with invisible seaming. It's made from a plastic resin that is combined to imitate the look of stone rather than the specific visual properties of granite. It's a non porous surface that has powerful stain resistance.
Coating System: This is a fantastic option ($248. per 50 square feet of application) that requires no stone whatsoever. An ingenious system of layering paint that will give your tired old counter an impressive new stone look.
This method is sold as a 3 part package system which includes: 1. A base coat - this coat gives the counter top a new strong sealant and adhesive surface for the next 2 applications. 2. Decorative Chips - This layer provides the texture, look and depth needed to give the counter top a stone appearance. 3. Finish Coat - This final application provides the sealing and protective properties giving the final counter top strong and beautiful protection an active kitchen needs.
Granite counter tops and these available frugal variations have come a long way to ensure quality, and durability. Based on your kitchen design goals and DIY interest, there is a granite or quality look alike to fit every budget and style.
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