Cheap and Elegant Materials for Kitchen Countertops

Kitchen projects are major investments. If you are planning a kitchen or want to do some upgrades with a smaller budget, every decision you make, large or small, is important for your bottom line. Since a countertop is a big player in a remodeling budget, it pays to choose wisely. Other than the usual suggestion to go with laminate, there are a few surprising tricks to save some cash on your countertops while still giving you an elegant and quality project.

Here are our favorite ideas for kitchen countertops on a budget without having to sacrifice style.

  • 01 of 06

    Single Thickness Countertops

    single thickness countertops in a contemporary-style kitchen

    Spaces Images, Blend Images / Getty Images

    The standard way to fabricate a countertop made of solid surface, granite, marble, or quartz is to create a 1 1/2-inch thick edge. The material itself is not 1 1/2 inches; it is 3/4 inch. The material is cut by the fabricator and then another piece of material is laminated (glued) to the top piece, creating a 1 1/2-inch thickness. Behind that laminated piece on the edge, is a sheet of plywood called a subtop.

    The lamination, and sheet of plywood, plus labor to do both, add to your bottom line. A less expensive and stylish way to go is to use only the single-thickness material, in which one lamination process and the plywood is eliminated. It's popular in Europe and now designers are making use of it in the United States. This choice could save you around $1,000 in your average kitchen renovation budget.

  • 02 of 06

    Quartz Budget Color Options

    Caesarstone Quartz Desert Limestone 2200 - A Group A Color

    Caesarstone

    Granite and quartz countertops come in at similar pricing, depending on the color. With granite, you'll find many colors ranging from low budget to ultra expensive. With quartz, there are select colors that are in the lower price groups. For example, one major quartz fabricator, Caesarstone, has price groups A and B which offer savings over C to F groups.

    Beware of no-name brand of quartz countertops that may be inexpensive, but potentially made with sub-par materials and manufacturing processes. Stick to companies such as Caesarstone or Silestone.

  • 03 of 06

    Common Granite Colors

    a common beige granite on an island in a cherry wood style kitchen

    Tyson Paul /Getty Images

    Some granite colors cost more than others because of their availability. If there is only a small section of terrain in an area producing a rich and desirable color granite, it will be more expensive than a color that is commonly available. Ask your local granite stone yard for inexpensive granite options. You might just find something you like that is inexpensive.

  • 04 of 06

    Pre-Fabricated Granite

    Pre-fabricated granite with a bullnose edge in a beige-style kitchen

    Pamela Moore / Getty Images

    Pre-fabricated granite comes in common colors, possibly with a choice of a few different edges, and sometimes with a 4-inch backsplash already added. It's ideal if you can find a pre-fab counter to fit your specific needs. Pre-fabricated granite counters may not work for islands that need a custom slab to accommodate uncommon sizes or shapes.

    Typical Pre-Fab Edge

    Most pre-fabricated granites come with a bullnose edge on the front edge and sides.

    Continue to 5 of 6 below.
  • 05 of 06

    Slab Butcher Block

    Slab butcher block countertops in natural maple, in a modern style kitchen with a black backsplash

    Iain Sarjeant / Getty Images

    There are several companies that make butcher block slabs. This type of butcher block can save you money because it is not prepped for seam locations, the wood may not necessarily be hand selected for premium quality, and it could have some barely-there imperfections that might not affect your countertops. A skilled carpenter can biscuit the joints together to turn it into a warn, natural, and beautiful kitchen countertop.

    Butcher Block Care

    Remember to inquire about finishing your butcher block countertop with either food-grade oil (higher maintenance) or polyurethane (best waterproofing finish).

  • 06 of 06

    Modern Laminate

    Formica countertops with a yellow backsplash in a white style kitchen

    Greg Nicholas / Getty Images

    Many homeowners may think they have to settle for laminate countertops to come in under budget. You don't need to settle for anything with today's laminate choices which are more elegant than ever. The material is a durable choice that is super easy on your budget—and on your eyes.

    Edging for Laminate Counters

    It used to be that you could only get flat edges for laminate countertops. That's no longer the case. Ask about specialty edges for an upscale look. Some edges are post-formed while other edge treatments can be adhered onto the countertop.