Materials for Cheap and Elegant Kitchen Countertops

Kitchen projects are major investments. While a kitchen remodeling will likely be one of the most expensive things you can do to your home, it can also be the most valuable. 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.

Cabinets, appliances, and countertops are big players in your budget. Here are a few tricks to save some cash on your countertops while still giving you an elegant and quality project. Saving money usually means some type of sacrifice or compromise, but you can still find plenty of choices for countertops on a budget. Laminate countertops may be the most cost-effective and give you flexibility for future change.

  • 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 solid surface countertop (granite, marble, and quartz) is to create a 1.5-inch thick edge. The material itself is not 1.5 inches; it is .75 inches. The material is cut by the fabricator and then another piece of material is laminated (glued) to the top piece, creating a 1.5-inch thickness. Behind that laminated piece on the edge, is a sheet of plywood called subtops.

    The lamination, and sheet of plywood, plus labor to do both, add to your bottom line. A cheaper, and stylish way to go, is to use only the single-thickness material. This is a contemporary trend in Europe and designers are making use of it in the United States as well. This will save around $1,000 for the average kitchen.

  • 02 of 06

    High Value Quartz Colors

    6 Elegant Ways To Cheap Out On Countertops | Caesarstone Group A Colors
    Caesarstone Quartz Desert Limestone 2200 - A Group A Color. Caesarstone

    To create a high-value counter surface, it needs to be durable, long-lasting, and a good fit with the other elements of the project, as well as a great price.

    Say you want quartz. Quartz countertops and granite are similar in pricing, depending on the color. You can find many different colors of granite that range from dirt cheap to on-your-knees-weeping expensive. There are select colors of quartz that are in the lower price groups. For example, Caesarstone has price groups. Price groups A and B give you savings over C to F groups.

    Don't switch to a no-name brand of quartz countertops. Even though there may be some extremely inexpensive quartz products out there, many are made with sub-par materials and manufacturing processes. Stick to companies such as Caesarstone or Silestone.

  • 03 of 06

    Common Granite

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

    Tyson Paul /Getty Images

    The reason that some granite colors cost more than others, is their availability. If there is only a little section of mountains producing an exotic Brazilian color, it will be more expensive than a color that is more available.

    You've probably seen them before: the basic browns, beiges, and dark greens. Take a look at your local granite stone yard and ask for inexpensive granite options. If you are being very disciplined, put your blinders on while you walk through, and don't stop for anything else. You might just find something you like that is inexpensive, or you might want to explore some of your other options discussed here.

  • 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 is granite that comes with an edge already on it. They will have a few different edge profiles to choose from, and some 4-inch backsplash, if that is your taste. They will also come in the common granite colors previously talked about.

    Don't skimp on the quality of workmanship. With pre-fabricated granite, you want to still make sure your fabricator comes highly recommended and does good work. Most of all custom fabricators also work with pre-fabricated granites.

    There are size limitations that work well with perimeter installations, but if you have an island, you may need a custom slab to accommodate a larger size. Most pre-fabricated granites only 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 by the slab. This type of butcher block can save you money because it is not prepped for seam locations and the wood may not necessarily be hand selected for premium quality. But nonetheless, if you have a great carpenter to biscuit the joints together, it can look fabulous and save some money.

  • 06 of 06

    Laminate Countertops

    Formica countertops with a yellow backsplash in a white style kitchen

    Greg Nicholas / Getty Images

    Yes, people still use laminate countertops. It may not be your first choice, but for those that can't splurge for quartz or granite, laminate is a durable choice that is super easy on your budget. If you are doing a partial remodel, or only have the cash to get new cabinetry and appliances, laminate can give you the flexibility to upgrade something different down the road.

    If that is your game plan, don't build in a nice tile backsplash until you are ready to commit fully. Go with a 4- or 6-inch laminate backsplash for the meantime. Colors also vary in price, but you can find some great colors with Formica and Wilsonart.