Counter Intelligence

Counter Intelligence

How to Create a Whole New Identity for Your Kitchen Without Spending a Fortune

Tackling a complete kitchen remodel can sometimes be a daunting and expensive task, and often an unnecessary one. A well designed kitchen layout should last the lifetime of the home and require few major changes; however, design trends and aesthetics do evolve over time, resulting in kitchen decor that can begin to look a bit dated over time. The average kitchen remodel in the US today ranges anywhere from $12,000- $30,000.  And that’s the AVERAGE! Many high-end kitchen remodeling projects can reach eye-wateringly expensive heights, easily surpassing $50,000 – $100,000!


So, $100,000 isn’t in the remodel budget and 2-3 months of construction time isn’t in the plan?! Simply changing the kitchen countertop surfaces is probably the quickest, most cost effective and visually impactful way to freshen up your kitchen without breaking the bank. Now the question is: what kind of surface to choose? The options are practically limitless both from an aesthetic standpoint as well as cost. Options range from lower cost laminate or solid surface countertops to extremely expensive exotic stones. Each option has its pros and cons.


Solid surfaces and laminates, which are the preferred surface in doctor’s offices, hospitals and laboratories, offer unparalleled sanitary and hygiene safety as they are completely non-porous, making it difficult for bacteria and microbes to adhere to.  Plastic laminate (PLam) and Solid Surface (SS) countertops both come in an exceptionally wide range of colors and patterns and offer some interesting design features.   SS can be made to appear seamless, is repairable and refinishable all the while tending to be less expensive than natural stone. The downside is that these surfaces can lack the visual depth and tactile feel of natural or engineered stones.  Additionally, they are much softer than most other alternatives so they may scratch more easily and or require more maintenance to keep looking new.


Natural stone, like granite or marble, are also fantastic options because of the incredible variety of aesthetic options available, not to mention there is something for every budget, from granite that costs $75 per square foot installed to exoitc marbles that can surpass $200 per square foot installed. While there is no question that natural stone is beautiful, there are some maintenance concerns to take into consideration. Natural stone is porous which makes it more prone to staining as well as easier for bacteria and microorganisms to thrive in tiny surface cracks and crevices.  Marble happens to be much softer than granite and can scratch relatively easily and because of its high mineral content, like calcium, Marble will etch when occasioned with very common household items such as some vinegars and citric acids (pineapple, lemons, etc)    However, with regular maintenance, like the application of sealants and careful cleaning done immediately with approved cleaning agents, some of these risks can be mitigated.


For those in search of a kitchen countertop surface that strikes the nearly perfect balance between the non-porosity of solid surfaces and the aesthetic beauty of natural stone, engineered stone surfaces are certainly the right choice.  Engineered stone is predominantly, natural stone.  Mostly composed of quartz stone and silica sand, the minor remaining constituents are resin binders and pigments.   Engineered stone comes in an almost infinite variety of aesthetics and when manufactured by a top quality facility,  the aesthetics produced can be virtually indistinguishable from natural stone; e.g. calacatta and carrara marble.  The benefits of engineered stone are many making it the most popular and universal choice of surfacing material for well more than a decade, and still growing!.


From a cost perspective, engineered stone falls squarely in the middle of the natural stone price range. From a maintenance standpoint, there really is no comparison: engineered stone surfaces are non-porous, nearly stain proof and much more durable than their naturally occurring source of inspiration.   And one other benefit, engineered stone surfaces are carefully manufactured in very controlled environments.  This allows for standardized slab sizes and a control over their colors and patterns which translates into a lower overall cost by reducing the amount of waste and variability as is endemic to most natural stones and marbles.    Sounds like we have a winner in Engineered Stone!!!

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