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Before Choosing a Countertop

Things to Consider

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Choosing a countertop for a property can be an overwhelming decision because there are so many options to choose from. There are price points, colors and finishes to fit every need. A new countertop has the ability to transform a space, but there are some important things to consider before you begin your search.

Things to Consider Before Choosing a Countertop:

  1. Determine Square Footage-

    The first thing you should do before choosing a countertop is to determine how much material you actually need. This can be done by measuring the length of the surface and the width of the surface and multiplying them together. This is of course assuming a perfect square or rectangle which is not always the case. You may have to add or subtract if the area you are measuring is an irregular shape.

    Here is an example of measuring square footage based on a rectangular kitchen island:

    • The length of the island is 72 inches, which equals 6 feet. (72 inches divided by 12 inches).

    • The width of the island is 48 inches, which equals 4 feet (48 inches divided by 12 inches).

    • Multiply the length- 6 feet- by the width- 4 feet- and you will get 24 feet.

    • So for a 4 foot by 6 foot kitchen island, you will need 24 feet of countertop material.
  2. Set a Price Point

    Now that you know how many square feet of countertop material you need, you can set a price point. Counters are the topping on the cake. You can save money by installing a starter set of cabinets and then adding the wow factor with the countertop material you choose.

    However, it is very important to set a price point before you start looking at materials. It is very easy to go over budget if you fall in love with a particular material. If you set a budget from the very beginning, you can ask to only be shown options in that price range so you will have a better chance of avoiding being upsold and falling in love with something you cannot afford.

    • Property Value: Your price point should be influenced by the value of the property. You do not want to over-improve by spending more than the value it will add to the property. Choosing a material that is $90 a square foot for a $1,000 a month rental is over-improving. You also do not want to under-improve. A laminate countertop in a million dollar home could be a turn-off for many buyers, whereas a laminate countertop in a mid-range rental may be readily accepted.

    • Account for Additional Costs: A countertop may be advertised at $10 a square foot, but you must make sure you leave room for additional costs. Many fabricators charge additional fees for installation, sink cuts outs and edging, so make sure you are factoring these in when choosing your material. Make sure to always ask up front if these factors are included with the price of the material or if they are extra.

      Example- You set a $1,000 budget for the 24 square foot kitchen island from above. You may assume that means you can look at materials that are $41.67 a square foot ($1000 divided by 24 feet). However, that is only accounting for the price of the material. If you choose a material that is $41 a square foot, assuming you will be within the $1000 price range, you may be in for a shock when your total bill comes to $1,600 after you add in tax, installation, edging and cut-outs.
  3. Analyze Function of the Property- Maintenance and Durability

    Rental vs. Property Flip:

    If you are replacing counters in a rental property, your main concern will be durability. You want to choose a material that can take abuse, and will not stain, crack, scratch or etch easily. You also want to choose something that is low maintenance, something that does not have to be oiled or sealed constantly. Quartz, granite and laminate are popular choices for these reasons.

    For a property flip, you have more options. Your goal is to choose a cost effective material- a material that will fit with the value of the property and attract buyers, but not break the bank.

  4. Analyze Function of the Space- Maintenance and Durability

    The right countertop can be determined by the function of the space. For example, bathrooms and kitchens have different needs.

    In a bathroom, you need something that can be exposed to constant moisture. Butcher block counters and stainless steel counters are not good choices for a bathroom.

    In a kitchen, you need something that can stand up to water, food and drink spills and pots, pans and plates being dragged across it. Marble is a tough choice for kitchen countertops. Although it is beautiful, it is a softer and more porous stone. Polished marble scratches easily and is prone to etching, which occurs when an acidic substance, such as lemon or hot sauce, comes into contact with the stone and causes a chemical reaction, leaving a spot on the stone.

    There may also be areas of the kitchen that have different needs and many people choose to use different countertop materials to suit those needs. For example, while marble is not ideal for the entire kitchen, it is wonderful for baking and pastry making as it stays very cool, so some people elect to use marble in a designated pastry making spot in the kitchen and another countertop option for the rest of the space.

  5. Fits in With the Rest of the Design/Is Aesthetically Pleasing to Others

    You will want to make sure that the material or the color chosen for the countertop fits in with the surrounding materials and design. For example, stainless steel, concrete and even quartz look great in modern kitchens, but may look out of place in a more traditional or country kitchen.

    Before choosing a countertop, it is important to realize this is a decision that will likely be around for a while. Unlike choosing a paint color, which can easily be changed, a countertop is a large expense. You will want to choose something that has a timeless appeal. You may love that rainbow colored granite at the moment, but within a month may be wishing you had opted for the beige and brown instead.

    In the same vein, you want to make sure the material you choose has a broad appeal. When renting or selling the property, it is better to have a countertop material that appeals to the masses and not just a select few.

Next: Pros and Cons of Counter Materials
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