Give your kitchen a brand-new look with affordable countertops that won't break the bank.

By Ann Wilson
June 08, 2015
wood floors

Whether money's tight or you're just a thrifty soul, you'll likely be on the lookout for cost-effective materials when it's time to update your kitchen. You'll be happy to learn that a myriad of budget-friendly countertop options await your selection. And if you possess average carpentry skills, you'll be happier knowing that you can install these reasonably priced countertops yourself.

Here's a look at the most budget-friendly types of countertops, along with a few shopping strategies for slashing costs.

Versatile Laminate Countertops

Created by laminating tough bonded sheeting material atop a plywood or particleboard substrate, laminate countertops offer exceptional value and versatility. These economical countertops are durable, water-resistant, and easy to install, clean, and maintain, but they will have visible seams. Laminates are available in shiny or matte finishes and a wide selection of solid colors, simulated-stone looks, faux wood grains, and patterns ranging from midcentury-mod boomerangs to playful polka dots. Various edges can be fabricated, but keep in mind the simpler the edge the less costly the countertop. Do-it-yourselfers can assemble their own laminate countertops by cutting out plywood cores and covering them with laminate sheeting. If you're a hands-off homeowner, order custom countertops at a kitchen showroom or home improvement store and have them installed by professionals. You can save money by purchasing ready-made laminate countertops in 4- to 10-foot lengths at big-box stores. Keep in mind that these selections are usually limited, but you might find a basic white, black, or stonelike surface that suits your style preferences. Regularly stop by home center outlets and reuse-it building supply centers to shop for discounted laminate sheets or laminate countertops that will work for your kitchen. On average, laminate countertops cost between $15–$30 per square foot installed.

Ceramic and Granite Tiles

Whether you like a rollicking retro or rich earthy look, you might find what you're looking for in the tile aisles. Combine ceramic tiles in ingenious ways, and you'll enjoy high-fashion countertops for bargain-basement prices. If you've got a yen for slab granite countertops but can't justify the cost, consider a granite-tiled countertop. Both ceramic and granite tiles are easy to install, durable, and stain-, heat-, and scratch-resistant. Ceramic-tiled surfaces aren't entirely smooth, and their grout lines will require occasional bleaching and resealing. Granite tiles, in 12x12-inch and 16x16-inch squares, offer a smoother surface because they are butted together and installed with epoxy rather than mortar. Ceramic tiles are available in many sizes, though 4x4-inch tiles are most commonly used for countertop treatments. You'll find granite and ceramic tiles with glossy or matte finishes in scores of solid colors and patterns; you'll also find ceramic tiles that sport stone and concrete looks. Laying ceramic and granite tiles can be accomplished by do-it-yourselfers comfortable working with a wet saw or tile-cutting tools. If it's a task you don't want to handle, head to a tile store or home center to choose tiles and find inspiration for creating distinctive patterns. You can save money by using white or solid-color ceramic tiles and still get a lot of pizzazz by arranging them in eye-catching patterns. Look for bargain-priced tiles at online tile purveyors, home center outlets, and reuse-it supply centers. Ceramic tile countertops can cost as low as $10–$20 per square foot installed, but if you opt for complex patterns and specialty tiles, plan on spending more. You can purchase granite tiles (generally used as floor tiles) at home centers, with the square footage cost averaging between $4–$15 for the tiles; tile and professional installation costs vary but usually average $15–$25 per square foot.

More for You

Are you searching for the right countertop material? Answer a few questions about your style and preferences and you'll discover the perfect material for your countertops.

Learn more about the different options available for countertops, from granite to stone to wood.

Want to replace outdated countertops in your home? Try these other budget-friendly options.

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