How do you know when it's time to replace your kitchen countertops? Generally, it's time to upgrade when your countertops no longer match your design vision, are too difficult to maintain, and/or are damaged beyond repair. Stone or solid-surfacing countertops sporting deep cracks, pitted areas, and scorched marks are prime for replacing, as are badly stained and broken ceramic-tiled counters. Laminate countertops suffering from outdated colors or patterns, deep knife cuts, water damage, or staining might also need replacing.
Before you go shopping, do your homework. Determine if your old countertops can be repaired or revived. If you need new countertops, shop with proper measurements in hand to help you estimate material costs. Have a good idea of what type of countertop best suits your kitchen work habits; if you prefer easy-care countertops, pay attention to each material's maintenance requirements.
Here are a few things worth considering when reviewing your countertop needs.
If you still like your countertops or money is tight, think about revitalizing existing surfaces. Down-but-not-out laminate countertops can be polished to erase scratches and patched, painted, relaminated, and tiled over for an updated look. Chipped stone countertops can be repaired by saving the fragments and adhering them in place with epoxy glues. Countertop repair kits designed for laminate, granite, solid-surfacing, marble, and wood countertops might be worth checking out; they might just prove to be an inexpensive, time-saving alternative to countertop replacement.
Before you take out the tape measure, make a sketch representing countertop placement in your kitchen. Mark off sections of continuous countertops, sink countertops, and peninsula and island countertops to measure separately. Measure the length and depth of each section, multiply length by depth to determine the area in inches, and write the measurements on your sketch. Repeat for every section. Divide area measurements by 144 to determine each section's square footage. Add up all square footage numbers to determine the total square footage of materials needed. Having this number in hand will help you estimate and compare the costs of different materials, which in turn will help you choose countertops that best fit your budget.
Do you want to replace laminate or ceramic tile countertops with stone or concrete versions? Have your installer or fabricator check that your cabinets can support the weightier countertops; standard factory cabinets might require the addition of reinforcing supports at the base, back, sides, and top.
When comparing countertop materials, consider their maintenance needs as well as their attributes. Granite and marble countertops might need to be periodically resealed and polished, while nonporous quartz, stainless-steel, solid surfacing, and laminate countertops require no sealing or polishing. Soapstone countertops, which are porous and unsealed, have special cleaning requirements and will need to be treated with mineral oil a few times a year. Depending on their original finish, wood and concrete countertops might also require periodic oiling or resealing.