Costs: Countertops

While looking for new countertops, you find an amazing deal on granite for $29.99 per square foot.

Yes, score!

That sounds super-affordable, and once you measure your current countertops and calculate the square footage, you’ll have the price for installing new countertops, right?

Not so fast, say countertop installers.

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Pricing Factors for Countertops

A variety of edge styles are available for granite and quartz countertops (Photo by Eldon Lindsay)

“Some people charge for an edge and some don’t, depending on what you select,” says Gary Rogers, owner of AGS Stone & Tampa Bay Kitchen and Bath of Tampa, Florida. “Edge selection is going to impact price of the countertop. In our price, we include five standard edge detail options; some companies, each edge has its own price.”

The real countertop installation cost not only includes the price of the material, but also the price for the tear out, modifications, edging and sealing, as well as cutouts for outlets, sinks and plumbing. Depending on the contractor, these costs may or may not be included in the per-square-foot cost of materials.

Troy Hansen, owner of Hansen’s Custom Countertop Services of Brooklyn Park, Minnesota, says it’s extremely important to ask what’s included in the square-foot price. “That’s the No. 1 question you have to know.”

Granite Countertops and Quartz Countertops

Material costs also vary depending on the quality and color. Granite, a natural stone, and quartz, an engineered stone, include two of the most popular countertop types. Quartz, which is about 97 percent natural stone and three percent man-made materials, is consistent in color and non-porous so it doesn't need sealant, says Natalie Buccieri, owner of Buccieri's Custom Countertops, Sussex, N.J.

Countertop installers say cheap granite could signal the product has blemishes and may crack over time.

“There’s only three things that make up the cost of granite — the supply and demand, the part of the world it comes from and how hard it is to excavate from the earth,” says Dave Carver of Jim Carver & Sons of Cincinnati, Ohio.

Carver says his entry-level granite countertops cost $50 to $55 per square foot, while basic quartz countertops typically cost $75 to $85 per square foot.

Granite countertops aren't limited to beige. A blue granite countertop matches the home's decor. (Photo by Jessican Anderson)

Hansen says his basic granite countertops start around $60 to $65 per square foot, while entry-level quartz runs in the high $70 range. He says homeowners need to know the origin of the granite they plan to purchase. Highly discounted granite countertops may come from a warehouse with a huge stockpile of inferior product.

“You need to know the origin of the granite,” Hansen warns. “Because it says Brazil in the name doesn’t mean it came from Brazil. You need to see the paper work. If they don’t have the paper work, you don’t want it.”

Both Hansen and Rogers say the best way to calculate the cost of installing kitchen countertops is to draw a sketch of your kitchen, include all the features you want, such as backsplash, type of edging and material thickness and take the measurements to a countertop contractor.

“Shop that,” Hansen says. “Don’t worry about the square foot cost because that’s such a small part of it. Unless you know what’s included in the square foot, it’s so irrelevant.”

Best Kitchen Countertops

If you're trying to determine which countertop is best, consider your lifestyle, says Carol King, owner of Indianapolis Granite & Marble, Indianapolis. Will you properly maintain the countertop? Is a material that scratches easily right for your family or should you choose a more durable material?

In the end, it's really all about personal preference, Buccieri says. Most countertops carry a 10-year warranty. Homeowners should research what the countertop qualities that are important to them, but choice often comes down to price and colors. While many homeowners often remodel the kitchen before selling, Buccieri cautions against buying the most expensive material if you won't live in the house long.

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