One of the best ways to give your kitchen or bathroom a facelift is to replace your countertops. Most homeowners would love a new marble or granite surface in these highly trafficked areas of the home. Among the most eye-catching features of any kitchen or bathroom, attractive countertops go a long way in contributing visual appeal and tying together design elements such as walls and cabinets.
A well orchestrated countertop replacement will add both beauty and value to your interior space. But selecting and installing properly sized, high-quality countertops is no small feat. Countertops cover a large area and require precise, expert work, and bad installation will adversely affect both the appearance and performance of a countertop.
The best way to ensure the job gets done correctly is to hire a qualified, Diamond Certified, Marin County countertop contractor. Begin your search by doing a little homework on the nature of your specific project.
Decide What Type of New Countertops You Want
Given the wide range of countertop projects you might undertake, it’s important to take inventory of your goals for the project and know what you want before hiring a contractor.
- Do you want brand-new countertops, or a simple repair, upgrade, and resurfacing of your existing countertops?
- What surface materials are you considering? (Marble, granite, slate, laminate, and tile countertops are among the most common surfaces, and it’s important to find a contractor who has extensive experience working with your preferred type of surface.)
- What is the size and shape of the area you are hoping to resurface? (Some materials lend themselves better than others to curved or irregular shapes.)
- What strength or thickness do you wish to have?
- Do you desire other special features such as integral drain boards or countertops that are taller than the standard 36 inches?
- Does your kitchen feature a bar or serving counter?
- How important are features such as stain resistance and lower maintenance to you?
- Do you want to include an edge detail on your new countertops?
With countertops, both form and function are crucial. They are the most highly visible elements of the kitchen or bathroom, and also among the most used. Each material has slightly different properties, so it’s important to take into account the type and amount of use your countertop will have when considering materials.
Maintenance, durability, and attractiveness are the three most important features to consider. Granite is durable and attractive, but is porous, and therefore needs to be sealed every year to prevent staining and protect against bacteria. Butcher block his attractive and can be used as a cutting surface, but it is also a haven for bacteria, and requires extensive cleaning. Laminate countertops are low maintenance, but many homeowners find that they lack the aesthetic value of granite or marble.
Tile is beautiful but less durable than granite, as tiles can be easily chipped or broken. However, they can also be more easily repaired. Laminate and quartz countertops scratch easily. Stainless steel countertops are among the most durable, low maintenance, and modern-looking surfaces, but can rival granite or concrete in cost, and some homeowners are more attracted to stone surfaces.
What is your style of use? If your countertops don’t need to withstand heavy, regular food preparation, then any material might do. But for heavy use, the lowest maintenance most convenient materials include stainless steel, butcher block, quartz, laminate, recycled glass come and solid surface.
Stainless steel requires no sealing or refinishing, and is easy to clean and heat resistant. Solid surface includes Corian and soapstone, materials that can be easily cleaned and are stain and scratch resistant.
Laminate is nonporous and therefore never needs to be sealed. It is also among the least expensive surfaces, and comes in a wide range of colors and finishes. Recycled glass countertops consist of crushed glass laid in the same resin material used for solid surface. They are also nonporous, heat and stain resistant, and come in nearly limitless design and color options.
Quartz is an ideal option for those who like the look of granite and marble but prefer a lower maintenance surface. Quartz is nonporous, making it stain resistant and easy to clean.
You might also consider mixing surfaces, and designating a kitchen island or another countertop area as the food preparation center by choosing a more practical lower maintenance countertop for that part of your kitchen.
Laminates and quartz come in a wider variety of colors and designs than granite or marble. Recycled glass countertops have also gained popularity, both for being environmentally friendly and attractive. They also offer opportunities for creative and wide ranging designs and colors, and typically cost $50-$125 per square foot.
Still less common are exotic stone, gem, and precious metal countertops. If your budget allows, these high end surfaces will provide a dazzling, unique look to your kitchen, and the materials can actually be quite durable when it comes to heat, cutting, and staining.
Concrete countertops are very en vogue. With concrete countertops, artisans can create unique, specially detailed designs, and as such, concrete countertops are typically more expensive than common surfaces like granite or marble. They are also rather high maintenance, and need to be sealed regularly to prevent staining.
Concrete countertops can cost an average of $100 per square foot, plus an additional $40-$50 per hour to install. Their unique designs also have greater longevity and can increase resale value.
Marble countertops are perhaps the most expensive, at $125-$250 per square foot. Granite and quartz typically costs $100-$200 per square foot, while tile costs $10-$90 per square foot, laminate costs $25-$50 per square foot, and synthetic solids cost $90-$120 per square foot. This does not include the cost of installation, which is typically $40-$50 per hour.
Additional features that raise the cost of a countertop project are irregular or curved shapes, thicker materials, integral drain boards, custom edges, or backsplashes.
Marble countertops are perhaps the most expensive, at $125-$250 per square foot. Granite and quartz typically costs $100-$200 per square foot, while tile costs $10-$90 per square foot, laminate costs $25-$50 per square foot, and synthetic solids cost $90-$120 per square foot. This does not include the cost of installation, which is typically $40-$50 per hour. Additional features that raise the cost of a countertop project are irregular or curved shapes, thicker materials, integral drain boards, custom edges, or backsplashes.
With most bathroom countertops, form is more important than function, thanks to the fact that in a bathroom you don’t have to worry about stains from food or heat from appliances, pots, and pans.
So the most important thing to consider is how well the countertop fits in with your existing bathroom features and fixtures. A high-end Jacuzzi might call for the beautiful marble or granite countertop that may not be practical or durable for your kitchen. If you’re trying to match a specific color scheme, laminate and solid surface materials maybe your best choice, as they come in a wide array of colors and finishes.
In terms if practicality, durability may be less crucial for a bathroom countertop than clean-ability. This is synonymous for a nonporous surface like stainless steel, glass, and laminate. Porous materials harbor bacteria and viruses, and may require special nonstaining cleaners. If you use hot, hairstyling appliances, tile, quartz, and granite may be your best choice.
If your budget allows, an elegant bathroom countertop can serve as the aesthetic centerpiece of a bathroom remodel or upgrade. Your new countertop installation need not break the bank however. There are plenty of attractive, practical options for any budget range.
Developing an accurate budget will also guide the project as it moves forward, potentially limiting the countertop size and materials used. Don’t forget to factor in the cost of additional materials, such as molds, grout, and shipping.
Develop a Budget for Materials and Labor
Once you better understand the scope of your project, you can begin developing a budget.
You can begin with a web search to look at the available options and prices for the kind of countertop you want. The best place to start is Diamond Certified, which provides a lengthy list of countertop designs and manufacturers.
Then figure out what counter top surface material you prefer. Common materials include granite, quartz, laminate, marble, stainless steel, butcher block, recycled glass, and concrete.
Calculate the approximate surface area you need to cover. As you research online or in your local Marin County countertop store, keep a comprehensive list or spreadsheet detailing estimated materials needed, sources, and prices. Be sure to include peripheral material costs in addition to the actual fixture, such as grout, adhesives, and finishing materials and seals.
A detailed budget and price list will prove useful when negotiating with prospective home counter contractors.
Look for Licensed Countertop Contractors in Marin County
Be sure to look for Marin County contractors that possess both the necessary experience and contractor’s licenses for the specific type of work you need. All Marin County countertop contractors must be licensed by the California State Contractors License Board.
The CSLB offers 43 different license classifications. You can verify a prospective contractor’s current license on the CSLB website.
It’s likely that the contractors you’re considering have a portfolio of previous projects for you to browse, which will offer a good indication of the scale and style of work they have completed. In addition to this, you can request references from previous customers. Portfolios and references go a long way in providing you the information you need to make the best informed countertop contractor selection.
Look for Diamond Certified Countertop Contractors in Sonoma County
You are the customer. If your goal is to choose a countertop contractor that will deliver high customer satisfaction and quality, you’ll feel confident in choosing a Diamond Certified countertop installation company. Each has been rated Highest in Quality in the most accurate ratings process anywhere. And you’re always backed by the Diamond Certified Performance Guarantee.
Obtain Permits, If Necessary
Under the California Building Code, no building or structure can be altered, repaired, or improved without obtaining a permit. Codes vary greatly by city and county, so you can find out more about your specific Marin County countertop project on the CSLB website, which details requirements by city and county.
In addition, your licensed Marin County countertop contractor can help you identify whether your project requires a permit and how to obtain a permit, if necessary.
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