by Jeremy Troetti / July 30, 2020
Table of Contents
Countertops are a significant addition to any home. Whether stone countertops, solid surface or any other countertop material, the surfaces can make a statement. New countertops can have a particularly noteworthy presence in the kitchen, as kitchen countertops are often the focal point of the room. Considering that the modern kitchen is not only designed for preparing meals, but rather for socializing and eating as well, it is important to have a kitchen countertop that you are proud to show off.
While all this is true, there are certainly times when your budget may not allow you to buy the countertop you want. If this is the case, there is no need to worry. While you will not be able to afford gemstone countertops on a tight budget, there are plenty of terrific options that you can buy.
What Are Some Cheap Countertop Materials?
When it comes to “cheap” countertop materials, the term is not necessarily indicative of the countertop’s quality, but rather the cost. Below are 15 popular “cheap” countertops that you will be able to find on the market.
Ceramic tile countertops are one of the cheapest options you can find. Part of the reason the surfaces are so inexpensive is that you can install the material on your own. Keep in mind that, while there are many stylish tiles you can choose from, you will have to deal with grout lines. On average, ceramic tile countertops will cost between $5 to $7 per square foot.
Outside of tile, another very cheap option you will find is laminate. While laminate countertops were more common in decades past, the surfaces are still a presence in many homes. Add to this that damages often cannot be repaired and you certainly have reason to be cautious. The surfaces will generally cost between $20 to $50 per square foot.
Cultured marble is a faux marble surface that has risen in popularity as an alternative to natural marble. The countertops are made by combining polyester resin with marble dust, pigments and fillers. These surfaces are designed to replicate the appearance of marble while offering the stain resistance that the natural stone does not. Cultured marble countertops typically cost somewhere between $30 to $100 per square foot.
Granite countertops are one of the most popular choices among homeowners – and for good reason. These natural stone surfaces can be found in a variety of colors and styles, are very durable and are low maintenance. Granite countertops are heat resistant, stain resistant and scratch resistant. While you will have to re-apply a sealant occasionally, this process is quick and simple, and there are many sealers that you can find on the market.
In addition to countertops, granite is an ideal material for backsplashes, kitchen island tops and other surfaces. When evaluating countertop options, granite is truly one of the most beautiful, durable and versatile that you will find. The natural stone will generally cost between $32 to $75 per square foot.
If you like the look of real granite, cultured granite countertops may appeal to you too. Much like cultured marble, cultured granite countertops are often used as an alternative to the natural stone. While natural granite is one of the most appealing surfaces you can find, if you truly do not want to install a surface that requires re-sealing, cultured granite may be for you. These surfaces tend to cost between $35 to $60 per square foot.
Butcher block countertops are another popular choice in kitchen design. These surfaces are made from strips of wood that are formed together into a slab. The major appeal of these countertops is their appearance; many homeowners like butcher block because of the ‘warm’ feel it brings to the room.
While the countertops have their advantages, butcher block does come with disadvantages. The material needs much more care than many of the other countertop options on this list. Butcher Block countertops cost between $35 to $200 per square foot on average.
Another material often used for countertops is bamboo. These surfaces are recognized as not only stylish and tough, but eco-friendly as well. If you are looking to put a nice finishing touch on your kitchen remodel, bamboo countertops can help you do that. However, the material is nowhere near perfect. In fact, bamboo countertops will require significant maintenance in order to stay in good shape.
Ultimately, the amount of care bamboo requires may encourage you to turn to other options. That said, the countertops usually start around $40 per square foot.
Another ‘warm’ material, wood can often be used for countertops. As with butcher block, the primary advantage to wood countertops is their appearance. Like butcher block and bamboo, wood countertops will require more care than many other options, such as natural and engineered stone.
If you are looking for wood countertops, the surfaces generally start around $40 per square foot.
Marble is a timeless and elegant building material. The natural stone has been used to create everything from kitchen countertops to some of the most famous statues in the world. No matter if you are looking for something that is solid in color or contains significant veining, you will find a marble countertop to suit your needs. The material is also durable and will stay in terrific shape with proper care.
Although the natural stone’s sophisticated feel may lead you to believe it is an expensive countertop material, you can generally find marble for around $40 to $100 per square foot.
Quartz countertops are made of engineered stone. The surfaces are created by combining roughly 90 percent ground quartz with about 10 percent polyresin. The exact percentages will slightly differ in products sold under different brand names (Caesarstone, Silestone, etc.). Because the surfaces are manufactured, quartz countertops are non-porous, which means you will not have to worry about re-sealing them. Although some types of the material can be expensive, you can certainly find a great budget friendly kitchen countertop material (or surface for other rooms) in quartz.
While high end quartz can be pricey, many fantastic options come at a reasonable cost. Expect to pay somewhere between $50 to $120 per square foot on average.
One of the trendier options on the market, recycled glass countertops have risen in popularity in recent years. The surfaces are created by mixing pieces of recycled glass with cement and other binders. Although these countertops can look nice and are easy to care for, they can also be prone to chipping and other damages.
In terms of cost, recycled glass countertops will generally be found for about $50 to $125 per square foot.
If you are looking for a darker colored natural stone countertop option, slate may be the perfect fit. Installing slate countertops can give your new kitchen or bathroom a modern feel. In addition to their beauty, slate countertops are also heat resistant and stain resistant, which makes them an all-around great countertop option.
Slate countertops are usually somewhere in the range of $50 to $200 per square foot. While high end options are likely not within your budget, lower cost slate options can very well be.
Soapstone countertops are beautiful, durable and soft to the touch. These surfaces will also naturally darken over time – perfect for homeowners looking for a darker countertop option. If you want to speed up the darkening process, you can treat the stone with mineral oil.
As for price, the countertops can typically be found for between $55 to $100 per square foot.
Not to be confused with the engineered stone quartz, quartzite is a gorgeous natural stone countertop option. Many types of the stone look so similar to marble that they are often confused for being a type of marble. Quartzite countertops are very durable and easy to care for, which is why many homeowners use the stone in place of marble.
The countertops will, on average, cost between $60 to $120 per square foot.
If you are looking for a very inexpensive option, you can actually paint your countertops. Make sure to note that this is only possible with existing laminate or solid surface countertops; never attempt to paint over natural stone, engineered stone, tile or wood.
It is hard to truly put a specific price on paint, although it will not require any type of significant expense.
Cheap Countertop Materials: Comparing Costs
The table below compares the average costs of the countertop options listed above.
|Ceramic Tile||Between $5 to $7 per square foot|
|Laminate||Between $20 to $50 per square foot|
|Cultured Marble||Between $30 to $100 per square foot|
|Granite||Between $32 to $75 per square foot|
|Cultured Granite||Between $35 to $60 per square foot|
|Butcher Block||Between $35 to $200 per square foot|
|Bamboo||Starts around $40 per square foot|
|Wood||Starts around $40 per square foot|
|Marble||Between $40 to $100 per square foot|
|Quartz||Between $50 to $120 per square foot|
|Recycled Glass||Between $50 to $125 per square foot|
|Slate||Between $50 to $200 per square foot|
|Soapstone||Between $55 to $100 per square foot|
|Quartzite||Between $60 to $120 per square foot|
|Paint||Inexpensive; price varies|
Frequently Asked Questions
This section provides answers to some frequently asked questions regarding the prices of countertop materials.
How Much Do Stainless Steel Countertops Cost?
Although the surfaces vary in price, stainless steel countertops typically cost around $75 to $150 per square foot. This is likely above the price range for any homeowners seeking to find an inexpensive countertop.
What is the Cost of Solid Surface Countertops?
Solid surface countertops, often associated with the brand name Corian, can also vary in cost. In general, the material goes for around $75 to $120 per square foot.
Are Concrete Countertops Expensive?
Concrete countertops usually cost around $70 to $150 per square foot. While they are not the most expensive option, the surfaces are not particularly cheap either.
What Impacts the Prices of Kitchen Countertop Materials?
There are several factors that impact the prices of kitchen countertop materials (and countertops in general). Some of these factors include how much of the material you need and any special angles and cuts the fabricator needs to make.
Does a DIY Kitchen Countertop Cost Less?
In terms of DIY options, the only one on the list above that qualifies is ceramic tile. While a DIY capable surface will save you on installation costs, be aware that you may be sacrificing overall quality just to save a minimal amount of money.
While there are certainly some countertop options that will be priced beyond your budget, there are many options on the market that will be a good fit for your home. Reviewing this guide can help you get a better idea of the average prices for various types of common countertop materials.