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How much is a new countertop going to cost?

Thinking about a new countertop? The first question most people ask is: How much is it going to cost? What you end up paying depends on three things that you can choose and one that you canít.

The material you select for your new counter will have the biggest impact on the price; itís also where you have the most choices. Edge treatments, special features, such as 45-degree corners, and countertop fabrication will affect the price, but less so. Then there is the cost of installing the finished countertop. For this you can take the lowest bid. Finally, how much you pay will vary with where you live. You canít do much about this!

A typical kitchen countertop is about between 28 and 30 linear feet. Most likely it will be either a U-shape or L-shape layout. Here, we need to clear up a potential point of confusion. Laminate counters are sold by the linear foot, but other materials such as solid surfacing, natural stone, and engineered stone are sold by the square foot. Since counters are 24 inches deep, that means a 30-foot linear counter has 60 square feet. Remember this difference when you shop.

Itís all in the options
There is a vast difference in price between a basic, post-formed laminate countertop, a laminate countertop with a premium edge, and top-end options like solid surfacing and stone. For that typical 30-foot linear countertop, a post-form laminate top might cost as little as $800. For a premium laminate with a beveled edge, the price could go to $2,000. But this is still far less than $4,800 to $6,000 youíd pay for solid surfacing, natural stone, or engineered stone, which could be priced at between $80 and $100 per square foot .

Much of the cost of a countertop is the labor: fabrication and installation. With laminate, labor costs are separate from materials costs. Thatís why itís important to work with a fabricator or and installer you feel good about, who has a good business reputation, and whose bid is realistic. 

A real-life case study
To give you a straightforward price comparison, here are the prices the owner of our before-and-after kitchen, in Duluth, Minnesota, could have paid if she had chosen something other than laminate.

First off, the approximately 16 feet of premium laminate counter cost her $1,600. This included beveled edges on the counter, a 4-inch set-on backsplash, also with a beveled edge, and a 45-degree turn to run the counter over a lazy-Susan corner cabinet. The laminate was $650, the fabrication was $450 and the installation was $500.

Had she chosen a post-form counter using the same Wilsonart Crystal Topaz laminate, the counter would have been $1,220, $380 less.

Had she selected granite, the fabricated and installed price would have been $4,000. Solid surfacing would have been $3,200, and engineered stone, $3,800. For all of these materials, she would have been buying more material than actually ended up on the counter, because a waste factor is included in the price.




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