So, you’re thinking about a kitchen countertop update. You’ve surfed Pinterest and watched your favorite HGTV shows for inspiration and now it’s time to decide the best kitchen countertop for your design goals and budget. Whenever undergoing any major home remodel, it’s crucial to consider both your return on investment (ROI) and the impact that the update will have on your home sale. In addition to the financial considerations of updating your kitchen countertops, you will want to know the different types of stones available, their price points, and the required maintenance for each type. Let’s dig in!
When spending any significant amount of money on a home renovation, you need to make sure it’s worth your while by considering your return on investment (ROI). Your return on investment for a home improvement will vary from project to project, but most home updates do not translate into a 100% ROI. In other words, investing $7,500 in an exotic piece of granite doesn’t necessarily mean you can add $7,500 to the listing price when you go to sell your home. Some factors to consider when choosing your countertops (or any other upgrade to your home):
- How long do you anticipate being in your current home? If the answer is “not long”, then you may want to reconsider installing new countertops. There are more cost-effective ways to update your kitchen without spending thousands on brand new countertops. Consider refacing kitchen cabinets, painting the room a fresh and bright neutral shade, update cabinet hardware, and/or install a subway tile backsplash. If, however, you are going to be in your home for 3+ more years, I say go for the new countertops! The new kitchen countertops would certainly aid in your home sale as long as you consider the next factors below.
- What are the neighborhood norms? Do most of the homes in your neighborhood have laminate, granite, or quartz countertops? For example, if homes in your neighborhood are priced less than $200,000 and all have laminate countertops, you may not want to splurge on the nicest, most expensive countertop option. There is such a thing as doing too many home renovations and pricing yourself out of your neighborhood’s average. Remember, you don’t want to be the most expensive home in your neighborhood because it could take longer to sell and ultimately result in a lower net price than you hoped. How can you know what upgrades your neighbor’s homes have? Sign up today to receive a monthly market update of all of the sold homes in your neighborhood. You’ll stay on top of what your neighbor’s homes are selling for and will receive average days on market, average price per square foot information, and the pictures of your neighbor’s homes (so you’ll be able to take a sneak peek at what counters are in their kitchens!).
- Is the countertop very unique? If you know your home is not going to be your forever home, I recommend sticking to neutral countertop options. Nothing that is too loud of a pattern or color. If selling in the near future, you want the countertop to impress and to appeal to as many buyers as possible. Getting that distinctive piece of stone that you love and no one else likes will hurt your odds.
- Will an appraiser give my home more value for my upgraded countertops? Yes and no. Let’s look at a couple different scenarios:
- Scenario 1 – Stone v. Stone: all of the comparable sold properties have level 1 granite and your home has level 7 granite. If this is the case, you may not get an adjustment of value for having the higher level and more expensive countertop. It is important to realize that when appraisers go to your home to provide an opinion of value, they aren’t familiar with exactly what level of granite you have in your home. Their overall job is to provide an opinion of value for the lender to see if the contract price is in line with the recently sold comparable properties. They are not countertop professionals, so they will not be able to distinguish between the varying levels and prices.
- Scenario 2 – Artificial v. Stone: the comparable sold homes have laminate countertops and your home has granite. In this case, the appraiser will likely provide you with some sort of adjustment for having a nicer countertop (artificial versus natural stone). It’s important to remember that the adjustment will usually not be for the total amount you paid for the upgrade though.
Again, it comes down to the importance of knowing what’s in your neighbor’s kitchens. If you don’t go to a lot of neighborhood dinner parties, let me know and I’ll be nosey for you! 😉 I’ll search recent solds in your neighborhood and look at the upgrades and finishes so you can make a more informed decision and investment.
Once you’ve determined if it’s worth your while to upgrade your countertops or not, you need to know the various types of countertop options, their price points, and required maintenance.
Types of Kitchen Countertops and Their Price Points
According to Paul Nichols, owner of Upstate Granite Solutions, the most common types of stone found in the home are granite, marble, quartzite, and quartz. Below you will see Paul’s pros and cons of each type of stone as well as the average price points.
- Pros: Hard and durable • Wide variety of colors • Basic colors start at $35/sf installed • Can be easily repaired • Great for outdoor spaces
- Cons: Natural fissures and pits • Exotics are pricey • Hard to find in clean whites • Needs to be sealed
- $35-$150+ /sf
- Pros: White colors and veins • Initial cost can be low • Unique and timeless • Will develop a beautiful patina
- Cons: Softer than granite • Can etch from acids (rarely used in kitchens because of this) • Rare material can be costly • Needs to be sealed • Will need more up-keep
- Price: $65-$100+/sf
- Pros: Very hard, resists scratching • Can be used outdoors • Unique coloring and veining • Will not etch with acids
- Cons: Price • Needs to be sealed
- Price: $80-$200+/sf
- Pros: Made from recycled materials • Virtually no maintenance • Any color choice • Comes in lighter/white shades • Tensile strength (flexible) • Can be repaired • Never needs to be sealed
- Cons: Not a natural stone • Not as hard as granite • UV light can discolor • Can’t use outside
- Price: $69-$100+/sf
It is important to note that most granite retailers differ greatly on their definitions of what it means to be level 1 granite versus level 5 granite. There are currently no industry standards for the levels of granite, so it is wise to get quotes from multiple places before making a final decision.
Maintenance of Stone Countertops
According to the Rock Doctor, it is recommended that natural stones be sealed every 18 months. In addition, it is important to use products that do not contain any acids that may harm the stone. In order to disinfect your kitchen countertops, owner of Upstate Granite Solutions, Paul Nichols, recommends using a microfiber cloth and a mixture of 50/50 water and isopropyl alcohol. If you want a kitchen countertop that requires minimal maintenance, then quartz may be the best option for you.
When determining the best kitchen countertops for resale value, there are several important factors to consider:
- What is your overall budget? Most kitchens average around 50 square feet of countertop space. Multiply your overall countertop square footage by the price per square foot of your interested material, and that will give you an estimate of how much it may cost.
- Do you want an easy-to-maintain option or are you okay with a little bit of routine maintenance?
- Do you plan on moving within the next few years? If so, you’ll wanted to consider neighborhood norms and choosing a countertop that appeals to the masses rather than a unique piece that only you may love.
- Realize that the countertops will most likely not provide you with 100% return on investment, so it may be wise to get a more cost-effective option versus the most expensive option possible.
- What colors are you looking for? If you’re wanting white and bright options, marble or quartz may be the best fit. If you are wanting a lot of color variations and unique pieces, then granite or quartzite may rule the day.
- Keep the space in mind. If you are searching for a durable stone for the kitchen, you may not want to choose marble which etches when it comes in contact with common acids such as lemon juice or ketchup. Marble is beautiful and may be more suitable for bathroom areas. Furthermore, if the stone is outdoors near a BBQ, you may want to consider durable quartzite.
Considering other home improvements but not sure which ones are worth the time and investment? I would LOVE to come over to provide you with my professional opinion! My goal is to help you make the most money possible in the sale of your home. I often visit months and sometimes years before my clients decide to sell in order to provide advice on upgrades. Maximizing the return on your home sale is accomplished by making informed investments throughout your ownership. Never hesitate to reach out to discuss the pros and cons of the home improvement projects you have in mind. I’m happy to help!