How to Buy Kitchen Countertops: The Complete Guide 2023-2024

How to Choose a Countertop Guide

At Granite Selection alone, there are over 14,000 unique slabs of stone from which to choose. The many different countertop materials available can make picking your dream stone a unique challenge. While it’s easy to fall in love with an aesthetic, other factors like lifestyle and budget play a role in decking out your ideal kitchen.

According to Food Hive, 71% of American consumers said they’d continue cooking at home after the pandemic ends. In the last year, CNBC reported an increase in home improvements, and the kitchen, often thought of as the heart of the home, has taken central precedence in residential spaces.

There’s no set way on how to buy countertops, but there are some tips and tricks. In this countertop buying guide, we take a look at some cliché oversights to avoid, so you can make informed interior design decisions when purchasing granite, quartz, or marble.

What to Consider Before Buying a Kitchen Countertop?

As the best place to buy countertops in Chicago, we’ve observed hundreds of customers “decide” on a design aesthetic without accounting for their lifestyle needs. You need to carefully consider how often you’ll use the countertop, whether you’re incredibly trim and tidy or more laissez-faire when it comes to cleaning. From stone-type to finishing touches, there’s a lot to consider.

1. Establish Your Budget

For most people, their decisions are dictated by budget. Countertops range widely in price, from cheaper Snow White quartz retailing for $45 per square foot to Calacata Gold marble that costs $130 per square foot.

If your countertop traverses a small surface area, you might find you’re able to afford a more expensive stone than you initially thought, for example. However, the only way to establish a proper budget is to get a quote. And remember, you need to factor in not just the price of the stone but its labor costs as well.

2. Work Out Project Details

Have you decided on your exact project details, or are you just browsing? Are your current cabinets strong enough to bear the weight of the heavy stone, or will you need to replace them? Do you know the measurements of your countertop? Are you thinking about installing a backsplash?

When it comes to budgeting, it’s important to know the details and full scope of what you want, as this will help our fabricators to assist you better and make recommendations based on your project’s needs. Always budget for a little more than expected as labor costs of granite, for example, will increase the price. On average, 10% of your kitchen budget should be put aside for kitchen countertops.

3. Granite vs. Quartz vs. Marble?

Most struggle to choose between granite, quartz, or marble – three of the most popular kitchen countertop stones. Due to their significant variances in color and pattern, virtually any look and feel can be accomplished with all three stone types. Each option comes with its own unique beauty, including pros and cons.

Granite Countertops

How to Choose Granite Countertop

  • Pros: Granite countertops are heat-resistant, hardy, and less porous than marble. Some who love marble opt for a granite variety that closely resembles marble because it is more durable.
  • Cons: This stone is exceptionally dense, which increases installation costs, and possibly requires the installation of new cabinets that can handle heavyweight. It’s also a natural stone, so on larger countertops, the seams joining different slabs will be visible.

Quartz Countertops

How to Choose Quartz Countertop

  • Pros: Like Granite, quartz is low-maintenance and perfect for areas that are used daily. It’s non-porous and highly durable. As a man-made stone, its patterns are consistent, and seam visibility is less noticeable.
  • Cons: If you’re considering buying quartz countertops, be sure to double-check the price. Depending on the type, Quartz countertops can be equally expensive as marble and granite. It’s also not as heat-resistant as the former two stones.

Marble Countertops

How to Choose Marble Countertop

  • Pros: Marble is a beautiful, heat-resistant stone that automatically increases the value of homes and is long-lasting when looked after properly.
  • Cons: If you want to buy marble countertops, you should be aware they are incredibly prone to etching and staining, even from water. Marble needs to be wiped after every use. Its high maintenance is typically a turn-off for those who work vigorously on their countertops.

4. Decide on the Countertop Edge

Once you’ve decided between granite vs. quartz vs. marble, your fabricator will want to know your preferred countertop edge style, which is something first-time buyers don’t always think about. Nowadays, square edges are standard and decorative edges like ogee, bevel, and bullnose are a bit pricier.

These are four common edge types:

  • Beveled Edge: A counter with an angular edge that’s approximately 45 degrees, found in more traditional kitchens.
  • Ogee Edge: An edge with a concave arch that flows into a convex arch and is often used in traditional kitchen designs.
  • Eased Edge: A squared edge with “eased” corners that’s incredibly popular in current minimalist kitchen designs.
  • Bullnose Edge: An edge that can be fully or half-rounded and offers a softer alternative to eased edges.

View the seven countertop edge options we offer at Granite Selection here.

5. Decide on the Countertop Height

The average countertop height is 36 inches, but if you’re thinking about having a kitchen island-cum-bar countertop, then you’d increase it to 42 inches. Design ergonomic basics imply that all kitchens should be designed to achieve tasks in the most efficient way, countertop height included. Those with limited mobility might decrease their countertop to a height between 28-34 inches. It absolutely depends on you and your family’s unique needs.

6. Consider the Sink

Choose Countertop Sink

If budget isn’t an option, and you’re still uncertain how to choose countertop material, you might want to consider the sink. A drop-in sink is the most conventional type of kitchen sink. It has a visible lip around its perimeter that rests flat on the countertop and is compatible with all countertops.

As opposed to being dropped into a pre-cut hole in the countertop, undermount sinks are installed under the counter, so there is no rim between the countertop and the sink. Given their weight, quartz, marble, and granite work best and are highly compatible with undermount sinks.

7. Try Mixing Materials

Contemporary interior trends allow for a less uniform approach to interior design. Not every bathroom, kitchen, and wet bar countertop need to be congruent. Some have the same color scheme flowing throughout their house, while others have alternating hues for every room.

You might decide to utilize marble in a guest bathroom as it’s used less often, quartz in a busy kitchen, and granite outside because it’s the most durable. There’s no rule stopping you from having a mix and match countertop with one part of concrete and other quartz, for example. According to Homes and Gardens, some popular 2023-2024 design trends include moody interiors, marble, color pops, white kitchens, and mixed materials.

8. Ask for Samples

When customers require advice on how to buy kitchen countertops, we always recommend they experiment with take-home samples. Every so often, there’s an imaginative discrepancy between what is seen in the showroom and how it actually pans out looking in a customer’s desired space.

It’s a good idea to place the samples next to your cabinets and walls to see how they read. If you’re building cabinets and countertops from scratch, you should test different countertop and cabinet combinations together. We also recommend sampling one or two options your dead-set against – for all you know, you might even land up changing your mind.

9. Watch the Warranty

While stone countertops are hard-wearing and long-lasting, you should still make sure your purchase comes with a warranty. New countertops are a significant investment, and you want to ensure the workmanship you hire is of a high standard.

At Granite Selection, we have a 1-year warranty from the date of installation that guarantees our clients that the stone they purchase is free from defects in the material and workmanship provided by us. Our warranty also ensures that the product has been inspected and approved under strict quality standards.

Our warranty does not cover the abuse or misuse of stone countertops nor damage due to poor maintenance. As fabricators at the best place to get countertops in the city, we have a responsibility to our clients to ensure the installation of their countertops is seamless. Of course, we trust that our customers will enjoy and take care of their new home investments.

Get Professionals for Your Free In-Home Estimate

As the best place to buy quartz countertops and granite and marble in Chicago, we know how overwhelming choosing a kitchen countertop can be. That’s why we offer free in-home estimates where one of our experts will come to your home and provide a personal recommendation, eliminating the stress of having to explain the look and feel you’re going for when visiting us.

Our estimate ensures you receive the best advice on how to buy kitchen countertops when it comes to style and affordability. For more information on our kitchen and bathroom countertops, contact us at Granite Selection.

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