Buying Kitchen Countertops, Complete Guide for Costs, Materials and Choices

How much do kitchen countertops cost per square foot? The range is from $18 to $200-plus per square foot, but that’s not very helpful, so this countertop cost guide gets very specific.

Materials vary widely in cost and quality. A range of $66-$114 is much more the “average” that most homeowners pay for good-quality countertops in solid surface, granite, quartz, soapstone and other popular options.

This kitchen countertop cost guide is cost-heavy, since pricing is central to the content we provide here at Kitchen Remodel Prices. We also provide a range of other guides for other aspects of your kitchen remodel, including our guide to kitchen islands.

The most popular kitchen countertop material for 2020:

  • Granite tile and slab
  • Quartz or Engineered Stone
  • Stone/Soapstone
  • Laminate
  • Porcelain
  • Marble tile and slab
  • Solid Surface/Resin
  • Ceramic Tile
  • Glass and Recycled glass
  • Concrete
  • Wood or Butcherblock
  • Stainless Steel
  • Lava Stone

This kitchen remodel prices guide will assist you price the materials you’re considering, find more affordable alternatives when necessary and compare materials head to head. We’ll help you select countertops that best suit your lifestyle too.

Kitchen Countertop Cost By Material

Here are kitchen countertop prices per square foot installed by a professional. How much you can save with DIY installation varies quite a lot from about $5-$10 per square foot for an easy laminate countertop to more than $20 per square foot for tile or concrete countertops poured onsite.

MaterialLow CostAverage CostHigh Cost
Plastic Laminate$18 – $26$27 – $40$41 – $50
Ceramic/Porcelain Tile$18 – $30$31 – $50$51 – $65
Granite Tile$30 – $45$46 – $55$56 – $70
Marble Tile$35 – $42$43 – $60$61 – $75
Butcherblock/Wood$33 – $50$51 – $80$81 – $135
Resin/Solid Surface$40 – $55$56 – $70$71 – $85
Recycled Glass$60 – $90$91 – $110$111 – $130
Stone/Soapstone$70 – $90$91 – $115$116 – $130
Stainless Steel$70 – $95$96 – $120$121 – $150
Concrete$75 – $100$101 – $150$151 – $200
Reclaimed Wood$100 – $133$134 – $170$171 – $225
Quartz/Engineered$80 – $105$106 – $135$136 – $160
Marble Slab$120 – $160$161 – $200$201 – $250
Granite Slab$60 – $95$96 – $150$151 – $225
Lava$200 – $225$226 – $250$251 – $270

Kitchen Countertop Material Comparison

Let’s look at your kitchen countertop options in these areas – Countertop cost and what you get at each price level, pro & cons, comparison to similar options and alternatives that give you a similar look but at a different cost.

Granite Tile and Slab Countertops

The hottest countertop material of the last decade-plus continues to be, as they say too much, an “on trend” choice. You have a diverse spectrum of color choices. Some granite is quite consistent in color and veining throughout the slab or tiles, and this type blends well and is a good choice if there are patterns in the flooring. Other options have high variation for those that what their countertops to really catch the eye when flooring, cabinets and walls are a little more subdued.

Cost Factors to Consider

Granite tile starts at about 8”x8”, but most is a foot square or up to 24”x24”. Cost ranges from $30 to $70 per square foot, and you’ll likely find some clearance options for less. Because the tiles are made from smaller pieces of granite, cost is lower.

Slabs start at about $60 for common colors and thinner slabs. Granite slabs an inch thick or more start closer to $100 per square foot and top out over $200. How the edge is cut will affect cost.

For both tiles and slabs, the rarity of the granite and its level of demand are primary cost factors.

Pro’s and Con’s of  Granite Tile & Slab

Pros

Good looks, durability and resistance to heat – and resistant to stain too when properly sealed with newer sealers available. A good home-selling feature.

Cons

It can stain when not sealed correctly and regularly, and thinner pieces can chip or break at corners. But breakage is rare. Granite countertop cost is higher than most.

Comparison & Alternatives

Marble is considered by some to be more beautiful, but it definitely requires more TLC. Concrete can be acid stained to look like granite but with a seamless surface, even at corners, when poured onsite. Cost is similar.

Quartz or engineered countertops have a similar feel, but without the natural veining granite delivers. Cost is slightly lower. Many laminates are made to look like granite at a cost 50-70% less.

Quartz or Engineered Stone Countertops

Quartz, aka engineered stone, is a top competitor to granite. Color is more consistent, and a nice range of tones are offered.

Cost Factors

Cost is determined primarily by slab thickness. Some deeper colors are sold at a slight premium in cost.

Pro’s and Con’s of Quartz and Stone

Pros

Quartz doesn’t require sealing, and it is more resistant to stains than stone like granite, marble and soapstone.

Cons

It’s pricey and doesn’t have the natural appeal of genuine stone.

Alternatives

Solid surface has a similar look, though it’s a little more “plasticky.” And of course, laminate comes in very similar colors at a much lower cost. But if you’re installing fine kitchen cabinets, flooring and appliances, laminate will look like a pair of brown shoes in a room full of tuxedos.

Stone/Soapstone Countertops

These natural materials have a lustrous, almost chalky appearance without the chalk dust.

Cost Factors

The range of $70 to $130 per square foot reflects slab thickness, color and sealer used to prevent stains. The edge cut factors into cost too.

Pro’s and Con’s of Stone and Soap Stone

Pros

Soapstone has classic, traditional good looks. It develops a patina that many homeowners find very appealing.

Cons

The stone is soft, so scratches are possible, even probable over time.

Comparison & Alternatives

This is a unique countertop material. Veining is gently swirling and calm compared to some granite and marble options.

Laminate and Formica Countertops

Formica is a common laminate brand that is often used to refer to the material as a whole, like Kleenex. Laminate countertops use a photographic layer of whatever material they mimic covered with a clear, durable wear layer.

 

Cost Factors

Laminate cost factors include the thickness of the wear layer and whether a bullnose or other edge is added. The range is about $20 to $50 per square foot.

Pro’s and Con’s of Laminate and Formica

Pros

Affordable, easy to maintain and resistant to stains.

Cons

Can look cheap, and laminate will discolor or melt if something very hot is placed on it.

Comparison & Alternatives

The manufacture of laminate countertops is unique. If there’s money in the budget, then natural stone countertops like granite, marble and soapstone might be considered. After all, these are the materials laminate mimics.

Marble Tile and Stone Countertops

Marble is the epitome of beauty to many, but it is temperamental.

 

Cost Factors

Cost is a factor of slab color and its rarity, thickness and how the edge is cut. Tiles are quite reasonable at a starting point of about $35 installed. Slab marble is some of the most expensive countertop material with a top end of $250 per square foot.

Pro’s and Con’s of Marble Tile and Stone

Pros

Unparalleled beauty – and some of the new sealers make it less susceptible to stains.

Cons

It can scratch or chip, and if the right sealer isn’t used, stains will happen.

Comparison & Alternatives

Homeowners shopping marble countertops are typically considering granite, stone and quartz too. If you can afford marble slab countertops, you can afford the other options. Some laminate uses photographs of marble, but you’re talking the high and low ends of the price spectrum. If you’re designing a kitchen in which marble would be at home, laminate certainly would not be right.

Solid Surface/Resin/Corian Countertops

Probably trending down a bit, this is a durable, attractive and mid-priced material.

Cost Factors

The price range of $40 to $85 per square foot is narrower than other materials because it is a manufactured material consisting of pigmented resins. Some premium colors cost more. The major difference in cost is installation complexity – number of angles, cuts and any edge enhancements.

Pro’s and Con’s of Solid Surface / Resin

Pros

Decent durability. Sinks are made from the same material, if you want an integrated, seamless blend. It is stain-resistant, and your color options are numerous.

Cons

It’s not heat resistant, and the fabrication process isn’t DIY-friendly.

Comparison & Alternatives

A cheaper alternative is solid-color laminate. An upgrade to solid surface in quality with similar appearance is quartz.

Ceramic & Porcelain Tile Countertops

Ceramic is the slightly more affordable option starting at about $18 per square foot installed while porcelain starts closer to $25. The reason for porcelain’s higher cost is its greater strength and resistance to stains, chips and scratches. Ceramic tile is available in a wider range of colors, shapes, sizes and styles.

Cost Factors

The quality difference between the materials is an important factor. And since labor cost is higher than material cost, the difficulty of installation plays a major role.

Pro’s and Con’s of Ceramic & Porcelain

Pros

Durable, traditional and attractive when it fits the kitchen’s style. Stylistically, ceramic and porcelain tile offer the widest selection of any kitchen countertop material.

Cons

Some tile “looks” become dated well before the material would otherwise need replacement.

Comparison & Alternatives

Because of how the tiles are manufactured, there’s no clear comparison. Stone tiles are grouted too, but with those materials, the grout is designed to show as little as possible. With ceramic and porcelain tile, the grout is part of the overall style.

Recycled Glass Countertops

Recycled glass is a unique material – crushed glass is placed in a form and covered in clear resin.

Cost Factors

On the material side, rarer glass colors lead to higher costs. Slab thickness plays a part too. Then, of course, the complexity of the installation process is the other half of the countertop cost equation.

Pro’s and Con’s of Recycled Glass

Pros

While the resins are plastics, these are fairly eco-friendly countertops and definitely unique in appearance. If you don’t want your kitchen to look like every other kitchen in the neighborhood, consider recycled glass.

Cons

They’re not cheap, since a lot of labor goes into their production. And be sure to look at many examples of these countertops. They’re not for everyone, but in the right kitchen, they can be an intriguing finishing touch.

Comparison & Alternatives

There aren’t any comparisons from an appearance standpoint. Reclaimed wood is another “reuse, repurpose, recycle” option and most has less embedded energy (the energy it takes to make the countertops) than recycled glass.

Concrete Countertops

Concrete countertops are an innovative product of the concrete industry. With concrete staining methods, the countertops can be made to look something like natural stone but unique too.

Cost Factors

The material is cheap. It’s the labor involved that drives up cost. How much the concrete is treated determines cost. It can be stained, stamped, have stones or shells embedded, pigmented and more. The enhancements you choose determine whether cost will be closer to the starting point of about $75 per square foot or the high end of $200+.

Pro’s and Con’s of Concrete

Pros

When concrete is done right, it is beautiful and durable.

Cons

They’re not cheap, and if not installed correctly, you can expect cracking at stress points, corners and other vulnerable spots.

Comparison & Alternatives

Granite and marble are the materials concrete can be simulated to mimic. On the affordable side, laminate and stained concrete can look similar from a distance.

Wood or Butcherblock Countertops

These materials probably deserve separate categories, but being wood, we grouped them.

Butcherblock is cheaper because wood scraps are used to create the countertops rather than genuine hardwood planks combined into gorgeous slabs. Commonly, people will use wood or butcherblock countertops as a contrasting countertop for a kitchen island, when other types of countertop are used throughout the remainder of the kitchen.

Cost Factors

Butcherblock starts at a little over $30 per square foot because the material costs are near zero – scrap from other wood manufacturing projects. When the butcherblock is skillfully designed and properly sealed, cost moves into the $50-$60 per square foot. Frankly, this is the range you should consider for butcherblock to avoid cheap options that sometimes spit or separate.

Genuine wood plank countertops start in the upper $70s, but the better-quality countertops exceed $100 per square foot.

Pro’s and Con’s of Wood and Butcher Block

Pros

Butcherblock is a traditional look that is appealing in a traditional or rustic setting. Full wood plank countertops are gorgeous and suitable, depending on how the wood is finished, to kitchens of any style.

Cons

Wood can burn, scratch, suffer water damage and stain. Keep it sealed!

Comparison & Alternatives

Laminate is the cheap alternative, since many choices mimic genuine wood. If you want to save a tree, choose reclaimed wood, but be willing to pay a premium.

Stainless Steel Countertops

This is another material that has had an impressive run but is trending down right now. However, if you’re a gourmet cook and want the “pros” this material offers, who cares what’s trending?

Cost Factors

The gauge (thickness) of the material and the exact composition of the steel are cost factors. Low-end $70 per square foot stainless steel can feel a little flimsy and might show scratches more readily. We recommend stainless steel countertops in the cost range of $100 – $120 to get the best value.

Pro’s and Con’s of Stainless Steel

Pros

Clean good looks, commercial-grade quality, easy to clean when you’ve been cutting meat, cooking with raw eggs or washing vegetables. There’s a reason commercial kitchens are full of stainless steel countertops.

Cons

There not cheap, and they’re currently not the most popularly installed.

Comparison & Alternatives

Nothing on this list compares. Some recycled metal countertops are gaining steam, but metal is their only common factor.

Lava Stone Countertops

Rare is the word, and attractive too.

Cost Factors

And rarity is why these countertops start at about $200 per square foot.

Pro’s and Con’s of Lava Stone

Pros

You obviously can’t harm it with hot pots and pans. The look is unique – your friends and neighbors will be impressed. They are beautiful and decidedly contemporary in appearance.

Cons

Countertop cost is highest for lava. Also, you might not be able to find lava countertops where you live – or an installer familiar with them.

Comparison & Alternatives

If you like the look of lava but want to consider alternatives, quartz aka engineered stone will save you money and give you a similar look.

General Countertop Cost Factors

Countertop prices for natural materials like granite, marble, repurposed wood and lava, definitely lava, are higher than for manufactured materials like laminate and solid surface. Those are givens. But what other factors affect countertops cost?

Our Kitchen Countertops page has a full list of cost factors that will affect the countertop estimates you receive.

Retail costs for the material plus the cost of installation are itemized to show you where your money will be spent.

Ways to save on countertops are also discussed.

Web Compare of Kitchen Countertop Costs Including Installation
WebsiteCost RangeAverage Cost
Web Compare Average$24 – $260/ sq. ft.$105/square foot
KitchenRemodelPrices$18 – $300 / sq. ft.$90/square foot
Counertop Investigator$20 – $250 / sq. ft.$118/square foot
HomeAdvisor$25 – $220 / sq. ft.$80/square foot
Remodeling Costs$30 – $250 / sq. ft.$134/square foot

How to Save Money on Kitchen Countertops

There are a few tips that can cut your costs.

  1. Remove old countertops and dispose of them rather than paying the contractor for the work.
  2. Choose tiles over slabs if you’re considering granite or marble.
  3. Hire the installer rather than paying a general contractor to find the installer. General contractors typically mark up work by 10-20%. It’s how they make their money.

Besides, hiring the installer personally gives you the opportunity to choose one you believe will do the best job. We recommend getting several estimates to compare. Then, check online reviews of each installer. Select an installer with a good track record for quality workmanship and fair prices.

Price Up Your Kitchen Project

Our price guides below provide prices and costs for all aspects of your new kitchen, so be sure to check them out. For other helpful tips on choosing and buying your next countertop then the buying guide from Consumer Reports also offers a wealth of helpful information, don’t forget to check them out too.

Compare Kitchen Remodel Cost & Prices for 2020
$14,000 - $150,000
Kitchen Sink Prices & Installation Costs
$500 - $1500
Kitchen Backsplash Cost & Prices for Installation
$18 - $100 per sq. ft.

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