I spent a good many hours researching granite counter tops for my little gem of a house. I learned some surprising things! Did you know you can buy granite for as little as $6 a square foot? It’s true! Granite itself is not that expensive.


However.

Did you also know that the beautiful piece I found for $6 a sq ft was 72 square feet large and you have to buy the whole thing? It’s true. My kitchen would have required less than 30 sq ft. Yes, I could have done a bathroom later, and a nice laundry counter top, and possibly even sold the rest. But here’s the major catch: the material is not the expensive part. No, it’s all the labor that goes into making the nice edges, cutting it to perfection, installing seamless undermount sinks, and attaching them to your dang cabinets. I got a peek inside the shop where they do all that stuff. There’s some major equipment going on, with water squirting every which way and stuff spinning around, and I can understand why it’s so expensive.

So, after I got one quote for $1600 and another for $1800 (for my teensy kitchen!), I did a little more research to find out if I should spring for the shiny beauties despite their high price tag, you know, for resale. I searched home listings in my end of town. I searched in the price range of what I think my house is worth, and I searched in higher ranges too. Guess how many houses I found with granite counter tops? One.  My gut tells me that maybe in about ten or fifteen years, my ‘hood will be nice enough that people will start looking for things like granite counter tops and stainless appliances (assuming both of those things are still all the rage). My gut also tells me that in about ten years, I had better be making more money than I am now, so if I cannot sell my house due to its lack of granite counter tops, then I will buy them then. Or I’ll buy volcanic rock, or whatever the heck is going to be so totally in at that time.

Thing is, if I really, really loved granite counter tops, I would probably just bite the bullet and get them. I do like them and think they are stunning. However, with my dad knowing how to do laminate, there would be about a $1400-1600 price difference between the two. No thanks! I can think of approximately 648 things I would rather do with that much money. I would love to be brave and try concrete, but I’m soooo ready to have a kitchen back, and I don’t think my feeble heart could handle any mishaps. I would love to try pouring a concrete slab for an outdoor work table at a later date, though.

So all in all, I would venture to guess that I spent around $200 on my laminate counter tops. My dad knows how to do them and we were able to round up the tools we needed, which helps a ton. I’m not sure how much it would cost to have them installed. Maybe twice that? Even still, that doesn’t even begin to approach the cost of granite. Our house in Colorado had laminate counters, and I think they’re pretty dandy- easy to clean, smooth… I mean, you can’t set hot pans on them, but does anyone really do that anyway? I mean, if I had a granite counter top I would not set a hot pan on it. Maybe I’m weird. Seems like I would pick up the pan, and then right away I would forget and lean on the spot where the pan had just been, and scorch the crap out of my arm. So yeah- I think I can handle using a hot pad for setting down my pots.

The laminate I chose is a pretty simple design. The sample from the website looks pretty drab.

I like it because it doesn’t try to look like anything except laminate. I’m not a huge fan of laminate that tries to look like stone. I don’t hate it, but I don’t love it. I’m not really a snobby purist (in fact, I recently purchased a pretty fake-looking but entirely awesome gas log for 50% off!) but counter tops are just one area in which I think it’s pretty obvious if it’s granite or not, so who you tryin’ to fool? I dunno. Plus I’m trying to go as minimalist as possible for the major surfaces of the kitchen. Here is another crappy cell phone picture.

Check out my enormous faucet. Oh well, too late to change it now!

I tried to pick a counter that was similar to my floor tile, but lighter. According to my grandpa, I did a great job. (Thanks, grandpa.)

That being said, Formica has a new line of verrrry convincing laminates that mimic the patterns and “movement” of granite really well, if you’re into that sort of thing.

So what’s the consensus? Am I crazy for settling for laminate? Should I have tried harder to make granite or another solid surface work? Is laminate the unfairly under-rated underdog? C’mon, I can take it.

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