Countertops on a Budget

So, you don’t have enough money for granite or quartz countertops. And maybe you do, but your house wouldn’t support it (you wouldn’t get your money back once it’s sold). Do you have to go with a cheap looking laminate?

Laminate isn’t all that bad. You can find laminate that looks like marble or a black laminate that could look nice on white cabinetry. I would suggest a square edge, though, to make it look more natural as opposed to a curved edge. Before choosing any laminate, order a larger size swatch from the manufacturer. I thought I’d found the right countertop…one that looked like a white marble. I ordered a 5X7 swatch and found out the pattern was herringbone. It would have looked horrible. 

After I had gotten my estimate for laminate, I went to Lowe’s and asked for an estimate for solid surface, granite, and quartz, just to compare. The granite and quartz was way out of my price range, but I could actually afford the solid surface. And when I saw them in the kitchens on their floor, I really liked it. It looked continuous with no obvious seams. I could get the square edge and it came in a beautiful white that looked like quartz. Laminate came in at $1900. I could get solid surface for about $1000 more. That included the cutouts for my sink and cooktop, as well as the plumbing for the sink and the removal of my old countertop. I decided on solid surface. I was also told that if it stains, I can buff out the stain, unlike laminate which would be stained permanently. 

I definitely made the right choice. I really loved how they turned out. I can’t even tell where the seams are. I was worried they’d stain easily, especially since I chose a white color, but I’ve been able to wipe up coffee spills and kool-aid spills with just water. I was given a special cleaner to use every so often, which will probably help too. I was told to use rubber feet on my small appliances like my toaster or any baskets or trays I keep on the counter to prevent scratching. The installer provided those. You can’t cut vegetables on it or set hot pans on it or it will scratch or stain. But the installer provided a piece of the countertop that I could use as a cutting board. I have used it and I don’t notice any scratches in it yet…although I would never take a chance on the actual countertop. But it was nice to get a cutting board to match the counter. 

I would like to say that when you get an estimate from Lowe’s, the sales people aren’t properly trained. So they will probably give you a low estimate, which will get you excited, and then add on things later that they forgot. So, make sure to look at the diagram they draw up closely. Remember that the sink and cooktop cutout cost extra. Removal of your old countertop costs extra. Plumbing the sink costs extra. So, ask a lot of questions.

Also, the installer that installed my countertops was pretty rough when he removed the old countertop, damaging my trim around the perimeter of my counter. He also didn’t finish the job when he said he would, so I had to mess up my plumber’s schedule who then showed up too early. He also didn’t finish the job, and didn’t want to come back the next day to finish, so I asked my handyman to help me finish the job. I told Lowe’s about all of this, though, and they reimbursed me $150 for the trouble and costs involved. I would definitely plan on the job taking at least a day if not more if you have a larger kitchen. 

The funny thing was when he removed the old countertop, we found out it was butcher block on one side. Just the one side, but had I known that, I may have tried to refinish it. You might want to check your counters for their material if they are painted like mine were. 

All in all, we got the mistakes figured out and I really like how the solid surface countertops turned out. They look beautiful and continuous with no seams. They are practical and easy on the budget. I’ve provided several photos for you to see for yourself.

Solid Surface Countertops
Solid Surface Countertops
Solid Surface Countertops
Solid Surface Countertops
Solid Surface Countertops
Solid Surface Countertops


  1. Ron Kesterke January 24, 2020 at 12:51 pm

    Very, very nice and tasteful!

    • Kara January 24, 2020 at 7:23 pm

      Thanks, Dad!!!