These Countertops Will Never Go Out of Style

Source: iStock

Source: iStock

If your kitchen needs a quick makeover but you can’t afford to make major renovations with expensive materials, you may want to think about alternative arrangements. Though all the home design shows on TV use natural stone—e.g. granite, marble, and slate—to finish off surfaces, most of us can’t afford such high-end investments. Do you really want to take out a home equity loan to pay for a kitchen counter? To make your interior design trendy, you don’t have to buy into the trends. Instead, with a little imagination, you can make old standards look modern and chic. When remodeling your kitchen, it’s economical to remember that ceramic tile countertops never go out of fashion.

Sleek, Clean, and Inexpensive

The best thing about tile counters is that their appearance matches their utility. There’s a reason they’re installed in so many bathrooms around the nation: they’re non-porous, heat-resistant, stain-resistant and easy to wipe clean. Plus, they come in any shape, size, or color to match any décor. And not only do they retain a modern look, they do so at a reasonable price. Depending on the dimensions and materials, most ceramic tile countertops cost around $5-10 per square foot (more or less depending on quality and quantity, so make sure to measure precisely before purchasing them). Then, all you have to really invest in is the installation, but a lot of work can be done on your own. If you already have a pre-existing substrate, much of the work is already taken care of.

Calling for Reinforcements

Tiling can be a do-it-yourselfer’s dream, since it only involves adhering material to a surface and waiting. Plus, it’s so cheap that if you make a mistake it’s no big deal. However, things can get a bit more complicated, especially if you have to build a new substrate. A lot of steps go into constructing a support system since you have to work around plumbing, appliances, outlets, pre-existing dimensions, and everything must still remain level, flush, and watertight. If building from scratch, think about hiring a contractor to do the dirty work. Also, tiling over an already-installed substrate causes its own dilemmas. Sometimes the areas are too big or not level. And you have to realize that putting another layer over a surface will raise it slightly, creating interference with sinks and appliances. You’re also going to be dealing with grout work, which can be a taxing job if you’ve never done it before. With this in mind, remember to call for reinforcements when needed.

Source: iStock

Source: iStock

Specialty Designs

The fun part about tile counters is their diversity. Though they’re all fairly inexpensive, easy to install, and appear sleek and chic, a lot can be done with them in terms of design. First, they can be placed on any surface to finish the look: walls, backsplashes, and even flooring. But for the actual counter space, many homeowners install tile counters in a seamless block style: it’s popular, uniform, and grout lines create an interesting lined design. But why not have fun with it? Buy two different colors and make a checkerboard pattern. Invest in several distinctive shades and break them up into small pieces before you install: a shattered effect can be a real head-turner. If your contractor is very skilled, they could even create a specific mosaic on the surface. Either way, these specialty designs take a lot of time and artistic ability, so make sure to hire someone you trust. If that person happens to be you, in order to prevent mistakes, make sure to practice on a separate piece of material or dry-fit them before gluing the overlay to the real thing.

Tile Counter Challenges

Of course, ceramic tile countertops aren’t absolutely perfect. There’s a reason they’re inexpensive and easy to work with. They may be durable in a lot of ways, but they can also chip or crack if heavy objects are dropped on them—which isn’t rare in kitchens. So it’s always a good idea when you buy materials that you invest in some extra squares in case replacement is needed (get about 5-10 percent more than you’re planning on using). Though tile counters are easy to wipe down, grout will eventually discolor and need repair: it’s an easy process, but affordable professionals are available to help with the cleaning should you not have the time for it. Tiles also get cold in the winter, perspire in the summer, and become slippery when wet, so don’t be afraid to warm them up with accessories, cutting boards, or rubber grips.

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