The truth of the matter is, I’ve been shopping for a new countertop for a long time, since maybe June of 2009, being only weeks after I had moved into this house, and maybe or maybe not even in the months before I closed and had way too much time on my hands to stress out about how to design around a blue-themed kitchen (little did I know it was just all of the blue walls in the kitchen reflecting upon the counter at that time, it really has no blue in it at all but 4 shades of blue walls might have that effect on any room).
Had I not come to the decision to scrimp and save and buy a brand new white countertop for my kitchen, I probably never would have bothered to stain the cabinets dark brown in the first place, so it’s a good thing they turned out nicely since I’m already set on a mission to make my kitchen look like Nick and Risa’s, minus the sweet hardwood floors:
Right, in a dream world it’ll get to that point, but it’s slow going since I’m doing it in stages while saving money and making modest updates myself instead of bringing in Alison Victoria and the Kitchen Crashers crew. As of now, I’ve taken care of replacing the floors and staining the cabinets, and the new counter will be the (almost literal) icing on the cake.
It wasn’t a difficult decision to lock in on buying a solid surface countertop; solid countertops are man-made acrylic, yet a bit more desirable than laminate (which is what we have now) and still generally less expensive than the quartz/marble/granite route with less maintenance. I’m an easy sell, a girl on a budget, and to be quite honest, I’m not all that crazy for colorful flecks, sparkles, and the swirls that so many ornate (and more expensive) countertops embrace these days, so the solid color solid surface options by Corian, GE, Staron, and Lowe’s own allen & roth were insta-appealing, and nothing won me over more. Color me simpleton. That’s not to say that a Calcutta Marble countertop wouldn’t look outstanding like what my old boss’s has done to her house, and granite that swirls every color of the rainbow certainly does hold a special place in the kitchen world (I admired some pretty natural slabs during my countertop exploration phase, and then had dreams of winning the lottery for weeks on end) – it’s just not right for us, in this house, with its current design.
As a consumer, what you wouldn’t realize until you start popping around your local big box pricing displays is that even the price of solid surface flecked or patterned countertops can climb in price, rapidly reaching $45-$70+/square foot and by that point, you might want to start weighing the options of the less expensive granite and marble. It’s a good thing that I knew I liked white and wasn’t even considering going into a more ornate direction because solid white is as inexpensive as it can come, and I’m talkin’ white-white, not the comparably inexpensive solid taupe and solid almond varieties of the same material, both of which sort of make me feel like I’ve crawled into a neutral beige world of beigey-beige. Issues.
In any case, considering what I’ve learned, solid surface countertops have tons of perks, including but not limited to being:
- non-porous, which also means that it’s moisture, stain, and germ resistent.
- easy to clean (so clean-clean) and doesn’t require special sealants.
- professionally installed with great warranties (sometimes transferrable).
- the only substance capable of having a built-in sink (if you’re looking for that route).
- often on promotion.
Straight-up Corian was my number #1 choice for many years just as Kleenex might be considered my preferred brand of tissue, and priced at just $38/foot at my store, the solid white Corian by DuPont wasn’t going to push me over my budget (which I had capped around $1,800 for our approximately 42 sq. ft. countertop that winds around 3 walls in our kitchen). It wasn’t until I actually sat down with an associate in a marathon 3-hour price comparing session that I found that Lowe’s allen & roth white solid surface countertop was, ahem, almost identical in construct, installation, and benefits to the more premium branded Corian. An acrylic countertop is just that, an acrylic countertop, and considering that nearly every product I buy at Wegmans is Wegmans-branded, not name-branded, it seems appropriate that I’d be latching onto the savings associated with the sale. Where I can recall it differing was in the terms of the transferrable warranty, in the sink installation costs, and ever so slightly in the color (a quick moment of “which brand white is more white, arctic white or glacier white?” was had in the store under completely inadequate fluorescents, and ironically, the one that I chose was just named “white”).
My brief education on the allen & roth line taught me a lot in the way of solid acrylic surfaces; Corian is a leader much in the same way as Kleenex and Band-Aid brands are, but the allen & roth product is offered at a lower price point than the larger competitors because Lowe’s has only honed in only providing the most popular of the solid surface colors, and with fewer options and being under the store’s own private label, the pricing becomes very desirable, and in my case, knocking over $300 off the cost between Corian and Allen & Roth, and with the product promising the same stain-free, germ-free, free sink, easy to clean, warrantied, and invisible seamed surface. I couldn’t say no, and went for it. And just another thing, we might not be in this house another 5 years and would a solid surface countertop really go from new to destroyed in that short of a time? Right, our laminate is easily 10 years old and still in great shape, I’ll pocket that $300 thank-you-very-much.
A few facts:
- I was not able to use a store credit card to obtain a 5% discount, nor was I able to use a 10% off coupon that I had on hand. I’m told this was because the countertop installation costs included labor, and labor is never able to be discounted. I begged for a discount too, but maybe not aggressively or convincingly as other people I see finding loopholes and scoring extra savings on their countertops, so I paid full-price.
- The cost of the countertop is considered eligible for a home improvement tax deduction because it’s not something that we’ll take with us when we leave, meaning I can write off the expense with my taxes. I don’t write off project costs normally for the blog, if you’re wondering.
- Sinks are commonly presented as a value-add for acrylic countertops; it’s the only material that is capable of having a solid surface integrated sink, and most companies also offer deals on stainless undermounts which is the direction we ended up going. More on why we made that decision later, but what you need to know is that the install on that sink is not “free” and also not included in your cost/sq. foot. The brands I quoted between varied in charging between $220-$290 for the sink installation on top of the countertop costs.
- Our timeline for installation is still a few weeks out. Wheee! Check back soon!