1. Granite cracks easily. While rock is inarguably a hard surface, it can also be very brittle and tends to fracture along mineral planes. The pretty sparkles of differing colors that make your granite countertop so beautiful represent zones of weakness -- thousands upon thousands of zones of weakness. A dropped bowl, a hot pan, excessive moisture or rapid temperature changes can all spontaneously cause a rupture along one of these many potential fracture zones and forever ruin the beauty of your countertop.
2. It’s very expensive. Sure, granite represents the current height of fashion, but tastes are forever changing and what looks fabulous today might be horribly outdated tomorrow. It’s expensive to purchase, it’s expensive to install and – reverting back to point number one – it’s expensive to replace in the event of a fracture.
3. Granite is ridiculously easy to stain. Don’t leave a basket of fruit on your countertop, or spill wine, tea or coffee on it. You’ll have a big black blob on your countertop for years to come. The acid in tomatoes and many other common foods can absolutely destroy the beauty of your granite surface. Even the steam from an espresso machine can mar the beauty of your granite, and unless you want to keep placing increasingly more bric-a-brac to camouflage the hideous stains that grow on your countertop year after year, then a rock countertop probably isn’t your best bet.
4. It’s horribly impractical. If you’re someone who wants to actually use their kitchen, you’ll soon discover that a granite countertop isn’t a food prep-friendly surface. In addition to the stains and inherent material weakness mentioned above, if you want to use your kitchen for something other than looking at, you’ll have to have a large number of cutting boards and plastic or glass shields to use as work surfaces.
5. Real estate values and future market projections don’t bear out the cost of remodeling with granite. Conventional wisdom states that high dollar kitchen remodeling projects pay back the homeowner about 70-90 percent return on investment (ROI), provided the cost of the kitchen remodeling project doesn’t exceed the cost of the home by about 15 percent. But with the current real estate market bubble correction, conventional wisdom flies out the window. According to the 2009 Cost vs. Value Report conducted by Remodeling Magazine the ROI for an upscale kitchen remodeling project has dropped to 63.2 percent, while smaller kitchen remodeling jobs have retained much of their value at 78.3 percent ROI.
We’ve been fortunate to have retained much of our home values in communities such as Homewood, Vestavia and Hoover, but one thing is clear, the market isn’t going up anytime soon.
The good news for folks who need to do some kitchen updating is that there are a number of viable alternatives available that are as beautiful, if not more so, than installing an overpriced granite surface. Let’s look at a few of the alternatives.
1. If you’re someone who loves to cook, you might consider a butcher’s block style counter. Butcher block counters are an extremely friendly alternative to a rock slab. While butcher block countertops can be as expensive as granite depending on the size, thickness and wood type you choose, it is a beautifully appealing and user friendly surface available at a variety of price points. Wood has all the natural beauty of rock and offers up a much more friendly work surface. If you drop a bowl or a glass on the counter, the counter won’t shatter, and you can readily set aside an actual working surface and use the butcher’s block as a cutting board that won’t dull your knives. If you burn, cut, gouge, stain or scar your butcher block countertop you can simply sand it down and easily restore it to looking like new.
2. Speaking of wood countertops, a beautiful and unique look can be had using wood as your countertop slab material. Wood is also budget friendly as you can use anything from oak to maple to burled walnut and even pine to cover your surfaces in. Wood countertops can be custom stained to match your décor and tastes and is easily protected by applying a coat of non-toxic food-safe grade finishing product such as H. Behlen’s Salad Bowl Finish.
3. There is almost nothing more stunning than a multi-colored tile mosaic countertop with a tin or copper splash guard. Tile is so versatile. It literally comes in a rainbow of colors, textures and sizes. You can even have granite, marble or sandstone tile installed. The good news about tile is that if you shatter or stain an area on your countertop it is easily and inexpensively replaced by merely replacing the damaged tiles. Would you rather spend a few hundred dollars to repair a damaged countertop or several thousand dollars to replace the whole slab?
4. If you really want to be avant garde, stained concrete countertops are exquisite pieces of art that easily surpass the beauty of granite and do it at a much less prohibitive cost. The concrete surface is resistant, tough and fully customizable. The best news about stained concrete countertop art is that replacing it isn’t so cost prohibitive that you’ll have to take out a second mortgage for or sell your first born son’s college fund.
When remodeling your kitchen you have a lot of different things you should be considering: What is your desired look? How functional do you want the room to be? Will you be using it as a family gathering place? How soon do you anticipate selling your house? Will your future finances allow you to easily replace damaged materials?
Use these questions as guidelines to determine if a granite countertop is really something you want to invest your kitchen remodeling dollars in, or if the cost of installing a granite countertop won’t be better spent on a different aspect of the remodeling project with a higher ROI or greater usability and eventual resale appeal.
Source: “Remodeling Cost vs. Value Report 2009-2010.” Remodeling Magazine. 2009. 10 Sept. 2010. www.remodeling.hw.net/2009/costvsvalue/national.aspx