Consumers have many options when it comes to choosing a kitchen countertop. Two of the most common materials for countertops are granite and laminate. Each material offer certain advantages and disadvantages, though granite countertops are usually much more expensive than laminate countertops. Adding extra features to an installation project--such as special edges or an undermount sink--can quickly drive up the cost of a project involving both laminate and granite.
Having a granite countertop professionally installed will cost between $50 and $100 per square foot, depending on the features and complexity of the installation project, according to Countertops Key. For those who want a granite countertop but want to save money, granite tiles are another option. These square tiles cost around $30 to $50 per square foot--less than the cost of a solid granite slab--but generally you must install them yourself.
Having a laminate countertop professionally installed will cost anywhere between $25 and $50 per square foot, depending on the quality and features of the laminate. Do-it-yourself handy people can install laminate countertops themselves for an even more affordable price. Laminate sheets can be purchased from home improvement stores for as low as $3 to $5 per square foot.
Granite is a very hard material. On the Mohs scale of hardness, granite has been assigned a value of about 6.5, according to Granite Land, making it one of the hardest types of stone on the planet. Granite is also acid-resistant, stain-resistant and scratch-resistant, according to Natural Stone. The primary drawback of granite is its price.
Laminate countertops are also durable and are one of the least expensive countertop options available. A disadvantage to laminate is that it can be scratched or chipped and certain materials--such as inks or dyes--can permanently stain it.
Laminate countertops can be installed with relative ease by almost anyone. Granite countertops, however, should be installed by professionals despite the increased costs associated with installation. Granite countertops are some of the heaviest types of countertops on the market and a granite slab can weigh hundreds of pounds. Mishandling a granite countertop can result in injury. Granite tiles are much easier to handle than a granite slab, but they can be time-consuming to install. You also need to take into consideration the cost of other materials need to install the tiles, such as the adhesive, and the cost of renting a tile-cutting saw.
While they are much cheaper than granite countertops, laminate countertops are very difficult to repair if they become scratched or chipped. Something to keep in mind about granite is that because it is a natural material and each piece is unique, the product you get may look slightly different than the samples you see in the store.
The maintenance costs associated with both types of countertops are minimal. Granite countertops require a seal coating to prevent damage and staining, according to BobVila.com. A granite countertop should have a seal coating applied to its surface once every one to three years. Laminate countertops need very little maintenance, other than cleaning. Since they are prone to scratching, only non-abrasive cleaners should to be used.