Monday, October 1, 2012

Step 27 - Countertops

Countertops are the obvious partner of cabinetry.  However, I'm describing them as two separate steps because they're different scopes that can have unconnected craftspeople.  When you visit a big home improvement retailer, you'll see all the cabinet and counter samples displayed in the heart of their respective Kitchen Departments because they go together.  Home Depot and Lowe's would love for you to sign them up for everything in your kitchen (Steps 26 & 27), but it doesn't have to be that way.  Keep this in mind and don't be misled by remarks that insinuate some unspoken industry expectation of cabinets and tops always being purchased/installed together as a team.  Or plainly stated, be alert to comments like, "You need to buy it all from us.  This is just how it's done.", "We always do the cabinets and countertops in the houses we do,"  or "Every cabinet shop does all the mill work and tops in the entire house."

To take this point a step further, I'll add that it's not too tough for a DIYer to find someone to do all the cabinetry and counter work, have it completed in a few work days, and then write a check before moving onto the interior doors.  I've done it this way many times myself, but when you're trying hard to stretch your budget (and actively playing the part of the do-it-yourself rehabber) you need to at least realize that paying two separate tradespeople for cabinets and counters is a possibility.  And also keep in mind that it might even help you more to break it down further by considering the kitchen cabinets and their counters as one thing and the bathroom vanities with their tops as something else.  There's more than one way to skin a cat and it's okay to deal with your cabinets and countertops in whatever way works best for your rehab and your bottom line.

And finally, understand that this separation of the cabinets and tops is not just a dollars and cents issue.  You may have a great option to complete Step 26, but maybe this cabinet contractor doesn't install the type of top you've planned for (i.e. granite, marble, tile, etc.).  Don't settle for something if it's not really what you want.  For example, finding yourself saying, "Since our cabinet guy does laminate I guess we'll just go with that instead of the countertops we really wanted."   One trades person can usually do it all, but it may be more economical (and a better match for your vision) if you think of cabinets and tops as two separate scopes of your project.  Link Steps 26 and 27 together if you can, but don't do it because you think you have to.

I'm not going to get into the details of how best to install them, etc.  because Step 27 is something I typically prefer to hire out.  I've done a few kitchen counters myself, but it's not something I'm highly skilled at.  If you can do you're own I'd say "Go for it," but if not just keep in mind what I've said regarding the relationship between cabinets and tops along with my advice in previous posts; ask questions, spend some time getting more knowledgeable, and work hard to get multiple quotes. 

Top Ten Kitchen Countertops at About.com

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