What countertop to pick for our new kitchen has taken up a fair amount of time and consideration. At first, I was absolutely set on wood, it can look so very nice! We had actually priced out a wooden countertop at IKEA which was very reasonable in price, and nice looking, however apparently they didn't have it in stock at our local store. So then we had to start looking at other places, and it's rather difficult to find somewhat reasonable butcherblock counters.
But after thinking some more, and realizing that since we won't have a dishwasher, all washing will be done by hand, and wood certainly is a bit more sensitive towards water. So, as we don't want to constantly be on guard for possible water spots on the counter, we started thinking about other alternatives.
the starting point with Formica counters
Granite is relatively expensive and so is marble. Especially since we can't really install that ourselves, and we want to be able to do as much as possible on our own to keep costs down and try different projects. Although I absolutely adore Carrera marble and we did have that priced out, which was going to be around $1000 (very general pricing, could have turned out to be more), which wasn't terribly expensive, however a bit on the high side.
We're very set on only using natural materials, hence laminate, quartz and other such options went out the door. Then we turned to stainless steel: it's practical, sleek looking and will look really nice next to the white subway tile we're planning on putting on the wall. At first, we went to Home Depot and checked their prices: they quoted us $150/square foot installed - wow! That was a bit over our budget to say the least: even though we only have one pretty small counter it would be pricey.
At that point, thinking stainless would be too expensive, we were looking into buying large black granite tiles and basically tiling the counters. We did like this idea, however we still did prefer stainless steel and got a tip from a local flooring place to check out another local sheet metal place which also did some stainless steel work. This place sent out a guy and they gave us the much more reasonable quote of $400 for the whole counter, provided we did some of the job ourselves.
So, we will end up with stainless steel which I'm sure will turn out really nice, plus it will be less work for us than tiling the counter with granite.
So, the plan is this: leave the old Formica counters, and on top of it put down plywood (measured and cut properly to fit the sink hole) and on top of that put down stainless steel. We needed to get the plywood, measure and cut out the sink hole, then get this piece to the sheet metal place so they could fit the stainless steel properly on it, thereby getting a perfect fit. They won't actually adhere the steel to the plywood: we will get the plywood back as well as the fitted steel and then we will put the whole thing together ourselves. This method will raise our countertops by about 1/2 inch, but we don't mind that at all, we're both pretty tall, so if anything it's a good thing.