OK, so you're tired of your kitchen, your counters; you want a change. Perhaps you're remodeling your whole kitchen, or you just want to tackle the counters. Either way, you want something that's not going to cost you $5000, and that will make a big difference. So let's take a look at what different options you have here - actually doable options that don't cost a fortune.
Well, it's pretty obvious that I put stainless steel counters on top of this list, because that's what we did in our kitchen.
But really, if you have a simple counter to work with and you can find a local sheet metal shop, then this is a great option. Of course, you could use any kind of applicable sheet metal here, it doesn't have to be stainless steel. Copper would make one excellent alternative, especially if you like the warm look of copper (many bars utilize this method for their bar counter for example), and wouldn't a warm copper counter look just awesome next to white cabinets and oil rubbed bronze hardware? Another option is zinc which would create a darker look which would add lots of character.
Tiles (budget granite or marble counter)
This was our other alternative which we were planning on going for, if the stainless steel didn't work out. In a local tile place we had found some gorgeous 18 inch x 12 inch stone tiles which would have fit perfectly to place sidewise along the counter. That way, one tile could have covered the whole depth of the counter, and there would have been a lot less cuts to make. We were primarily looking at a black granite tile (which would have matched our checkerboard floor perfectly), however there were also some wonderful marble tiles (I do love carrera!) which would have been so nice.
Of course, you wouldn't even have to go for stone tile if you were really on a budget, there are lots of great looking ceramic tiles which with the right grout could look oh so sleek. This is a pretty affordable option, even if you spend a few hundred dollars on high quality stone tile and you either have/buy/rent/borrow a tile cutter, then all you need is adhesive and caulk. So basically a way to get a marble or granite counter for a whole lot less.
One thing though: no matter what type of tile you're going for, I would really recommend going for a dark grout, and small grout lines on a counter, hence black granite is a really good option because it would look great with black grout. You don't want light grout lines because they will get dirty, and it will show, and it won't be pretty.
perhaps a Mediterranean feel in the kitchen?
OK, so this was our third option. Who can resist wooden counters? Especially if they are well oiled / or have a lot of layers of polyurethane so they are water resistant and durable.
IKEA carries a few very reasonably priced counters (IKEA Numerar solid beech counter is priced at $89 for a 49 5/8" x 25 5/8" piece)and if you don't mind putting this together yourself and possibly doing some cutting and fitting everything together, then this can be a really good way to go. Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately because our stainless steel counters really worked out) our local IKEA were out of stock of these counters, but if you could get a hold of them, then this would be a good option. Another alternative would be to check out your local lumberyard or wood shop since they might have some reasonable prices and good deals.
Old Solid Wooden Doors
Now this is a new one for me. Elizabeth from The Mustard Ceiling actually used old solid wooden doors from Habitat for Humanity to create these awesome looking kitchen counters - what a great idea!
If you have a counter that isn't longer than the length of a door, then why not go this route. Of course, you'll have to find the right door(s) and then strip / sand and refinish it (them), but you will have a piece of history as your counter and you could stain it any shade you'd like. If you're not afraid of doing some work yourself, then this is a really interesting (and unique!) idea.
Concrete / Clay Paint
This is a technique which utilizes a form of clay filler called Béton Ciré/Tadelac that you put on top of a wooden / mdf counters. Isabelle over at DosFamily created some gorgeous kitchen counters with this particular product.
She first cut out parts in mdf boards, cut out a hole for the sink and made sure it fit right. Then she applied two coats of this clay filler and then topped everything with a a coat of wax oil. The result is lovely: rustic, substantial, practical. What I really like about this method is how easy and doable this appears to be, and if you currently have old wooden counters, you could just sand them down and paint right on top of them. I would be curious if you could use this product right on top of laminate counters?
So these are a few budget countertops idea. Anyone else have any cool affordable countertop ideas?