Depending on the material, installing a countertop can be a DIY project. While home improvement stores can provide you with the equipment and knowledge regarding how to install a laminate or engineered countertop on your own, there are some instances when a professional is needed. A professional, like a countertop contractor, is usually hired to install other materials, such as granite, soapstone, marble, concrete and quartz. These types of countertops can be more challenging to install on your own due to necessary skills needed as well as tools and equipment.
The countertop material and size of the countertops will greatly vary in price and labor installation costs. Detailed countertops, like tile, may take more time to install however there is a wide range of prices available for various types of tile. Granite or marble, with it’s high cost for materials, will also require a skilled installer to ensure a proper fit and design. Laminate countertops are generally the least expensive and are easier to install. When deciding whether to DIY or hire a professional for your countertop installation, consider the following factors before beginning your project.
Understand the scope of your project
If your kitchen or bathroom simply require a new countertop surface, and no other changes are being made, this would be considered to be an easy project. Countertop installations become more complicated when you have a countertop with more cut outs (for sinks or appliances), or require a backsplash with lots of custom cut outs. Working around other complicated design features like a pop-up ventilation system or odd angles can add more problem-solving time to the project. Before you decide to hire a pro or tackle this project on your own, understand what this project will entail and be honest about what parts you can DIY yourself.
When to install a countertop yourself
Installing a tile countertop is a fairly easy DIY project. It is a similar process as tiling you bathroom floor or any other part of your home. The most important thing is to try to make the grout as even with the tiles as possible and to properly seal the surface to prevent food or other items from staining the grout and causing bacteria to grow. Other countertop types such as plastic and laminate can also be DIY installations. Your local home improvement store can help you choose the right countertop type for your home, and cut the material so it’s ready for installation. While you may be determined to complete this project on your own, skipping certain steps during the process or running into mishaps and issues may call for hiring an expert.
When to hire a contractor
When you are using delicate or high-priced materials it is usually in your best interest to hire a professional contractor. Careful measuring, expertise and special tools are necessary to ensure a quality countertop installation. For instance, soapstone can break if it is not installed or cut properly. Contractors will bring a crew to assist with the project since materials usually weigh a lot and require heavy lifting. The following is a list of materials that may be required for your countertop installation:
- Belt sander
- Scribing tool
- Filing tool
- Handsaw, jigsaw, power saw
- Tape measurer
- Masking tape
Having a countertop expert provide you with these materials and service will also ensure that the slabs of material are properly secured and fit the space tightly. In addition to countertop installation, some remodeling contractors have plumbing knowledge as well as electrical expertise, which may be included in your project. Installing a new sink, adding a garbage disposal and dishwashers are examples of projects that may be involved in your countertop renovation.
Pros and cons of hiring a professional
While hiring a professional to do the work for you can make your project go smoothly, it may cost more. Depending on your contractor the cost of labor could be a flat rate, by the hour, or have additional costs for materials. A professional’s service may be outside of your designated budget, so before you hire a contractor or installer, make sure you can afford the service.
On the other hand, hiring a professional can have many benefits including making sure the job is done right. Signing a legal countertop installation contract and helping you accomplish your project within your desired budget and timeline will save you a lot of headaches. You and your contractor will be in a partnership, in which your contractor can help you throughout the entire scope of your project to ensure it is successful and meets your standards.
Kitchens or bathrooms refurbished with high-end materials, like new countertops, can help the resale value of a home. Potential home buyers may be thrilled about the material used, but they may not be so thrilled about the color or pattern selected. When you make improvements to a home, with plans to sell the property, think neutral and what the majority of potential home buyers prefer. Countertops vary in color, style, and strength. Keep this in mind as you choose your material and consider how long you are planning to have your countertop last and be of high quality. A durable material that is food-grade or coated in food-grade sealants must be used for longevity of the product.
For a project like this, a permit is often not required since it is a minor remodeling project that does not change the layout of a home. If only one surface is being replaced, this project should take no more than a couple of hours providing that no structural, plumbing or electrical issues arise.
Top Image Credit: Tiek Built Homes