“The money is in the kitchen. Everybody wants granite countertops,” says Marie Collins.
She would know. She’s sold over 72% more single-family homes than the average real estate agent in St. Cloud, Florida, making her an expert in what buyers are looking for.
Granite has come a long way. Once reserved for magnificent civic buildings such as the Statue of Liberty and the Pantheon in ancient Rome, by the 1980s granite became a favorite material for use as kitchen countertops. And these days, granite’s increased availability and affordability has made this material an option for many people, not just the elite.
With Collins’ expert advice and market research on buyer preferences, we’ll help you decide: Will granite countertops increase home value in your market?
Cost versus value: Are granite countertops worth it?
Granite countertops vary between about $40 per square for lower-grade granite and $100 per square foot for higher-grade granite, plus installation costs. The grade of the granite refers to the veins, markings, thickness, and other factors that characterize the quality of the stone.
The national average to purchase and install granite countertops is $3,250, according to HomeAdvisor, which can be over 10% of the cost of a full kitchen remodel, which stacks up to an average of $25,656.
However, if you’re considering remodeling just to sell, consider this: according to the 2022 Remodeling Impact Report by the National Association of Realtors®, only 13% of Realtors recommend a complete kitchen renovation when selling is the objective, while 30% of Realtors® suggest sellers complete at least some kitchen upgrade before attempting to sell their home.
So upgrading your countertops to granite or comparable materials could be all you need to increase your home’s value and enhance its position on the market. Just make sure your new countertops match the rest of your kitchen and there aren’t any major design or functionality issues, because one expensive update won’t change the fact that your kitchen needs work and buyers won’t be willing to offer more for it.
“I typically don’t suggest a seller to spend a large amount of money in order to sell their home,” Collins said. “It’s going to depend on the comparable homes in the neighborhood.”
If every other active listing in your area has granite countertops, it can be a wise choice to add granite countertops before you put your house on the market. But if comparable homes don’t have granite countertops, the cost of adding them likely won’t recover as easily, so inquire about this to your real estate agent.
Some buyers prefer to choose their own materials when moving into a new home, so brand new granite countertops won’t push them towards making an offer, whereas buyers looking for move-in ready homes are willing to pay a bit more for upgrades.
Granite countertop trends
Stone countertops weren’t always the focal point of kitchens. Through the 1970s, laminate counters were the choice for American homeowners.
Open-concept floor plans have been partially to thank for the emergence of countertops as an aesthetic feature over the past 30 years or so. According to GraniteSelection.com, granite officially hit the scene in the 1980s when legendary graphic designer Deborah Sussman remodeled a kitchen with granite countertops, and the New York Times described the style as “down-to-earth.”
In no time, countertops then began to evolve from a mere fundamental kitchen surface to a sweeping design staple indicative of style and wealth.
But, in the 1990s, more countries began to quarry, refine, cut, and ship granite to sell in America for a lower price. With increased production, higher volumes, and lower costs, granite countertops quickly became the must-have trend throughout the 2000s.
Granite’s many options
When it comes to granite, you have options galore. From the colors to the texture, it all depends on your particular needs and kitchen design, such as your cabinets, backsplash and floor style. With choices like dark gray or black to emerald green to white ice, granite colors and patterns can range from subtle and soft to bold and dramatic. And since granite is naturally occurring, it has a unique look.
If you want your granite countertops to increase home value, many homeowners and interior designers feel that a shiny, polished finish is the best route to go. Polish makes the stone pop, and it’s the least porous finish, making it easier to clean and maintain. But nowadays there are now other granite design trends that have their own unique benefits and are getting a foothold in 2022:
Honed and matte finishes
Breaking away from the typical shiny go-to nature of granite countertops, 2022 is seeing a trend that departs from shine with honed, matte finishes growing in popularity. But when you keep in mind that this type of finish requires more specific and consistent maintenance.
Darker and leathered designs
Similar to the honed and matte finish, leathered granite lacks sheen as well, but it is a more textured and rough surface. Though leathered granite is available in other shades like white and gray, the leathered finish is most popular in darker colors like black, which do an excellent job of concealing dirt. The drama and contrasting nature of darker colors seems to be a hit these days too, depending on your kitchen’s overall theme.
Neutral tones add warmth, never go out of style and can easily match the rest of your kitchen as long as they don’t depart from the overall color scheme. From beiges, to creams to soft greens and blues you have many options. Neutral tones are also likely to appeal to more buyers and increase the potential ROI when you sell your home.
Veins and patterns
There has also been a recent departure from more solid and consistent designs in countertops, in favor of granite’s naturally occurring patterns, veins, flecks of color and mineral deposits. These random elements add personality and can give your kitchen the oomph it needs to appeal to buyers.
Granite countertop alternatives
While granite is nowhere close to going out of style, there are some other options that could potentially be a better fit for your home:
Quartz, an emerging luxury countertop
When you are looking to increase home value, some consider quartz countertops to be a step up from granite in terms of luxury. Unlike one-hundred percent natural granite, quartz is an engineered and synthetic material, made up of 90 percent ground natural quartz mineral and 10 percent polyresin. Both granite and quartz are popular for their heat, stain, scratch and chip-resistant features.
Quartz is easier to maintain because it is less porous than granite and does not require regular sealing. Because quartz is engineered, it has a more consistent color and pattern, though many like the more random and unique design of granite, because no two granite slabs are exactly alike.
According to HomeAdvisor, the costs for quartz countertops ranges between $50 to $200 per square foot to install. For a standard kitchen, the whole project is likely to cost anywhere between $3,000 and $7,500, but installing quartz in a high-end kitchen can have a cost closer to $12,000.
Butcher block, a cheaper but trendy countertop option for 2022
Butcher block tends to be less expensive than granite, but can also increase home value. This countertop material is made of wood so it also has a variety of unique styles and patterns to choose from.
According to Fixr, a butcher’s block countertop itself will cost between $1,050 and $1,500, and the entire project altogether will be between $1,320 and $1,820.
Maximize ROI with these 3 tips for selecting and installing granite countertops
Granite countertops come in different widths, colors, patterns, and finishes. Choose the right one to secure the maximum return on investment when you sell your house. Remember these 3 tips to ensure your granite countertops will increase home value:
Select the slab in person to confirm the pattern and colors
“Granite is a natural stone and each piece is unique, so it’s important to see the slabs that you are selecting in person and be happy with how they appear,” says Katie Peralta, the president of one of the largest importers of natural stone and other building products in the country, Tritan Stone Group.
She adds, “You want the slabs to be free of any defects and make sure that the movement that the natural stone has is what you are looking for.”
Many times, the slab you see in a showroom isn’t the same one that’ll be delivered to your house. Request to approve the exact slab before it’s delivered so you know exactly what you’re getting.
Pick 3-cm thick slabs for aesthetic appeal
Stone slabs come in different thicknesses — typically 2 centimeters, 3 centimeters, or even up to 5 centimeters. The thickness is chosen based on the particular room and purpose for which the granite is being used.
The most common choice (and our recommendation) for a kitchen countertop is to go with a 3-centimeter slab because it:
- Doesn’t require extra support
- Won’t run you as much as the thicker options
- Creates the kitchen aesthetic buyers are looking for
“The durability isn’t reflected in the thickness,” Peralta says. “However, most kitchens are done in 3 cm for the aesthetic appeal of a thicker edge.”
Work with an experienced granite fabricator and installation company
Find experienced professionals to cut, finish, and install your granite countertops. If granite counters aren’t installed correctly, they are more prone to cracks, chips, and stains.
Care for granite countertops to maintain value
Your granite countertop could last the lifetime of your kitchen, but only if you care for them properly. Granite is fairly low maintenance but there are a few essential steps you need to take to keep it in tip-top shape so it will increase the value of your home when it sells:
- With daily cleaning, use soap and warm water and a soft cloth, not a coarse sponge.
- If you need a more powerful cleaner, such as after a greasy spill, there are cleaners specifically recommended for granite on the market, such as Seventh Generation Mandarin Orchard Granite & Stone Cleaner, or WEIMAN® Granite Cleaner and Polish. The number one rule of thumb is to use a pH neutral cleaner, and avoid acidic cleaners like ammonia, vinegar and bleach.
- Use consistent sealant. Granite countertops are prone to staining when they come in contact with heat or moisture. Apply a sealant from your local hardware store at least once a year, and more frequently if large spills or strong chemicals are often touching the surface of your countertops.
- Get in the habit of using trivets or hot pads, as well as coasters, underneath foods and beverages to preserve both the countertop and sealant.
Granite countertops add value, but they aren’t every buyer’s #1 choice
Granite is affordable, easy to maintain, and always in style. But keep in mind there are other countertop options out there as well, and granite may not be every buyer’s first choice.
When you get ready to sell your house, you must make sure that money spent on upgrades are recovered in the sale price. So talk to a top-rated real estate agent in your area to determine if this update will increase your home value before you decide to install granite countertops. Your real estate agent can tell you if comparable homes on the market boast upgraded finishes and if buyers in your area favor granite countertops over a customizable, blank slate.
If all signs point to yes, choose granite or another comparable material mentioned above that aligns with your budget and the rest of the kitchen’s features. And as always, work with experienced professionals who can get the job done right.
Header Image Source: (Sarah J / Pexels)