Update backsplash and leave formica counters?

BhamsterMarch 19, 2013

We are considering moving sometime in the next year or two. A real estate agent who viewed our home and saw that our kitchen was very nice except for the formica counters and backsplash (yes, they ran the formica right up the wall), has suggested that we could just do the back splash in a tumbled stone travertine and leave the countertopss alone since they are unstained, unscratched, etc.

I find it hard to believe someone would think that just doing the backsplash is sufficient, but what do you think? Hate to spend very much on this project, but want to get a good price on the house.

I think improving the laminate from the cheapest gray presently there to something like Bella Capri by Wilsonart would look much nicer, but the agent advises against that. I'd be very happy with it myself if we were staying, but you think others wouldn't?

Another question is how to get a good price on this job. The agent had recommended a handyman who could do anything--but when I called him I discovered that he's a contractor. He just quoted us $3650 for the whole thing, which is much more than we wanted to spend. (He's including new sink, faucet, etc. but our sink is actually fine. Can we get away with not upgrading the sink?)

Edited to add photo (thanks for the advice!)

Here is a link that might be useful: Wilsonart Bella Capri

This post was edited by Bhamster on Tue, Mar 19, 13 at 14:38

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greg_2010

Pictures will get a lot more responses on what to improve (if anything).

    Bookmark   March 19, 2013 at 2:08PM
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kirkhall

I'd just do the backsplash. Then, you don't need to fuss with new sink, etc.
Some of the wilsonart laminates cost as much as some of the granites. Think about it that is what you really want to do. Personally, if the laminate is in good shape, and granite isn't required in your area (which it doesn't seem like it is, if your RE agent isn't worried about upgrading it), then just do the backsplash.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2013 at 2:32PM
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brickeyee

"Some of the wilsonart laminates cost as much as some of the granites."

And still look like laminate.

If the agent is familiar with your area the recommendations may have some value.

They should have an idea of what you are likely to be competing against when you try to sell.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2013 at 2:41PM
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Bhamster

I guess I should have added that the agent also threw out: "But get a price on the granite too since you don't have that much counter space"--implying that it would be inexpensive.

There was quite a difference in price when we last priced the Bella Capri vs. granite--but that was last year and prices seem to keep changing. I actually really like the look of Bella Capri because the slightly pinkish tone in it looks very good with the cabinets--but I don't want to do anything others would hate.

Our subdivision is probably 10 years old and it seems all the houses were built with formica or upgraded with Corian. Those who are selling seem to either have the original Corian or are upgrading to granite. Not everyone, but most that I've seen.

This post was edited by Bhamster on Tue, Mar 19, 13 at 15:21

    Bookmark   March 19, 2013 at 2:51PM
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kirkhall

If you have only a little countertop space, consider looking at granite remnants. You might be able to find something for $50/sq ft installed without too much difficulty (not at a big box store. Find a real granite installer).

Your cabinets looks to be in great shape, so upgrading to granite would probably be a fine idea.

I'd not "upgrade" to a new laminate though. Either keep what you have, or move to granite. Peeling it off the BS is a good idea though, and adding a simple tile would be easy/inexpensive. Again, with a real tile person, not a contractor.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2013 at 3:21PM
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Bhamster

That's a good idea about looking for remnants. There are several granite places in town we could viist/call to ask. And I'll ask around for suggestions on an installer.

And about the backsplash: do you agree with the agent who wants us to do the subway-style tumbled stone "because that will never go out of style!"? I'm not so sure...

    Bookmark   March 19, 2013 at 5:09PM
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live_wire_oak

Tumbled stone has been out of style now for several years. But, if you live in the heartland of America, your buyers may not have gotten that memo. It's still hot here, but we're behind the coastal style mavens by a couple of years. If you want to be more fashion forward, once you find a granite remnant to work with, pull one of the colors out of it for a simple ceramic 3x6 subway tile backsplash. And perhaps choose a slight shade darker for your wall color as well. Not a dark color at all, but darker so that your woodwork will not blend in so much and you'll notice it.

Do get some more opinions from additional real estate agents and have them run a CMA for you so you can figure out how much cost vs. return might be appropriate in your neighborhood.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2013 at 6:13PM
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ncrealestateguy

The subway tile is in now... it does not matter about later.
Santa Cecelia granite would look super with your cabinets, and is one of the better values out there. It is nuetral enough to be attractive to most people, and it is an inexpensive cut.
Stay away from pink tones!!! You like them but most buyers will not, and you will negate all motives for installing it.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2013 at 6:14PM
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sheilajoyce_gw

I agree. Stay away from pink.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2013 at 6:22PM
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palimpsest

It's pretty neutral and innocuous and I would probably leave it as is until you got substantial potential buyer feed back that the kitchen counters were the reason they weren't going to offer on the house.

The house I bought was pulled off the market and the powder room was converted into a 3/4 bath and I think it was on the Realtor's advice. The listing accidentally went back on right after demolition and there were two offers, mine and someone else's both of whom said "Please Stop with the 3/4 bath" and we both offered less than we would have had the house been left alone. There was a big to-do with the sellers and I believe the Realtor ate the cost of the entire 3/4 bath out of his commission. (I don't know this for a fact but during the proceedings and from comments made by both agents to me and between each other that I overheard, something like this happened).

    Bookmark   March 19, 2013 at 9:49PM
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pamghatten

As a buyer, I'd prefer to pick/install my own countertops if the counter is formica, and I don't like granite .. not everyone does.

Someone else said to wait and see what feedback you receive ... I'd wait.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2013 at 12:26PM
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Bhamster

As far as the pink--I hesitated on using that word, but I only meant the slightly rosy tone you'll find in some tropic brown granite that picks up the same color tone in our cabinets. Not going with real pink.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2013 at 3:28PM
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LuAnn_in_PA

"As a buyer, I'd prefer to pick/install my own countertops if the counter is formica, and I don't like granite .. not everyone does.

Someone else said to wait and see what feedback you receive ... I'd wait."

Yep - that's what I was thinking too!

    Bookmark   March 20, 2013 at 3:53PM
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gmp3

If you do granite, call several granite installers, they may have remnants that will be affordable, when we did our last kitchen quotes from reputable companies varied as much as 200%! If you can sneak in when they aren't busy you get a deal.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2013 at 11:35PM
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brickeyee

What do other houses in your price range have?

It is a competition to get a buyer.

    Bookmark   March 25, 2013 at 8:23AM
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tinan

I'd just take off the formica backsplash and paint the wall, the buyer can put in whatever tile they want- if they want.

The countertops, you will get a lot more attention to the kitchen if you put in even the cheapest granite. If you can afford it and want to sell fast, consider it. But changing to new formica won't give you any advantage in selling.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2013 at 8:42PM
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nosoccermom

Yes, to tinan's advice. Remove Formica backsplash. Find out how much the cheapest granite would be (and stay away from the pinkish ones). In my area, HD offers 29.00/sqft installed for Uba Tuba as do other fabricators.

Maybe put a SS panel behind the range and paint the rest of the wall. And don't use travertine (see related posts on GW).

    Bookmark   March 29, 2013 at 10:42AM
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Bhamster

We went to a nearby granite place yesterday and were amazed at how inexpensively we could now get granite (compared to a few years ago). We are between uba tuba and tropic brown. If we ended up staying in our home, I'd like tropic brown, but the uba tuba is $200 less and seems to be the most popular with customers.

For a backsplash I would get some kind of simple honed travertine (NOT tumbled), perhaps in a herringbone pattern.

What do you think?

    Bookmark   April 3, 2013 at 1:21PM
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nosoccermom

Yes, for Uba Tuba.
Is travertine "hot" in your area? In mine, it's rather the smaller glass/slate mosaic (more contemporary), dirt cheap at Home Depot, or subway tiles.

Here is a link that might be useful: glass tiles

    Bookmark   April 3, 2013 at 1:29PM
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Bhamster

This is where it's becoming difficult for me: as we're now waffling about moving--trying to stay another year or two and every time we go out house hunting, we like our house better--it's just that we don't care for our location that much.

If we ended up staying, I'd want tropic brown and some very simple backsplash. I know Uba Tuba is popular, but I've read it streaks and is hard to keep clean. I also think that small glass backsplash is going to look really dated in a few years.

Do you think tropic brown would be a deal killer or would still be considered an improvement?

    Bookmark   April 3, 2013 at 1:46PM
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Bhamster

Here's a picture of the kind of simple back splash I'd like--and that counter top actually looks like the Wilsonart Bella Capri that I like but no one else (here) does.

So try to imagine that as tropic brown instead...

    Bookmark   April 3, 2013 at 2:01PM
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nosoccermom

Agree that glass mosaic will look dated very soon, so that's probably out unless you sell within 1 year.
The cabinets you show above are different from yours. Were you thinking about gel staining yours darker?
Can you get a sample of either granite and see what looks better with your cabinets in your light at home? There may be yellow or pinkish undertones, which may be more tricky with brown than black.
You could also skip the backsplash, at least for a while.

Below tropic brown granite. If you're thinking about staying in your house, I'd get what YOU like; tropic brown is not so unusual that it would be a "deal killer." It looks nice, and I'm usually not a brown person.


    Bookmark   April 3, 2013 at 2:59PM
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Bhamster

The picture I included today was only to show the back splash, not that I want the cabinets like that.

Really like that top photo of yours with the simple back splash.

I do intend to take a cabinet drawer face with us when we choose a slab to make sure it coordinates. The tropic brown that has a slightly pinkish tone (I know that's a bad word here!) looks better than the tropic brown that's more flat brown.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2013 at 3:06PM
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Bhamster

Deleting duplicate post.

This post was edited by Bhamster on Wed, Apr 3, 13 at 15:17

    Bookmark   April 3, 2013 at 3:14PM
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autumn.4

bhamster-do what you like - my only comment is that I have uba tuba and don't have any streaking problems. Not sure if that is helpful or not but I wipe it up just like I used to my old laminate and it's fine. Just thought I'd share my experience with it.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2013 at 9:26PM
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Bhamster

Thanks for that, Autumn. My husband really likes uba tuba so it's not out of the running.

We both loved how it looked outside with the sun shining on the slab--indoors does it still have that depth and interest to it? Or will it look more solid black?

I guess I"m a little shy of black because I hate my black stove top that is SO hard to keep clean.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2013 at 10:43PM
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nosoccermom

i think the advantage of Uba Tuba is that you wouldn't have to worry about whether it matches the brown and the various undertones. Also would allow to pick a wider range of wall paint colors. (However, since it's not solid black like a stove top, it's easier to keep looking clean.)

    Bookmark   April 4, 2013 at 10:17AM
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Bhamster

To NSM and A4: I woke up in the middle of the night with pictures in my head of the kitchen with tropic brown and then with uba tuba, and I could see uba tuba looked much better.

Wanted to wake my husband up to let him know the good news that I had decided on uba tuba--but I refrained. ;-)

    Bookmark   April 4, 2013 at 11:38AM
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tinan

I think with your cabinets the Uba Tuba will look great!

    Bookmark   April 5, 2013 at 12:07AM
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nosoccermom

Agree, and it's more versatile and will go very well with your range.

Here is a link that might be useful: black counters/what backsplash?

    Bookmark   April 5, 2013 at 11:56AM
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