Selling. Should we replace laminate with granite?

gwentMarch 28, 2008

REA suggests we replace kitchen laminate counters with an inexpensive granite before we put hs on market. Where is a good source for "low cost granite"? We are in Mass.and granite is common everywhere. Big Box? Not sure we will recoup costs but she assures us that upgrading kitchen is essential. Thanks

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calliope

I am so sick of seeing granite counters I could just spit. I look at the money involved to do an installation and just think of all the other things it could have been spent on. This craze has been around just about long enough, I'm wagering that within a year, it's going to be some other material and a lot of prospective buyers will say......oh geeze......look it's granite and we need to update this kitchen. LOL.

I guess whether you should go granite depends on a lot of factors.......doesn't mean there aren't materials more durable, just as lovely and not as exorbitant. If you are selling to a specific market, then it may be the best move.......but I keep thinking green shag carpet. Back when I bought my first home, it was in absolutely every house we looked at. I swore I'd never buy a home with it, but guess what? I bought at least three. The first one I found where I needed to install new carpeting you can guess what it wasn't.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2008 at 3:21PM
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mfbenson

I'd say it depends on what the condition of the laminate is - if its like new I wouldn't replace it. And even if it does need replacing, there are other materials besides granite to consider.

"low cost granite" is an oxymoron. There's expensive and exhorbitant. That's about it.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2008 at 3:44PM
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kartwheel

I don't know if you should replace your counters, but the kitchen forum should be able to direct you to lower cost granite

Here is a link that might be useful: kitchen

    Bookmark   March 28, 2008 at 4:04PM
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cindyb_va

They make granite "tiles", which are much cheaper than a granite slab countertop...you might want to consider that...if you agree with your agent. Personally, I am not a fan of granite countertops and would probably pass on a house that had them, if I was in the market.

Another type of countertop I saw recently was an engineered [man-made] stone, which is a mixture of quartz and resin. I thought it was much prettier than granite. Not sure if it was cheaper, but probably worth a "google".

    Bookmark   March 28, 2008 at 4:15PM
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sue36

Whether you should do this depends on a number of factors. What is typical for your town and neighborhood? What is the condition of the cabinets, kitchen and house?

I ask this because it makes no sense to put granite on cabinets that are in need of replacing or in a kitchen that is in need of gutting. Unless granite is a "must have" in your neighborhood, you might be able to get away with new laminate counters. With the leftover money you could do a lot of other things that will make the house ready for sale (painting, etc.), if you need to do those things.

Uba Tuba is a (relatively) inexpensive granite. It is dark green with black and gold flecks. My cousin in Mass. has used it in every house he has built, all $1m+ houses, and no one ever had an issue with it. It looks good with maple cabinets, actually with most wood cabinets. Most people just notice there is granite. The people that care what granite you use are likely the same people that will want to gut the kitchen, and nothing will make them happy (I'm one of those people, I admit). If you do granite I would recommend you stay about from the crazy swirling ones and the ones with a lot of pink or peach.

Engineered granite, Caesarstone, etc., are actually more expensive than the less expensive granites. And for most people they do not have the cachet of granite. I have Caesarstone in a bathroom and love it.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2008 at 5:17PM
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ladynimue

Go to the granite yard and ask for remnants. Very good prices on those. You'll be charged to smooth the edge and for installation, unless you install yourselves.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2008 at 9:41PM
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mariend

Just yesterday, some of the people on HGTV stated that granite is going out of style as people are getting tired of it. I know I don't care for it, but then when my son in law finished our kitchen, he used a good laminite base that I can put hot dishes on etc and it looks brand new and it is 7 years old.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2008 at 10:08PM
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celticmoon

Get an estimate and offer an allowance for that much.

I'm not a fan of granite and as a buyer, I would rather have choice over that kind of outlay.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2008 at 1:17AM
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marys1000

From a resale point of view granite may be a good thing I don't know.
But I've always hated granite, not just tired of it, never liked it. Maybe a countertop allowance?

    Bookmark   March 29, 2008 at 6:08AM
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linda117117

I think it depends on what other homes in your price range have. If you are talking about a higher end home, people expect certain upgrades in those homes and granite is one of them. If you are talking about a 1960's or 70's raised ranch then the majority of homes in that price range won't have granite and its not necessary.

Granite tiles are an inexpensive way to get the look of granite without spending a fortune and I think you can tile right over the counter top. (check that)

    Bookmark   March 29, 2008 at 8:48AM
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akrogirl

I tend to agree with Celticmoon and Marys1000 on this one. We had a mid-range granite picked out for our old house (in a reasonably upscale neighborhood), which went beautifully with the cabinets. Since we were waiting on installation, we put out a little sign on the existing counter with a sample of the granite. Well, the house sold before the installation, which was just as well since the buyer didn't want the granite anyway!

Counter-tops seem to be a very personal thing and, even if someone does like granite, their taste may not be the same as yours.

It might be helpful to post a few pictures here to get some other ideas for economical updates. This forum has some real geniuses in that department :-)

    Bookmark   March 29, 2008 at 3:15PM
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Happyladi

Like others said it depends on many things. But can you tell us what condition your present countertops are in? If they are bad and you are in a mid range home you might update them with a nice looking laminate countertop.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2008 at 4:56PM
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gwent

Thanks for the input. We live in MA and house should sell in the $400-$500K range and granite is pretty expected/standard for this price house in this town. The maple cabinets and tile backsplash are fine but REA thinks upgrading the counters would help. She also suggested replacing the sheet vinyl to tile but I;m less sure about that.
I checked out Lowe's today for their cheapest granite. $56 sq ft (inc installation and fabrication). Im going to talk to a couple more REA and see if I hear the same suggestion and take it from there.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2008 at 6:03PM
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chisue

If granite is expected in your town and price range, you probably need to get it. You may not recoup the cost, but your house may not sell without it. Many buyers have no imagination about what they could do with a house, and many don't want the hassle of doing anything.

If your buyers might be older, think twice about hard tile for the kitchen floor. My joints and bones prefer wood.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2008 at 6:11PM
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gammyt

gwent, between those two suggested upgrades, unless your laminate counters are a mess, you would get more bang for your buck doing the floor and it would cost the least. If your countertops are a mess, do a nice laminant.

Personally if I was house shopping, granite on a countertop would turn me off and I would ask for an allowance to replace them. Granite is pretty but not practical for daily kitchen counter life in a busy family life.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2008 at 7:38PM
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terriks

I find granite to be much more practical than laminate for a heavy use counter. At least the granite that I have is. It is a dark, dense stone that requires no babying at all. I can put hot pans on it, and it cleans up beautifully. I do agree that if your counters already look fine upgrading the flooring might be the better option. I would put in wood, which IMO is a more classic look than tile. Probably less expensive too.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2008 at 9:07PM
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Happyladi

What does your countertop look like now? What does your vinyl floor look like?

Look in the phone book and on the internet for other granite/stone dealers. Lowes and Home Depost aren't usually the cheapest.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2008 at 11:35PM
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linda117117

Not to hijack the thread, but since it is related to the sale of a home and/or kitchen I felt it was important enough to comment on:

Granite is pretty but not practical for daily kitchen counter life in a busy family life.

There are three teenagers in my home. The granite is way more durable than any formica I've ever had. You dont need to worry about burning it (hot pots directly on the granite don't hurt it) you can use it as a cutting board, its solid GRANITE, you don't have to baby it at all. WHen you're done working on it, spary it, wipe it and you're done.

Gwent, you didnt mention sheet vinyl in your OP, IMO, sheet vinyl and granite it is going to look for lack of a better word "cheesy". If you're going to upgrade to granite, you have to do something with the floor too. How old is the kitchen? Maybe it would be better to just adjust your price? Maybe some pictures would help?

    Bookmark   March 30, 2008 at 9:03AM
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farfrae

I saw a show where they do the quick improvements to sell the house. They laid a thin layer of granite in large pieces in the kitchen, right over the existing countertop. Kind of like a veneer, They said it was much cheaper compared to slabs of granite. Good luck with selling your house.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2008 at 9:40AM
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gwent

I should have given more info in my initial post: The counter laminate and sheet vinyl are in good shape. I will try to post picture.
One reason the REA suggested uthe upgrades is that adjacent room floors are tile (mudroom) and rest of house is 99% hardwood. This is a suburban 1950s Cape that will likely sell ($400-$450K) to a young couple from Boston who want to get into our town which boasts excellent schools. I think one of you wisely said it- upgrading kitchen may help keep people interested and help to sell but won't give us a higher sale price .This is OK with us. We bought at bottom of market in 1991 and are now selling at the bottom. Will talk to someone REAs to see if I hear the same advice.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2008 at 10:48AM
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disneyrsh

You can give my brother a call over at Stone Solutions in Mansfield, 508-339-5885. He'll be less expensive than Lowe's. If you decide to do laminate, give my dad a call, Classic Countertops in West Bridgewater, 508-584-8535. They've both been in the business for decades, they'll give you a better countertop than the big box guys ever could. Yes, I'm stumping for my family, but I like the small guys over the big boxes every time...

    Bookmark   March 30, 2008 at 11:20AM
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feedingfrenzy

Sounds like your realtor knows what s/he's talking about. That young couple from Boston is definitely not going to be happy with the laminate and sheet vinyl, especially when your competition already has the upgrades. If you leave it in, you're going to be limited to the fixer-upper market.

And don't do the granite tile or veneer. Most of these buyers are going to know the difference between that and the real thing. Cheap redos may work in some areas, but not with the kind of sophisticated buyers you're marketing to.

BTW, granite and other upmarket counter top materials are in no way comparable to green shag carpeting. They are becoming the new standard, just as laminate became the standard in the 1950s.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2008 at 11:22AM
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pompeii

You should easily be able to find a decent looking granite for $49/sf installed. If you stick to an eased (free) edge and an overmount sink, there shouldn't be any additional charges. If you want an undermount sink, which would be a good idea considering your market, there will be a $300 or so upcharge for polishing the cutout.

The granite veneer is just as expensive as slab granite, about $60/sf so there is no benefit there. Granite tile is probably not what your target buyer is looking for. A quartz composite would be fine, too, but that also won't save you any money.

If you can't match the wood in the rest of the house, you should tile the floor and put in a nice but inexpensive granite. Then you won't be at a disadvantage in comparison with the rest of the homes for sale in your price range.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2008 at 6:03PM
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theroselvr

What I would do since it sounds like someone already has their eyes on your house.. Go to zillow and put it for sale, set a make me move price. Maybe someone will see it and bite?

Granite is not my thing and if a house had it, it would need to be a safe color, a beige with some type of design in it but not overly done. Something like that will be more classic.

Do a search for pattycakes, she used a company that put the top right over her counter and it looked great. It wasn't as expensive as granite but looked close.

As was mentioned, pictures help but also knowing your specific market. You also may think to look over at citydata for your state see if people are posting there about it.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2008 at 8:10PM
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calliope

"BTW, granite and other upmarket counter top materials are in no way comparable to green shag carpeting. They are becoming the new standard, just as laminate became the standard in the 1950s."

I watched the responses on the thread after I posted that, and was not at all surprised to see a goodly number of people who said they didn't care for it, wouldn't put it in. Anytime something gets too mainstream, somebody thinks it's time to change the rules and I still believe granite is at that point. The only difference I see with it and green shag carpet, is granite costs more and makes "a statement".

I cook. I am a serious, serious cook and put up hundreds of jars of preserved food from my gardens. My kitchen screams form following function and to me a kitchen is a function room. I think you are right in that some markets think this counter is requisite and necessary. Just like four bedroom homes for childless couples. I don't have laminate, nor granite. Don't like either. But, I was surprised the realtor didn't say something about vinyl flooring.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2008 at 9:07PM
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judeNY

You came to the same conclusion that I would suggest - talk to other REA's in your area and see what they suggest. Everyone has opinions but your local market should be your guide.

If you decide to do it, I'll second the Uba Tuba suggestion; looks good with just about anything, easy to maintain, bulletproof and you'll find a reasonable price. Keep it simple - eased edge, no fancy cuts, stainless sink (search Galaxy on the kitchen forum), don't mix with other materials.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2008 at 9:41PM
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holly2305

I had to weigh in when I read this post. Here are some pics that might be helpful.
We recently re-did at very dated kitchen on a small DIY budget.
The granite was 58.00 sq.ft ($2800.00 installed)And we spent $2300.00 on new stainless appliances.Sink, faucet and soap dispenser came with granite for $500.00.
We painted the cabs, and installed beadboard backsplash & soffits.
Big bang for small bucks, IMO. And much more appealling to buyers I would think.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2008 at 8:54AM
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feedingfrenzy

calliope

Granite, soapstone, and equivalent counter materials have superior performance characteristics to laminate. You may not know this since you don't have any of them. One big advantage is that they are heatproof. Unlike laminate, they don't wear out. They are also easier to care for.

Many people also think they look better because they're natural, rather than synthetic.

So, no -- I don't think they're a fad, like green shag carpeting. But my real point is that young, affluent, urban buyers -- and that's the OP's target market -- expect to see granite or its equivalent in the kitchen. They would regard laminate as something to be replaced, like the vinyl floor.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2008 at 11:11AM
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spunky_MA_z6

Where in MA?

I have a gorgeous high end kitchen, granite, stainless, tile, lighting, windows, etc. It was ALL done at once, just before we bought. The kitchen definitely sold us the house.

But...

I would not have bought it if they just slapped some granite on old cabinets and the shiny new granite was sitting next to the appliances shown in Holly12's "before" picture. I would be thinking, gee, they stuck a bunch of granite on a kitchen from 15 or 20 years ago--it doesn't look right, and I'm going to have to remove something...

I would much rather have the laminate in that case. I think the old kitchen looks cozy and warm, and could have lived with it (although the new one is nice!).

I did have a woman go through my old house who said she would have bought it if we HADN'T done the kitchen--she thought we removed the charm. That kitchen had laminate, and the people who did buy it ripped it out and put in granite lol.

You never know.

If you are in one of our desirable towns, your location and school system will sell the house.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2008 at 2:15PM
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calliope

"calliope..Granite, soapstone, and equivalent counter materials have superior performance characteristics to laminate. You may not know this since you don't have any of them. One big advantage is that they are heatproof. Unlike laminate, they don't wear out. They are also easier to care for."

What makes you think I don't have something like that, Feeding Frenzy? I certainly don't have laminate, and I have already said twice that I don't like laminate. I do like soapstone, slate, tile, and even cement, and also have seen some lovely synthetics I would not sniff at. I have also seen some granites that are gorgeous, but some that are butt ugly.

"I don't think they're a fad, like green shag carpeting. But my real point is that young, affluent, urban buyers -- and that's the OP's target market -- expect to see granite or its equivalent in the kitchen. They would regard laminate as something to be replaced, like the vinyl floor."

On that, I do agree with you. I'd get rid of the vinyl floor in a heart beat. I'm not young, it's nobody's business if I'm affluent, and I'm certainly not urban....but I replaced our kitchen flooring first with Imported tile, and then finally went to wood.

I also agree that to sell a house you need to fulfill a buyer's expectations or adjust the price accordingly. I just don't think that granite is going to stay in style any longer than any other flooring/counter/appliance finish will.

The pic that Holly showed ........the 'after' kitchen is beautiful. The counters go with the look very well. But more than anything I think is that everything in that kitchen compliments the other. Granite or not. Hey, even some of us old fogeys I am sure think that granite is a necessity. I'm just saying it's been done to death.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2008 at 6:29PM
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sue36

What Spunky is talking about is one reason we decided to build. We were looking at $800k+ houses and the kitchens were, well, awful. Dated cabinets, new ugly cabinets, etc. I never saw a kitchen I liked, and $800k is not the cheap stuff in northern MA, NH and southern ME.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2008 at 6:45PM
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holly2305

When I posted the picture I wanted to add that the painting of the cabs (DIY) and the stainless appliances brought the granite upgrade to its full potential.
Every young buyer looked at the BEFORE kitchen with disdain, according to the realtor. We actually bought the house, at a reduced price, and did the 5K remodel.
Bottom line...the seller left some $$$$ on the table because of that dated kitchen.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2008 at 7:24PM
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sparksals

OP - I think granite counter tops in a kitchen with laminate floors will look cheap and unfinished, especially since the rest of the house is tile and hardwood.

It probably would be best to do the flooring to match the rest of the houseand leave the counters as is because buyers will be more forgiving of that than having granite with cheap looking floors.

I'm not saying your floors look cheap, but laminate just isn't in the same league as granite.

Of course, optimally, do both the floors and the counters and it may help secure a much faster sale. If you have to choose one, do the floors.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2008 at 11:48PM
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feedingfrenzy

My apologies, Calliope. I made some assumptions I shouldn't have.

No doubt there's a lot of granite that's ugly, but I guess I'm assuming the OP won't pick one. A subdued granite without a lot of movement in a color that compliments the rest of the decor would be the best choice.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2008 at 2:11PM
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disneyrsh

Holly, that's a really impressive re-do. Usually the DIY stuff lacks a certain aesthetic cohesiveness, like trim that doesn't *quite* match or a what were they thinking light fixture. Yours looks really, really nice. And I don't say that every day...

I redid the old awful vinyl in our current kitchen with new vinyl because I wasn't ready to do a gut redo of the kitchen. People think it's tile-they literally get down on the floor and tap it with their fingernails-it's directly on the slab and feels/sounds/looks like tile. So good, in fact, that I'm sorta rethinking the eventual tile in the kitchen!!!

    Bookmark   April 1, 2008 at 6:01PM
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xamsx

Holly13 your kitchen is lovely!

    Bookmark   April 1, 2008 at 7:12PM
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marge727

Holly--wonderful job. Very modern and sleek looking. It would have sold me.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2008 at 2:38AM
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spunky_MA_z6

I agree, Holly, your new kitchen is great. I was just trying to say that upgrading one thing into "a different league" from the rest of the room usually looks really bad--not cohesive, as disney says. If the original poster could do what Holly did, it would be great--but Holly already had the wood floors, decent cabinets, and classic layout.

OP, any pics of what you are actually working with?

    Bookmark   April 3, 2008 at 9:36AM
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reno_fan

OP - I think granite counter tops in a kitchen with laminate floors will look cheap and unfinished, especially since the rest of the house is tile and hardwood.

I think it all depends on the "whole package".

This is my kitchen in my last house. Granite counters, custom-built cabinets, custom built walnut island, and laminate floors. No, the laminate wasn't on par with the granite, the walnut, etc. But when the whole package was put together, it was pretty okay. (Our house sold in 6 days with multiple offers.)

    Bookmark   April 3, 2008 at 10:22AM
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calliope

Some laminate is getting better every year (some not). When we went to buy wood flooring, the salesman recommended laminate because of our lifestyles. He would have made more money on a wood floor install, so his motives were honest.

I own a range of commercial greenhouses, and am in and out to my office a bazillion times a day with boots on (no I can't stop and change them before I come inside) and my husband spends more time gardening than anything else. It's not just a little mud, it's sand, pea gravel, grit, wet grass and leaves. IOW, a nightmare for any wood floor, other than the old planks.

There are reasons for a laminate choice or even a vinyl choice. To me, flooring is a relatively easy condition to change for a buyer compared to others, like all new appliances.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2008 at 2:35PM
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devorah

My neighbor did a complete kitchen makeover. She has cherry cabinets, stainless appliances, Indian tile back splash AND laminate flooring. It looks fabulous and is so much more practical.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2008 at 1:00AM
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sparksals

Reno-fan - when I think of laminate, I think of vinyl/lino flooring. A laminate wood floor would be very nice, as is in your photo.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2008 at 7:07PM
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mainecoonkitty

I agree with the post about the Uba Tuba granite. I have it in my current house and love it so much that I'm also installing it in the new house I'm building. It's gorgeous, almost indestrucible, and never needs to be sealed, unlike the more porous (and expensive) lighter granites. It's spectacular with cherry or maple cabinets. I looked at dozens of diffferent colors of granite for my new house, but always came back to the Uba Tuba. Lots of oomph and style in an affordable package. It's the one budget item in my new house where I'll actually come in way under budget.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2008 at 1:14PM
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jackie1775

mainecoonkitty - I'm with you regarding the Ubatuba. I had it in my old house, and put it in again, this time in a honed finish, when we built in 2006. Love it!

    Bookmark   April 8, 2008 at 8:08AM
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muddbelly

You need to upgrade for your area. I am on my second house with ubatuba after a house with a lighter color, and it is a pretty low maintainence granite. I love granite, and despite HGTV's predicted obsolencence (by people who's livelihood requires you to change out your design frequently btw), I do not agree that other emerging materials provide better performance and beauty for the price. Laminates are not heat resistant; tile has grout staining; concrete is was too trendy, and must be done right; and quartz/silestone look a lot like corian (dated). Granite tiles look cheap, and I wold not pay one cent more when offering. I believe granite slab will at least return it's cost every time as long as the designer isn't color blind ...

You also need to at least certile the floors, and maybe do some cabinet coat and/or some wall texture - all very inexpensive and possibly DIY with a little bit of artistic ability...

    Bookmark   April 8, 2008 at 2:20PM
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gwent

OP here: Thanks for all the input. I think we are NOT going to replace counter and sheet vinyl in kitchen. Instead, upgrade the slide in range and focus on the most challenging room which has 60s wallpaper.
thanks.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2008 at 2:29PM
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