27 Countertop Upgrades That Are Worth The Extra Cost

We may receive a commission on purchases made from links.

Is your countertop crying out for an upgrade? Perhaps you've stood in your kitchen or bathroom before, longingly gazing at those worn-out countertops, imagining what a fresh transformation could do for them and your space. You dream of luxuriously-smooth surfaces that'll make chopping and dicing a pleasure and have your guests gasp in delight. Talk of a worktop worthy of a shoutout on Instagram or Pinterest — one that harmoniously blends function and style. 

Regarding upgrading countertops, some bold adventurers might opt for a full-fledged overhaul. This would involve swapping dull and outdated surfaces for trendy countertop materials like granite, marble, and onyx. Each option not only infuses your kitchen with charisma but also transforms it from a simple meal prep area or hand-washing station to a visual treat that captivates every onlooker. However, you can also count on subtler approaches, like under-cabinet lighting, to cast a new degree of refinement on your space. But why stop there when you could grace your worktop with a backsplash upgrade or an illuminated substrate?

The price tags of countertop updates vary as widely as the available choices. Besides, realizing your dream renovation might require a seasoned specialist's skilled hands and know-how for safe and effective execution, impacting the final budget. Also remember that with new countertops come new obligations, as the frequency and extent of maintenance could change considerably. Let's explore 27 of these enticing countertop upgrade options.

1. Quartz worktop

At the forefront of our compilation of worthy countertop upgrades, we meet quartz. Available in a broad spectrum of colors, this non-porous surface-type is engineered to defy stains. For this upgrade, your budget will oscillate between $50 to $200 per square foot, installation included. A beveled, bullnose, or ogee edge could give your new upgrade a chic transformation. Winning tip for cost reduction? Opt for thinner slabs and map out the precise number of slabs needed for the makeover. Nevertheless, quartz demands careful usage. Sidestep the potential harm of hot cookware (think discoloration) by enlisting the aid of protective champions like silicone mats.

2. An overhaul with granite

What could be a more classic and elegant choice for a countertop makeover than granite? It offers a timeless appeal with striking natural patterns, not to mention it's a hardy contender that resists heat and scratches better than quartz. However, it comes with one hiccup: it's porous. Lingering liquids can seep into the surface, staining its brilliance. The solution is sealing. Granite countertops will set you back roughly $40 to $60 per square foot, with installation demanding an extra $35 to $85 per hour. Although one might find that this a tough pill to swallow, the material's longevity and look make it worth every penny.

3. Extend countertop space with a kitchen island

As an anchor piece and a functional workhorse, a kitchen island offers additional countertop space, beautiful design features, and extra storage options. You will no longer jostle for elbow room — instead, embrace the freedom of a spacious chopping zone and extra seating for the family and guests. A complete custom build lets you tailor the size, shape, and materials to your taste and needs, but it comes with a heftier price — conventional projects average $3,000 to $5,000. Fashioning a kitchen island from reclaimed wood is the most budget-friendly route, but you could also consider pre-fabricated options, which average $2,500 to $3,500.

4. Butcher block counters

Butcher block countertops communicate an earthy appeal and are an excellent upgrade for those yearning for a rustic or farmhouse-style kitchen or bathroom. When properly sealed, not only do butcher blocks silence the noise in your kitchen when used as a chopping board, but they also make for a fantastic baking station (think along the lines of kneading and rolling). However, bear in mind that these beauties, which typically cost $50 to $150 per square foot including labor, require diligent pampering. Sealing with a food-safe sealant (monthly within the first year, then biannually afterward) will suffice to prevent staining, water damage, bacteria buildup, and damage.

5. Marble countertops

Daring to blend a sense of timelessness and high-end sophistication into your kitchen or vanity? Marble countertops, with their unique, veiny texture and glossy finish, offer this. As for the cost of this countertop upgrade, you're looking at $3,800 to $5,000 per 30 square feet, including installation. Further, as with most precious things, marble exhibits fragility, as it's softer than either granite or quartz. Thus, it's more susceptible to scratches and chipping. Stains can also compromise its appeal, calling for regular sealing to ensure its uncompromised grandeur. While this may increase the cost, choose a thicker marble slab — it's more durable and promises a greater lifespan.

6. Countertop overlays

Thinking about bringing new life to your kitchen countertops without replacing or painting them? Overlay countertops could be the facelift your kitchen deserves. This isn't about just slathering on a new veneer, as you must choose the right material. Whether refined quartz, rugged granite, laminate, recycled glass, or concrete, a well-chosen overlay can breathe new texture, color, and vitality into your kitchen without tipping the expenses scale. Begin with a candid assessment of your current countertop situation. Some counters can handle the upgrade with a simple sanding, while others may require a more loving touch that includes leveling and laying down a secure base for the new arrival. 

7. Concrete countertop

It's hard to overlook the unyielding firmness and raw, industrial charm of a concrete countertop. Riding in with a price tag ranging between $65 and $135 per square foot, this pinnacle of strength boasts a broad capacity for customization — dive into the variety of finishes and pigments for a choice that echoes your kitchen's vibe. Installing a concrete countertop involves mounting the forms, weaving in the mesh, pouring concrete into the molds, smoothing the top, letting the concrete set, and removing the forms. A light caress with sandpaper suffices next. However, beware: concrete, being porous, thirsts for spills, and bacteria might lurk within. Sealing is necessary post-installation.  

8. The cascading elegance of a countertop waterfall

How about complementing your kitchen makeover with a statement piece like a waterfall countertop, where the material flows from the top and down the sides for a seamless, continuous look? It's visually striking, adds dimension, and creates a sculptural quality. For the contemporary kitchen, such an upgrade is a great choice, with quartz being an excellent material for its variety of design options. However, brace for the installation cost, as grandeur comes with a price, given the extra materials and labor required. Slab fabrication alone could catapult your expenses by $2,000, but the stunning allure may be worth the money.

9. Stainless steel countertops

Ah, metal magic! Stainless steel countertops effortlessly defy heat, rust, and stains while offering simplicity in installation and day-to-day maintenance. Incorporating these beauties into your culinary domain involves precise measurements of your current countertop and placing an order with a reliable fabricator. Expect to spend around $1,400 to $3,200 for a 20-square-foot space, and don't shy away from discussing the thickness, shape, and edge details. However, beware of lower-gauge steel's vulnerability to scratches and dents — brushed finishes can help mask scratches. To keep stainless steel sparkling, a daily cleanse with a microfiber cloth and mild soap will suffice.

10. Under-cabinet lighting

Imagine your kitchen countertops as an illustrious stage where all your gourmet performances come to life under a downpour of radiance. Welcome to the world of under-cabinet lighting. Choose from a wide array of sleek and discreet lighting solutions, from LED strips or pucks, fluorescent and motion-activated types, and wireless wonders. For a dramatic flair in your kitchen, smartphone- or voice-controlled lights will suffice. Angled LED puck lights can help create a waterfall effect with enhanced illumination. This project's cost hinges on the style of the lighting — an estimated $20 per 8 feet of LED strips or $25 per LED puck — and whether it's DIYed or professionally-installed. 

11. Eco-friendly countertop upgrade

Ready to invite Mother Nature right into the heart of your home? Eco-friendly countertop upgrades are more than a trend; they're a testament to sustainable taste. A dive into this green pool costs roughly $50 to $80 per square foot for recycled glass (exclusive of labor) or typically $1,500 to $4,000 per 50 square feet for bamboo. Recycled glass sparkles with stain resistance, unique color flecks, and easy maintenance but is vulnerable to heat damage and cracking. Meanwhile, bamboo exudes warmth with rich textured grains but can get damaged by extreme heat, knife encounters, or liquid spills. Proper maintenance (including occasional sealing) is a prerequisite post-installation. 

12. Heat rods for countertop protection

Worktop protector rods ensure a once-vulnerable surface like quartz remains unscathed by direct contact with hot cookware. An excellent choice here would be the Unika Worktop Hot Rods, selling for $34 on Amazon. For installation, first pinpoint a prime location that's close to your cooktop. A reliable setup demands a spotless environment, underscoring the need to clean the installation area. After which, mark the positions of the rods using a ruler and pencil. Once you detach the adhesive linings, mount the rods on the marked spots, applying firm pressure to ensure the adhesive clings properly. Wait 24 hours before testing your newly-installed rods. 

13. Pop-up electrical sockets for countertops

Imagine the sheer convenience of having multiple power sockets popping up as one unit from your countertop at a moment's notice. That, in essence, is the magic of pop-up electrical outlets. When not in use, these clever gadgets retreat into their perch beneath, blending seamlessly with the rest of the countertop. Suddenly, tangled wires cluttering the worktop are a thing of the past. More importantly, prioritize a splash-proof option for damage and electrocution aversion. The Link2Home Space Saver Pop-Up Outlet at The Home Depot will set you back about $80, and hiring a professional for installation ensures this countertop upgrade gets implemented to code. 

14. Reclaimed wood countertop

Incorporating reclaimed wood into your countertop makeover provides aesthetics, sustainability, and history. The timber, often sourced from old barns, retired factories, or even wine barrels, infuses a sense of rustic charm into your kitchen and an element of warmth that will endure. Think of the plethora of wood types you get to choose from, too — hickory, Douglas fir, walnut, white oak, and more, each with a unique texture, grain, and color combination for the desired statement for your kitchen. However, given the material's porous nature, a regular application of food-safe mineral oil or polyurethane will suffice for waterproofing and bacteria buildup prevention. 

15. Add a backsplash

An upgraded backsplash can resist messy splatters and punch up your kitchen or bathroom's wow factor. Envision customized patterns or glittering mosaics that mirror your unique taste. However, backsplash installation is an art of precision that includes cutting, aligning, and grouting tiles into a cohesive masterpiece. So, enlist a skilled tile setter for the dirty work. Depending on your taste — from humble ceramic and porcelain to luxurious marble — the budget can swell from $2 to $130 per square foot. Cleaning a ceramic, stainless steel, or tile backsplash is blissfully-straightforward: Use a soapy-water-moistened sponge for the daily mess and scrub with baking soda for tougher grime. 

16. Integrated drainage system

Constantly frustrated that water from newly-washed dishes lingers on your kitchen counter? Enter the integrated drainage system, a cutting-edge solution that embeds minimalistic grooves and channels that direct the water from your wet dishes to the sink. While it's easy on the eyes, the ultimate goal is to ensure every drop of water finds its way home. Whether your countertop material is quartz, granite, or wood, the sloping grooves are best carved with the craftsmanship of a sculptor. Undoubtedly, this update demands more investment than a mere cleaning cloth. However, consider the benefits of the hands-free water management and crisp aesthetic it provides your worktop.

17. Outfit the corners with a lazy Susan

The humble lazy Susan, essentially a rotating tray, emerges here as a fantastic solution to forgotten corners on your countertop. With its simple but brilliant design, commonly-used ingredients in the kitchen like spices and condiments or products like makeup and skincare in the bathroom are always an easy reach away. Organization should be strategic, though. Heavier items should make their home toward the center, ensuring stability and smoother rotations. Lighter items can dot the periphery, easily spinning into your hands as needed. A good lazy Susan for countertops will set you back somewhere between $8 to $30 on online retailers like Amazon. 

18. Custom epoxy countertops

Imagine a durable and non-porous worktop material that also serves as a personal canvas; this is the allure of epoxy countertops. These types can hold anything from a sprinkle of glitter to a swirl of preferred colors and sheen. However, this countertop upgrade isn't your average DIY undertaking. A thorough consultation with an expert suffices first. From there, the professional will tailor-make your epoxy concoction and spread it over your existing countertop. Post-installation, keep away hot pans and use a splash of soapy water for cleaning. Mineral oil like Earthborn Elements Mineral Oil on Amazon could be all it takes to revitalize dull epoxy countertops. 

19. Fresh paint for a dose of new life and sophistication

How about reimagining your countertops without the hassle of a full-scale renovation? A few sweeps of paint fit the bill. The top-most roster of the best countertop materials for painting include laminate, ceramic, wood, concrete, and marble. Kick off with proper groundwork, including cleaning and fine-grain sanding. Then, bring in the excitement with a water-based acrylic primer and a paint hue that contrasts with or complements your space's current palette. Go as far as three coats for long-lasting color, letting each dry for four hours. The grand finale is two coats of high-gloss, water-based, acrylic, countertop-friendly resin.

20. Indoor herb garden for countertops

An herb garden for countertops not only brings instant organic elegance to your kitchen but also guarantees fresh cooking ingredients. Imagine the gratification of snipping or tending to basil or cilantro right where you cook. Bringing this slice of Eden to life demands a spacious countertop section that's bathed in indirect sunshine. However, should sunlight be scarce, an option with a height-adjustable LED grow light can step in. Don't overlook the usefulness of proper drainage, either — it's a trusty shield against waterlogging and root rot. As for the best herbs for an indoor kitchen garden, think of basil, sage, thyme, mint, and chives.

21. Under-counter stick-on heating mats

It's a cold winter day, and as you lean on your countertop to enjoy a cup of cocoa, the surface radiates gentle warmth. That's the magic of stick-on heating mats. Discreetly and easily glued beneath the worktop near typical sitting positions, these thin heating installations warm up the countertop or island, making the otherwise-cold slab inviting to the touch during chilly months. However, they must be paired with a countertop material that can withstand and evenly-distribute the heat (think marble or granite). After an initial investment of about $375 for a unit like the FeelsWarm Countertop Heater Kit on WarmlyYours, periodic check-ups for heat intensity are recommended.

22. Upgrading your countertop with tiles

Who said tiles were just for backsplashes or floors? With countertop tiles, start an affair with a canvas to express personal tastes (colors, shapes, and textures) and durability, where scratches and hot pots have met their match. This DIY-friendly countertop update only requires a weekend for full transformation. You could go vibrant with Mediterranean blues or serene with subway off-whites. Opt for larger tiles for a modern feel with less grout to clean or smaller pieces for detailed artistry. As for the cost, consider the supplies, including tiles, adhesive, grout, and sealant. Labor, if you choose it, will adjust the figures based on complexity.

23. Pull-out cutting board

If you're seeking to maximize counter space without sacrificing functionality, integrating a pull-out cutting board could be your kitchen's next big makeover. Secretly-nested within a cabinet below your countertop, your wooden board will slide out at a moment's notice and conveniently tuck away after use, leaving your countertops clutter-free. A critical part here is selecting a non-warping, durable material, ideally a butcher block. However, given the added need for precision, this upgrade may need a skilled carpenter for perfect alignment. And maintenance? A quick cleanup post-use thwarts staining and conditioning, while a food-safe mineral oil staves off untimely wear and tear.

24. Stick-on marble contact paper

Are you smitten with the luxurious allure of marble but your wallet isn't? A peel-and-stick contact paper countertop, while not as durable, is a superb compromise. Imagine the satisfaction of seeing your kitchen's aesthetics transform overnight, devoid of messy construction or astronomical price tags. It's all about precision, as you'll need to apply a high-grade vinyl that convincingly mimics the elegance of authentic Carrara. With costs for such prints ranging between a mere $0.37 to $15 at major retailers, meticulous application is key to success. Cut, peel, and stick the sheet, then smooth out bubbles, and voila — you've got luxury on a lemonade budget. 

25. Underlit countertop

An underlit countertop featuring modern LED panels is alluring. Ideal for stained glass, quartzite, or somewhat-translucent materials like marble and onyx, underlit countertops have a twofold practical and aesthetic capacity. This option isn't just a beacon of soft light for those midnight fridge raids; it's also a conversation starter in any social gathering. However, this isn't a DIY project for beginners. Please enlist the help of a local professional to install the LED panels appropriately. Costs may vary according to your specific countertop dimensions and choice of lighting. However, the aesthetic return of this unique countertop upgrade will be worth every penny.

26. Countertop chute for easy trash management

Imagine whisking away your culinary remnants straight into a receptacle concealed beneath your workstation. With a secure-sealing lid, a garbage chute for countertops like the KegWorks Countertop Trash and Waste Chute on Amazon that costs under $40 offers such a fuss-free scenario. You get to choose from two paths for integrating this waste management practicality into your worktop design: invest in a brand-new slab outfitted with a pre-drilled hole or deploy a jigsaw to make an appropriately-sized opening in your existing countertop. Employing compost bin liners that make cleaning easier or compostable trash bags that will naturally decompose could further enhance the upgrade.

27. An exotic touch with onyx

Fancy a wilder, natural elegance in your space? Invite the striking beauty of an onyx countertop, whose mesmerizing striations take center stage. Plus, you'll get a material ideal for backlighting; picture a show of light exposing its bewitching natural features for a heightened visual spectacle in your home. A testament to refined taste, it comes at a noble price, and not just due to its rarity. Installing an onyx countertop implores the finesse of a professional versed in its delicateness. Additionally, onyx is vulnerable to the harshness of acidic cleaners, so pamper it with the right products and the gentle touch it deserves.