Prediction 2010: Granite Countertops Are So Last Decade
You know that feeling you get as you walk into a house with puke-yellow kitchen countertops, pale blue bathroom tile, and olive green shag carpet? How about that “what were we thinking?!” reaction when you look at pictures of your first house, complete with fake-wood paneling in the living room, stained glass light over the table, and linoleum flooring in the kitchen?
Mark my words: That is exactly the response that people will have 10 years from now when looking back at granite countertops.
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No, I’m not some simpleton that can’t appreciate the beauty of nature. In fact, I can see the appeal of having granite, if only for the unique charm of incorporating Mother Nature’s 500 million-year-old child in your brand new kitchen. Unfortunately, my gut tells me that most people choose granite because their neighbors have granite, not because it’s a great countertop material. In short, it’s become nothing more than a “Keep up with the Jones'” thing.
Let’s face it. Granite is ridiculously expensive (typically $80 to $100 per sq. ft. installed), and frankly, a pain in the butt.
“Oh Barbara, you’ve GOT to get granite countertops for your kitchen, they are the best. Just don’t forget to reinforce your base cabinets to carry the extra weight, seal the surface of the stone every 6 months, and never let anything concentrated or oily sit on the countertop surface.”
I don’t know about you guys, but if I’m spending $4,000 for kitchen countertops, I’d prefer not to have to buff the surface with a diaper and sing it lullabies before bed.
I’m sure many people will disagree with me, but the buzz among real estate agents seems to confirm my stance. As “Boston Real Estate Now” journalist Rona Fischman said in her 2008 column on the death of granite: “I have never liked granite, but for a while, my clients wanted it. Then about a year ago, I started to hear “granite, blah, blah…” or “I am so sick of granite and stainless steel.” I think granite has died a natural death, gone the way of harvest gold bathtubs, paneling and Navaho White paint.”
Still don’t believe me? Consider this report from the U.S. International Trade Commission, which shows a roughly 50 percent decline in the import of “worked granite” last year.
My advice? Don’t rule out laminate or solid surface countertops too quickly. Laminate is still used in 75 percent of all new kitchens, and even the most expensive varieties are still less than one-fifth the cost of granite. Want something more like granite? Consider solid surface, which will give you a 10 year guarantee – just about perfect timing to be replaced when your kitchen needs a style facelift in 2020.