Written by Matt Granite
As a real estate Broker I will tell you that upgrading to stone countertops in your kitchen or bathroom can add as much as 10 percent to the value of your home.
Today, I'm pleased to pass this research along to you as a granite alternative for all of us who can't afford the real deal.
And yes, I mean "super-cheap" in relative terms considering what else is out there and by how much value you can add to your home.
Marble and granite are stunning and if you can afford it, that's wonderful. In the real world, there are surface materials where even a skilled eye can't detect the difference that still allow you to transform your home, while taking it easy on your wallet.
You may have heard of Corian, but today I want to put something else on your radar called LG HI-MACS.
Yes -- built and engineered by the same company that builds those spectacular plasma televisions, except these surfaces are built right here in the USA.
No -- this is a far cry from laminate.
The HI-MACS cost savings over granite or other stones is significant, while the product looks spectacular. It's being used in five-star hotels and some of the top restaurants around the world. The customers only see the difference on the bill, not in terms of the product.
It's virtually maintenance-free and can be seamlessly fabricated. The stunning and highly functional material is something respected by many designers, engineers and contractors in the industry that helped me with research for this price. It also has a 10- to 15-year warranty.
There are many great local companies that can install this product.
Here are my tips to ensure you get the best price:
• Do your research first. Call a local company and make it clear you know what you're talking about.
• Use a company that won't charge you for an in-home estimate.
• Use a company that cuts the stone itself.
• Use a company that buys direct from the source. The more middlemen, the more you pay.
• Skip the big box stores. Going local often brings great savings.
• Find a material that looks good in your kitchen that will also work in your bathrooms. You can use the excess stone in the bathroom from what's left over in the kitchen. This is the stone that would often be discarded anyhow.
• If you have a friend or know anyone that's handy, see how much of your original counters you can remove on your own before the professional installation. I had two friends help me and they saved me a substantial amount on labor costs by simply doing this work beforehand.
• Know the materials. My knowledge of HI-MACS resulted in significant savings over what I would have paid for other stones.
• Get something with a great warranty and a company that will come back, sand, or resurface if you have any future issues