Who doesn't like to walk into a kitchen with gleaming granite countertops? Durable, eye-catching, and on trend, granite countertops can be a wonderful way to make your flip or rental property pop.
But the look doesn't come cheap. Granite countertops can be quite costly and depending on the project, may not be the best use of capital for certain investors. Find out when it's worth the cost and when it's best to look for better value.
What is granite?
Granite is a natural stone made when the earth's lava crust cools, leaving traces of minerals such as quartz, feldspar, or mica. The various minerals and the amount of minerals found in the stone can give granite a beautiful, unique coloration and pattern.
Granite is produced from mining in quarries, cut to size, then polished to finish. Because it's 100% stone, it's known for its durability and resistance to heat. However, stains can soak through, since stone is naturally porous, so it must be sealed regularly.
How much does granite cost?
Granite, like any other countertop material or home renovation project, will vary in price depending on the size and scale selected. Prices also vary drastically by the color and pattern of the stone as well as the location of your project.
According to HomeAdvisor (NYSE: ANGI), lower-end granite slabs will cost around $40 per square foot, while higher-end slabs can cost closer to $100 per square foot. But the average cost of granite countertops, including labor, is around $3,250 installed, based on an average-sized countertop of 15 feet. If you're looking at any sort of speciality cuts, islands, or texture, expect to pay more. An island will likely cost at least another $1,000.
When granite is worth it
Every single slab of granite is unique, and it certainly can add a gorgeous shine to the kitchen. But as an investor, whether you're a landlord or a flipper, you need to make sure every renovation project completed is actually worth the cost, whether it's direct dollar-for-dollar return on investment (ROI) or a less quantifiable desirability or durability factor.
For landlords in higher-end rentals, granite can be a great way to create a luxury feel for the kitchen while still having a heat-, scratch-, and stain-resistant surface. With a small amount of maintenance, they will last for years to come if a neutral color and pattern are selected. Experts claim they will last 100 years if well maintained compared to marble, which may only last 20 years. If your investment is a long-term hold, granite could easily pay for itself in the long run.
As a flipper, you're looking for demand and wow factor. The National Association of Relators pegged it as one of the top 10 kitchen trends for 2021, and stone has been in favor for decades. Granite offers the durability and luxury look of a stone countertop at a comparatively inexpensive price point.
Corian, quartz, marble, and soapstone are all typically more expensive options than granite, plus some have downfalls like porous surfaces or being easily chipped or stained. If the property you're flipping fits into the middle- or upper-class market, granite can be a great way to achieve the high-end look without breaking the bank.
There is the option to install granite for a slightly lower cost. Modular (small slabs that are seamed together) and tile versions are available but come with the obvious seams you wouldn't find in a solid-slab countertop.
Modular will usually cost $25-$40 per square foot, putting it in line with other non-stone countertop options. If you're really looking to stretch your investment dollars, the tile can even be installed over the existing countertops as a DIY project and can cost as little as $5 per square foot, although the look achieved won’t be the same wow or high-end feel as a slab of granite.
If granite doesn’t seem to fit the budget bill on your next real estate investment, there are other alternatives that are still on trend. Butcher block or wood countertops, while not as long-lasting, are very popular right now, and stainless steel is incredibly durable while offering an edgy, modern look.
Also, don't overlook laminate as a possibility. The industry has come a long way, and it's completely reasonable to have difficulty distinguishing it from stone for higher-quality brands. This can be a much more budget-friendly upgrade for mid-tier or lower-tier flips or rentals. Bonus: Laminate averages just $10-$40 a square foot.
The Millionacres bottom line
Granite is a great choice. But if it doesn't work for your budget, there is a countertop option, whether granite or otherwise, for every investment scenario.