Architectural Home Designs & Decorating Ideas

Affordable DIY Kitchen Countertop Makeover Ideas

Gabriela Connell
4 minute read

Is your kitchen looking tired and dated? Drab countertops can really drag down the look of your kitchen. But a countertop makeover doesn’t have to break the bank. With some clever DIY solutions, you can give your kitchen a fresh new look on a budget.

Updating your countertops makes your kitchen more enjoyable to cook and entertain in. Outdated counters detract from the space, while new ones make the kitchen feel clean, modern and stylish. Plus, countertop upgrades add value to your home for resale down the road.

Planning Your Kitchen Countertop Project

Before you head to the home improvement store, take some time to plan your kitchen countertop makeover. Thinking through the details upfront will help you execute the project smoothly.

Set Your Budget

decorating kitchen cabinet tops

Look at costs of materials like laminate, tile and concrete to decide what fits your budget. Also factor in whether you’ll tackle it as a DIY or hire a contractor. Professional install typically costs $40-50 per square foot.

Evaluate Your Usage

How you use your kitchen should guide your countertop material choice. Busy cooks should avoid delicate surfaces prone to stains, burns or scratches. But if style trumps function, materials like wood or marble may appeal despite higher maintenance.

Choose a Style

Think about the look you want – traditional, modern, rustic? Materials like granite suit traditional spaces, while concrete fits industrial modern kitchens. Pick counters that coordinate with your cabinets, flooring and backsplash.

Measure Precisely

Carefully measure your existing counters and cabinets to determine how much material to purchase. Remember to account for overhangs and backsplashes in your measurements. Jot down any irregular angles or edges.

Affordable Countertop Materials to Consider

With some savvy shopping and DIY elbow grease, you can update your kitchen counters without breaking the bank. Here are some of the most budget friendly options:


Laminate is an inexpensive go-to for kitchen counters. Available in ever color and pattern imaginable, it’s ideal for rentals or flip projects. While prone to scratches and heat damage, it’s a fraction of the cost of other materials.


From vintage penny tile to sleek stone, tile brings tons of customization to your counters. Heat and stain resistant, it’s great for avid home cooks. The grout does need periodic sealing, and uneven surfaces require extra cleaning.


For an edgy, industrial look, concrete counters are on trend. Staining and stamping concrete adds color and dimension. Concrete is durable but very heavy, may stain, and needs yearly sealing.

Butcher Block

Butcher block offers the warmth and character of wood countertops on a budget. DIY friendly and easy to install, it needs frequent oiling to protect from scratches, spills and bacteria. Go for maple over soft woods like pine.

Steps for DIY Installation

Installing your own new counters is very achievable for the motivated DIYer. Here are the key steps to replace your kitchen countertops:

Prep the Existing Cabinets

Thoroughly clean cabinets then sand and fill any imperfections in the surface for a smooth foundation. Repair any water damage or issues.

Make Template and Cut Materials

Make a cardboard template from your measurements to cut your countertop material to size. Use a circular saw with a fine blade for materials like laminate or butcher block.

Secure New Countertop

Run a bead of construction adhesive along the perimeter and any seams, then screw through the bottom edge of the counter into cabinets.

Finish Edges and Backsplash

Use trim pieces to get clean finished edges. Install backsplash tile. Caulk any gaps between counter and wall.

Seal and Protect Surface

Apply a clear sealant like polyurethane to materials like wood or laminate to protect and waterproof the surface.

Design Tips for Maximizing Your Kitchen

A few simple upgrades alongside your new countertops can really take your kitchen makeover to the next level:

Add Interest with Backsplash

From white subway tile to bold geometric patterns, backsplashes protect the wall and add visual appeal.

Freshen Cabinets with Paint or Stain

An easy weekend project, new cabinet color achieves a brand new look without replacing them.

Consider an Accent Island

Islands add prep space, storage and style. Try one in a contrasting color or material as a striking focal point.

Update Fixtures

Swap out your faucet, sink, handles and lighting for modern low-cost updates throughout the kitchen.

Display Decor

Personalize your new counters with laidback decor like potted herbs, cookbooks, barware or a bowl of fruit.

FAQs About DIY Countertop Installation

Have more questions about tackling a DIY countertop makeover? Here are answers to some frequently asked questions:

What tools do I need?

You’ll need a circular saw, jigsaw, router, drill, tape measure, level, carpenter’s square, and clamps. Use a fine blade appropriate for your countertop material.

How do I cut the materials?

Make a template from heavy cardboard then use it to mark cuts. Use a circular saw for long straight cuts and a jigsaw for curves and corners. Make several light passes rather than one deep cut.

What’s the best adhesive to use?

For most materials, construction adhesive works well. Apply in a continuous bead and clamp overnight. Some counters like granite require specialized stone adhesive.

How do I get clean seams between countertop pieces?

Use seam tape underneath along the joint to reinforce it. Carefully align edges when installing. After adhering, sand any uneven areas of the seam smooth.

Options like polyurethane, epoxy resin and penetrating sealers protect against water damage, stains and bacteria. Research the best sealer for your specific material.