COUNTERTOPS

Nothing changes the look of a kitchen quicker than sprucing up countertops. Here's how:

Resurface: Stripping an old laminate countertop off the plywood deck is fairly simple; installing new laminate costs about $30 to $40 per linear foot. Ceramic tiles can also be installed over existing plywood. And if your solid surface or stone countertop is showing its age, the surface can be professionally polished to remove the marks.

Add moldings: To dress up a laminate countertop, add molding around the front edge for about $5 per linear foot.

Replace just a section: If you don't want to rip out the whole countertop, consider recessing a different material, such as a chopping block, into part of an existing counter.

Add a backsplash: If you're not replacing countertops, you can change the backsplash. Good choices: laminates, ceramic or glass tile, beadboard, even metal ceiling squares.

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