Saving money is a top priority for many homeowners who are building or renovating a kitchen. It might seem like going with the most inexpensive materials would help you stick to your budget, but sometimes they’re not the best choice. The cheapest materials are cheap for a reason. They’re simply not as durable and don’t last as long as their more moderate counterparts. This means you’ll have to spend more in the end when you have to repair or replace them. Here are five such materials to avoid—along with five alternatives—when you’re building or renovating a kitchen.

Plastic Laminate Countertops

Don’t get us wrong. Laminate is a great choice if you have a strict budget to stick to. Just don’t go too cheap. Stay away from cheap plastic laminate that looks thin and dull. These scratch easily and don’t hold up against steam and other heat, like from a hot pan. New laminates offer great colors and texture, and new technology allows for scratch resistance and even patterns that mimic natural materials like wood or stone. The slightly higher price tag will save money in the long run, because you’ll definitely have to replace and/or repair the cheapest laminate sooner than you think.

Cheap Sheet Vinyl Flooring

Your kitchen floors really take a beating, so you’re going to want quality flooring in this room. Again, if you’re on a budget, vinyl flooring is a good option. There are some really high quality designs out there these days, some of which even mimic the look of tile or wood flooring. Beware, however, of the cheapest sheet vinyl, which can be very thin and will wear out much more quickly than other materials. Spend just a little more and get higher quality sheet vinyl or vinyl tiles, some of which come shaped like wood planks for the look of wood flooring without the cost.

Flat Paint

Some people love the look of flat or matte paint, but the kitchen is definitely not the place for it. Flat paint marks easily and isn’t easy to clean at all, so it’s better used in lower traffic areas like bedrooms or offices. Use semi-gloss or high gloss paint in the kitchen instead. Even if you don’t love a shinier look on the walls, you’ll be thankful the first time spaghetti sauce gets splashed on your paint job. Glossy paint will allow you to wipe it right off without absorbing any food or liquids.  

Trendy Tiles

There are some absolutely beautiful patterned tiles available at all price points. The problem with installing bold patterns and colors is that tastes changes and trends die. You might regret that bright Moroccan tile backsplash in a few years, and replacing a tile backsplash can be time-consuming, messy, and costly. Instead of super trendy materials, go with classic subway tiles or something neutral that goes with your countertops. You can easily add those patterns, textures, and colors you love through kitchen accessories.

Lower End Cabinet Fronts

Some cheaper laminate cabinet fronts, known as thermofoil, can seem attractive because they’re a lot more affordable than other options. These cabinets are basically vinyl wrapped around fiberboard. They’re not heat resistant and they can warp and yellow over time. You can still use laminate cabinet fronts, but go with modern materials. They’re still budget friendly even though they’re a little pricier than the lower end laminate, but again, they’ll last longer, saving you money in the long run.


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