How to Plan
Colors and Styles
Granite is a primordial stone with naturally occurring variations in color and pattern. These variations, referred to as ‘movement’, should be expected and are the source of its natural beauty. Also, keep in mind that the veining in the granite can effect color perception. Sometimes two different grain sizes occurring in the same slab will appear to be of a different color. Mineral concentrations may cause patches that appear darker or lighter.
Every slab of granite varies somewhat within any given color and pattern. If you are unfamiliar with granite, a granite slab ordered may not be identical to a sample you are shown. While the samples are intended to represent the quarry’s product, each slab may differ slightly in color and veining. Indeed, even a single granite slab will have color variations from one end to the other. This lack of predictability gives the product its unique character and adds an element of nature into human-designed spaces.
For this reason, we recommend that you take the time to select the slab intended for your countertops. We will escort you through the granite slab warehouse where you can choose the best granite slab for your countertops. That is the only way to make sure you get exactly what you want. While color options are numerous, it’s usually best to choose a specimen that is stocked locally because of the cost difference. If a slab has to be special-ordered, the freight would be prohibitive and the lead-time could be several weeks. In addition, the customer would have to agree to accept the color and markings sight unseen.
Fabrication and Finishing
Fabrication costs can significantly affect the final price. Generally, the more complex the shape of the project and particularly the shape of the finished edges, the higher the price will be. Fortunately, a single thickness plain polished edge makes an excellent appearance and most customers choose this standard. Occasionally, a customer will want a custom edge pattern, possibly to match the edge to detailing on the cabinetry, and this can also be done. But keep in mind that if the fabricator has to buy custom cutting bits, he will add their cost to the price. Granite is usually polished to a high gloss finish.
Fabricators may sell finished pieces, but slabs are always sold intact. The price includes the cost of transportation, making field measurements and templates, cutting, polishing, delivery, and final installation. The total material required is determined by the layout and the amount of waste. The fabricator will try to lay out each job so as to minimize waste yet maximize the natural beauty of the veining and pattern.
There are two types of sinks used with granite countertops, referred to as drop-in and under mount. Sinks may be stainless steel, composite, or a number of other materials. When choosing a sink, it is vitally important to make certain that the sink will fit in the cabinet in which it is to be mounted. Keep in mind that the cabinet must always be wider than the sink, i.e. a 30″ sink will not fit in a 30″ cabinet. There must also be ample room available for the faucet of your choice and any other accessories you may select.
If a cook top is to be mounted in the granite, be sure that there is room inside the cabinet to hold the top and any pop-up vents that will be installed with it. If the top is replacing an existing top, be aware of the differences in thickness of the two materials. Any upper cabinetry that currently rests on the existing top will probably not reach the granite, so adjustments will have to be made. Allowances must be made for the thickness of a back splash when measuring for the placement of these fixtures. If thicker granite is used, a wider space will be needed.
The sink and kitchen appliances built into the countertops like a cook top or drop-in range must be on the job site before a template can be made.
Granite Countertop Installation Considerations
All ordinary cabinets with frames that are securely fastened to the wall will easily support granite countertops. The weight of an average person standing on the cabinet puts more strain on the cabinets than a granite countertop.
Counter tops are measured in much the same way as other solid surfaces. First, a template must be made to use as a pattern. For this reason, base cabinets must be permanently anchored in place before measurements can begin. They are to be installed only by the fabricator who will assume responsibility for a proper fit. Improper installation of kitchen countertops may void the manufacturer’s warranties and result in damage to your fine surface or other areas of your kitchen, such as cabinets, drawers, sinks, and fixtures.
It will take 3 to 4 weeks to complete the installation after measurements are taken, so be sure to allow sufficient lead time for the project to be completed. If anything goes wrong during the fabrication process, or if the top is damaged and has to be replaced, that time will be extended.
Because granite is usually sold in slabs no more than 10″ long, most countertops will require at least one seam. And since granite is sold in rectangular pieces, using seams may also reduce the costs, as in an ‘L’ shaped corner. Sometimes a seam can be placed at a sink bowl to make it less conspicuous.
Seams will always be visible in granite. Their visibility is affected by the granularity, color and pattern of the stone. Seams on a small, uniform grain or dark color will not be as noticeable as they will on a larger variegated grain or lighter color. A dramatic pattern with swaths of color will similarly highlight seams more than a uniform pattern.
The back splash is usually made from the same granite used for the counters, but it can be ceramic tile, or some other product. It may be attached to the counter or to the wall, but in either case the seam between the counter and the back splash will be sealed with caulk. The standard height for a back splash is 4″ although they’re frequently made higher if the customer desires. A tall back splash is sometimes used behind the kitchen range or sink to protect the wall from grease splattering or other stains.
This may be modified to suit personal taste, but it must be stipulated before the template is made.
Granite can be cantilevered up to 14″ if it’s a large piece with sufficient support on the fixed end. It should never be cantilevered where it might receive excessive stress, however, such as where someone may be tempted to sit on it or use it as a step stool to change a light bulb. In these cases, it must always be supported.
It’s always best to assume the worst and add proper support on any extension over 6″. An unsupported span of no more than 36″ is usually acceptable as long as the stone is supported on both sides of the span.
Edges and Overhangs
Most counters are installed with a standard overhang of 1″ with a standard or custom edge. A special edge creates an additional installation challenge and usually results in extra cost.
Dishwashers should not be attached directly to the granite countertop, but be side-mounted to adjoining cabinets. Special brackets are available from the dishwasher manufacturer for this purpose. Drilling into the bottom of the stone can cause stress cracks and discoloration in the surface of the stone.
On new construction, the base cabinets must be permanently anchored in place before a template can be made. On a remodel project, existing tops may be removed prior to measurement. Any sinks, faucets, cook tops, or any other item that requires a cutout or a hole in the top must be on site and readily available at the time the template is made. The fabricator may need to take some items with him to complete the fabrication.
Please note that any delay in acquiring the accessories may also delay the installation, the countertop installer will not normally be responsible for connecting of dishwashers, cook tops, or plumbing, and no changes can be made once the installer takes his measurements and makes the template. All cuts are final. It is impossible to reattach a piece of granite that has been cut from the slab. Additionally, once the granite is glued in place on the cabinets, moving it is very difficult and risks damaging the cabinets.