Granite countertops remain one of the most popular additions that people can make to their kitchens. Granite is beautiful, always unique, and because each counter is made specifically for your kitchen, these bespoke stone counters will always be the perfect fit.
Because you can’t simply go to a big box store and choose a counter off a shelf, selecting a stone counter may be slightly intimidating for some people. The best way to get one made for your home, however, is to work directly with granite countertop fabricators and installers.
Finding a Local FabricatorA granite fabricator cuts and shapes a large slab of stone to fit your countertop’s exact dimensions and specifications. You’ll want to work with someone local for a few reasons:
- The fabricator will be visiting your home to see where the counter will go, make suggestions, and to take a template to work from
- You will be visiting the stone yard to view the granite in person and pick out exactly which one you’ll want to use
- Granite is heavy, and the final counter needs to be transported to your home from the fabricator – choosing someone too far away could mean that you incur heavy shipping or travel costs
You have a few ways of going about finding a local fabricator to use. There’s no right or wrong method, and ultimately you should go with someone you trust to create that perfect counter for you.
Finding a granite countertop sale should take a back seat to finding someone you feel comfortable with. It’s unusual to find a sale that will save you much money and usually (but not always) the discounters can only afford to do so by sacrificing quality in other areas. Often that’s by charging you more for installation or by paying their team of granite installers less.
Find the Stone FirstIf you know exactly what type of granite you want to use in your kitchen, you may have luck finding a custom stone fabricator by searching for that particular stone. Some are very common – nearly every fabricator will have Uba Tuba, Absolute Black, and Santa Cecilia on hand. But others may be harder to find, or may need to be shipped to a fabricator from a national distributor such as Walker Zanger or Marble and Granite.
If you’re looking for a very particular stone, you may want to search specifically for fabricators who have this material. You can do this by googling the name of the stone and the name of your area, or if you know that a national distributor carries what you want, contact them directly and ask who they work with in your area; they can give you the name of a local fabricator that they will ship that slab to.
Coordinate with Other MaterialsOften when you’re picking out a new granite counter, you’re making other changes to the kitchen at the same time. You may be putting in a tile backsplash, a new floor, or some new cabinets. If this is the case, you’ll want to coordinate all of these new materials with your new counter at the same time to ensure that they will work together.
Therefore, you may want to discuss with the showroom or design consultant that you’re working with for these other materials what fabricator they use or recommend. For example, some tile showrooms will work closely with two or three fabricators, keeping samples of slabs on hand for you to view so you can coordinate with your tile. When you pick a sample, you will be referred to the fabricator who will show the slab itself. If you’re working with a kitchen designer or a builder, you may also get a recommendation from them as to who they have worked with in the past.
Old Fashioned Search
If the only change you’re making to your kitchen is a new counter, and you don’t know yet what stone it is you’d like to use, you may have to do some more legwork to find the right local fabricator for you. You can go about this in a few ways:
- Visit a material showroom you’ve used in the past and ask for a recommendation
- Google terms such as “stone yard” “granite fabricator” or “granite counters” and your area to find some listings. Because you won’t be getting a recommendation you can trust from this source, you may want to visit a few yards, as well as check up on them on sites like the Better Business Bureau to get more information
- Ask family and friends who may have had a new counter installed who it is that they’ve used in the past, and whether or not they would recommend them
- Take a look at the websites of national slab dealers for pictures of in stock slabs you like, then ask for a list of fabricators near you who can supply this slab
Visiting the FabricatorRegardless of how you found your fabricator, and whether or not you have an idea of what stone you want to use, you’ll then want to pay them a visit. You want to do this for two reasons:
- To make sure that you feel you can work with this company to produce the new counter to your expectations
- To make a preliminary viewing of their slabs
You should always view the slabs in person, and select and tag the one that you will want in your home. If you’re very unsure, some granite fabricators will pay a visit to your home, take a look at the other materials you are using, and make a suggestion for you. If you’re working with a designer, you may want to bring them along to the stone yard with you, as well as any samples of things like cabinet doors, flooring, and backsplash material so you can see how they work together.
If your kitchen is particularly large, you may need more than one slab to complete the counter. Double check while you’re at the stone yard that they have two slabs from the same lot, and that they are compatible with one another so that they can make a seamless transition from one to the other on your countertop.
Once you find the slab that you want, be sure to ask for a sample of it. This is usually a small corner piece you can use to finish picking out other materials like paint color for the rest of the kitchen. If the granite you select is particularly wild in color and veining, be sure to speak to the fabricator about the placement of the veins in your kitchen. For example, if you have a peninsula, you may want to have a very dominate section of the stone placed there to show it off better.
At this point, you may be required to put down a deposit. Some granite countertop fabricators will include the cost of the installation with the cost of the stone, others will break it out separately. In almost every case, your edge treatments and the cutouts you may have will be additional costs. Typically, the fabricator will visit your home prior to your final selection to get the size of your counter and see if any particular cuts are needed. This way, when you select the stone – and every one will have a different cost – you can get an accurate idea of what the final figure will be.
Templating Your Counter
Once you’ve made your final stone selection, and your granite countertop fabricator knows how much you’ll need, he’ll then need to make a template of your counter. A template is what they will use to cut the stone to fit your cabinets. If you have already ordered or selected your sink, faucet, and drop-in cooktop, you’ll either need these on hand for the templating, or you’ll need the paper template provided by the manufacturer for these items.
For the templating process, your fabricator will take thin strips of wood and lay them around the perimeter of your existing counter, or on your existing cabinets. He’ll glue these strips together to make a life-size mockup of your countertop. He’ll also write directly onto the wood where your sink will be, how many faucet holes you’ll need, and what the edge you’ve selected is.
Your fabricator may give you several different edge treatment selections. Each of these will have a different price, with the more decorative edges costing more than the plainer edges do. The most common edge is known as an eased edge, which is also the simplest. Depending on the style of your kitchen, however, you may want to select something more decorative.
Granite FabricationAfter the template is made, your fabricator can begin making your countertop. In many cases the typical wait time between templating and installation is around 2 to 3 weeks.
During granite counterop fabrication, the template will be used to trace the outline onto the granite you selected. Water jets or water saws will be used to cut the stone, shape it, and polish the edges and the interior edges of your sink cutout. Your fabricator will follow the template like a blue print, along with any markings or notes you may have made together about the stone’s color or veining pattern to cut your countertop to order.
InstallationOnce fabrication has been completed, it’s time to have you granite countertops installed. On the day of installation, make sure your old counter is completely free of any appliances or other items, and that you have a clear path to the door. Real stone counters are heavy, and you want your granite countertop installer to have easy access in and out of your kitchen.
Your fabricator will now remove your old counter, and unhook your old sink and faucet. These will be carried away and disposed of. If you are having a thin – 2cm – stone or a low-grade stone installed, your fabricator may place a plywood support directly on your cabinets to add support. Otherwise, the granite will be laid right onto your cabinets. A silicone caulk will be used to hold it securely in place, and a color-matched epoxy will be used to match up any edges between two sections of countertop.
Your fabricator will likely install your sink for you, using a C-clamp and a 2x4 to hold your sink securely in place while the epoxy cures. Your plumber can hook up your sink and faucet about 24 hours later.
If necessary, your new counter will be shimmed and leveled, and if you have an overhang, supports may be installed to help keep the stone from cracking over time. A good fabricator will keep a vacuum running at all times during installation to help keep dust to a minimum and to ensure that they leave your kitchen in good condition.
If you specified a 4-inch granite backsplash, this will be epoxied into place as well, and a bead of caulk will be run around the back perimeter of the counter where it meets to the wall to seal it in place. As a courtesy, many fabricators will put a coat of sealer on your counter for you; you should reseal the stone whenever water stops beading up off of its surface.
Most fabricators will expect final payment at this time, unless special arrangements have been made beforehand. Once the fabricators leave, you can begin to enjoy your new countertop.
Enjoy Your CounterGetting a granite countertop made just for you is an exciting process. Once done, your counter will be completely unique to your home. Enjoy your new granite counter, and have fun selecting your new stone.
Let Us Help You Find A Good FabricatorWe’ve teamed up with a specialist in connecting homeowners like yourself with local granite companies. They keep an enormous list of preferred contractors that you should consider working with. They’ll give you more than one company too so that you can get multiple quotes, and that’s the key to keeping prices low and quality high.
You can use the phone book and call a few different companies during their business hours. Of you can fill out the form below and have a few pre-screened installers call you at your convenience.
Updated: March 2, 2017