Installing Granite Countertops

Let’s face it, granite countertops are incredibly expensive. When it’s all said and done, you’re looking at spending upwards of $70-$100 per square foot. That’s clearly way out of reach for many—if not most of us “average” consumers. But what many people don’t know is that labor expenses embody a healthy portion of the cost of having granite installed. Therefore, if you can find ways to get the material for a decent price, you can save a whole lot of money by installing granite countertops yourself. And yes, there are ways to get granite rather cheaply, including the way I posted in this article. Some DIY’ers will even fabricate (cut and polish) their own material, but that would require a substantial amount of time and effort on your behalf. You’re probably better off getting the granite fabricated prior to taking delivery, or purchasing prefabricated pieces that meet your requirements.

Now, I wrote in an earlier post that DIY projects are almost always more work than you think they’re going to be, and installing granite countertops is clearly no exception to the rule. However, the general consensus is that installing granite is one of those incredibly difficult jobs that should only be left to the pro’s. That’s simply not true. I can attest from having installed my own granite countertops (with some help) that it’s really no more difficult than the majority of other DIY projects—but it is extremely heavy. In fact, I found that the most challenging aspect of installing granite countertops was the sheer heft of the material. This stuff can weigh up to 25 pounds per square foot, so transporting and moving the material around safely becomes the glaring obstacle. As long as you have a few friends with good strong backs, you should be fine. Aside from that—assuming that the pieces of granite are fabricated correctly, and the cabinets are properly installed and leveled—it’s a relatively straightforward procedure. Here are what I found to be the 5 most important points to successfully installing granite countertops.

  1. Double and triple check your measurements before having the pieces of granite fabricated. Have a “second set of eyes” redo the measurements to verify their accuracy. There is no going back if the material is cut wrong… period.
  2. Get help. You really can’t install granite countertops without sufficient help—and by that I mean a few strong helpers. Moreover, make certain that you and your helpers can collectively handle the pieces you’ll be attempting to move. We ran into problems with one very oddly shaped 700 pound piece of granite for the peninsula in our kitchen—and we had 4 very strong individuals.
  3. BE CAREFUL! Although granite is one of the hardest natural materials known to man, it’s also quite fragile. It can easily fracture or break if mishandled, so try to be as delicate as possible when transporting or moving the material. Pre-plan your walking paths and make sure there are no tripping hazards. Also try to figure out how you’re going to maneuver the granite pieces before actually moving them. Realizing that you need to spin a huge slab of granite around after you’ve already been carrying it for a couple of minutes is not fun—especially with all kinds of obstacles in the way, and nowhere to set it down. That’s something we had to go and learn the hard way.
  4. Make sure that the cabinets are properly leveled. If they’re not, it can really throw a monkey wrench into the equation. If you can’t manage to level the cabinets, you’ll have to do the best you can with shims.
  5. Make sure the cabinets—as well as the house, can handle the weight of the granite. Depending on the thickness of your granite and the cabinets you’re installing it on, you may need to add some additional reinforcements to your cabinetry. The same goes for the house; is the floor prepared to withstand the load of thousands of pounds of granite? Probably… but it’s much better to be safe than sorry.

Other than those things, you should obviously research as much as you can about installing granite countertops. There’s an endless supply of information pertaining to the topic floating around online. But don’t over-complicate it. As I said, the most challenging part for us was actually moving the material around—it’s just heavy, fragile, and awkward. Ultimately, if you have the pieces of granite in their final resting place atop properly leveled cabinets, it’s not the insurmountable feat that some would have you believe. In fact, there isn’t all that much to it. After it’s in place, you pretty much just need to learn how to glue the countertops to their respective cabinets, as well as how to inconspicuously seam the pieces together. However, if you happen run into leveling issues, you’re likely going to be doing some fiddling around with shims… but that’s a story for another day. Truth be told, I’m having a much more difficult time growing grass in my yard than I did installing granite countertops in my kitchen and bathrooms.

Aside from that, if you’d like to know more about how to get granite countertops locally for unbelievably low prices, or how to build or remodel your house and save tens-of-thousands of dollars in the process, check out the book that I wrote here.

Comments on Installing Granite Countertops Leave a Comment

July 13, 2011

Kimi Haggerton @ 4:59 am #

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November 23, 2011

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