Nowadays home interior design trends tend to combine stunning beauty with practical functionality. Therefore, while marble remains a symbol of luxury and high style, granite is quickly gaining popularity for home renovation projects. Granite meets the above requirement perfectly – the variations of colors and patterns present in this natural stone can satisfy even the most refined and peculiar designer visions while its strength and resistance to etching makes it durable and easy to maintain. Obviously, all these advantages come at a considerably high cost.
Pros and Cons of Granite Countertops
There are two sides to every coin, so while the aesthetic values of granite are beyond doubt, you should take into consideration all the relevant factors before making the final decision to use this kind of natural stone for your kitchen countertops.
- The rich colors and texture typical of granite impart beauty and warmth to the surroundings, taking your kitchen to the next level of sophisticated elegance and turning the countertop into the centerpiece of the room;
- Granite is resistant to heat which makes it a very suitable material for use in the kitchen. Being able to place hot pans directly on top of it without damaging the surface is a great advantage indeed – it will speed up your work and will ensure your peace of mind because heat resistance guarantees that you will not inadvertently ruin your delicate countertop;
- Granite is not susceptible to scratches and therefore it takes normal wear and tear very well. If properly maintained, it will preserve its good looks for many years;
- Granite is porous which means that unless properly sealed, it will quickly absorb liquids and even bacteria. Once the liquid penetrates deeper into the stone, cleaning the resulting stain becomes a very difficult task. However, ugly stains on granite countertops can be easily avoided – all you need to do is have the surface well sealed upon installation. But because most sealants wear out with time, it’s advisable that you have your countertops resealed whenever necessary;
- The cost of granite is quite high, so weigh your options carefully and choose the one that best suits your needs and your wallet. Having expensive granite countertops installed only to find out that they don’t match the rest of your home design or don’t provide the convenience you have expected is definitely not worth it.
Keep in mind that the actual price of granite depends on the transportation and installation costs, as well as on the availability of the specific type of stone you have selected.
Factors Determining the Final Cost of Granite Countertops
Granite countertop cost depends on the following factors:
Level and Grade of the Material
Granite stones are grouped in several levels based on their origin, color, veins, or patterns, imperfections and the demand for each specific type. However, the level of the granite slabs has little to do with the quality of the stone – rather, it refers to the richness and scarcity of the color (rare colors and unique patterns corresponding to a higher level).
Grades, on the other hand, reflect the structural quality of the stone in terms of imperfections, such as pits and fissures. Pits result from the crystalline structure of granite, while fissures are caused by the continuous heating and cooling of the stone in its natural environment. They do not compromise the integrity of the material but usually remain visible. Pits and fissures can be filled in and their visibility can be reduced during the finishing processes or they can be deliberately left to enhance the unique look and feel of the surface. Structural cracks, however, or the presence of a great amount of soft minerals in the stone may require granite to be cut in specific shapes and/or additional penetrating sealant to be used.
There are no clear regulations as to the different levels of granite and their corresponding prices – each vendor establishes their own pricing systems based mainly on the demand of the local market. However, lower levels that come at more affordable prices are usually referred to as “commercial quality” – they are common and fairly plain, with no distinctive patterns or color diversity, containing a large number of pits and other natural imperfections that are clearly visible. Higher levels consist of more exotic granites that are in high demand due to the current fashion trends. They should have rich and rare colors, fewer flaws, and stunningly beautiful appearance. Premium grade granites are usually used in custom jobs, the slabs being specifically fabricated for the project, which makes them really expensive.
Granite Slab Thickness
Naturally, thinner cut stones are cheaper than thicker ones. The recommended thickness is 3 cm, especially for sturdy cabinets. Although there is not supposed to be a substantial difference in the durability of the stone as a result of its thickness, thin slabs are often laminated to plywood backing for additional stability and are more prone to damage, especially when the surface is intended for heavy use.
Purchasing granite directly from a supplier can save you about 20% of the cost for the material. Besides, if you go to a granite warehouse to choose and buy the specific type that best suits your needs and your preferences, you will be able to “experience” the stones for real – colors sometimes differ from the digital images available on online or print catalogues and you definitely can’t feel the texture of the material on your computer screen or on paper.
Complexity of Installation
It is not only the material that you will need to pay for when having granite countertops installed. On average, labor accounts for about 25% of the final granite countertop cost. The more complicated your project is and the more specific your requirements are, the higher the price will be, of course.
The number of seams and cuts that need to be made during the installation process influence the final cost to a great extent. They depend on the length and shape of the counter tops, as well as on requested additional features. Besides, don’t forget that the cost of any waste material due to cutouts or specific shapes is paid by the homeowner.
The type of finish you prefer and the backsplash sizes also affect the granite countertop installation cost a lot. If you want an undermount sink, the pricing will go even higher.
The profile edge that you want to be fabricated on the ends of your countertops is another important factor that determines the installation cost. Specific edge treatment can be costly if it requires a lot of time and efforts. Easier cuts such as a half bullnose, eased edge, or bevel edge usually come at no additional price as they are supposed to be standard features. Elaborate cuts, however, are commonly charged by the linear foot of the edge of your countertop and can cost you dearly since they need a very experienced and sophisticated approach. Ogee or Dupont, etc. will create an elegant profile and will add some artistic value to your kitchen but you should keep the price in mind.
Last but not least, you will have to pay the qualified professional who will install your countertops. Unless you have some former experience, proper equipment, and sufficient knowledge, you are advised to hire professionals to perform the job. If you do it yourself, you will save some money for the installation but you may damage the material and that will be a much costlier scenario.
However, be very careful – you need an experienced, licensed and insured installer. Ask for recommendations, contact several service providers, and compare their rates. Have in mind that square-foot pricing generally doesn’t include edge details, sealing the tops, adding backsplashes, finishing, or other extra services, so request free onsite estimates of your project (templates are only free if you go ahead with the project). When accepting an offer, make sure that all your requirements have been taken into account, as well as any specifics concerning the shape, length, and additional features of your countertop, and verify that the material is the exact grade, color, thickness, and texture you desire. Before making your final decision, ask your chosen service provider to show you samples of their work (you will be surprised how often the job is very poorly done). Make sure there are no gaps in the seams, and the two sides of a seam are perfectly level and smooth. Pay special attention to the edge treatment, the finish, and the sealing provided.
Using the services of a licensed contractor who works together with an interior designer is your most expensive option but the results are usually astonishing. Hiring a skilled handyman, on the other hand, is the cheapest method to have professionally installed granite countertops.
So, how much do granite countertops cost to install? To summarize it all, granite countertop prices will be a notch higher for each of the following aspects:
- High level of the material;
- Rich colors and rare patterns;
- No visible imperfections;
- Thicker cut stone;
- Oddly shaped countertops that require multiple seams;
- Edge profile that is difficult to cut;
- Sophisticated type of finish;
- Backsplash and/or undermount sink;
- Licensed contractor and/or designer-sourced installation.
The price of a square-foot of completely finished countertops can vary from $40 to $300 depending on the above-described factors. However, the average cost of granite countertops is about $150 per square foot.
To keep your elegant and expensive granite countertops in good condition for many years, make sure to:
- Wipe spills immediately;
- Avoid using your granite countertop as a cutting board;
- Have the surface resealed every 3-5 years;
- Clean regularly with a mild antibacterial agent, such as liquid dishwashing soap;
- Avoid abrasive and harsh chemicals that can damage the surface and remember that ammonia and bleach can strip the sealant from the granite.
Granite countertops require little maintenance and provide a durable and exquisite solution for your kitchen design. The unique charm of this natural stone and its ability to stand up to the tests of time are worth its price.