The cost of granite countertops
The beauty, hardness, and utility of granite make it a highly desirable material for countertops in home design. In addition to its natural strength, granite is a beautiful stone that adds color and warmth to a room. Although the cost of adding granite countertops to any new or remodeled kitchen can be quite high, they are still the first choice in many new and remodeled homes.
The price of granite countertops ranges from $60 to $120 per square foot, which may or may not include the cost of installation. Discount granite can be found for as little as $30 per foot, not including installation. The cost of the premium is not in the stone itself, but in costs related to transportation and installation.
The stone industry remains unregulated, which can make it confusing. Each entity that handles granite, from the quarry to the supplier to the manufacturer, can set its own price based on local market demand. Full-service dealers, so the homeowner doesn’t have to shop or plan, will add up to a 50% markup.
Granite suppliers typically have three or four groups (or “tiers”) of granite to choose from. The first level will consist of the premium products that are sold for the highest price. Stones are grouped based on various criteria, including country of origin, color, veining or patterns, thickness of the slab, amount of soft minerals in the stone, and current fashion trends. Some granite colors exhibit “movement” or a distinctive pattern within the color. The combination of color and movement also influences the final price of granite countertops.
The granite of the lower levels has the same beauty and utility as the slabs of the upper sets. Also, stones at a lower level can be harder than stones at a first level, so it’s worth getting out there and looking around. A lower level might also be referred to as “commercial grade.” Commercial grades typically have a large number of “holes” that have been filled. The presence of softer minerals may require additional cabinet supports or penetrating sealant, increasing the final price of granite countertops.
Cheaper, thinner cut stone may be a little less than an inch instead of the three recommended, in which case the installer would laminate it with a plywood backing for added stability. Discount granite suppliers generally deal in a thinner cut stone; Many vendors now carry stones that are intentionally cut and rolled at the quarry. It is now common for stone originating from Asia or India to be cut and manufactured prior to shipment. Prefabrication creates a lower cost product with less scrap sent to the supplier. In addition, manufacturing takes place in countries with much lower wages, saving labor costs at the final destination.
The price of granite countertops is greatly affected by the number of seams and cuts that will have to be made in the stone slabs. Discuss how the cuts will be made when the installer or fabricator takes preliminary measurements for the template. Another thing to question is the hidden costs of waste material. Depending on the length of the countertops being installed, there will be at least three square feet of waste by the time the fabricator is done. The cost of the waste material is paid by the owner.
Shopping for granite countertops doesn’t have to be frustrating. Focus on finding a reputable dealer and installer who is willing to answer all of your questions. Even though labor costs are the biggest price tag for granite countertops, this is a project that should be left to the professionals. Large sheets are extremely delicate and must be cut with precision. Failing to lay out a granite countertop correctly could create a costly mistake for a do-it-yourself homeowner.