A Kitchen Remodel 3: Countertops

A corner of the Tan/Brown granite counter showing bullnose shaped edging

I had to convince my wife on the matter of installing granite countertops in the new kitchen.  I think that her reluctance was initially based upon the price.  While conventional formica countertops cost in the neighborhood of $10 per lineal foot, granite begins at $50 or more per square foot.  However, once sold on the idea, she quickly found a granite that she liked. As it turned out, the Tan/Brown granite is a fairly popular and readily available granite color.  We found that there was a wide range of pricing for the identical product among different vendors.  Usually the pricing includes installation but we found that many retailers included other add-on costs.  Some vendors charge extra for the sink and other cut-outs.  Some charge extra (from $5 to $10 per lineal foot) for any shape of edging besides a standard square edge.  Since the bullnose shape that we chose is one of the most radical shaped edges, this was a major factor in our choice of vendor. We found the best price locally at a large regional furniture/appliance store known as Nebraska Furniture Mart.

The process of getting the granite countertop was hardly straight-forward.  While the initial contract and deposit (to cover the cost of having a template of the countertop made)  were made to the retailer, we were directed to a Granite supplier’s yard to choose the actual slabs of granite that were to be used.  Then, once I finished installing the cabinets, we had to arrange for the granite Installer (a third company)  to make precise templates of the countertop based upon the exact cabinet dimensions and layout. They also took the sink and faucet so that the openings could be custom-fit to the exact sink and faucet.

Undermount stainless steel sink and faucet

This meant that we had to have the sink and faucet not only chosen, but in our possession before the templating could be scheduled.  We were not having much luck finding what we were looking for locally when a chance conversation with my father and step-mother (who coincidentally replaced laminate countertops with granite earlier in the summer) directed us toward Overstock.com where we found just what we were looking for.  The sink was a Kraus brand asymmetrical double-bowl heavy gauge stainless steel extra deep sink.  We coupled it with a Concord brushed nickel finish spiral pulldown faucet.  My wife teases me that it reminds her of something that belongs on a submarine.  While there is a sort of retro-futuristic steam punk aura about the ensemble, I highly recommend the combination.  I found the selection and prices from Overstock.com so exceptional that I went back later and found the bar stools for the eat-in kitchen bar.

After the Installer made the template, the provided exact square footage information to the retailer, who then prepared an accurate bill.  Once we made a second deposit, the Installer picked up the granite slabs from the Supplier’s yard and cut the countertop.  About 10 days after the templating, the Installers installed the countertop in place.  It took about 3 hours for the installation to be complete.

Consequently, following the mid-August cabinet delivery and the time that it took for me to self-install the cabinets (amid preparation for a late-August resumption of academic responsibilities), the countertops were not finished until September 2 (during the first week of school).  While this concluded the major installation and rendered a usable kitchen, it left undone several large projects including the installation of a tile backsplash, under-cabinet lighting and cabinet trim, as well as the construction of the table and some open shelves over the desk and myriad other small details.  Because of my academic and production duties with Simpson College, most of these improvements had to wait for Christmas break and later.

Before you plan on installing granite counter-tops, be prepared for the scheduling issues described above as well as the following issues:

  • Cabinets must be very level and flush to one another for granite to be installed.
  • Reinforce the base cabinet that spans the sink to support weight and prevent cracking of the thin section of granite between the sink and edge of counter.
  • Make all decisions concerning and secure the sink and faucet before scheduling templating.
  • Be prepared for increased breakage of glasses and plates once your new counter is installed, since the granite is unforgiving in its hardness.
  • Use granite cleaner & polish regularly to maintain  the countertop in good condition.

Once again, I am quite pleased with the counter-tops.  Again, more importantly my wife loves them!  Finally, once again, I can’t understand how HGTV can achieve a 3-day makeover considering my experience with the inherent time constraints imposed by the vendors, installers and the materials themselves.

Next time, I’ll discuss the construction of the table.

That’s enough for now! Have fun!  Be safe!





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