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How to Install a Granite Kitchen Countertop (page 1 of 3)

Granite, like most natural stones, can be expensive. But you can save between 20 percent and 30 percent off a professional installation by doing it yourself.

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Plan the Installation

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When planning your installation, working with your local stone fabrication shop is key. Granite is heavy, difficult to transport and must be cut with specialty tools. And though it’s known for its hardness, if it's not handled correctly or installed with proper support, it can crack or, worse, break.

There are few fixes for a broken slab of granite. So it's a good idea to work closely with your local stone fabricator.

The first step is to decide what type of granite you want. The shop will have many samples and slabs. You’ll see all the varied colors and grain patterns up close.

You’ll also see the various edging patterns to choose from: square, bevel, bull-nose, miter, ogee and many more.

You may want to have the fabricator visit your kitchen to check if anything there may affect how the countertops are made, such as wall bump-outs or exposed pipes.

In addition to the main countertop surface, you’ll need to decide on the length of the countertop overhang, as well as the type and size of backsplash.

Granite countertop

Measure for Installation

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Once you’ve got your granite picked out and your old countertops removed, take accurate measurements of your base cabinets to give to the fabricator. Start with the tops of the base cabinets, including the distance from the front of the face frame to the wall along the entire length of cabinets.

Measuring countertop

Create a Template

The most accurate way to get measurements for your fabricator is to make a template from cardboard, thin luan plywood or even Mylar plastic.

Scribe the template so that it fits snugly against the wall along the entire run of cabinets before tracing the front edge onto the template.

In your template, you must measure the exact locations of cutouts for sinks and cooktops, and holes for faucets and soap dispensers. Be careful not to allow a span of more than 2 feet between cabinets, such as a span over a dishwasher. And allow no more than 6 inches of unsupported overhang with 2-centimeter stone and 9 inches with 3-centimeter stone.

If you plan an undermount sink, make note of that on the template for the fabricator, who will be able to cut a groove along the underside edge of the sink hole, so that the sink clips can be secured.

Also, insist that your fabricator “rod” the cutouts with steel or fiberglass reinforcements to strengthen the narrow areas around the cutouts.

Remember, if you’ll feel more comfortable, you can always negotiate an itemized price for your stone fabricator to come and take the measurements to ensure accuracy.

Once you've clearly specified your requirements and submitted your measurements, set a date for pickup or delivery of your finished countertops.

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