Modular Granite Countertops
A Compromise Between Granite Slab and Granite Tile
Granite is immense popularity has led to lower costs overall, but granite slab is still a budget-buster for many households. One way to save money on granite countertops is to install granite tiles, which are essentially floor tiles adapted to countertop use. The problem with granite tile, however, is the presence of hundreds of dirt-trapping grout lines. If you do a lot of cooking and/or prefer a more seamless appearance, granite tile is a poor substitute for slab granite.
A better substitute is modular granite. This product comes in precut pieces designed for easy installation. Prefab granite has fewer seams than tile granite and can still be completed as a DIY project.
Modular Granite Considerations
- Modular granite can be installed by a competent do-it-yourselfer. If you have ever laid tile, you should be able to install this product. If you do not think your skills are up to snuff, however, consider hiring a professional, as incorrect installation could force you to hire a pro anyway to fix your mistakes.
- The tools required for modular granite installation include a granite saw, jig saw, hand drill w/ granite bits, straight edge, trowel, tri-square, and spirit level. In addition to the modular granite sections, you all also need ½ or 5/8 plywood and a waterproof sub surface (either a membrane or cement backer board).
- Be sure to perform a dry run to ensure that you have enough pieces and the right pieces to cover the countertop. Cuts (such as those for the sink) should be made before the dry run.
- Modular granite ca not be customized. You are limited to the colors and patterns offered by manufacturers and there is usually only one edging option (bullnose). Backsplashes may be included or sold separately.
- While it has fewer seams than granite tile, modular granite does still have seams approximately every 12 (the maximum width of most pieces). It also tends to be a thinner product than the slab granite that is custom ordered from stone yards (that is why you can cut it with a wet/dry saw and also why you need to place plywood beneath it).
- Top-mount, drop-in, raised edge, and tile-in sinks do not present any particular challenges with modular granite. Undermount sinks are possible, but require a substantially higher skill level. A professional granite fabricator may need to help you with undermount sink installation.
- Properly installed, modular granite should perform as well as typical slab granite. Just be sure you know what you are getting out of the box (i.e. does the product need to be polished or sealed or can it be installed as is
- To learn more about granite countertops, check out our comprehensive granite buying guide.
Modular Granite Costs
- Modular granite costs about half of what slab granite does. Expect to pay $25 to $50 per square foot.
- Depending on the manufacturer, modular granite can be purchased in kits/sets or as individual pieces.
- The real savings with modular granite comes from the DIY-aspect. Installation costs (if you do the work yourself) can be virtually nothing, although you may end up spending a couple of hundred dollars on materials and tool rental. To see an instructional video on how to install modular granite, visit DIYNetwork.com.
- Hiring a pro to install modular granite might cost $5 to $10 per square foot.
- Ordering modular granite direct is an option, but bear in mind that shipping charges can cause costs to skyrocket, and there may be a minimum order of $1,000 or more. Be sure to incorporate any such charges into a cost analysis.
- Your local stone yard may have some modular granite in stock. Stop by and speak with an expert to learn more.