Prefab Granite Countertops
Prefabricated Granite is a Money-Saver, But Beware of Hidden Costs
Prefab granite counters are granite slabs cut to standard sizes with the edges already finished. If they fit your countertop layout, prefab granite can indeed be much cheaper than custom fabricated granite slabs. Non-standard kitchen sizes and countertop configurations, however, can require professional modification that offsets the lower up-front cost.
Prefabricated Granite Pros and Cons
Prefab Granite Pros
- Prefabricated granite is 100% real granite; it looks, feels, and performs just like custom fabricated granite when properly installed.
- Prefab granite is considerably cheaper than slab granite. Fabrication which constitutes a large portion of granite is final cost is done overseas in countries like Brazil, China and India where labor and material costs are less. The precut, edged, and (usually) sealant-protected pieces are shipped to the Unites States ready to install.
- Prefabricated granite may not be as desirable as custom slab granite, but casual observers would not be able to tell the difference and it will still provide a boost in home equity.
Prefab Granite Cons
- Prefabricated granite, like stock cabinetry, is not designed to fit into a unique kitchen. If your countertops are not straight or square ( shapes are fine, but curves and splays are a problem) you may have to hire a professional to modify the sections. Prefab slabs will fit standard-sized, but not oversized, kitchen islands and peninsulas. Common slab sizes are 96 x 26, 98 x 25‚ and 98 x 36. Smaller and large sections may be available depending on the supplier.
- The quality of the granite varies from supplier to supplier, although this is not a particular weakness of prefabricated granite. Granite is a natural stone product and there will always be differences in quality and appearance between slabs. More specific to prefab granite are the gotchas a supplier might spring on you (i.e. charging extra for backsplashes, sink and cooktop cutouts, finishing exposed ends, and installation). A custom granite slab should not have any hidden charges.
- Prefab granite has far fewer options. You are limited to the colors and patterns offered in prefab slabs, and there is often only one edge design (bullnose). Prefabricated slabs also tend to be thinner than custom slabs. Some suppliers have a decent selection of granite, but this pales in comparison to the hundreds or even thousands of styles offered by stone yards.
To learn more about granite countertops, see Countertop Shopper is granite buying guide. For care and maintenance of your granite counter, visit this page.
Prefab Granite Costs
- Prefabricated granite (materials only) starts at $5 to $10 per square foot and can cost as much as $20 to $25 or more per square foot. You may see deals offering prefab granite for $30 per square foot installed, but again, look closely for hidden fees.
- Hiring a fabricator to add cutouts (for sinks and cooktops) typically costs $150 to $250 per cutout.
- Additional fabrication and installation by a professional might cost $20 to $40 per square foot.
- If ordering prefabricated granite direct, there could be considerable shipping charges or a minimum order amount. Make sure that you incorporate any such charges into a cost analysis.
- Because prefabricated granite slabs tend to be smaller, lighter, and thinner than custom slabs, DIY installation is possible (still, the stuff is not light, so you all need to recruit some friends). You can see the tools and materials needed for this job, along with step-by-step instructions for installing prefab granite, at DIYNetwork.com. Do not tackle the job if it seems beyond your abilities. Improper installation can not only look bad, but result in damage to the countertop and/or cabinets that requires professional repair.