Hey there! How was your weekend? Ours was fantastic -- I'm sad to see it go. The weather was spectacular too.
Later today our granite fabricators will be here to measure for the new counters and I'm SO stinking excited! If all goes well they will be installed next week. I think it will be one thing that makes a HUGE difference in our kitchen.
We've lived her for more than 11 years now and have always had laminate counters. They do fool a lot of people at first glance though:
I actually quite like the laminate -- it's held up incredibly well. The only things I don't like about it are the splash on the back (I prefer one that stops at the wall) and that I can't undermount the sink. Laminate has come a long way though -- now you can get it with both of those options.
But we wanted to upgrade to stone this time. Actually, I was considering butcher for the counters and stone for the island for a long time, but I ended up flipping the two. I have loved our wood island counter over the years, but don't want to worry about having it throughout the kitchen and near the sink. (I did so much research -- some swear by them and don't have any problems, some love the look but wouldn't do it again. I don't want to worry about the counters that much.)
So stone it was! Thing was, I had no idea what the process was. I thought you went to a stone yard, picked out the one you want, they come measure and then install. Well -- that is how it's done sometimes. But the process can be different than that so I wanted to share it here. A friend who is a designer let me know the deal and I was so thankful for her help. (When I was in decorating years back we focused purely on decor -- not design, so I never did this part!)
Step one: Find your stone
Look up granite showrooms in your area to begin your search. I asked friends on Facebook for ideas as well -- that's usually the first place I start with anything like this. You are free to go to the showrooms and browse the products. Most will have granite, soapstone, marble and quartz for you to check out:
I'll get into the differences in those in a later post. ;)
Two things to consider -- most showrooms don't allow kids under 12 years or so. And watch your step! Some are laid out very well and it's easy to get around to see the slabs. Others are much tighter and if your'e not careful you can easily trip on the wood units that hold all the stone. Keep your eyes down to watch where you're walking -- this can be hard when you're oohing and ahhing over the slabs. ;)
Here's what I didn't realize -- some showrooms are just that, showrooms. Some are both a showroom and a fabricator -- the fabricator is the one who does the work of quoting, measuring and installing. Find that out ahead of time because you don't want to be a dork like me and ask how much a specific granite costs when they are just a showroom. They won't be able to tell you -- only the fabricator can give you quotes.
Does that make sense? I hope so. I thought anyone would be able to tell me pricing but that's not the case. Only the fabricator can do that.
The showroom will have their own pricing code on the slabs -- it helps a little bit. These codes will vary from place to place though. So when you are looking around a warehouse that uses A-Z for their codes and you find a slab you love that's a Q, you know it will be expensive.
The largest place I visited had codes that went from A (least expensive) to about H (most expensive). The one I fell in love with had a D code (more about that soon) so I knew it was at the middle range of pricing.
In general granite pricing is based on the design of the stone -- so those that have a more uniform look like this:
Are generally less expensive. They don't have a lot of variation -- which is nice if you want your counters to not have any random designs.
The higher you go in price, the more flow and less uniform they are:
It just depends on your taste. I loved the flow of the one above, but the darker one above was not a favorite -- I wanted a little more consistency.
When you visit the showrooms they will have sample cabinet fronts in various colors for you to take with you while you look at slabs. Take one that matches your cabinets! Hold it up in front of the ones you like to see how the stone will look with your kitchen.
Step two: Find your fabricator
So like I said, sometimes the fabricators will have a stone yard you can check out. Most do have some stone -- but they don't always have the selection the warehouses have. But the fabricator is who will give you a quote and do the work from that point on. Shop around! We ended up going with Marble Uniques in Tipton, IN (thanks to some helpful readers on IG) because their pricing blew away the others. They had the stone I wanted on-site so I'm thinking that made a difference.
It's a good idea to have measurements of your kitchen layout before you go in to a fabricator for a quote. And by the way -- some fabricators want you to come into their office to get a quote, some will let you email the info and will email you pricing. My place let me do the latter which was so helpful -- they aren't super close to us.
I drew up a quick layout:
Once I got pricing I took a trip to the fabricator and checked out the slab of my granite, then picked out the edge I wanted and worked out details like where the seams will go and the sink we are using. Fabricators will have sinks you can purchase from them -- which is extremely helpful when they cut your stone.
We are using our current granite sink and faucet, so I had to find a number on the bottom of it -- they were able to look it up and find the exact measurements to use. This was GREAT because otherwise my friend highly recommended taking our sink to them for the cutting -- there is too high of a chance of it not being perfect if they don't have your sink or exact measurements. Finding that number on the sink allows us to keep our sink intact for a week that it would have been gone. Whew.
Step three: Measure for counters
This is happening today! Whoot! Again, it is the fabricator who will do this. Remove everything from your countertops before they arrive. From my understanding we will discuss faucet placement and details like that.
They take this info back to cut the stone -- the timing I got from most was that it takes 8-12 business days from the time of measure to installation.
Step four: Install the stone!
So far ours is scheduled for next week. Fingers crossed. One thing to note -- you will be responsible for removing your own sink and countertops. We'll do that the day before so there's as little time as possible without a working sink and dishwasher.
After the stone is installed you have to wait at least 24 hours to hook everything back up -- I believe to use your range again too. This is because the silicon used on the seams needs time to cure. So we will be without most of the kitchen for at least three days, and that is if I can get Dad here to help me the day before and the day after to hook everything back up. He doesn't know this yet. Hey Dad. ;)
I have also heard that it's a good idea to remove things from your base cabinets if you will have any cuts made. Our only cuts will be at the faucet so I'll remove everything from under that cabinet before they come.
So there you go! The step-by-step process for picking out stone countertops! I really had no idea -- I thought you went into the stone yard, picked your stone and that was it. Again, some fabricators will have the stone you want, so that can knock out a step. But I found the process of walking through stone yards and looking at them quite fun -- each place had different options. All were beautiful!
Next week I'll share more about our pick and more stones that look like marble -- that was what I was looking for myself. Marble takes a little more care than I'm willing to give, and I'll explain that more about that next week too!
If you've been through this process feel free to share your thoughts as well!
P.S. For you locals, I visited Global Granite, Mont and Unique showrooms in Indianapolis. All extremely helpful with tons of selections. Marble Uniques in Tipton is who we are going with and so far I'm thrilled with their service.