HomeownerEducational: A-M

Countertops & Stone – Custom

Countertops & Stone – Custom

What to Consider

Materials. Stone, laminate, and solid surface countertops each offer a specific look and feel. Intended use and budget should be taken into account when choosing a material.

Stone attributes. Rarity, slab thickness, clarity, inclusions, and consistency of color and pattern are a few attributes that drive the cost of stone. While granite is often nondirectional, many stone types have a visible direction that should remain the same throughout the entire project.

Seams. Some companies piece together scraps of leftover stone and create more seams than necessary to minimize the amount of material used in fabrication. Though this decreases cost, it is considered poor workmanship. Your project should not have multiple seams in a short run—approximately 100 inches or less—unless the installer is working to keep the direction consistent. As part of the installation process, quality stone countertop installers will seal seams with polyester resin, which can be colored to match the stone—this is known as a hard seam.

Edge profile. In addition to straight, squared edges and rounded edges, a variety of detailed edge profiles is available for stone countertops. With computer-controlled CNC equipment and an experienced designer, custom edges can also be fabricated.

Installation Process

One of the first steps in the installation process is to select the stone for your countertops. Selecting your own slab ensures a color and pattern that is right for you. Before fabrication begins, the estimator or template maker creates detailed digital templates at your home. Programmers then program sophisticated CNC and water-jet cutting machines to cut and profile the edges. Fabricators put on finishing touches and polish the edges.

Afterward, the installation crew brings the fabricated stone to your home, removes the old countertops, and installs the new ones. The workers typically rip out the old countertops right before installing the new ones so that you can still use the kitchen until the new countertops arrive. To complete the installation, workers will often need to disconnect the plumbing, electrical, and gas. Once the countertops are in place, cook tops, plumbing, garbage disposals, and electrical connections are hooked up or installed. However, these services are usually outside the stone installer’s scope of work. Countertop installation is often one of the last things to happen in a kitchen or bath remodel, so it’s important to coordinate scheduling with other contractors, like a plumber or an electrician.

Custom Stone Companies

By stocking and fabricating slabs, full-service stone companies simplify the processes of installing custom countertops and addressing repairs or concerns. Before you settle on a company, visit several showrooms to see which options will fit your budget and style.