Installing Granite or Cabinet Refacing: Which Comes First?

Posted on Monday, December 28th, 2015 by Arch City Granite

Granite Kitchen, Missouri

You have decided to give a new look to your kitchen but your kitchen cabinets are in great shape, and you have made up your mind to replace the beaten up countertops with beautiful new granite or quartz counters.

But you are not very happy about the color of your cabinets.  In this scenario re-facing the cabinets is an economical and faster option. So now you have two parts of the project; Cabinet Refacing and replacing the countertops.

Which one should happen first? New countertops or cabinet re-facing?  Following are some practical tips that will be useful in your project.

When Granite Countertops Come First

If your cabinets are in good shape structurally and you like the layout, but you’re not keen on the color or finish, select and install the granite countertop first. In fact, cabinet refacing professionals recommend having your granite countertop installed first if no other structural changes will be made to the cabinetry.

Natural granite comes in a wide variety of color variations. Once it’s in your home, slight color variations from what you had in mind when you picked out the slab in the showroom may suddenly manifest themselves under the different lighting in your kitchen or bathroom. These variations usually aren’t major, or even very noticeable. Nevertheless, even slight changes might affect what you had in mind for your cabinets.

Waiting to reface the cabinets until the granite is installed gives you the freedom to compare possible cabinet design, colors and textures right in your home, under the lighting that you’ll be seeing on a daily basis.

If you are just refacing the cabinets, keep in mind that any gaps or imperfections between the cabinet back panel and the wall will remain the same. The degree of levelness in the cabinets will also not change. However, even if you are not replacing the cabinets, these problems can be addressed during refacing by simply installing a matching trim across the gap.

When Refacing — or Replacing— the Cabinets Comes First

If you are doing a more intensive remodel of your kitchen or bathroom, it’s possible that your cabinets might need to be replaced or repaired, not just refaced. In some cases your new design may need additional cabinets or repositioning of existing cabinets.

In the projects like above, you will be doing some structural or replacement work on the cabinets. In these situations, the cabinets must be finished and anchored to the floor before installing the granite countertops. Granite countertops are not only heavy, but natural granite contains veins and striations that might have weak points that could crack if the supporting structures underneath are disturbed.

In fact, we rarely recommend removing an existing granite countertop from a set of cabinets.

The seams in granite or quartz countertops are tightly pulled together and glued not only to have a nice and clean look but also to hold the two seamed counters structurally together.  And also the underside of stone countertops are attached with epoxy blocks to the cabinets in certain important locations so that they do not move under normal usage. These epoxy joints need to be carefully ripped off before the installed granite countertops can be taken from the cabinets.

We do not recommend de-installing granite countertops except in the unfortunate incidents of home flooding or fire accidents.  In cases of such unforeseen circumstances, we may attempt to take the countertops off from the damaged cabinets with a clear disclaimer that the intactness of countertops not guaranteed. We only advise to even attempt this because the home insurance companies insist on salvaging anything including the stone countertops.

Keep in mind that you can wait to reface or do the exterior work on the new or altered cabinets until after the granite has been installed. The main factor is that the cabinets need to be anchored and structurally sound before the granite is installed. Color matching and refacing can happen safely afterward.

Each project is slightly different and if you have questions, or are designing a highly-customized kitchen or bathroom, contact us in St. Louis or O’Fallon to talk with our granite experts about your unique project. Having installed stone countertops for more than 4000 kitchen or bathroom projects, Arch City Granite can offer helpful solutions to your projects.

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