If you are a first time shopper looking for new granite countertops (most shoppers are first timers), then you might be feeling a little nervous because you don’t know how to find the best deal. In fact, you may not understand what a great deal looks like, let alone know how to avoid a bad deal.
This is perfectly normal and a great reason why you should read these helpful tips.
Remember, once your granite countertops are installed, you cannot go back. You must live with your decision for as long as you remain in your home. Recently, we have noticed an increase in calls from people looking to replace poorly installed granite countertops. This is an expensive way to complete your dream project and with a little knowledge should be avoidable.
How to Purchase Granite Countertops and Feel Happy About the Results
Finding a great deal on new granite countertops requires you to consider several factors. There’s more to it than just selecting the right granite. A highly skilled fabricator can take an unimpressive looking granite slab and turn it into a stunning addition to a newly installed kitchen.
On the other hand, a poorly equipped granite fabricator can take a gorgeous piece of granite and ruin the whole thing with a badly executed layout or installation.
As you shop around for the best deal on granite countertops, don’t be surprised if you find a company that advertises their granite at a rate somewhere close to $25.99 per square foot. Of course that sounds tantalizing to a consumer and this tactic can help a business get shoppers into their store but, behind the amazingly low rate you will likely find some eye opening disappointments like these:
- The company might be using granite that is 2cm thick, which is below the industry standard for kitchen countertops (3cm is the thickness you want to use.)
- Not allowing the customer to choose the full slab of granite used for their countertops.
- Using prefabricated granite blanks imported from a cheap labor country and not using the full slabs of granite which is industry standard. Custom designs are not possible using this type of system and any fit issues are (i.e. bowed walls) are not addressed because they cannot be.
- Granite slabs marketed as low as $25.99 per square foot may get you through the door, but you will be disappointed when you find only 1 or 2 unattractive granite colors available that you wouldn’t even consider for your kitchen if they were free.
- Installation of the counter tops may not be included in the low advertised price.
Once through their door, you are told by a sales associate that the actual price is much higher after the custom countertops are measured, fabricated with proper edge profiles and then they need to be installed, of course.
This raises the final price to one that is equal to or even greater than the prices the reputable companies are offering.
Many reputable granite countertop businesses do not agree with this bait-and-switch practice because it doesn’t contribute to forming a good relationship with the customer. Reputable businesses do not believe in unethical advertisement or employ bait and switch tactics to get you through the door. If you are looking for the right company to make your dream project a reality you are always better off visiting a granite fabricator’s facility where they deal with you in a straightforward manner before the final decision is made
How to Compare Two Different Fabricators
Now, let’s suppose you are considering two reputable granite fabricators…
Fabricator A and Fabricator B are both offering you a slab of Venetian Gold, but the slabs from each business look extremely contrasting. Most shoppers not experienced in natural granite would probably think the two slabs were completely different.
Yet, they have the same name. One looks beautiful, while the other – not so much. How can two slabs, with the same name look completely different?
Well, you probably know granite is a natural product that is formed in the ground and then quarried out. Mother Nature provides a multitude of colors and appearances, along with differences in pattern within the same type of granite. We do not have control over how it looks because it is not manufactured.
Premium VS Commercial Grade Granite Slabs
Let’s take a closer look at the granite quarrying process to help explain why granite slabs are different in appearance and also priced differently.
We begin with a brief historical look at Venetian Gold (which is one of the most popular neutral granite colors) and the extraction process as a means to better understand why slabs can be so different.
Venetian Gold is quarried in the Espirito Santo province of Brazil, where it is found in the large quarries of the region.
Some blocks of Venetian Gold extracted from the ground are going to have a more desirable appearance than others. This occurred naturally when the stone was formed millions of years ago.
When a block of Venetian Gold has a more vibrant color and movement with little to no natural imperfections, the quarry owner will sell it at a higher price point because many importers will want to buy it.
The less attractive blocks are not as sought after by importers. Of course these sell for less. Highly desirable Granite slabs are given a “Premium Quality Block” label and the less desirable slabs are labeled “Commercial Quality Block.”
Quality conscious fabricators with real passion for natural stone tend to buy the ‘Premium Quality Block’ even though it costs more.
More Points to Consider
When you are deciding on Fabricator A or B, if both have an equal quality of stone, these additional factors will affect the price…
- Experience level of staff
- Quality of equipment in the shop
- Level of excellence in custom cuts
- Polishing quality
- Visibility of seams (reputable granite fabricators strive to make the seams barely noticeable)
Without these factors, quality becomes an empty promise.
Find Out if the Fabricator is covered with Insurance
Here are few final things you’ll need to know before selecting your granite fabricator:
Consider what sort of insurance coverage each fabricator has on their business.
A low-end or garage fabricator (who fabricates granite in his garage or in your drive way) won’t have insurance for his business or his employees (includes workman’s compensation insurance.)
A fabricator who is insured is important for you as a consumer. When a fabricator is fully covered with all of the necessary insurance, there is little to no added cost for the consumer, so don’t think finding a fabricator with little to no insurance is a better deal.
In the event an accident resulting in injury to the men working on your project or damage to your property, you can be held liable and end up with a nightmare situation by hiring an uninsured or underinsured fabricator.
The only way to avoid this is by hiring a fabricator who is covered with needed insurance coverage.
What is included and what is not?
It is a wise idea to get several quotes on comparable stone. Some homeowners even get 4 or 5 quotes.
You need to carefully compare quotes keeping these factors in mind:
- Is the stone same with similar looks and thickness
- Are all cutouts like the sink or cooktop included in the price
- What edge profile is specified
- Does it include sealing of the granite
- Does it include digital measuring
- Does it include installation
- What kind of warranty is included
Proper comparison is important because the fabricator who advertised low price per square foot adds charges like transportation cost, fuel surcharge cost, installation cost, additional cost for application of sealant etc. to bring the price up.
Too Good to Believe Prices
Let us say you have quotes from 5 fabricators on the same granite.
Let us assume prices from 5 quotes came as follows:
Fabricator A $3400
Fabricator B $3560
Fabricator C $2350
Fabricator D $3280
Fabricator E $4700
When you study the above 5 quotes you found that quotes from A,B and D are in the same range and within a difference of 10%.
The lowest price is from fabricator C which is almost 40% less than the 3 quotes and half of the highest quoted price. There is no way he can accomplish the job at the low price when 3 other reputable fabricators are so similarly priced. Beware of hidden on additional charges or poor craftsmanship.
More likely than not, Fabricator C will not welcome your idea of visiting his fabrication shop. That tells the other half of the story. Smart shoppers avoid this too good to believe pricing from Fabricator C because it is not in the range of other legitimate quotes.
Fabricator E is way out of range of the other quotes. Smart consumers will shortlist Fabricator A, B and D for further evaluation.
Yes, you should not pay more than required to get a quality job, but you do not want to risk the quality of your permanent upgrade by going with the cheapest price.
It it almost always true that you get what you pay for, but in case of granite installation you may not get what you paid for. If you must replace a poor quality granite installation it will cost much more than the original price.
You can educate yourself by online research to find a company who will do the job right the first time. The Better Business Bureau is another excellent online resource and is free of charge.
Hopefully these tips have given you more confidence to begin your search for the perfect counter tops. As always we stand ready to assist you in any way we can.
Arch City Granite & Marble’s business model is based on providing high quality Granite, Marble and Quartz countertops at competitive prices. A combination of high quality with affordable pricing is made possible by stocking our own granite inventory and utilization of modern technology.
You are most welcome to visit our facilities in Saint Louis and O’Fallon, Missouri to see what we do first hand. We are confident that you will be satisfied with your visit to our facility.