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View Full Version : OT--Buying Granite Countertops


mlwear
11-01-2006, 09:38 AM
As this seems to be the trend now, I know some of you will have experience.
Initially, we thought of going through Home Depot. The granite we like (by looking at a sample) is on sale and you get a free sink. We haven't looked at Lowe's, but we would consider there, also.
After a little online research, I'm wondering if we should go with a smaller company that specializes in granite countertops.
Of course, installers for countertops will be different all over the country, but I'm thinking more about the quality of the granite. The salespeople at Home Depot don't have a lot more knowledge than I do just by reading some brochures.
Some sites suggest that a consumer should be worried about polishing swirl marks? Anyone use HD or Lowes and have this problem. I have also read that kitchens should use 3" granite. Home Deopt rep didn't tell us the thickness and I never thought to ask -- this is the sort of thing that concerns me...what don't I know that I may regret later?
Ideas about who has the better deals the box stores or a smaller specialty company?
I know about the costs for cut outs, edging and old counter removal. Any other costs come to mind that may be hidden?
TIA for any advice.

mytwotinks
11-01-2006, 09:45 AM
Be careful if you use an independant contracter. My dad is a trim carpenter and he has had to redo several people's countertops because the contracter installed them without enough support and the countertop cracked. Granite is very heavy and requires a lot of support. I guess you just need to make sure that they guarantee their work and know exactly what that guarantee means. I am just thinking that I might feel a little more comfortable with a company like HD or lowes that would probably be more able to back up the quality of their work. I probably shouldn't say that because my dad does that work, but I hear his horror stories about some of the things he has to fix that others have messed up. If you can find someone with lots of referances that you can trust that might be the way to go.

chrissyk
11-01-2006, 10:03 AM
Are you friends with any contractors who could give you a referral? Our neighbor is a contractor, and he told us who the really good granite companies were in our area. We went with one of them and we are very pleased with our countertops. This place had a really nice showroom where we could see all of the various granite that they offered. Once we chose our granite, we had to go sign off on our slabs before they even cut them.

Honestly, a free sink isn't worth more than a couple of hundred dollars, so I wouldn't let that be your deciding factor.

DisneyDazed
11-01-2006, 10:09 AM
Well I went with a local company that had great references. They are loved so much that when people move they pay to have them drive to other states to install their granite. I would also look to see if they have "sample sales" I wish we had done that. Our kitchen is such that we could have used a few leftover peices from one of their other jobs and saved a ton of money.

Now as far as HD goes. My husband is a contractor and they contract the work out. So if you have carpets, floors granite etc installed they arent people that work for HD rather they are subcontractors. Also its good to know that HD goes with the lowest bidder on a price. My DH bid on installing floors and they went with someone else that did it impossibly cheap. You get what you pay for so just be careful in who the installers will be and INSIST on their credentails if you shoudl go with HD. Dont just rely on the word of HD. It could just be in our area that this is going on but its good to know if you should go with HD.

java
11-01-2006, 10:10 AM
I second don't buy at HD or Lowes for something as specialized as Granite. I would prefer to go pick out my slab- not just a color from an inch square- Plus any install job we have done with home depot has been a disaster- So we go with guys that support themselves with their knowledge of the product. Plus granite looks a whole lot different when you see it on a huge slab than a little square- you can tell right away if you will like it or not.

ticktock
11-01-2006, 10:25 AM
We, like you, started looking at granite at HD. I had picked out a sample called blue pearl. The rep at HD gave us the number of the granite place that actually does the work for them so I could go pick out my slabs. They want you to pick the slabs yourself because granite,being a natural material, can be VERY different from one batch to the next.

When I called the place the receptionist was very careful in her wording if I wanted a HD appointment or just an appointment with the company. I said HD appointment. We got there and started looking at the slabs. The granite I had picked from the little sample at HD looked NOTHING like the big slabs they had on property.None of the granite that HD contracted them to install apealled to me. And of course the HD price was much higher than the companys pricing.

They couldn't talk to me about going through them during this appointment since it was a HD appointment:rolleyes: . So I went home and made an appointment with them:rolleyes: :rolleyes: . We also looked around at all the other granite manufacturers in the area.

We ended up going with the original company. I got a stunning granite that is as white as granite gets and has garnets imbided in it. When the light hits it just right it glows like an opal (with garnets in it:teeth: ). The only problem I had with the installation was the guys drilled the holes for my faucet about a fourth of an inch to far apart so my DH had to bend my 1,200 (got it on sell for 700:teeth: ) faucet to fit in the holes:furious: .

I really love that faucet as much as you can love an object (some people love their car, or some designer purse, which I totally don't get, to each his own) . I intend to take it with me when we move. Now it will probably have to be remachined.

Of course if I'd gone through HD it would have been the same guys doing the install. Plus it was my DH who bent it, the installer just set up the situation by drilling the holes wrong.:guilty:

mlwear
11-01-2006, 10:32 AM
Wow. I am so glad I asked. Very enlightening info. :thumbsup2
Tick Tock, I just have to know what sort of faucet you have :goodvibes
I'm sure HD does go with the lowest bid, never really thought about it.
I'm eager to read of others' experiences.

~Kathie
11-01-2006, 10:41 AM
We also went with a local company that had a good reputation. Friends used this company so we went to their house and looked at the workmanship.

We made an appointment with the granite company through the countertop (installation) company and picked out our slab.

We picked out 'blue pearl' and we love it. We did see another sample that we absolutely loved. It was tan with sand in the granite. In the sand were bits of red, green, blue and yellow rocks. It literally had ferns and fossils of small crustaceans in it. It was gorgeous!!!! A little out of our price range at $500 a square foot! :scared1:

Good luck and hope your kitchen turns out beautiful.

Am_I_There_Yet
11-01-2006, 10:48 AM
I wouldn't recommend a big box store for granite. Their prices usually don't include items such as the decking, or the special finishing touches.

I picked my slabs out myself at a stone yard and then found my own fabricator. It's been so long now, but I think I got granite in my kitchen for under $4k and I have a lot of counterspace.

I have photos if you're interested.

TnTWalter
11-01-2006, 11:27 AM
they have a great search tool too!

http://ths.gardenweb.com/forums/kitchbath/

Trish

chrissyk
11-01-2006, 11:57 AM
I would also look to see if they have "sample sales" I wish we had done that. Our kitchen is such that we could have used a few leftover peices from one of their other jobs and saved a ton of money.

How do you find out if a granite place has sample sales? Is this something that would be ongoing? I'm wondering if you can just ask the salesperson. Our current kitchen probably couldn't have been done with leftovers from another job, but this would be handy for a smaller kitchen or for a bathroom vanity top.

Am_I_There_Yet
11-01-2006, 12:01 PM
How do you find out if a granite place has sample sales? Is this something that would be ongoing? I'm wondering if you can just ask the salesperson. Our current kitchen probably couldn't have been done with leftovers from another job, but this would be handy for a smaller kitchen or for a bathroom vanity top.

Just ask. I found several fabricators that had samples, or scraps available.

Doing a kitchen would be difficult if the granite had a lot of movement in it. I have Uba Tuba, so I probably could have gotten away with this. Same for my bathroom's Absolute Black.

We ended up using only two slabs in my kitchen and you have to really search for the seams. We had a wonderful installer!

I would love to be able to use samples for my master bathroom, but I've chosen Santa Cecilia and it has too much movement I think.

java
11-01-2006, 12:16 PM
I really love that faucet as much as you can love an object (some people love their car, or some designer purse, which I totally don't get, to each his own) . I intend to take it with me when we move. Now it will probably have to be remachined.

This reminds of when way back when .......my parents got a new faucet- it was a Moen- I think probably the original model they came out with LOL... But I recall my Dad Loving it so so much. And the joke in our family was "who cares about the china I want to know who gets the Moen in the will?" And as my Dad was mad as one of us- the other would get said faucet in the will. To this day I think it is mine all mine!! :banana: :rotfl2:

HALEYSMOMMOM
11-01-2006, 02:36 PM
I really love that faucet as much as you can love an object (some people love their car, or some designer purse, which I totally don't get, to each his own) . I intend to take it with me when we move. Now it will probably have to be remachined.

:


Please tell us what kind of faucet this is! I can't wait to know what kind costs $1200! And I thought we had expensive ones :) A picture would be great too!

cmrules
11-01-2006, 03:03 PM
Tip #1 Go see the slabs, never buy off of a sample

Tip #2 Buy directly from the fabricators, not a middle man.

My friend went to the posh kitchen people in our little town and had her kitchen remodeled including granite countertops. I asked her who installed her tops and she gave me their name and #. I called and asked if they dealt direct and they said yes. I beat the posh shop's price, I beat Lowe's price I couldn't find it cheaper anywhere. I also got a lifetime guarantee that nobody else would offer. I was very happy with their work, they couldn't couldn't have been nicer. They even let me help lay it out so that each piece was where I wanted it on the granite (my pattern has a lot of movement in it).

Tip #3 As with any home improvement never pay the full amount untill the work is done to your satisfaction. We had to pay half when we ordered the slab (that's fair they ordered from another place for us and had to pay for it) but we didn't pay the second half until it was completely installed and we were happy. If you pay the whole thing up front they have no reason to work to make you happy.

*Susan*
11-01-2006, 03:30 PM
I don't know where you are located but have you checked into Granite Transformations? www.granitetransformations.com. It is 95% granite + 5% polymers. It is heat resistant up to 600 degrees & is scratch/stain resistant as well.

We did much research and went with them because it goes OVER your existing countertop, thus no demolition (no mess or cost). There is no sealing required, the only maintenance is everyday cleaning which can be done with anything but an abrasive product or one with acetone (you can use 409, windex, soap and water, etc). The colors are beautiful and it has a real granite 'look' to it, IMO.

Ours isn't installed yet (there is a 6 week wait in our area, we have 1.5 more weeks go to) but I can say I have been impressed with the company so far (they come when they say they will come, are professional). It is much less expensive than going with HD or Lowes.

Here is a link I found during our research - there are some people who have actually had it installed already - the reviews are very positive http://www.improvenet.com/homeowner/adviceandresources/messageboard/discussion.html?ID=71498

budbeerlady
11-01-2006, 03:34 PM
I don't know where you are located but have you checked into Granite Transformations? www.granitetransformations.com. It is 95% granite + 5% polymers. It is heat resistant up to 600 degrees & is scratch/stain resistant as well.

We did much research and went with them because it goes OVER your existing countertop, thus no demolition (no mess or cost). There is no sealing required, the only maintenance is everyday cleaning which can be done with anything but an abrasive product or one with acetone (you can use 409, windex, soap and water, etc). The colors are beautiful and it has a real granite 'look' to it, IMO.

Ours isn't installed yet (there is a 6 week wait in our area, we have 1.5 more weeks go to) but I can say I have been impressed with the company so far (they come when they say they will come, are professional). It is much less expensive than going with HD or Lowes.

Here is a link I found during our research - there are some people who have actually had it installed already - the reviews are very positive http://www.improvenet.com/homeowner/adviceandresources/messageboard/discussion.html?ID=71498


We were looking at them on-line, we have a company in our area. How did they compare cost wise per square foot? Dh thinks it will be just as much as granite. But I like the idea of not tearing out the tops and all that mess! Thanks!!!!!

chrissyk
11-01-2006, 04:06 PM
Just ask. I found several fabricators that had samples, or scraps available.

Doing a kitchen would be difficult if the granite had a lot of movement in it. I have Uba Tuba, so I probably could have gotten away with this. Same for my bathroom's Absolute Black.

We ended up using only two slabs in my kitchen and you have to really search for the seams. We had a wonderful installer!

I would love to be able to use samples for my master bathroom, but I've chosen Santa Cecilia and it has too much movement I think.

We just have the 1 sink vanity in both bathrooms, so I wonder if we could use a sample or scrap for those. They aren't very big. I'm definitely going to call and ask! Thanks for the info.

*Susan*
11-01-2006, 04:06 PM
We were looking at them on-line, we have a company in our area. How did they compare cost wise per square foot? Dh thinks it will be just as much as granite. But I like the idea of not tearing out the tops and all that mess! Thanks!!!!!

I am looking at my invoice & it lists 95 SF. We upgraded to a new sink and faucet (they do not require it, fyi) a new garbage disposal and upgraded the edges. We had one large backsplash done over the stove top and then just 12" up along the wall everywhere else. The whole thing came to $8100.00. A rough estimate (we never had them come out or anything, we just took our SF and priced it ourselves, talking to them about extra charges, etc) from HD and Lowes was around $13 - 15k.

FYI Granite Transformations has a 10 year warranty and for our size kitchen they are allowing 3 days but says it should really take more like 2 or 2.5.

MrsPete
11-01-2006, 04:18 PM
I used Home Depot for my kitchen countertops, and I had a HORRIBLE experience. Absolutely nothing about the process was easy: they didn't want to wait on me (that should've been a hint), then they put off my installation date a couple times, once the countertops were installed, they discovered that they couldn't do the backsplash that I'd chosen, and then I had a hard time getting them to refund for the backsplash (they complained that they'd already ordered the materials -- yeah, because you told me you'd install them -- not my problem).

I would never, never, never buy from them again -- not even a garden hose.

Nicolepa
11-01-2006, 04:26 PM
How do you find out if a granite place has sample sales? Is this something that would be ongoing? I'm wondering if you can just ask the salesperson. Our current kitchen probably couldn't have been done with leftovers from another job, but this would be handy for a smaller kitchen or for a bathroom vanity top.

Most granite warhouses will have a leftover pile that you can get stuff really, really cheap. It is definitly the way to go if you have a small area.

To the OP, I would never allow HD to install granite in my home. I want someone who eats, sleeps and drinks granite. I would call the granite warehouses in your area. If they don't work directly w/the public, and I haven't found one in my area that doesn't, then they will certainly have a list of people that they recommend.

I also would never buy granite without going to the warehouse and picking out the EXACT slabs you want. When we were building our house we had picked our color from the builder. It wasn't something we loved, but it was the best choice they gave us. When we got to the warehouse we hated the granite (keep in mind our island is almost a slab big), we fell in loved with something but it wasn't an option for our builder. The guy said, hey, we can put in ANYTHING in this warehouse, you pick what you want. We picked our granite and the building designer threw a fit said it would be horrible etc. Our cabinet guy came after it was installed and said it was the most beautiful thing he'd ever seen. The best part for me? I know that NO ONE in my neighborhood has this awesome color in their house. EVERYONE who walks in loves it.

Am_I_There_Yet
11-01-2006, 04:35 PM
We just have the 1 sink vanity in both bathrooms, so I wonder if we could use a sample or scrap for those. They aren't very big. I'm definitely going to call and ask! Thanks for the info.

I know I could have for my bathroom vanity. There isn't much granite, when you look at how much space the sink takes up.

If it were just my vanity in my master, I'd look into it, but I also want a drop-in bathtub, set in granite. I think I'll have too much space.

crjack
11-01-2006, 08:06 PM
they have a great search tool too!

http://ths.gardenweb.com/forums/kitchbath/

Trish


I highly second this forum for any kitchen remodeling questions! I love that site and used it frequently for our kitchen re-do, which was very extensive.

We got some great recommendations from members who were from our area. We've had granite countertops in our kitchen and baths for several years now.

There is info on budgets, install, maintentance, etc. very detailed and a wonderful gallery to look at completed kitchens and get some ideas.

Good luck.

ticktock
11-01-2006, 08:24 PM
Please tell us what kind of faucet this is! I can't wait to know what kind costs $1200! And I thought we had expensive ones :) A picture would be great too!

OK this will be long and most will find it dull, so just skip this post if you wish:teeth: .

I had wanted a goose neck bridge faucet. The goose neck part is self explanitory. What the bridge is, is this- instead of having the faucet and knobs sitting on a base plate on the counter with the hot and cold water pipes coming together under the counter and then coming out of the faucet nozzle, you have the hot and cold pipes coming up through the counter then coming together in a "bridge" and then going up into the faucet nozzle. Does that make sense?

ANYWAY:rolleyes: .With a traditional bridge faucet you can't get a spray attachment with the faucet because the water mixes above the counter in the bridge, not under the counter were you can attached the sprayer's plumbing. And everyone asks "Why can't they make one that just sprays cold?" I don't know. :rolleyes:

You can buy a fake bridge faucet that has a third pipe coming up between the cold and hot water pipes that feeds water from under the sink into faucet nozzle directly, but I don't like that look.

I finally did find a company that manufactured true bridge faucets with a sprayer. They have some complicated plumbing system where a small tube goes from the hot water pipe through the bridge, down into the cold water pipe and then mixes in a seperate tank under the sink.:confused3 At least that's how I think it works. I don't know, ask my husband, he's an engineer and it impressed the pants off of him (or at least the wallet out of his pants:lmao: ).

I can't remember the name of the company, but they're in England and only do special orders, they make it when you order it. So, that's why it cost so much money. Not because it's gold plated or anything:teeth: .

punkin
11-01-2006, 08:39 PM
So what is the advantage of a bridge faucet? Why does it matter where the water is mixed?

Lorikr65
11-01-2006, 08:45 PM
I was looking into granite but actually went with silestone because it looks like granite (about the same price) but you can put anything on it (hot or cold) and you don't have to treat it like you do granite. No maintenance.

ticktock
11-01-2006, 09:03 PM
So what is the advantage of a bridge faucet? Why does it matter where the water is mixed?

There is no advantage. I just like the look of the bridge faucet but I need a sprayer since my sink is so large. I could never get it clean otherwise.

Which reminds me, to the OP. Look online for a sink. I wanted a large, one bowl stainless undermount sink. This ALSO wasn't very popular at the time ( along with bridge faucets). I did manage to find one online for half of what anyone else was selling them for at the time.

ticktock
11-01-2006, 09:08 PM
This reminds of when way back when .......my parents got a new faucet- it was a Moen- I think probably the original model they came out with LOL... But I recall my Dad Loving it so so much. And the joke in our family was "who cares about the china I want to know who gets the Moen in the will?" And as my Dad was mad as one of us- the other would get said faucet in the will. To this day I think it is mine all mine!! :banana: :rotfl2:

That is TOO funny. I only have one kid, but it doesn't matter. I told dh I wanted the faucet buried with me:lmao: .

Anastasia
11-01-2006, 10:44 PM
I was looking into granite but actually went with silestone because it looks like granite (about the same price) but you can put anything on it (hot or cold) and you don't have to treat it like you do granite. No maintenance.

We have granite, and we put hot and cold things on it all the time. (I put pots directly from the stove on the granite.) I remember being concerned about granite maintenance issues when we were researching granite. My granite installer said it really doesn't require any maintenance. The only thing I can imagine people are referring to as far as maintenance is sealing the counters. My installer said that the sealer they use should last 5 years. I also think I have heard that it is not necessary to seal them, as they become "seasoned" over time, from use.

Also, someone commented about the mess of demolition. Our granite countertops were installed in one afternoon. The formica countertops were removed, and the new counters put on in a few hours. There was no mess, other than having to throw out the old countertops. It was no big deal at all. I can't imagine it taking three days.

I would just be careful to investigate all of the "negatives" that the sellers of non-granite products are telling you about granite. We have had our counters for 5 years, and absolutely love them. It is one of our favorite improvements on our house.

I agree about the garden web forums - they were great when we were doing our granite. I used to spend a lot of time on there before I became addicted to the Disboards!!

DisneyDazed
11-01-2006, 10:52 PM
As far as the samples sales or left over peices we just asked. We got grogeous tumbled marble tiles for our backsplash for FREE! :cool1: We have two knooks that I want to travertine on and Im waiting for some leftovers. Its a great way to do small jobs. Surely doable with a bathroom vanity.

chrissyk
11-02-2006, 08:09 AM
As far as the samples sales or left over peices we just asked. We got grogeous tumbled marble tiles for our backsplash for FREE! :cool1: We have two knooks that I want to travertine on and Im waiting for some leftovers. Its a great way to do small jobs. Surely doable with a bathroom vanity.

How did you get the pieces for free??? That is so awesome!! DH and I definitely want to look into this for our bathroom vanities.