How to Cut Costs With Granite Counter Tops

By: Austin Lansing

Have you ever thought of getting a trendy granite counter top, but decided against it because of the cost? Your reluctance is understandable - at $50-$150 a square foot, it can be a costly renovation item.

One thing about granite, it's not just another pretty face. Not only does it look great, but it's durable, heat-resistant and stain-resistant, and if properly treated, it will never scratch or crack. There are a lot of cheaper products out there, but with only a fraction of the resilience and lasting qualities.

Basically a granite counter top is made from a big hunk of stone. By itself, the cost is not that great, but when you add the costs of obtaining it from the quarry, shipping it to the dealer, and then eventually to the installer, that piece of rock has gone through quite a few hands, and the costs add up.

Granite counter tops come in a myriad of sizes, shapes and designs, each formed individually by Mother Nature. Costs vary depending on the weight, thickness, distance the product is being transported, and on its availability. Some pieces have been obtained from foreign countries and shipped thousands of miles.

When looking for a budget-friendly version of granite, you can still obtain a high quality, durable product, but look for the following characteristics:

- A more standard design

- Not as thick as the higher priced versions

- Stone may have some pits or blemishes

Sometimes if the stone is quite thin, it may require special supports upon installation, but it will still look like its expensive counterparts and remain quite durable. Some dealers also have a "scratch & dent" pile, where they sell less than perfect pieces or end cuts at a discount.

One of the other contributing factors to the expense of granite is the installation. The stone comes in a solid slab that has to be individually designed and shaped. You can really cut costs by having it installed in smaller pieces, such as 12 inch squares and installed and grouted like tile. With this method there is less waste and if there is any future damage, you can just replace the tile, but be sure to keep some spares.

Once you've got this beautiful counter top, be sure to maintain it so that it holds its value. You will need to occasionally reseal the surface to maintain its water-resistant qualities. If your counter experiences any dents or chips, have them filled right away. Finally, keep your granite counter top bright and polished to hide imperfections and bring out the grain in the stone.

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