Granite, Marble, Soapstone Countertops - Buyers Guide
Click here to read our expose on"Dirty Little Secrets"
How Do I Make Sense of Quotes and Advertising Promotions?
Don't rely on the old headline “per square foot” price. This is used by the less scrupulous companies to bait and switch. This often leaves out basic and essential costs to actually fabricate and install your countertop. Make sure you understand how many square feet you are going to get billed for – will it be the actual square feet of your finished countertop or will it be the area of the slabs of granite used, including waste and defects? Or maybe something in between. Beware - there are several companies in the DFW area which are engaging in a deceptive practice of offering a low "per square foot" price and them overestimating the quantity required by up to 20%, calling it a waste factor or similar. get the total quote, understand all the components and ensure there are no loose ends.
Granite & Marble Pricing Basics
Sometimes small jobs will be charged at a higher per-square-foot price because a fabricator will be stuck with over half a slab of stone with no certainty they can re-use it on another job, so ask about minimum quantities that go along with pricing structures. Believe it or not, different granite fabricators can come up with quite different estimates of square feet of countertop, particularly when angle and curve cuts are involved. We know of at least three companies in the DFW area that add between 5% and 20% to the actual calculated square footage. We won't name them here, but come by and we'll show you. Sometimes special colors are charged at a higher rate because fabricators can't re-use the left-over material for another customer. How much are they charging for polishing the edges? Some will provide a simple edge design for free and others will charge extra for any edge. At Heritage Stonecraft we offer 7 edges for free. Some of these might cost over $900 from the big-box stores. Don't forget that 2 cm granite may contain separate charges for the laminated edge and plywood sub-decking, if they are done properly to Marble Institute Standards..
Then there are cut-outs, sinks, cook-tops, faucet holes, electric outlets, and backsplashes. Some charge for every cut-out, some provide them for free. Under-mount sinks are very beautiful and they are more expensive to produce. I encourage all my customers to use them because it provides the focal point for anyone looking at your kitchen. Not doing an under-mount sink with a granite countertop is a bit like buying a new car painted with just primer. OK, a bit of an exaggeration but you get my point. Back to prices – are there extra charges for delivery, installation, demolition and removal of your old countertops or initial sealing and polishing of your countertop? Some even charge for estimates, templating and basic mileage as a way to squeeze a few more dollars from the customer, so they can hide it and offer a low $/square foot price. Will they smooth the underneath edge of the stone or will it feel rough? Unless you are armed with all this detail it's very difficult to understand and compare your estimates and ensure that there are no hidden costs that will appear after the job is done.
Heritage Stonecraft has partnered with reputable companies to take care of all plumbing/electrical, tiling and cabinetry needs. With other companies you will have to hire and schedule your own plumbers and electricians to do your disconnects and re-connects, before and after the granite installation, unless, of course you have absorbed all the DIY tips and tricks from HGTV shows and feel comfortable doing this yourself. Granite installers are not trained or licensed to do this and if they do offer to reconnect your appliances, plumbing and drain lines beware - will they stand behind their work if your house floods or has an electrical malfunction, or worse?
Price & Quality
And, finally, why is one granite more expensive than another? Are higher priced granites stronger? - No! Are they higher "quality"? - No! It's good ol' Economics 101 and supply versus demand. More attractive stones are in higher demand and if they come from a distant land in small quantities the price will be higher. Some of the toughest stones are also quite cheap and some of the most expensive can be very fragile. Also note that all natural stone contains small "pits" to varying degrees. These are simply small voids between grain boundaries and some of the most expensive stones can be full of them. However, some cheap granite companies offer "commercial" grade grade which have many pits and inclusions in stones which would not normally appear in first quality slabs.