How To Save A Bundle On The Cost Of Granite Countertops

Average Cost Of Granite Countertops Per Square Foot

  • Exotic Stone: $200
  • National Average: $80
  • Common Stone: $40

Granite countertop pricing ranges from roughly $40 per s.f. for readily available stones to more than $200 per s.f. for exotic and hard to find slabs. On average you should expect to pay $80 per s.f. for quality granite. If you get any quotes that are well below the national average you should be suspicious about how they are cutting costs.

You might think you have to ‘go for broke’ when investing in kitchen counters. While it’s true that granite countertops can be expensive, there are lots of ways to keep the price at the lower end of the range. You may be pleasantly surprised to find that they are a more reasonably priced option than you initially thought and over the last few years prices have tumbled even lower in most parts of the country.

Best Places To Get Cheap Estimates

If you’re busy, it can be tempting to hit up the big chain home improvement stores first. After all, most are open late into the evening and seem to carry a pretty wide variety of granite.

However, chain stores are almost never the best place to go for the lowest prices. They’re usually inflexible with pricing but quick to offer payment plans with added interest.

This island is in perfect contrast with the rest of the kitchen.

This island is in perfect contrast with the rest of the kitchen. Image Attribution

Big chain stores also don’t have the great variety they claim to have. To make matters worse, what they do have is often not as good quality as what you’d find if you went down the road to your local stoneyard. Don’t waste your time with the big chain stores unless you want a limited choice and to pay top dollar.

Why Local Countertop Fabricators Are Cheaper And Better Than Big Box Stores

Instead of buying a countertop at a national chain seek out local granite fabricators. They specialize in one thing, fabricating granite countertops; and they are who the national chains hire to make your countertops for you anyway.

When a local company is hired by a national chain store they are being paid as little as possible by the big company. The big chain store then turns around and charges you more for acting as the middle man in the sale. You’ll get better customer service and in most cases lower prices by cutting out the middle man and working directly with the fabricator.

Because they only specialize in selling stone counters, they know which ones are the best for your kitchen. They can also help you stay within your budget by guiding you to less expensive slabs and helping you save money by choosing edgings and thicknesses that won’t increase the cost.

On top of that getting multiple quotes from local companies is the best way to compare prices and make sure you’re not being overcharged. If you’re unsure who in your area fabricates granite we can help you get in touch with local companies by filling out the form below.

You can scour the yellow pages, search the internet, and ask your friends who did their counters, or you can fill in the form below and we will do our best to set you up.

Budget Granite Options

Granite comes in several forms, all of which are stunning, but that vary in cost. While slabs (that are custom fabricated specifically for your kitchen) are probably ideal, it’s not the only option you have. Remnants, tiles, and overlays are all less expensive, but luxurious, options.

Remnants

A row of remnants ready for fabrication.

You'll probably find a row of remnants at your local stone yard like this. Image Attribution

When someone purchases a slab they rarely use the entire thing and stone yards hold onto those leftover pieces for future projects.The pieces of slab that aren’t used in one countertop may be resold and used to fabricate another.

This isn’t ideal if you have a large area that needs to be covered–you risk having a hodge-podge look with lots of seams–but if you only need to cover a medium to small sized area, you could be in luck. You could piece together the perfect countertop with remnants at a fraction of the price of buying a full-slab of granite.

Pro-Tip: You can use a contrasting color on your island and perimeter cabinets. That way you don’t have to worry as much about finding similar remnants.

Tile

Granite tiles are easier to work with, much less expensive, and installing them can be a weekend DIY project.

Of course, this means more visible seams, but if you don’t mind these or if you only have a small area to cover, like a kitchen island, tiles can be a great choice. Because they’re thinner than slab, they easy to cut with wet saw, making them a popular choice for oddly-shaped areas.

They’re also popular with the DIY set, since it’s easier to heft around dainty tiles compared to gargantuan slabs of natural stone. Just remember that grout seams need to be sealed or your porous granite tiles could be even more susceptible to stains and etching than usual.

Granite Overlay Countertops

Overlays are another option for when you want the look of natural stone but without the big budget. Overlays are made from a combination of granite and other materials (primarily resin) that are used to create a kitchen work surface that is designed to fit over your existing countertops. Because they are prefab, they are less expensive to produce and can be fitted quickly, possibly even as a DIY job.

This is a good example of what an overlay looks like.

This is a good example of an overlay. Notice it's a little thicker. Image Attribution

One negative aspect of using overlays is the fact that they aren’t as heat resistant as slab granite is. However, the same resins that make them less heat resistant also make them non-porous, which means you won’t need to seal them.

Overlays are lighter and easier to work with than slabs, so you may be able to tackle installation yourself. This saves you money and the inconvenience of having to wait for someone else to install them. Of course, overlays aren’t the same as counter fabricated from a slab, but they look very similar and can save you a great deal of money.

How To Keep The Cost From Skyrocketing

Every kitchen is different, so every granite countertop won’t cost the same. There are numerous factors that can affect the final costs, so keep these in mind when you’re setting your budget.

Save By Doing Your Own Demolition

Some companies will include this in the cost of installation or give you a discount if you do it, but others may charge you more if they have to handle demolition for you.

It’s worth asking ahead of time and it’s also worth making sure your homeowner’s insurance is up to date just in case there’s any damage done during the removal process.

Some Finishes Cost Less Than Others

There are several different types of finishes available. Each comes at a different cost that will affect the final price. Polished granite finishes are the most popular, but you can also choose between honed finish leathered as well. Each has its benefits and each can effect the final price.

A polished finish is the standard. It has been smoothed of imperfections to the point that it’s shiny and it highlights the textures in the counter.

A honed finish is smooth but not shiny. This hides imperfections a little better than a polish and it cuts down on glare from the surface of the countertop.

A leathered finish is created by the use of diamond tipped brushes used during fabrication. The surface of the stone then looks and feels like textured leather. This is a great finish for hiding imperfections as well as bringing some character to the counter.

This is a leathered finish.

This is a leathered finish. If you look close you can see it's a bit weathered looking and it's easier to maintain. Image Attribution

Cutouts

The number and type of holes made in your granite countertop will affect the price. At a minimum, you’ll probably have a cutout for your kitchen sink and faucet. You may have others, like a receptacle for trash, soap dispenser, an instant hot, a range, or vents. These will all be made at the point of fabrication and will be included in the price, but the more you have, the higher the cost will be.

Edge details

The edging used on your granite countertops can also affect the cost. The more intricate the edging, the higher the cost. Fortunately, even some of the more ‘basic’ and inexpensive edging styles can be pretty and add just the right amount of detail without adding to the bottom line.

Examples of oversized radius, bullnose, and eased edge profiles.

These are three of the most common edge profile options. Your fabricator will have these and many more to choose from. Image Attribution

Backsplash Options That Cost Less

A backsplash is more than just a decorative add-on. It can protect your walls from spills and scrapes. It also makes the kitchen look more finished and pulled together. However, installing a backsplash can increase the cost. Depending on the size of your kitchen, your backsplash can add anywhere from a couple of hundred to several hundred dollars.

Full Wall

A full wall backsplash is the most expensive type because it adds lots of square feet of material and fabrication time to the job. It looks amazing and protects your walls, but it may be more of a prestige thing than anything else.

Still, if you want full wall and are trying to stay on a budget, you could opt for granite tiles that match (or closely resemble) the countertop you have installed. You might not like the look as much as using the same slab from the countertop, but it’s an option.

This ceramic tile backsplash compliments the stone perfectly.

This ceramic subway tile backsplash compliments the stone perfectly. Image Attribution

Full wall backsplashes add extra time to your installation process, often requiring a second installation session after the countertops have been installed. If you opt for full wall, the look can be amazing. With few seams and perfectly matched granite, it can completely transform your kitchen.

4” backsplash

Many people opt for a typical 4” backsplash on their granite countertops. Because it’s such a relatively small amount of extra stone, it doesn’t drive the cost up by much, if any. Some retailers simply include the cost of the this backsplash style in the quote, so be sure to ask.

The only real negative aspect of a shorter backsplash is the lack of protection for your walls, but this can be mitigated by using a full backsplash behind your cooking range and a 4” backsplash around the rest of the countertop.

No backsplash

There’s no rule that says you have to have a granite backsplash at all. You could leave the wall uncovered, or add a travertine, limestone, ceramic, porcelain, or other type of tile backsplash to the wall when budget allows.

If you’re looking for a minimalist decor in your kitchen, this could be practical. At the end of the day, a backsplash is an optional extra. If you can afford it and you want one, go for it. If not, you won’t be missing out on too much.

Get A Better Deal With Locally Harvested Granite

The origins of your slab can directly affect your cost. Obviously, the more exotic the stone, the higher the cost is likely to be, but there are other factors concerning your countertops origins that can directly affect the final cost of your countertops. Whether you’re buying from the guy down the street or the larger chain store, your stone’s ‘birthplace’ makes a huge difference to its price.

Imported

An exotic imported granite.

Stones like this aren't harvested in North America.

Much of the granite sold in this country is imported from other continents. In quarries around the world, stone blocks are excavated and then shipped to wholesalers around the world before arriving at your local stoneyard as a finished slab. This can add to your bottom line because the local retailer must absorb the cost of transit.

Often, even exotic stones can be bought by a retailer at a discounted price, or maybe they have special pricing worked out with specific suppliers. If that’s the case you may get lucky and they will pass the savings onto you.

Locally Harvested

Because colors depend on the minerals in the location the stone is formed, locally harvested options do tend to have the same colors and patterns. Most American granite is black, white, shades of grey, and less often pink and red.

These aren’t necessarily the most desirable colors for countertops, but if you don’t mind a less exotic stone, you can save money by buying domestically harvested granite.

Scarcity

If there is a high demand for one specific color of granite in particular, retailers are going to charge more because it will be more difficult for them get it back in staock at a low price. It’s the basic ‘supply and demand’ scenario that can fluctuate from year to year as the market’s tastes change.

If you’re not too picky about a spcific color or variety, you can usually save a good amount by choosing a less popular color. Be flexible with your choice and your fabrication details to save the most money.

DIY Granite

Going full DIY on granite countertops is not an option. It’s one thing if you’re installing tiles, which are relatively easy to work with, but if you’re planning on installing slab granite, you need to rethink the DIY route.

If you drop it or handle it incorrectly it can crack, which definitely won’t save you any money. And if you do manage to get it installed and don’t support it properly it can crack in place.

A modern kitchen with professionally installed counters.

If you want professional results like these then leave installation to the pros.

Another reason why DIY installation is not the best way to save money is the fact that, compared to the hassle of DIY, the money you save on granite countertops may not be all that much. You’ll have to pay someone to design and fabricate the stone, so why not pay them to professionally install the finished product too?

If you do it yourself, you’ll have to sacrifice time and energy. Plus, getting a professional look isn’t something just anyone can do. It’s usually not worth the hassle to try and DIY this particular job, so look for savings elsewhere.

Do you know what is way cheaper than granite, looks exactly like it, and performs almost as well? Laminates have been reinvented over the last 10 years and they’ll save you a bundle while looking exactly like natural stone.

Quartz is also a popular option. On this page you’ll find our granite and quartz comparison. It dives deep into differences like cost and how they will stand up to the daily abuse of a busy kitchen.

Page Last Updated On Aug 23, 2018 by Scott Jenkins