On this page:
- 1. Estimating the Cost of Installing Granite Countertops
- 2. Should I Install Granite Counters?
- 3. What Typically Affects the Cost of Granite Installation?
- 4. How Will My Project Measure Up?
- 5. Preparing for Your Granite Countertop Installation
- 6. Cost Comparisons
- 7. Level of Difficulty
Granite countertops are on the must-have list for many homeowners planning a kitchen remodel, and are an excellent choice for a home cook of any caliber. There are several factors that will affect the cost of installing granite counters though, so be sure to do your homework so you can plan and budget appropriately for the project.
Estimating the Cost of Installing Granite Countertops
The Size of the Job
Granite countertop material, and often the installation as a whole, is typically priced by the square foot with prices ranging from as low as $50 per square foot to as much as $300. Depending on the nature of the job, though, the fabricator or installer may charge for preparing, fabricating, and installing the material according to the time it takes to get the job done. In that case, you can expect to pay between $25 and $60 per man per hour for labor.
Keep in mind that much of the work to prepare a custom granite slab is done off-site, so by the time you add together shop, travel, and install time, the job could take several days to complete and involve several crew members.
While cutting pieces of granite to size and shape and fitting them into place are the obvious steps required to complete a counter installation, there can be many other details that will affect the cost of the project.
Whether or not backsplashes are included, the type of profile on the counter’s edge, the construction of the cabinets that will support the counter, and even the style of sink and faucets you choose can affect the time, skill, and materials needed for the job. It is important to address all the details before your granite is cut or installed, since it can be very costly to make changes while the job is in progress.
Should I Install Granite Counters?
Granite remains a high-end counter material and is far more expensive than common laminates. Granite countertop prices often exceed higher end finishes like tile, butcher block, stainless steel, some other types of stone, and many engineered products. However, low- to mid-grade granite may be less expensive than some other natural or engineered stone and custom concrete countertops.
Granite is an extremely durable countertop material that resists staining, cracking, and heat damage. This natural stone typically requires less maintenance and care than other types, such as marble, soapstone, and slate, but will require sealing periodically.
Though every natural granite countertop is unique, the material in general provides a timeless and luxurious finish to any kitchen. A wide array of colors and one-of-a-kind patterns and veining make granite a practical option that can suit any design style.
Since granite is considered an upgraded material, adding it to your home may increase its value—or at least its desirability. Whether or not you realize a good return on the investment will depend on the features of your home and the duration of ownership, though. If you are considering the resale value of your home in your countertop decision, check with a local real estate agent before making any assumptions.
What Typically Affects the Cost of Granite Installation?
Installing granite is a challenging job that requires specialized skills and tools, as well as careful attention to detail and some serious muscle. The job is doable for advanced do-it-yourselfers and (several of their closest friends), but since the material is so expensive, it’s often best left in the hands of a professional installer.
The cost of fabricating and installing granite can make up half the price of the job, and the availability and skill level of the pro you hire can have a lot of influence on overall costs. A skilled handyman or carpenter is generally qualified to fit a pre-fabricated slab, and their labor rates typically range from $25 to $50 per hour. A specialized fabricator, on the other hand, may cost from $40 to $80 per hour, but will have what it takes to pull off a more complex custom granite installation.
Granite countertop material is generally sold in several grades, from commercial, builder, or low grade to mid and high or luxury grades, or first, second, and third “choice.” The origin, rarity, thickness, design, or color may contribute to the grading of various granite pieces, and the distinction from the distributor could make a difference of $20 to $80 or more per square foot.
How Will My Project Measure Up?
Size and Scope of the Job
The overall size of the countertop installed will naturally influence the cost of materials, but can also have some influence on installation rates. Granite is very heavy, and maneuvering large pieces could call for a sizeable crew for the installation. Additional work to reinforce cabinets or to install additional features will broaden the scope of the job.
Complexity of the Installation
Labor charges are also affected by the level of fabrication that is required for the job. Prefabricated counter sections may require some minor on-site modifications but generally are installed pretty quickly. On the other hand, a custom cut counter requires precise fabrication and finishing before it ever makes it to the job site, and the installation itself is often more time-consuming than a standard project.
Features and Details
In addition to the primary countertop, additional surfaces and your choice of edge profile, surface finish, or other details will contribute to the cost of installation. For example, incorporating a backsplash or undermount sink, or choosing a complex edge profile for the countertop rather than a simple square or rounded edge, could add significant expense to the job.
Preparing for Your Granite Countertop Installation
Know the Process
In order to plan your budget accurately and to evaluate estimates correctly, take the time to find out what’s involved in preparing both your granite and your kitchen for the installation. A fully customized counter may be cut from a slab that you choose yourself in an orientation that you can help design, while a standard installation might involve making very basic modifications to a stock, pre-cut granite piece. The difference between the two methods could be several thousand dollars, so be sure to explore your options and know what you will be getting for your money.
Don’t Forget the Details
Remember that both materials and labor expenses will be affected by the little things. Be sure to account for backsplashes and wide overhangs when planning for the material you will need, and keep in mind that more detailed edge profile could cost several dollars more per linear foot than a standard profile.
Know What You’re Getting Into
It takes time to cut a granite slab to meet the specifications of each project, so your kitchen may be out of commission longer than you might expect. In order to make a custom cut counter, the existing countertop may need to be removed so a crew can create a template from the top of the base cabinets. If you are using your kitchen during renovations, be aware that you may be without a countertop for as long as a few weeks while the granite slabs are fabricated.
Also keep in mind that, while your countertop installers will make the necessary cuts to suit them, they will not install your faucet, surface mount sink, or appliances. If your remodeling project is being coordinated by a contractor, these projects will be lined up as needed, but if you are managing the job, be sure to plan for a plumber, electrician, or other technicians as appropriate.
|$850 - $1,800||$3,200 - $8,500||$10,500 - $18,000|
Variations in grade, type, and finish can create a wide range of pricing to install granite countertops. Take a look at our examples to see how your own project may add up.
DIY Upgrades: $850 - $1,800
- • Material: Installing 40 square feet of prefabricated granite slab counter is an economical way to add high-end finishes to a DIY remodeling project.
- • Features: Keeping this project simple is what keeps it affordable. Installing a drop-in sink and omitting a granite backsplash help to bring costs down.
- • Installation: Since the installation does not require extensive customization, taking on the work saves the homeowner at least $200 in basic labor costs.
Stepping Up: $3,200 - $8,500
- • Material: A mid-grade choice of granite brings the materials budget up substantially on this job, and adding a 6” backsplash and an island to the project requires over 80 square feet of material.
- • Features: In addition to the extra material, this project includes an undermount sink and an ogee edge detail, which contribute to both material and installation costs.
- • Installation: Choosing custom cut granite puts this job into a new class that calls for professional installation, which brings the cost of labor close to that of materials.
High-End Makeover: $10,500 - $18,000
- • Material: A high-end granite with a custom edge detail and finish bring the materials for this project toward the top of the scale. Including an island and 16” backsplash bring the total granite requirement over 100 square feet.
- • Features: Adding a second undermount sink as well as a cooktop cutout make this a more complex installation that requires more time in the shop, as well as on-site.
- • Installation: A job of this scale requires a skilled team to make sure it goes off without a hitch, making labor costs a significant part of the budget.
Level of Difficulty
Installing granite countertops is a challenging project that requires skill, strength, and a few specialized tools. Installing a prefabricated countertop is a manageable project for an advanced do-it-yourselfer, but it takes patience and precision; mistakes can be expensive to correct. It can take quite a bit of lead time to have a custom countertop prepared, but a professional crew can make a precise template to ensure you get a perfect fit, and can complete most installations within a few hours.