The Top 8 Ways To Save A Buck When Adding Granite Countertops
Tuesday Apr 04th, 2017
When it comes to redoing a kitchen, most people think there's not a steal or deal to be found. But, alas, there are ways to cut corners and take advantage of sales and promotions to redo, upgrade, update, or overhaul your kitchen. In this week's special edition of Steals & Deals, we run down the top 8 ways to save a buck when adding granite countertops.
1. Make friends with your salesperson
No matter where you are buying your granite, your salesperson should be your ally. They have insight into the best options for materials, turnaround times, and vendors for choosing your slab. Plus, if you're nice, they may also tell you when sales are scheduled (this paid off personally for us at Home Depot with a 10% discount because we waited two weeks to sign our contract on the advice of our salesperson.).
2. Go to the Big Box Store
The advantage of working with a store like Home Depot for granite is that, unlike many other countertop providers, you are only required to pay for what you need. So if you have 63 square feet of countertop and the slab you are looking at typically only has 50 square feet of stone, you would have to select and pay for two full slabs from most countertop providers. At Home Depot, you only pay for the 63 square feet.
The other advantage of using a big box store is a huge one: paying over time. Most countertop providers will offer the option of financing, but if you qualify at Home depot or Lowe's during one of their promotions, the financing is interest free. You'll want to check in advance for promotions and ask your salesperson for assistance in finding the one that works best for you. Getting in on one of Home Depot's 24-month no-interest plans is the best deal we've seen (and one we took advantage of). Just be sure to calculate your monthly payment properly and pay on time every month so you don't end up with a whole bunch of accrued interest.
What you will have to contend with at a big box store is a more limited selection of granite options, priced according to their grade ("Granite price is determined by a number of factors, including supply and demand as well as color, movement, character, and how accessible the material is for quarrying and shipping," said Brother Stone.) If you find something you like, and it's priced according to your budget, this isn't an issue. If you don't want to be limited in your granite selection, a smaller store might be your best bet.
3. Go to a smaller countertop provider
Many of the smaller stores use the same slab yards and fabricators as the big box stores, however you can pick out any slab you want, as long as you can afford it. You may pay more depending on the slab you choose and the amount of square footage you need. Or, you may pay less because you have more options available to you. It all depends on the grade and the stone.
TIP: Be sure to ask your salesperson and, later, the person helping you at the stone yard, if they have any slabs in your desired color range that are larger than average. If your square footage puts you just over the max for one "typically sized" slab, finding one larger slab instead of two smaller ones could save you hundreds of dollars.
ANOTHER TIP: If you have a small serving area or a desk in your kitchen, ask about remnant pieces in the stone you want. By using remnants for the smaller areas, you could potentially get around having to buy a second slab.
4. Keep an Open Mind
If you don't have your heart set on a particular granite, you might be able to score a great deal on something that the stone yard has an overage of or that has been in the warehouse a while. Sometimes all you have to do is ask. And, again, be super nice. Nobody's going to go out of their way for a grouch.
Once you're at the granite yard, the folks in the warehouse may also be able to show you additional options that may be similar to what you want but be less expensive and more widely available. Remember that if you are working with Home Depot or Lowe's you have to stay within their program to get their prices. Choose outside of their program—even if the granite supplier has the slab in their warehouse—and you could double your materials cost.
5. Be Flexible
Choosing special edges and applications can greatly increase your cost. Many countertop providers give you several edges to choose from at no extra cost. The big box stores only offer a few options at no extra cost. By using the standard edges, you can keep your price down. Same goes for the finish. Anything honed or finished to resemble the appearance and feel of leather will cost you more.
6. Have Someone Else Do Your Demo
In our case, our handyman and his crew were more than capable of pulling up our nasty old counters and chipping off the dark slate tiles that made the windowless kitchen look like a cave. This saved us $400.
7. Have Someone Else Do Your Plumbing
Depending on your current sink situation, you may need to replace it. Some sinks can be either undermount or drop-in, and some sinks (like ours) cannot. You can purchase a new sink (and a faucet if you need one) from most countertop providers and set up the plumbing through them. You can do the same through one of the big box stores. Or, you can use your own plumber or handyman for the plumbing and potentially save yourself some cash. In our case, it was $300 less to use our handyman, who unhooked and removed our old sink and faucet and then came back and reconnected our plumbing to our new sink and faucet 24 hours after the countertops were installed.
8. DIY Where You Can
Looking for an opportunity to take out a little aggression? Swing that sledgehammer yourself. Just be aware of where the electrical lines and plumbing and all the other fun things that could cause floods and power outages before you go for it. Also be aware that tearing down a backsplash may seem like big fun…until the tile that seems to have been genetically modified to become one with the wall takes the wall down with it (thankfully, our handyman also knew how to patch and drywall).
If you're not the wrecker type, maybe you're the make it pretty type. Putting up a backsplash can be an easy and fun experience—one the whole family can get in on (ours did—even our eight year old!). Especially if you're using something on a mesh backing, you should have little trouble doing a fairly good job. Set aside a weekend, watch a YouTube video or two, ask the advice of your friendly Lowe's guy, who's happy to point out which trowel, float, and grout to use, and you're good to go.
TIP: If your tile is offset, meaning it is not a straight edge down the side, you're going to have to cut down the pieces that stick out to use along your outside border. If you're not adept at using a wet saw or just deathly afraid of losing a finger (guilty!), ask in your Lowe's tile department (our Home Depot didn't have a wet saw in use) if they can make any cuts for you in the store. Ours did, and it cost us nothing.