Granite countertops, durable, high-fashion and low-maintenance, are stars in kitchen and bathroom remodels nationwide. And you don’t need to buy the most expensive granite to get stunning results in your home.
Here’s what to know about granite counters, how much they will set you back, and tips for cutting costs.
Granite fabricators typically quote granite prices by the square foot, which usually includes labor, delivery, installation and a simple finish to the edges. Other products and services — like decorative edge treatments, a sink, faucets, cutouts for sinks and cooktops, plumbing hook-ups, and removing and disposing of old counters — may cost extra.
Granite is priced according to its grade (also referred to as tiers or levels). Different grades have different price structures. The grade reflects a stone’s availability, color, shipping cost and its distinctiveness, but not necessarily the overall quality.
7 tips to save on granite countertops
1. Shop around
Granite countertops are sold and installed by big box stores, kitchen and bathroom design studios, granite fabricators and companies specializing in prefabricated granite counters. You’ll get the best results by hiring a well-established, experienced and fully insured company.
Ask family and friends for recommendations and look online, including searching for nearby installers and fabricators. After narrowing the search, visit two or three companies to discuss your project and see their work. Ask each company for a preliminary estimate based on your rough measurements.
Sharon Millett, a real estate agent in Auburn, Maine, says she saved nearly $1,000 recently on kitchen and bath countertops for her home by shopping around. One company charged extra for the edge treatment she wanted, so she found another that included it at no charge.
2. Buy the sink and faucet separately
Ask your fabricator if it’s OK to buy the sink, faucet and any plumbing parts elsewhere so you can find a style you like that also fits your budget.
3. Use a remnant
Granite companies may offer discounts on smaller pieces of stone left over from other projects.
4. Go prefab
A prefabricated piece of stone is one that is already cut and polished. Prefab is best for simple counters requiring few cuts. It’s perfect, for instance, if your cabinets are a standard, off-the-shelf size, says Jarren Cheha, owner of Seattle Granite Countertops, a granite fabricator.
He stocks a single size — 8 feet by 25½ inches — of prefab granite countertop blanks in seven to 10 common colors. They come with three finished edges and a polished surface. The cost is about half that of a custom granite countertop, Cheha says.
5. Get a line-item breakdown
Ask for an estimate showing the individual costs of products and services. That lets you compare multiple offers and choose the option that best fits your budget.
6. Use granite tile
Tile cut from stone like granite lets you get the look without the price. Granite tile costs about $5 to $15 per square foot uninstalled, according to Home Advisor. You’ll also need to hire a tile installer and buy grout and other materials.
7. Have the installer do final measurements
To avoid making expensive mistakes, always be sure the installer takes the measurements and creates a template on which your final estimate is based.
Are granite countertops worth the cost?
It’s hard to know exactly how much of the cost of granite countertops can be recouped when you sell the home. Certainly, upgraded kitchens and baths are sought after by most buyers.
“In my area, real estate agents pretty much insist that homeowners get natural stone in their homes before it goes on the market,” says Sharon Koehler, support services manager at Artistic Stone Design, a stone fabricator in North Chesterfield, Virginia.
“I have seen agents pay for the (counter)tops themselves and get the money back after sale. It is that important,” Koehler says.
The article originally appeared on NerdWallet.