The beauty and warmth of granite makes it an ideal countertop material for aesthetic and practical purposes in most any kitchen. In addition to its natural strength, granite is a very beautiful stone that adds color and warmth to a room. Although granite countertops are quite popular, a homeowner may not want to spend the premium price for granite, or may live in an area subject to limitations on resale values. In cases like this, discount granite countertops are an attractive option.
Granite is relatively expensive, with prices starting at $60 a square foot. The majority of the cost is not in the stone itself, but in the quarrying, transportation, polishing and installation. Typically homeowners will contribute labor on improvements to reduce costs, but installing granite countertops should be left to the professionals. However, a large marketplace with numerous suppliers and substantial discounts creates a price range that allows anyone to have granite countertops in their home.
Granite suppliers will typically have three or four groupings of granite to choose from. The suppliers will refer to their groupings or tiers by numbers. The first tier will include the premium products that sell for the highest price. A stone is grouped based on several criteria, including country of origin, color, veins or patterns, thickness of the slab, amount of soft minerals in the stone, and fashion trends. Granite from lower tiers has the same beauty and utility as the slabs in the upper groupings. Additionally, stones in a lower tier could be harder than some stones in a first tier, so it pays to get out and look around.
While granite from the lower tiers exhibits the hardness granite is known for, the presence of softer minerals may require additional cabinet supports or a penetrating sealant. Thinner cut stone may be a little less than two centimeters instead of a recommended three; if so, the installer can provide additional stability by laminating it to plywood backing. Discount granite suppliers will typically deal with a thinner cut stone, and many suppliers now carry stones that are intentionally cut thin and laminated at the quarry.
Another option would be having granite tile countertops. Tiles are fashioned from the same desirable stone as solid granite countertops. All elements of the granite remain the same, with exception to the size of the granite slabs. Granite tiles, while needing special care, can be installed (with the right tools and preparation) by a homeowner.
Granite tiles are laid in the same manner as ceramic tile, with consideration for the additional thickness of the stone. All of the countertops in the kitchen can be covered in tile, or a few large tiles can be inlaid to other countertop surfaces such as Formica. Strategically placed twenty-four inch granite tiles inlaid near the range or oven allow for searing hot pans to be placed on an otherwise delicate countertop. A thirty-six inch granite tile set into the counter work area serves as an excellent surface for rolling dough and working with confectionery.
The homeowner on a tight budget has many options for to providing a touch of luxury with discount granite countertops. Today, many manufacturers will fabricate the countertops in the country of origin, which reduces the costs attributed to waste and shipping fees. Although prefabricated countertops are made with thinner slices of stone, they are laminated to plywood for strength. Prefabricated pieces are also cut to fit basic lengths and L-shaped counter layouts of most kitchens, allowing for lower costs related to installation. Another benefit with prefabricated pieces is that the country of origin will typically have lower wages for labor, which greatly saves on installation costs.
Discount granite countertops have proven to be a wise investment for any homeowner. Clever design and planning allow homeowners to enjoy the benefits of granite without the traditional large expense.