Most people think of granite countertops as made from slabs with perhaps one or two seams, and indeed, that is true in many cases. However, slabs are just one format for granite. They also come in tiles and modules, and these are perfectly suited for kitchen countertops.
Tiles, as you might imagine, are smaller than modules. Granite tiles come in the standard sizes of ceramic tiles, and most people use them in the same way. The only difference is granite tiles is heavier than ceramic tiles, so they require the additional support of cement backer board on top of the plywood base.
Modular granite is pretty much the same as tiles, except they are bigger. You can use them in lieu of slabs as well, and you can DIY their installation. Here us all you need to know about modular granite countertops.
You can think of granite modules as slabs cut to size, or mini-slabs. The modules are typically 1 foot wide and 2 feet long, the standard depth for base cabinets. They are still quite large, but since they are thinner than slabs, they are light enough for one person to carry without too much trouble. If you want, you can DIY modular granite countertops.
In fact, unlike slabs, they come in DIY-friendly kits. The kits have enough materials to cover the countertop space you specify when ordering the kit, including an overhang, backsplash sections and edge treatments. These kits also provide for a sink with the pieces pre-backed with waterproofed cement board or plywood and pre-sealed. The cost for a 40-square-foot countertop is between $900 and $1,100.
Assembly is as easy as laying the modules side by side on a layer of mortar. You do need some common tools to prepare the base and install the modules, however. These include a level, drill, straight edge, and granite edge saw.
The main advantage of using modular granite for your kitchen countertops is the cost. It is less than that of slab countertops at about $25 per square foot using the kits. You can DIY it or have a pro do it for you at an additional $10 per square foot.
In comparison, the cost of having a countertop specialist use slabs for your countertops start from $39.99 per square foot, and some packages include the sink and installation. Your savings are about $15 per square foot if you DIY, and $5 if you get a pro to install it, but that does not include the sink. Your savings might not be as much as you think, but you do have the option to DIY.
This brings us to the second advantage of modular granite. They are DIY friendly by default. The modules are easy to install and thin enough to cut with a regular wet saw and drill, which you will have to do if your countertops are non-standard. The kits will need modification in those cases. However, cutting the granite still requires precision and skill. Previous experience with cutting and laying ceramic tiles will definitely come in handy.
One issue with modular granite is the thinness of the material. While it is still granite and as resistant to heat and scratches as slab granite, its thinness makes it more likely to break or crack, especially during fabrication and installation. Careful handling can minimize this risk, but it is still there, nonetheless.
Another thing you have to deal with when installing modular granite countertops is the seams. Since the modules are just 12 inches wide, you will have numerous seams. If you have 6-foot long countertops, for example, you will have at least 5 visible seams. While this is not necessarily a bad thing in terms of esthetics, it is definitely a drawback when it comes to maintenance because of the grout.
Your options are also limited as modular granite is not very popular, so only a few sources are available. Finding one can take a bit of research, although you can probably go to big box stores and order from them. Online, you have perhaps one or two suppliers.
Once you find a source you like, you will have to choose from whatever colors and patterns they have available. Even then, you will have to pay for shipping and wait at least a week for delivery. Since the kits weigh a considerable amount, you might have to pay at least $100 for shipping. Your choice of edge treatments is also limited to two or three profiles, usually beveled, bullnose, or ogee.
This is not a problem with slabs, as they are much more popular, and suppliers have hundreds of slabs in their inventories at any one time. All you have to do is visit the showroom of your local granite supplier and take your pick. You can also choose your overhang, finish, edge treatment, and backsplash.
However, the biggest disadvantage of modular granite countertops has nothing to do with it. It has everything to do with perception. Most people are not greatly impressed with them as they are with the regular slab countertops. It does not add the same value to the home, so your return on investment might not be what you expect. While modular granite countertops might be perfectly fine, they do not live up to the desirability of their slab siblings.
Modular granite countertops are a viable option if you want to DIY your kitchen countertops. However, if you expect it to have the same impact as slab countertops, then you might want to rethink your decision. The savings are not that much and neither is the value added to your home. Using granite slabs might well be your most practical option.
If you need help or advice for putting granite countertops in your home, feel free to get in touch with us. Keystone Granite & Tile can help you with the final design in the areas of Columbus, Ohio, Delaware cities, Lancaster and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
We are experts at fabricating and installing engineered stone, marble, and granite countertops and backsplashes, so you can be confident that you will get the very best in product and service quality.
We have showrooms in Lancaster and Horsham, Pennsylvania as well as New Castle, Delaware and Columbus, Ohio. We will walk you through each slab and explain how each can benefit you in your kitchen or bathroom remodel. If you prefer engineered stones, we also carry the top brands in the industry such as Cambria, Caesarstone, Silestone, and MSI, all with manufacturer warranties.
Once you have chosen your slabs, we provide free professional design consultation and quotes so you know exactly where you are before committing. We also have a quick turnaround, so you will get your products on time and on budget.
Give us a call or send us an inquiry through our website to set the ball rolling!