Hello, readers! Welcome back to the Stonehouse Countertops’ blog. Today we’ll be walking you through the process of custom countertop installation from start to finish. Our aim is to demystify the process of installation and provide you with the tools necessary to ensure your work is being done to your satisfaction. From budgeting to clean-up, we’ll give you a comprehensive overview of how your countertops come to be in your dream kitchen!

Budget

As with any aspect of home building or remodeling, a budget is imperative. Without a budget, things can quickly spiral out of hand and you can end up paying more than you intended. Ask yourself a few questions to begin with: What would you like to spend? What are you willing to spend? What are you not willing to spend? Equipped with the answers to these three questions, you can rule out a majority of contractors who don’t fall within your budget. 

The price of custom countertops can fluctuate according to a host of factors, including the contractor, labor costs in your state, materials, and square footage. If you have a particular stone in might which must be ordered from hundreds of miles away or is in low stock, take this into account in your budgeting process. 

Consultation

The consultation process will narrow down your list of contractors to the one who’s perfect for you. Consultations are normally performed in the home, allowing the contractor the opportunity to measure the dimensions of your existing countertops. From these dimensions, the contractors will be able to give you a price estimate. They’ll also form a tentative plan for installation. Don’t be afraid to ask questions during this stage in the process. Every contractor is different. Therefore, one contractor might cut your pieces off-site while another prefers to cut on-site. You might ask for references or how the price is likely to fluctuate given certain custom add-ons. You might also ask how long the installation process will take.

Selection

This is the part of the process that most homeowners find the most fun. Here, your primary concern is choosing the material which will fit best in your home. Start with the material. Certain materials only come in certain colors and patterns, so this choice will rule out other specifications down the line. 

As well, certain materials will lend themselves to different lifestyles. If you have young children or a particular clumsy partner, a porous material like marble might not be the best choice. Porous materials absorb liquid and stain easily unless they’re finished with a sealant. Sealants can contain toxins and chemicals you might not want in your home. Similarly, certain materials are better with heat. If you’re an avid cook and plenty of hot pots and pans will occupy counterspace, you might lean toward a material like soapstone. 

We have entire posts dedicated to exploring the benefits and detriments of each material we offer here at Stonehouse. Check those out if you’re in this stage and need help!

After you’ve chosen your preferred material, you’ll need to make further cosmetic choices. Color. While granite comes in a variety of different colors, materials like soapstone are more limited. Pattern. Granite is traditionally speckled, while marble is, well—marbled. Certain materials can be made to imitate the appearance of other materials with a little finessing. Finish. Polished finishes are glossy and glass-like, while honed finishes are satiny and non-reflective. Depending on which finish you choose, the necessary maintenance for your countertops will change. Each of these will affect the appearance of your kitchen. From there, you may have the opportunity to choose the thickness of your slab. Take your time. This is the stage of the process where you have the most control. Revel in it!

Fabrication

The contractor will return (once you’ve reached an agreement and usually after an initial fee) to measure the space once again. It is from these measurements the contractor will formulate templates. Templates are used to fabricate the countertop pieces or cut the countertop pieces from stone. They will ensure the pieces—when they’re brought to your home for installation—are the right size and fit perfectly. 

During this second visit, you’ll schedule the day of installation. Try and choose a day when you’ll be home or, if your house is still under construction, your contractor will be available. This makes so, if there are any questions the installers need answered, there’s someone available who is cleared to make decisions on your behalf. Also, try to choose a day when perhaps the kids will be in school. If you have very small children, try to place them in daycare or with a trusted friend. Installing countertops isn’t always a super noisy process, but there will be unsafe materials around (such as epoxy and tools). If you can’t outsource your kids for the afternoon, then try and keep them occupied in a separate room for the duration of the installation. 

Preparing for Installation

Preparing for the installation of your countertops is easy. You’ll need to clear a pathway between where the work will be done and the nearest entrance. This will allow your countertop pieces to be carried in without any mishaps. You’ll also want to cover your furniture. Even if your countertop pieces are cut off-site, there’s a slight chance for dust particles to make their way onto your furniture. Finally, if your home is still being constructed, request the builders take a break from work until all of the countertops are placed. 

Installation

The installation process shouldn’t take more than half of a day. First, the old countertops will be removed. If a new sink is being installed, this should be put in first and sealed with adhesive. Before the new countertops are installed, the contractor will ensure the structure of the counter is sturdy enough to hold the weight of the new countertops and level. If you have a cooktop, holes will need to be cut in the pieces to accommodate. Then, adhesive will be applied to the top of the counter and the piece will be placed on top. A professional will use precision to ensure all edges are straight and flush (where applicable). Next, the edges are sealed and caulked. Finally, all waterline connections are finalized. 

Clean Up

Some contractors do a better job than others of cleaning up their working space. Any contractor worth their stuff will take the time to collect any stray materials and wipe down exposed surfaces. Those who are truly committed to giving you the best experience will clean the newly installed countertops with a pH-neutral cleanser. In the case of quartz, they’ll degrease the surface using a degreaser. In the case of soapstone, they’ll oil the surface with a bit of mineral oil. 

As well, a generous contractor will give you maintenance and care instructions for your new countertops. They’ll inform you not to use Clorox wipes on quartz countertops due to the citric acid leading to discoloration. Likewise, how using Windex or bleach on granite can actually damage the surface. Of course, you can find this information yourself (on our blog), but a contractor who’s vested in the continual care of your countertops is an optimal contractor.

Now, you truly are done!

Custom countertops elevate the sophistication of any space. Ideally, they should be properly installed by a professional who is both skilled and timely. If, at any point in this process, a contractor isn’t willing to work with you to your liking you should move on to another. The final product should be as close to what you imagined when you set out as humanly possible. This is why preparation, communication, and execution are essential in the custom countertop installation process. 

We here at Stonehouse Countertops are willing and able to work with you to your specifications. We offer a wide range of different materials and always have someone on hand to answer your questions! Don’t hesitate to reach out for consultation or for help forming a plan. We want to ensure your vision becomes a reality! Check back into our blog for more information on custom countertops and material maintenance. Until next time!