3 Edge Options for Slab Countertops
There are 4 things that will decide how much you pay for your granite countertops. The material and color you choose, the edge option you choose, the slab yard your material comes from and the fabricator you choose to do the fabrication and installation. I have already touched on the slab yard experience that is a must for your project. In fact, if your granite fabricator or remodel store does NOT let you select your own slabs*, you should not use them!! This means that they might be buying inferior material from an natural stone importer that is bringing in poor quality slabs. If you are “flipping” a house or your project is for a rental property, this might be okay. But if your project is for your home, I would run away from this fabricator or remodel store! I encourage customers to make that trip to the yard so they know exactly which granite slabs (and color shading) will be going into their home.
Let’s talk about material thickness today. Natural stone and quartz slabs come in 2 thicknesses: 3/4″ (also called 2 cm) and 1 1/4″ (also called 3 cm). You have 3 common options on what edge thickness you will have installed. Please see the sketch I have drawn to better illustrate the edge options. What’s the difference in the two materials, you ask? Obviously, 2 cm material costs less(on average about $ 5.00-$ 7.00/SF) than the 3 cm material because you are buying less material.
The common edge choices when using the 2cm thickness is a 3/4″ edge or a 1 1/2″ laminated edge. The second choice is laminated because a 1 1/2″ strip of material is glued to the bottom edge of the countertop, making the edge 1 1/2″ thick. When using 3 cm thick material, the common edge is 1 1/4″. We have laminated the 3 cm material before, making the final edge thickness equal to 2 1/2″ thick. We have also used 2 laminations on the 2cm material, making the final edge thickness equal to 2 1/4″. These were done due to the need to cover 2 layers of plywood decking for a bartop or just due to customer preference. You must be careful that your granite laminations do not interfere with the drawers opening after installation. On some occasions, more plywood decking must be installed.
As noted earlier, the 2 cm natural stone material costs less than the 3 cm material and there are often more color choices in 2 cm material. I’m not quite sure why, but the Houston countertop market has focused more on the 2 cm material, while the Austin and Dallas markets install more 3 cm granite material. It is also a common miconception that using 3 cm material will lower your labor costs since the fabricator is skipping the lamination step. While this is true, 3 cm material is so much heavier to install that 4 – 6 men or more are required to lift these pieces when a 2 cm job is usually installed by 2 men. You will save some money due to the fact that plywood decking** is not necessary for a 3 cm installation.
* If your selection of countertops is a quartz product like Silestone, you won’t be asked to go select your slabs because this product is a man-made product. While some specific colors will probably vary a bit, the overall color and pattern remain fairly consistant to the samples you see in the store.
** Plywood decking is not required when installing a quartz material like Silestone since these quartz products have a bit more flexibility than a natural stone has.