If you're getting your kitchen remodeled and you're looking at new countertop colors and styles, chances are that you've come across granite countertops. If you've come across granite countertops, you've probably heard of granite fabricators.
These contractors are the people responsible for creating granite countertops for your kitchen, using a wide range of specialized tools and techniques to bring your new kitchen to life.
From stone cutting to countertop installation, there are a lot of steps for fabricators who work with granite. If you're curious about what granite fabricators do, how much they cost to hire, and how much money they make, then Kitchen Infinity is here to answer all your questions!
Let's get to it!
What Do Granite Fabricators Actually Do?
Essentially, they take a slab of raw stone and turn it into brand new kitchen countertops. They go down to a quarry/warehouse, grab some stone, and then turn it into a fabulous, long lasting counter.
It's really fascinating to watch!
Obviously, there are a lot of steps involved in this process. Each fabricator for granite will have their own unique method of granite fabrication, but here are the steps that most granite and natural stone fabricator teams will follow to produce your lovely granite countertop:
- Extract the raw stone – first things first, the contractors head down to the local quarry (or stone warehouse) and get cutting the raw stone and granite they can find. Special machinery will remove huge chunks of the raw stone and granite, which will later be cut down to a more manageable size. The raw materials will be transported back to their factory for processing.
- Measure your kitchen – early on in the process, a specialist will use digital lasers and tools to measure your kitchen countertops and see exactly how big (and what shape) your granite countertop or granite backsplash needs to be. They will make note of the style of countertop edge you want, as well as any spaces needed for sinks, sink anchors, and other hardware fittings. Digital files and blueprints will be created using very precise measurements. These digital files are then sent back to the factory.
- Cut it down – once the cut quarry stone is back at the factory, the workers will cut it down into manageable pieces that are big enough to work for a countertop. They're not cutting it down to exact measurements at this point – they just want a large slab of granite that they can work with more easily (and that will fit in their machines).
- Polish it – special machines are used to polish and smooth the granite down until it reaches the smooth, shining aesthetic that we're used to seeing. At this point, the granite is a large rectangle of flat, shiny, smooth granite. From here on out, this material can start being shaped into a custom-made granite countertop.
- Check for defects – before they start cutting the granite down to size, special lights and photo images are used to check for any defects in the granite that could make it unusable. If any defects are found, the workers may try to buff them out or work around this section if possible. If the defects are only minor and superficial, it may be possible to use that side of the granite as the underside of the kitchen counter that nobody sees anyway.
- Cut according to digital files – once the slab of granite is ready to be cut to a custom size, the digital measurements taken from your home are passed along to the factory floor, showing the fabricators exactly what size and shape the granite needs to be, down to the millimeter. At this point, machines are used to cut the basic shape of the granite for your kitchen layout
- Barcodes to keep track – you'll find that many contractors will use barcodes on the granite at this point so they don't lose track of whose countertop is whose! The bigger the granite fabrication business, the more likely that they need to use barcodes in order to keep track of everything.
- Edging machinery is used – special “edging machinery” is used to polish and smooth the edges of the cut granite countertop. Different machines may be used for different effects depending on the style of countertop edge that the customer wants. There are many different styles of counter edge that the customer could want, such as a bullnose edge, demi-bullnose edge, beveled edge, sunken ogee edge, and more. Different edges have different advantages, such as causing spills to drip straight onto the floor instead of dripping into the cabinets below.
- Hand finishing – toward the end of the process, one of the contractors will usually inspect the granite, make sure that it's up to scratch, and then use hand tools to polish and smooth the edges until they meet the company's exacting standards. Though the automated machinery does most of the work, it's always good to have the eyes of an experienced worker when putting on the finishing touches.
- Final details are added – at the end of the process, high-pressure water jets are used to add in details such as sink anchor holes, allowing your sink and any other hardware to slide perfectly into your lovely granite kitchen countertop when it's in your home. These may be smoothed out and finished with handheld tools once again until the counter is completely finished.
- Installation – once everything is complete, the granite is carefully wrapped up in protective materials and transported to your home for installation. The contractors use special adhesives and sealants to secure the countertop to your lower kitchen cabinets, ensuring that the finished product is level, sealed, and fitting perfectly.
All granite fabricators have different processes
Obviously, all contractors have their own ways of doing things, so it's always worth speaking to your own granite fabricator if you want to know exactly how they work and what they do.
Some granite fabricators also work with materials like natural stone, marble and granite, but once again this depends on the contractor at hand. Granite countertops are dealt differently than quartz countertops or stone ones!
A well-made granite counter can last for 100+ years, so these counters are great investments. Make sure you work with granite fabricators who have a strong reputation and glowing customer reviews!
How much does granite typically cost?
If you want granite for your kitchen counter, you're looking at around $40 – $60 per square foot of counter area. This is much cheaper than marble, which costs anywhere from $75 – $250 per square foot of counter area on average. If you like the look of granite, it's much more cost-effective than marble.
But what about the whole cost?
Well, for the average-sized US kitchen area, you're probably looking at $2,000 to $4,500 for a full granite counter installation. That cost would include the cost of the granite itself, the labor, the installation process, and any taxes and fees added on top.
If your granite fabricator wants to charge more than $4,500 and you don't live in a huge mansion, you might want to look for a different stone fabrication business with better prices. Or if you're considering different backsplash you should consider the pros and cons of granite backsplash before making a decision.
Still, remember that a decent granite counter can last for 100+ years if cared for properly, so these surfaces are usually a very good cost-effective investment.
How do you find a good granite fabricator near me?
When you're spending thousands on new granite counters, you want to make sure that you're dealing with a reliable stone fabrication business.
Here are some tips for finding the best natural stone fabrication business for you:
- Ask your friends and family – if a neighbor, friend, or family member has recently had a new granite counter fitted in their home, ask them which business they used for the job. It seems like common sense, but asking people who are satisfied with their work is the easiest way to find a good local business!
- Visit local stone warehouses – if you happen to live near a stone warehouse, visit them or get in touch with them and ask them which stone and granite fabrication businesses they recommend. They'll probably recommend a certain business for your needs whom they trust and work with regularly.
- Check Yelp and online reviews – although they're not always 100% reliable, online reviews are a great way to get the overall feel for a business and see if most of its customers are happy. You'll probably find that even the greatest stone fabrication business has the occasional negative review, but if most the customers are pleased, that's a good sign!
- Look through the Yellow Pages – if you still have the yellow pages (or the equivalent) in your local area, check the listings to find a stone fabrication business that meets your needs in your local area
- Google them – try googling “granite fabricator near me” to see a list of the best stone and granite companies in your local area. They will usually appear on a map so you can see how far away they are, and most of the time they will have Google reviews so you can see what local customers thought about them.
There are multiple ways to find new stone and granite fabricators in your area, but these are the most common methods you can use.
How much do granite fabricators make?
Interested in how much granite fabricators make? If you're looking to sink your teeth into this business, you should come out of it with a decent salary.
The average hourly rate for a stone fabricator in the US is $15.38 per hour.
The average salary for these contractors ranges from $25,244 up to $48,991 for senior and more experienced granite fabricators.
Although these salaries are impressive, a lot of granite fabricators don't get significant health benefits, insurance coverage, or dental plans through their employer. Keep this in mind if you don't have insurance but you want to cut granite countertops for a living.
The Bottom Line
Granite and stone fabricators have an interesting line of work turning slabs of raw stone into high-quality counters for homeowners. When you're looking for a company like this for your kitchen or bathroom remodeling, make sure that they're popular, have a good reputation, and come with tons of experience.
You should probably check the price is good too!
Oftentimes you'll find that a renovation project like this can add tons of value to your house as the years go by, so don't be afraid to pay for top-quality fabricators who know what they're doing. And you'll also want to make learn how to properly take care of your granite countertops before making such an investment.
Whatever you decide to do for your countertops, good luck!