There’s nothing like the thrill of remodeling a kitchen or bathroom! Yes, there’s the stress of which colors to choose, then there’s the flooring and cabinets. And, to add to the stress, the budget! And budgets can be blown before you know what hit you!
In this article, I’ll focus one of the most fun aspects of a remodel: the countertops. Specifically, I’ll focus on granite.
There are a couple of choices you need to be aware of, along with their pros and cons.
What are these choices?
Enter prefabricated granite and slab granite.
What’s the difference between the two, and which one is right for your remodel project?
Let’s dive in and find out!
We’ll get to the slab granite in a minute. Let’s start with a quick discussion about prefabricated granite.
WHAT IS PREFABRICATED GRANITE?
Pre-fabricated granite, commonly referred to as “prefab,” is granite that is mass-produced at a facility and comes precut in pieces. At the facility, the pieces are cut, the edge details finished, then the slabs are shipped here in containers and are ready to be installed.
Though 96” x 25” is the most common size for prefab slabs, you can now also purchase prefab slabs in other sizes, such as 72” x 48”, 84” x 36”, 86” x 39”, and 108” x 26”.
Prefab granite is manufactured in countries like China, India, and Brazil.
WHAT IS SLAB GRANITE?
Along with prefab granite, you also can make your selection from “slab” granite.
Countertops made from “slab granite” are actual, honest-to-goodness natural occurring rock of real granite that is cut into slabs for use in homes, apartments, and commercial buildings. Perhaps you’ve seen these various slabs at your local fabricator.
SIMILARITIES BETWEEN PREFAB AND SLAB GRANITE
What are the similarities between prefab and slab granite?
First, both offer the authentic look and feel of granite. Average consumers generally cannot tell the difference.
Both options allow your fabricator to make cutouts for sinks, whether they be drop-in or under-mounted.
Third, both prefab and slab granite countertops are a snap to clean, though each type must be regularly cared for so that it maintains its appearance.
And last, both can become stained or damaged, but fortunately both have to be sealed to add a nice layer of protection against stains or scratches to keep it looking good for years to come.
DIFFERENCES BETWEEN PREFAB AND SLAB GRANITE
Let’s now look at some differences between the two types of granite.
At the top of the list: many consumers on a budget will prefer the prefab granite, since it tends to be a more affordable option to purchase and install.
Though it may be more cost effective, you will be limited in size, since prefab only comes in standard measurements, therefore many prefer the flexibility of a slab, since slabs can be custom cut to fit non-standard kitchen countertop sizes.
Granite slabs also tend to seam up better than prefab countertops.
Granite slabs are often preferred since they can be fabricated with custom edges, whereas prefab slabs generally come with a standard “bullnose” edge, though some prefab fabricators now offer more edging on prefab slabs. Check with your local prefab warehouse to see if they offer custom edging.
Then there’s the issue of color choices. Prefab slabs come in a handful of colors and finishes, whereas slabs come in a multitude of colors and designs for your selection.
THINGS TO KEEP IN MIND WHEN CHOOSING YOUR GRANITE
So, which should you choose: prefab or slab?
Here are some things to look for:
Though you may save money with prefab countertops, the final price on prefab granite will ultimately depend on a few factors, such as:
- Where you are in the country
- How many prefab distributors there are in your area
- How many fabricators that are willing to do prefab installations
- How busy they are, and
- The level of complexity that your project will entail
With prefab granite, there may be many levels of quality, and the old saying “you get what you pay for” applies no less to granite countertop installations.
The best thing you can do is EDUCATE YOURSELF as a consumer. Many consumers are not familiar with quality stone work, and even though they feel they’re saving money, they can be getting a lower quality product installed in their home.
And remember, though prefab slabs can be fabricated into “some” custom applications, overall, you will be limited to standard-sized applications. For example, let’s say that you have an irregular shaped kitchen with a countertop that will require 3 pieces of granite to cover. it. And let’s say the length is over 9 feet. Since the prefab slabs only come in 9′ lengths, you will have at least 2 seams in your kitchen because every time your countertops change direction, the prefab slabs will have to be cut and then seamed together. The problem that can also occur is that when the prefab slabs are seamed, there is no guarantee that the design will match.
Just something to keep in mind.
If you do want to move forward with prefab countertops, keep your eye open for the following:
- Consistency: There is a tendency in some prefab slabs to apply enhancers to deepen the color, resulting in uneven color throughout the slab. So, look at the prefab slab from about 10 feet away, then analyze it close up, to make sure the overall finish is consistent throughout.
- Glue Lines: Because the prefab slabs are being mass-produced, sometimes the glue lines are not tight and will be more noticeable, and
- Polish Marks: Look for the polish on the prefab slab to be consistent and make sure there are no “swirl” marks.
Overall, if you want to impress your friends and family and go for that WOW factor, prefab might not be the best choice; you’ll want to go with a custom fabricated slab.
The good news is that custom cut slabs have come down in price over the past few years. So, go ahead, at least price a slab for goodness sake!
Whichever option you decide, both will enhance your kitchen or bathroom remodel and will provide beautiful countertops for years to come!
Still a bit confused? Don’t stress! Just keep the following jingle in mind:
When budgets are tight,
And small spaces your plight.
The choice for you is prefab.
But if budget’s no worry,
And you’re not in a hurry,
For goodness sake go with the slab!