Before you assume the answer is a definite “yes” OR believe the answer found in a quick Google search, take a couple minutes to understand why you can actually save money by using a custom granite fabricator.
Whether you are installing granite countertops in a newly constructed area or you are replacing old counters, you probably have some sort of emotional investment in the project. You want the best looking and quality outcome, but at a price you can afford and ensure you’re not overpaying. The overall look and feel of the room will be brought together by the granite you are installing; It’s no easy choice and it shouldn’t be taken lightly. You may have even already received bids from local fabricators and have seen the price difference between prefab granite vs. custom granite. Once you understand how prices are calculated, you may be able to revisit custom fabricators for a lower bid than using prefab material. (I was able to save over $2,000 on my small kitchen by doing this!)
What is prefab granite?
Prefab means “pre-fabricated” or granite slabs that have already been cut to standard pre-set dimensions and edged on one side (typically a bullnose edge). They are essentially stocked and ready to install, fitting to your specifications by cutting off the excess material or gluing pieces together, creating a visible seam. Prefab granite may or may not be 100% natural stone like true natural granite slabs. The reason it may not be is the supplier could mix the natural stone with resins to increase the quantity of material. Since prefab granite is mass-produced in just a couple countries to supply all over the world, it is only offered in limited colors.
Benefits of Custom Slabs
In contrast, custom-fabricated granite slabs, offer near limitless color options to choose from, with new ones coming available as they are found and cut from large quarries all over the world. You are guaranteed 100% natural-occurring stone. A custom fabricator will cut your exact counter sizes from a large slab rather than “piecing together” prefab which often requires seaming pieces together. Glued seams are noticeable and can deter from the beautiful, flawless look that stone countertops offer. This process of fitting your countertop dimensions within the slab sizes is the first way you can actually save money by choosing custom fabrication…
1. Amount of Material Used with Prefab Dimensions
As I mentioned, prefab granite comes in pre-set sizes then material is added or cut off to fit your particular counter space. Let’s say you have the layout shown below. A fabricator would add your square footage and calculate how to make the pre-cut pieces best fit using the least amount of slabs as possible. The example below requires three 100” x 26” x 2 cm slabs of prefab material. Let’s say each prefab slab costs $600* (this does not include labor for install), making your total material cost $1,800. The same layout only requires 1 custom slab (3 cm thick) for an average material cost $1,200*. Although there will be extra labor involved to edge the counters, the overall cost with custom is lower because you are not paying for the wasted (cut off pieces) material. You are also getting a thicker, sturdier 3 cm counter instead of the 2 cm which is common among low-priced prefab.
2. Leftover Remnants
Another way you can save money with custom counters is by using slabs suppliers already have and/or remnant pieces leftover from previous jobs. If your counters do not require large surface areas (such as a kitchen island) and a small amount of square footage, say under 50 sq ft., you are a great candidate to utilize remnant pieces that nearly all fabricators have on hand. Of course, your color choices will be limited to what’s on hand, but you can save a lot of money because the fabricator will be willing to sell you this material for a small fraction of what it initially cost. Utilizing these pieces will most often cost less than buying prefab granite for your project.
Some fabricators, such as Seattle’s Best Granite, keep many remnants – even in full size slabs on hand.
To sum it up, here are common benefits to custom granite vs. prefab:
Many Seattle area fabricators will do residential kitchens and bathrooms for thousands of dollars less than their higher-priced competitors. I shopped 11 different suppliers and found the price of this example to range from $2,400 - $5,300 in the Everett Washington area, 25 miles north of Seattle. Seattle’s Best Granite currently offers up to 50 sq ft custom granite in a large variety of colors (beyond what’s listed on their website) for $2,400. Through this generous offer, you can also choose from 3 different edge types – a choice you would not have with prefab.
If you have less than 40 sq ft to cover, you could save even more with their $1,900 promotion.
Promotional prices do not include backsplash, demolition or plumbing. There are currently no expiration dates with these promotions. Take advantage of these opportunities now as prices are subject to change without notice. With locations in King and Snohomish County, Seattle’s Best Granite likely services your area if your business or residence is in Western Washington.
*This is an average taken from Seattle-based granite suppliers in 2019.