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For many homeowners the high price of granite and other stone countertops make these highly prized and beautiful countertops seem out of reach. Fortunately, there are more cost-effective options out there that can make the beauty of stone affordable for your average homeowner. If you're looking for the beauty of stone on a budget, here are a few options to consider in order to make your stone countertop dreams a reality.
What Makes Stone So Expensive?
There are a lot of factors that add up towards making stone some of the most expensive countertop material on the market. The first is simply material. It takes more work to quarry, cut, shape, and polish stone than almost any other countertop out there. Second, premium stone is quarried all over the world, so shipping and transportation both contribute to higher prices. Finally, installation of stone countertops is more labor intensive than other materials. It's heavier, bulkier, and requires more structural evaluation, all of which jacks up the final price.
How to Reduce Cost
All that being the case, the way to cut cost when it comes to stone countertops is to address some or all of these areas and find ways to reduce the price. If you're in the market for discount countertops, here are a few things to look in to.
Purchase Lower Quality Stone. Stone comes in many different grades, or tiers. High quality granite, for instance, is made of almost pure granite containing very few other minerals. Lower tier granite, however, has traces of other stone and minerals as well. It might be a little heavier and need to be specially sealed to prevent damage from daily use, but choosing a lower tier material will save you big bucks in the end.
Purchase a Thinner Slab. A thickness of three centimeters is the industry standard for top tier granite countertops. If you're looking for a deal, however, you can get discount countertops that are cut less than two centimeters thick to save on cost. In fact, even thinner grades are available, though you'll need to install a plywood backing to thinner cuts to ensure structural integrity.
Look for Local Stone. This one is simple. The closer the quarry, the cheaper the shipping. Look for a supplier that gets their stone from local quarries (or at least a quarry that doesn't have to ship overseas). You won't save a ton, but it can make a difference when it's all said and done.
Buy Pre-Cut Slabs. One of the major expenses of stone countertops is the cost of having them custom cut to fit your pre-existing kitchen design. By choosing pre-cut slabs and designing your new kitchen to fit, you'll be taking at least one price hike out of the equation.
Install Tile. If you're still finding it hard to fit stone countertops into your budget, you might need to abandon the idea of solid stone altogether. In that case, take a good look at stone tile as a countertop material instead. They are quite a bit cheaper than solid slabs, and when installed correctly they offer you all of the same benefits and beauty as more expensive options.
Just because you're on a budget doesn't mean stone countertops are out of reach. Discount countertops are an excellent alternative. Talk to a stone supplier or countertop installer about which types of discount countertops are available and get your new countertop project up and running.
Matt Goering, formerly a carpenter and house painter, is a freelance writer for the home improvement industry who has published over 600 articles.