When homeowners are considering granite countertops for their kitchen or bathroom, price is always something to take into account. This beautiful material is not cheap, but there are factors in every project that determine whether the granite countertops price will be moderately expensive or very expensive. Let’s explore those factors.
Granite Countertops Cost Factors
As we’ve noted in other posts, granite countertop prices for the material and installation range from about $100 per square foot up to $250. That’s a broad spectrum! Here are the factors that affect the price you’ll pay for granite counters.
The grade of the material: There are typically four grades of material: closeout/clearance, builder’s grade, premium and designer. Each vendor uses their own specific labels, but those terms give you an idea of what you’ll find.
Clearance granite is usually fairly plain without much of the veining that differentiates one slab from another. Builder’s grade is often granite of the same quality as clearance, but it just hasn’t been moved to the closeout category yet. These are pre-fab slabs for off-the-shelf installation rather than custom cut countertops.
Don’t write off clearance and builder’s grade. It can be very beautiful material, and those who desire a more understated look will love it.
Premium and designer grades are the expensive stuff. They are used in custom jobs where slabs are specifically fabricated for the project. You’ll find lots of veining and color in this stone, and that makes it rarer. One look at it, when compared with plainer grades, and you’ll understand the higher cost.
The complexity of the job: The number of seams, corners and the type of edge are the factors that determine the degree of installation difficulty. The fewer of these there are, the less the labor part of the job will cost. U-shaped counters with multiple seams and an edge that’s difficult to cut are the costliest.
Who is installing the countertops: Obviously, the cheapest option is to do it yourself. Of course, you’ll only save money if you do the job properly without damaging the material in the process. Depending on the grade of the material and complexity of the work, labor can account for up to 50% of the total cost, though 20% to 25% is more the average.
Using a licensed contractor supplied by an interior designer generally costs the most. In between DIY and designer, your granite countertop installation options include a skilled handyman and the supplier of the material. Only consider hiring an installer that is experienced, licensed and insured.
Who you work with: Working directly with the supplier of the material costs less than getting your countertops through a custom builder or interior designer. The savings might be as much as 25%, though 15% is average.
Granite Countertop Prices Overview
These prices are by the square foot of finished countertop:
- Pre-fab slabs, easy, DIY: $45 to $85
- Pre-fab, easy, handyman: $75 to $115
- Custom slabs, easy, custom edge, supplier installed: $95 to $150
- Custom slabs, moderate, custom edge, supplier installed: $115 to $175
- Custom slabs, moderate, custom edge, designer-sourced installation: $140 to $200
- Custom slabs, complex, custom edge, designer-sourced installation: $175 to $250
When choosing granite, you’ll find the lowest prices when you receive several estimates from contractors and suppliers. Be sure to see the material each is offering at that price. Take pictures of each when possible in order to compare the grade of each side by side. For an overview of granite countertops, see our guide Pros and Cons of Granite Kitchen Countertops.