Buying Countertops? Complete Guide for Beautiful Project Results
A kitchen remodel is an exciting project for homeowners. But it’s also quite a big venture, because buying countertops is about much more than just the countertops. Keep reading to learn everything you need to know.
In this guide, we have outlined eight clear steps for homeowners buying countertops: how to approach the process, expectations you should have throughout, and decisions you will have to make from beginning to end.
Step 1. Explore Ideas Online
The planning stage of buying countertops is extremely important.
In fact, many of your other choices in this process will depend on the focal point of your kitchen: your countertops. Without changing anything else, countertop selection makes a huge difference in the look and function of your kitchen.
Just look at this example!
So, you need to have a clear vision of what you want so everything can come together around it.
To do this, begin by shopping online at a countertop supplier to get an idea of the look and tones you like for your countertop makeover. Here are a couple of tools that will help:
- Live inventory: Browse current inventory to see what material types and colors are available and realistic to select.
- Compare countertop materials: Do your research by using a countertop comparison chart, weighing the options that work best for your household.
- Visualize the room: Find your ideal look without even leaving your house with this Room Visualizer tool.
Step 2. Create Dimensioned Drawing of Your Space
Now that you have done your research—and before you visit your countertop supplier—it’s recommended that you create a dimensioned drawing of your space.
This drawing shows the layout of your space and total square footage, so the supplier knows what they are working with and can craft the right recommendations for your project.
This only needs to be a quick sketch, not perfectly drawn to scale. When you’re buying countertops, you have to consider both total square footage and the layout of your space for the most accurate representation of how much material you need. This is because, for example, a layout with more angles or unusual shapes would yield differently on a slab than a kitchen with only straight runs.
With an accurate dimensioned drawing, you’re less likely to have a drastic change in cost once the project moves forward than if you estimated cost solely on square footage.
To create one, simply:
- Sketch out the shapes of your space, showing the configuration of all the pieces involved
- Run a tape measure across all of the sides of your countertops and note the numbers on the sketch
Step 3. Schedule Countertop Supplier Appointment
Now that you’re prepared with ideas and a dimension drawing, it’s time to schedule an appointment with a countertop supplier.
Whether you know exactly what you want to do or still need some guidance, your supplier can help.
To prepare for your appointment, consider the following:
You want to make sure the associates at the supplier can devote enough time and attention to your project. Plus, in the times of COVID-19, showrooms may be open by appointment only anyways.
Research materials & products
You might have already done this in step 1, but make sure you refresh on your research right before your appointment. That way, when you’re there, you can make the most of your time by telling them your intentions and the area of the home you will be outfitting. The supplier can then tell you if the material is in stock and, if so, can make sure it’s viewable for your appointment. They can also help you decide other options if what you were originally envisioning isn’t possible.
Determine your appointment goal
Are you just beginning or exploring the possibility of the project? Are you ready to start? Or have you already taken the first steps and you just need to make a final decision? This will help guide the conversation and flow of the appointment—and determine if you need to make another one.
Also, there are some practical questions you should ask during the first appointment to level set expectations and make sure this is the right partner for your project.
- How long does the installation process usually take for the size of the job I’m asking for?
- What’s the company warranty policy?
- Do you offer any post-installation care, like service calls and granite cleaners and sealers?
- How soon could you come out for a template and what’s your typical turnaround time?
Once you have handled all of the above, working with your supplier you’re ready to make a final material decision.
Step 4. Pick Material
Some homeowners have an explicit vision and material they want before they even begin buying countertops. Others might need more education or guidance of the many options out there.
When you’re at this step, your supplier will help you as needed. Here are some features to consider as you choose the right material for your household:
- Scratch resistance
- Stain resistance
- Need to seal
- Heat resistance
- Impact resistance
- Renewable & repairable
- Color & pattern consistency
- Price range
No matter your daily routine, frequency of use, design preferences and budget, there’s a beautiful and functional countertop that’s right for you.
For example, some homeowners prioritize durability. Others care more about aesthetics. These features can coexist, but it all depends on what matters to you. The perfect countertop strikes a balance between price, durability, functionality and aesthetics.
Step 5. Pick Accessories
As we mentioned, buying countertops doesn’t stop with the material selection. There are other elements and accessories you have to select, too. Just like the material selection, you can discuss these details during your supplier appointment.
These details include:
Countertop edges play an important role in your countertop design. The straighter looks are generally more modern and better hold up to day-to-day wear. The designs with flowing edges and curved lines, like Roman Ogee, are generally more traditional and may need more cleaning.
Some homeowners choose two edge treatments for their kitchen: one simpler look on the perimeter and a more decorative finish on the island to help make it more of a focal point.
Explore different styles by trying out our 3D countertop edge visualizer tool.
Although some may decide to keep their current sink, most will want to upgrade their sink with their new countertops. It is strongly recommended to purchase the best quality sink that you can fit into your budget. This item gets used each and every day, so you want it to stand up to the longevity of your beautiful new countertops.
There are three major types to choose from:
- Undermount sinks: Installed under the counter with three different sink reveal options, positive, negative or zero (flush)
- Top-mount sinks: Installed over the counter
- Apron-front sinks: Farmhouse style that can come in undermount, top-mount or tile-in sinks
Along with your sink decision, consider what type of faucet you will want. This is another choice that needs to be made in advance because the fabricator will have to cut holes into the countertop to mount your faucet selection at time of install.
There are a variety of faucets to choose from that can be mounted in different ways, including:
- Pull-down: Feature generous spout heights and a spray that can be pulled from the head of the faucet (instead of a side spray).
- Pull-out: Similar to a pull-down, but usually more comfortable to use, with a larger grip area.
- Single-handle: One lever controls the water volume and temperature.
- Two-handle: Separate controls for water volume and temperature.
- Touchless: Growing in popularity, touchless faucets offer reliable, hands-free operation!
If you’re upgrading your backsplash, too, you will want to pick one out that perfectly complements your new countertops. A backsplash also makes all the difference in updating the overall look and feel of your new kitchen.
Important Note: If you plan to make your backsplash using your countertop selection, make sure you bring this up earlier in the process (when you’re getting your quote, which is the next step), so you can order from the same slab.
If you’re not matching, you can try something more intricate if you have a solid or consistent countertop—or go for something simpler if your countertop design has a lot of pattern and movement. You can’t go wrong with tile!
Many elect to keep their existing cabinetry and facelift their kitchen with new countertops and accessories.
However, if you are opting for a full kitchen remodel with new design and cabinetry from a kitchen and bath showroom, your cabinet selection will typically come first and your kitchen and bath designer will develop the layout from which you can get a countertop quote.
Step 6. Get Quote & Place Order
Now you’re ready to officially get a quote and place your countertop order!
Follow your countertop supplier’s process for this. With Eastern Surfaces, you can email your dimension drawing and request for quote to email@example.com, request a quote online, or, most likely, your Sales Associate will follow-up and initiate the quote with the estimator using all of the information gathered during your showroom visit.
The act of formally requesting a quote makes your project a reality. Once a final quote has been done and details discussed, you can initiate the purchase with your supplier and follow their procedures to establish the job and get started!
Step 7. Arrange Template Date
Now that you have formally started the buying process and have your other details and accessories worked out, it’s time to execute!
Templating is a key step before your supplier can actually fabricate and install your new countertops. The process of creating a template shows the fabricator the exact measurements and layout of your new countertop (more exact than your dimensioned drawing from earlier) in a digital format. This allows them to know how to cut the slab for it to fit perfectly in your space.
Eastern Surfaces has highly skilled professionals who use computerized digital templating methods to ensure the most exacting field measurements.
So, while you don’t need to worry about actually creating the template, there are some things you need to take care of before your templating appointment, including:
- Prepare the property by clearing any entryways, driveways, walkways and stairs.
- Prepare the cabinets by permanently installing and leveling them.
- Prepare surfaces by placing any supports and end panels, removing backsplash if possible, and clearing off for measurements.
- Ensure all appliances and accessories (sink and faucet) are on-site or specs are available for the templater.
Your countertop supplier will work with you to make sure you are aware of exactly what needs to happen before your template date. Learn more about what to expect on the date of your template, here.
Step 8. Set Up Install Date
After the template, your fabricator can now set up the slab for cutting—and then set up the install date.
On the date of the installation, you should have your sink, faucet and appliances on site so they can be mounted appropriately. Your installer team will take it from there to complete your job. Note: If you need a plumbing recommendation for final hook-ups, check with your fabricator during the sales process. Also, if you need help removing your existing countertops, be sure to discuss with your Sales Associate prior, so that option can be added to your quote if needed.
Buying countertops is exciting, but it’s important to be well-prepared with these expectations and decisions to make depending on how much of a remodel you’re planning.
To make the process even smoother, you can work with a Kitchen & Bath Retailer or Remodeler that works with your countertop supplier to help you pull all of these pieces together.