Armchair Builder

Install Countertops

How to Build a Home, Step 46


Install Countertops

When building a new home, we install countertops just after painting the interior trim.  Countertops can make such a huge difference in the look and functionality of your new dream home.  Here we talk about planning for your new tops, the schedule for installation, and quality requirements to get the job done right the first time.  Depending on your layout and material choice, your countertops can be extremely expensive, so be sure to give this activity the proper attention when building.

Measure to Install Countertops

There are so many different types of materials you can use for your new countertops.  From exotic natural stones to synthetic man made solid surface, there are some great options to provide a long lasting surface that will provide both a designer look and a functional workspace.  Whatever material you choose, it’s best to measure for your countertops after installing cabinets.  This allows the fabricators to account for small differences in the walls, fillers, and cabinet locations.  Be sure to discuss the finer points with your fabricator as you don’t want them to assume anything.  Here are some things to consider…

  • Edge Style – Different edge types go with different designer styles.  Some are more modern while others are more traditional.  Carefully consider your options, their costs, and communicate your wishes in writing.
  • Overhangs – Countertop overhangs can add functionality to your living space.  From bar or breakfast tops to extra workspace, overhangs can allow for extra seating, cooking…etc.  Be sure to discuss with your fabricator the methods needed to support the overhang.  Want to know more about how far a granite slab can overhang without support?
  • Corners – Do you want rounded corners, square or beveled?
  • Sinks – Is your sink going to drop into the opening of the countertop or are you going to use an undermount?
  • Faucets – It’s important to give your countertop fabricator all of the dimensions and specifications for each hole that needs to be cut in stone countertops.  You want the fabricator to make all of the cuts and holes (as opposed to your plumber or appliance installer) as they have the proper equipment to avoid chips or cracking.
  • Seams – If you go with a stone or laminate countertop, be sure to ask the countertop fabricator for your options for seam locations.  These materials come in slabs or pieces that will most likely require seams.
  • Backsplash – Do you plan on adding a tile backsplash?  Or maybe you want a standard four inch backsplash?  Do you plan on running your bath mirrors down to the vanity tops?  Be sure to discuss this with your contractor who will install countertops.

Not Just for Counters

When you have the contractor come in to install countertops, it’s a good idea to have them take care of any other locations you might need.  For example, you may need a granite slab for your shower ledge or seat, or maybe you want marble for your window sills.  How about a marble surround for your master fireplace?  Now is a good time to measure, fabricate and install these pieces.  By installing them now all at once, you will save both time and money.

Solid Surface Shower Ledge

Quality Check

Here are some of the quality requirements from the Armchair Builder scopes of work and specifications for install countertops.

  • Fabricator shall notify owner of any workmanship issues with cabinets or walls that will affect the quality of countertops at the time of the measure.  Examples include out of level cabinets, bowed studs,…etc.
  • Initial sealing of granite countertops or other stone will be performed by the contractor when they install countertops.
  • Installation contractor shall provide material under the countertop at the dishwasher to secure unit to.
  • Loose backsplashes are to be installed and neatly caulked to the countertop with clear or matching caulk or silicone.
  • All countertops will be cut, finished and installed to accept installation of owners appliances including cooktop, range, dishwasher,…etc.
  • Contractor shall secure all undermount sinks to counters.  (an undermount sink attaches to the underside of the stone slab…instead of dropping down into the hole from the top).  This requires the cutout for the sink to have finished edges.
  • Install countertops so they can be removed in the future without damaging the cabinets.  Silicone is best for adhering stone tops to cabinets as it can be removed more easily than most construction adhesives.

Be sure to pay close attention to the install countertops activity when building or remodeling your home.  The budget for stone or solid surface can be tens of thousands of dollars depending on the quantity and materials you choose.  By including a detailed scopes of work and specification, and communicating properly with your contractor, the end product will exceed your expectations.

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