Bespoke Granite Countertops v Prefabricated Granite Countertops
There are various factors that influence the cost of granite countertops including the actual cost of the granite, the fabrication or cutting to specification of the granite, the edge profile required, whether to have drainer grooves, a rebated drainer and the type of sink required whether traditional, undermounted or maybe a farmhouse style and commonly known as a Belfast sink. In this article we shall concentrate on the fast increasing popularity of prefabricated granite countertops (often referred to in the trade as "strips").
In the early 1990s we introduced a new way for granite countertop suppliers to purchase from us and this has transformed the industry worldwide with many granite processors all over the world copying our ideas and techniques. It was a very good idea, an idea that propelled granite countertops into homes all over the world simply because it made them much more affordable. So just what was this brilliant idea and how were things done before?
Until the 1990s your local granite countertop supplier, usually a traditional stonemason, used to purchase large slabs from wholesalers or direct from a granite processing factory in Brazil, China, India, Italy, Spain, in fact many different countries. These slabs would normally be what is known as gang sawn and typically 2600~3000 x 1600~2000 x 20/30 mm, a slab like this would weigh in excess of 400-500 kgs at 30 mm thickness and require special handling equipment as well as specialist machinery to cut and polish the slab to the required dimensions. All granite kitchen countertops at that time were bespoke, a skilled mason would visit and template the kitchen and the granite countertops would be produced specifically for the customer and fitted by his own team.
Needless to say this is a very expensive way to produce granite countertops and it can also be quite wasteful since the stonemason can be left with lots of pieces of off-cuts which are virtually unusable owing to their sizes. The largest domestic kitchen granite countertops we have ever supplied for one house was in excess of 5.5 tonnes of Baltic Brown therefore do ensure your base units are capable of supporting such weights.
Granite is a natural stone and is quarried in many different countries. Some quarries are able to produce very large, almost perfectly rectangular blocks weighing 20-30 tonnes however most quarries are not like that purely because of the rock formation and location therefore the rough blocks produced can vary in size enormously from very large to very small in comparison, maybe only a tonne or so.
Large gang saws require large blocks to operate most efficiently therefore these large blocks command a higher price on the world market but there are also saws known as circular saws which can cut the smaller blocks, say 2600+ x 600~1000 mm, much more economically and with an even greater degree of accuracy of about +/-1~2 mm. These smaller blocks were not only cheaper to buy but also cheaper to process since the huge handling equipment required for large blocks were no longer necessary.
Our idea was simple and revolutionary just like all good K.I.S.S. things are. We already knew that most kitchen countertops were in a range of 600~700 mm wide therefore why not produce them in several widths with four polished square edges and then all the fabricator would have to do is cut to length and possibly to width AND at the same time have much, much less waste than cutting from a large slab. We also extended this idea to granite island countertops producing them in 900, 1000 and 1200 mm widths and also granite backsplashes at 110 mm height.
So to the most popular question...Is a prefabricated granite countertop the same type of granite as used for a bespoke granite countertop? The simple answer is "Yes", if it has come from one of our quarries, for instance Star Galaxy Granite, then we can guarantee you it is this specific granite and likewise with any of our other granites such as Absolute Black, Bros Blue, Classic Black etc, however, naturally, we do not vouch for any other producer/supplier.
Therefore do you need bespoke granite countertops or will prefabricated granite countertops be the better choice? This will most probably come down to a couple of things:
1. Have I an unusual shaped kitchen with varying depths of countertops and possibly out of square? Most commonly found in older or not yet renovated houses. In most cases the bespoke route is the one to be taken but of course it is possible to have a bespoke granite kitchen made from prefabricated granite strips and your granite supplier should be able to advise you best on this.
2. Do I have a galley style of kitchen with fairly straight edges and dimensions? Usually the more modern or fully renovated properties. In this case then it is most likely that prefabricated granite countertop strips will suffice, and such has been the fast pace of mobile cutting and polishing equipment it is possible that your supplier will arrive, cut and fit your granite countertops on site...in fact, a semi-bespoke service at less cost!
All the granites shown on this website are exported in Full Container Loads (FCLs) direct from Chennai, India, or Xiamen, China, we do not stock any granites outside of the factories. Please feel free to pass on this website address to your local granite supplier. You can even WhatsApp it direct from your mobile phone by clicking on this green link
© Copyright Eurasian Natural Stone 1st December 2004