Thinking about upgrading to marble countertops? Here are 7 things you need to know before installing marble countertops. I used these 7 tips to help me get brand new, custom countertops for less than $2,500.00 in my latest remodel!
1. Know the maintenance required for marble countertops
Marble slab countertops are the most popular kitchen stone at the moment. Did you know that marble slabs have different upkeep than granite slabs do? Marble is a much more porous stone and therefore can stain easily from highly acidic foods like lemon and wine. Marble can also scratch easier than granite. It's always best to know the durability of the stone you're looking at beforehand and consider if it will work with your lifestyle.
2. Know your the finish options available for marble stone
While marble does scratch much easier than other types of natural stone, you can chose different finishes. Including, polished and honed. Depending on the suppliers you visit, they may offer additional finishes. Polished marble has the glassy, smooth finish that reflects light and shows off those sparkly elements within the slab. While beautiful it also shows off scratches and wear much easier than a honed finish would. A honed finish is when all the slab has a smooth, matte texture that while not shiny can still have a light reflection of light. This finish is more "natural" looking as though the slab was pulled out of the quarry.
3. Don't overpay on the cost of the stone
One of the things that can be overwhelming about remodeling is not knowing what the costs are. In particular with marble there are so many different suppliers and a wide price range of cost per square foot. If you are looking for a budget remodel there is good news, marble slabs may be more affordable than you think!
In my most recent kitchen renovation (2017) I was able to find two different white and grey slabs of marble for less than $1,000.00 each.
There are a couple of tips I would give when looking for your perfect slab. Like looking for a house, it's not likely that you're going to go to one supplier, find the perfect stone at the perfect price and buy it on the spot. I recommend checking out multiple local suppliers to compare materials and prices. There are lots of stone types and colors that will be carried at multiple suppliers and that alone may be reason enough to visit more than one supplier. Be sure and check to see if there are any discounted slabs due to over supply. Also, you may be able to find a slab that is damaged but still useable in your kitchen layout. The supplier may be able to offer a slab like this to you at a lower cost. Just make sure that before you purchase any slabs that are damaged or just discounted you confirm with the supplier who is on the hook if the slab breaks and you can't use it. In most cases, the supplier is going to require to sign a disclosure stating you cannot return the slab after it leaves the warehouse. An alternative place to check is to look at a granite salvage yard in your area. they may have remnants of slabs that were unused for smaller projects and many cary full slabs at a much lower price per square foot.
4. Get multiple fabrication quotes
A general rule of thumb is that the stone is 1/3 the cost and fabrication is 2/3 of the cost.
In addition to shopping around for slabs, you also want to get no less than 3 quotes from fabricators. I would also recommend showing them any stones that you have seen and the prices and seeing if they can get the slab for less. Suppliers will often provide the slabs at a wholesale rate to fabricators who then pass along the markup to you. But it is also worth checking to see if the end cost is less going through the fabricator. While price is important when selecting a fabricator for your job it's not the only important factor that will impact how your installation progresses.
Here are some questions you may not think to ask fabricators when they come out to bid for the job, but could be super important in how your upgrade process goes:
How often do you install marble vs. granite and other slabs like quartz?What happens if the slab breaks in your care?What happens if I am dissatisfied after installation (there are cracks or the faucet isn't in the right place, etc.) and what is in the agreement regarding this?What is your turn time from slab pickup to install?How to you receive payments?How do you communicate order information? Some fabricators will be highly professional with administrative support and others will be less hands on and perhaps less organized. In some ways, you may "get what you pay for." If administrative organization is important to you, you will have to decide if it's something that's worth paying more for?What disclosures do you require customers to sign?How much notice do you give once the stone is fabricated to schedule the installation appointment?Do you have any photos you can show me of completed jobs?Do you work with individuals or builders more often?
5. Fabrication costs can very depending on your edges
Most fabricators will have several standard edge options included in their pricing and then a premium cost per square foot for additional upgrades. These upgrades include backsplash, a standard marble backsplash trim is 4" and can easily add $500 to the cost of fabrication. In addition there are some edge upgrades that can easily increase the budget by just as much.
6. The Return Policy
Now we've already touched on the return policy previously and while I don't like to repeat myself I think that is so important to you as a consumer, it's worth the extra emphasis!!! You will likely sign a disclosure (or two, depending on if you buy the slab from the fabricator directly or the supplier and the fabricator).
Make sure and read the disclosure completely, and if you're not comfortable with any of the restrictions in it, go somewhere else.
You don't want to have to pay for a new slab because your slab was installed with a crack or a cut was made to the wrong place! The disclosure should be there to protect you as much as it is in place to protect the supplier and or fabricator.
7. Be present at pickup and installation
Once you've completed all the above steps and you're at that exciting point where it's time to install your counters, par-tay! How many times do you plan to remodel your countertops? If it's less than 2x per year then I would say it's worth it to be there when the fabricators pick up the slab from the supplier and when the countertops are installed. Here's why, countertops are one of the more expensive parts of a kitchen remodel and unlike other expensive components cannot be easily returned or even fixed once completed. So even if you have to re-arrange your schedule for the day it's worth that peace of mind knowing you're getting what you paid for and can address anything before it becomes a problem. If you can't be present at pickup of both, I would recommend being present at installation and ask for photo confirmation of the slab that was picked up. Most suppliers should provide an inventory number for your slab that you picked out and you'll want the fabricator to confirm that it's the same inventory number, on the same slab, and the slab is on the same condition. Sending your fabricator photos of what you looked at and asking them to provide confirmation photos of the slab and it's condition when leaving the warehouse would be a sufficient alternative to being present at pickup! Once the slab is ready for installation. I recommend this so that you can see how the installation is progressing be sure that there are no cracks in the slab that will be permanently installed and to make sure that the holes that are cut for the facets are located in the exact right place!