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You’ve had it with those old and outdated kitchen counters. You just need to know how to pick and choose the best granite countertops to replace them. Let’s do this!
Whether you’ve just moved to a new place or finally have the time and budget to change them, you know it’s time. You’re looking at a project that can affect the way you see and feel about your kitchen or bathroom for years to come.
Bring Your Kitchen To Our Showroom!
How nice would that be right? If you could just grab your kitchen and bring it to a granite showroom for professional input. Or what if you could take full-size samples to place over your existing countertops to see and experience exactly how your new granite countertops would look like.
Although there is a variety of 3D Visualization software, it’s not the same as the two examples above. So you can’t do either of those.
However, we’ll discuss five tips on how to choose granite countertops through samples that are right for you, as well as bonus tips that are sure to help in your decision-making process!
1. Consider what you already have at home (and don’t forget dimensions)
Think about your existing countertops, the backsplash or tiles, and cabinetry. First of all, are you able to grab a sample from each of these to bring to your nearby granite store?
Trust me, these will come in handy when you picking out granite as they’ll help you keep the overall look and feel of your kitchen consistent.
For example, is the dominating color of your old-existing countertops one that you’d like to maintain? Or perhaps you want something ‘slightly’ darker or lighter? Or perhaps something in complete contrast to it? Having a sample of your existing countertops will help you in all the above scenarios, do you agree?
With all the natural stones, colors, and patterns to choose from, bringing samples or photos of your existing kitchen will make buying granite countertops less dizzying by narrowing down your choices.
Don’t forget to get dimensions and centerlines
Lastly, take exact dimensions of all your countertop space and calculate square footage if possible. Have a drawing ready. Note where your sink is, your cooktop or range, and measure their center point from an edge or wall (trust me). Having all of this information will make the entire process a hundred times easier for you!
Even something simple like this can help (see image below).
2. Find a nearby granite showroom and warehouse
Now that you have a starting point, it’s time to choose a granite showroom near you. This step is critical because you want to make sure they actually have granite slabs you can look at and compare your samples to.
Just do a quick Google search for granite countertops near me and that should give you a great starting point.
Choose 2 or 3 of the top results and spend a few minutes looking around their website first. Then give them a call and have a few questions ready, for example;
- Do you have slabs there available to see?
- Do you have a showroom with kitchen counter displays?
- Do you have samples I can take home? Are they free?
- Do I have to make an appointment?
- Do you provide a free quote or estimate?
Those questions will get your conversation started, no doubt.
3. Don’t trust the internet, see it up close!
This one is obvious. Make sure to make time and visit the granite showroom you chose. It is highly recommended that you see the granite slabs up front. This will make visualizing what it’ll look like in your kitchen much easier.
PRO TIP: One thing I recommend is to have a pre-determined set of colors you may want to see. For instance, make a list of 3 to 5 granite colors you like that you see online. Call the showroom ahead of time to make sure they either have samples or full slabs. This way you don’t waste time going there if they only have one out of five… most fabricators have close by distributors you can visit instead.
Don’t be discouraged if they don’t have all the colors in stock, that’s common, as it’s impossible for fabricators to have everything in stock. But consider they have many other colors in stock that you may not have considered. Remember they are pros and can help you decide on what will work well for your kitchen.
4. Don’t take photos of everything, but also don’t turn your back on the possibilities
Be selective. Don’t just take photos of everything you see or like. It’s easy to get carried away with so many beautiful natural stones in the market.
Instead, keep a few things in mind while you look around;
- What is your budget and which color groups fit that
- Have them only show you colors within your budget
- Follow your instinct as in most cases you’ll be right!
- Always carry around your cabinet door sample to place against slabs
- When you like something, look at a photo of your kitchen and picture it
- Understand whether you want something consistent, with lots of movement (e.g. with veins), light or dark, with speckles etc.
- When you do like a color, take a photo and make a note of its name on your phone for reference (don’t neglect this, some colors can be very similar)
What’s important here is to be prepared before looking through a bunch of random granite colors. Understanding some of the boundaries of what you want will significantly help in narrowing down your search.
5. Tag it, don’t lose it!
Once you find exactly what you want, make sure to have the sales person tag the slab or slabs. Do not leave this to your memory, have them put your name all over it.
Once it’s tagged with your information, take a couple of photos from a couple of different angles and lighting.
Lastly, make absolutely sure that your newly selected slab/s will be enough to cover your square footage. Have your sales rep triple check this!
BONUS TIP ( #6 ) – Ask About Seams
This is why being prepared is important. Having a drawing of your kitchen layout, sink and cooktop centerlines, and photos, will help your granite countertop fabricator determine proper seam placement based on your selection.
Don’t be shy and ask about this early. You don’t want to be surprised when your countertops are delivered and installed with a seam running down the middle of your sink (a common seam placement by the way!).
No matter what anyone tells you, seams will be visible. There is no such thing as an “invisible” seam… unless you are using an acrylic surface such as Corian. This is why it’s important to ask about this so that you have the right expectation.
Examples Of Good Seams (can you see them?)
What To Look For In Granite Countertops?
It’s hard to say what you need to be looking for because the entire granite selection process is very subjective. It is a very personal experience that only applies to you and your specific taste and existing design.
Having said that, here are a few tips on choosing granite colors:
1. Dramatic look (light + dark)
If this is what you are after, choose darker colors. Black, dark brown, or even a grayish color can create that impact. Match them with light colored cabinets and you’ll be impressed every morning when first walking into the kitchen.
2. Impressive look (opposite: dark + light)
If you already have dark cabinetry, just use a white or light granite countertop surface and you have an impressive and sophisticated look.
3. Outer space look (light + dark + sparkles)
Put a nice spin on “dramatic”! Granite colors such as Black Galaxy have these sparkles or flakes. These reflect light and give this 3D appearance as if you’re staring into outer space.
4. The Make-Them-Look Look (movement + pattern)
All granite is unique. But granite with natural veining and patterns are particularly beautiful. If you want to make heads turn and admire true natural beauty, go with a granite that has natural movement. You won’t only turn heads but you’ll be proud to be the only person in the world with this material.
5. Exclusivity (movement + pattern + exotic)
If you want the ultimate sophistication, uniqueness, and exclusivity when it comes to choosing your granite kitchen countertops, go with an exotic color. The cost per square foot on these is high, I’m assuming you know that (or guessed it). The more rare it is, the higher its cost.
6. Inspiration (gallery)
We have tons of photos and ideas for you right here on our website, so let me point out a few that I think can help you:
- Our kitchen countertop ideas photo gallery
- Granite countertops specific photos
- Recent stone projects on our homepage
How To Pick Out Granite Countertops?
As you probably know by now, this has to be a very personal project. It’s intimate by nature. Picking out your granite countertops has to be specific to you. Use the tips outlined in this post and you will be ahead of your game.
I can’t stress this enough, preparation is key when choosing granite. The more information you can bring and provide to your sales rep, the better they will be able to help you find something that matches your specific needs and requirements.
As always, we are here to help if you have any questions. If you’re planning to replace your countertops and you live in the Northern Virginia or the Washington Metropolitan area, give us a call and we’ll be happy to provide a free quote.