Professionally fabricated and installed tops are the best way to go for a perfect fit.
Granite, Engineered and Solid Surfaces in a New Kitchen
Solid surface materials – (which collectively include engineered stone, granite and Corian-type products) are only quoted and sold as an installed product. Payment is due in full prior to installation. After the base cabinets are installed – the homeowner or contractor notifies the designer that they are ready for a template to be made. The designer then calls the fabricator to schedule the template appointment. The appointment can be as few as a couple of days away to a week from the notification of the designer.
The fabricator comes to the home and makes a template of the counter and notes any special situations (i.e. clipped corners, cutouts, sinks, faucets, cook tops, bar sinks, outlets, etc) on their template. Templates are typically made out of cardboard or thin plywood. The sink, faucet, and cook top must be available that day so that the correct cutout and drillings can be made. 99% of the time, a Granite, Engineered, or Corian countertop will have an under mount sink. The top fabricator will attach the sink to the countertop for installation. Similarly, if part of the countertop’s backsplash wraps around an electrical outlet, switch, etc….it must be in place on template day.
The fabricator will then make the countertop. The timeframe from template to fabrication will vary by materials and workload at the shop. Granite is typically the longest turnaround. During day of installation, fabricator will install the top and do final tweaks (sanding, etc) to fit the top perfectly. The installer will not hook up the faucet, the supply lines or the drain lines-no mechanical parts are included in the installation.
Granite, Engineered and Solid Surfaces in an Existing Kitchen
If you are simply replacing a countertop in an existing kitchen – the process may inconvenience you. Before the fabricator arrives to template the kitchen, the existing countertop must be removed out of the way in order for the countertop template to be made. Once the template is made you or your contractor can reinstall the original countertop. Before the day of final installation, the old countertop must be removed before the installer arrives with the new surface. Any new appliances sinks or faucets must be in your home for the template appointment.
Laminate tops are installed in the same fashion as solid surfaces with one distinction, the sink. While most solid surface sinks are under mount and included in the professional installation process, laminate countertops have drop-in sinks that install from the top. These are not included as part of the installation process. The only laminate tops that are offered custom installed are square and beveled edge. Other edge treatments are called “post form” and are typically installed by the contractor or do-it-yourselfer. If you are having a laminate top installed, in order to insure the proper cut out, any sinks and cook tops must be on site at the time of template appointment.