Home Renovation Tips: Can You Save Granite Countertops When Replacing Cabinets?

We use our kitchens two to three times a day, every day, so it’s no surprise that the kitchen is the most frequently remodeled room in the average house. If your kitchen cabinets are beginning to show signs of wear and tear or the aesthetic of your cooking space is starting to feel out-of-date, you may be considering a total kitchen overhaul. But what about the expensive granite or quartz countertops, which hold up much better than wooden cabinets and often feel timeless? In this blog, we go into detail about whether you can save granite countertops when replacing cabinets and what options you have when you want to modernize your kitchen without getting rid of everything in it. 

How to Save Granite Countertops

Granite is one of the hardest natural materials on earth, so it makes sense that it’s built to last. There are several reasons why one might want to keep their granite countertops, including the price tag and the level of customization available. If you pick out the perfect granite slab, it’s natural that you would want to keep it throughout the years, and the good news is that it should last you a lifetime. However, if you decide to replace the cabinets underneath your stone countertops, things can get a bit tricky.

The simple answer is that it is possible to save granite countertops when replacing your existing cabinets. That doesn’t mean it’s easy, though, and there are many things to consider before attempting to save your existing countertops. 

Factors to Consider

Various conditions may make saving your countertop easier or more difficult, which can help you determine whether it’s best to get new counters altogether.

Countertop Thickness

 The first thing to consider is the thickness of your countertop; usually, granite slabs are either ¾ of an inch thick or 1 ¼ inch thick. When the countertop is ¾ of an inch thick, it will be accompanied by a layer of ¾ inch plywood underneath the stone that supports it and keeps it more durable. However, when replacing your cabinets, you will need to remove this layer of plywood prior to storing your granite slab and replace it with new plywood when you’re ready to reinstall the countertop. This means that the granite will be especially vulnerable to breaks or cracks during storage; you may successfully remove the countertop without breakage, only to see the countertop crack in the time in between its removal and reinstallment. 

Removing Granite Countertops is Not a One-Person Job

Moving a giant granite slab is likely to be extremely difficult for a single person. The average island countertop is 40×80 inches, which roughly translates to 22 square feet. The thinnest kind of granite countertop that you’ll encounter—the ¾ inch—weighs around 13 pounds per square foot, while the 1 ¼ inch granite weighs around 18-20 pounds per square foot. That translates to a slab of stone that weighs anywhere from 285 to 450 pounds. 

And don’t think that a bodybuilder would be able to easily deadlift the countertop and move it where it needs to go. Granite is prone to cracking or fissuring at pressure points, which form when the slab is held only in specific spots. To safely transport a granite slab any distance, it must be lifted vertically, and there should be someone holding it along the edges in three- to four-foot intervals. 

Saving a Granite Kitchen Countertop

While it’s best to call a professional to remove your countertop, it is technically DIY-able if you have enough experience—and we mean a lot of experience. Removing the countertops can be a highly dangerous process that may result in injury or death if not done properly. Additionally, the process involves many dangerous chemicals, heavy labor, and hours of time; all for something that may not be perfect or even all together if you forego the professionals. 

Ultimately, professional granite countertop removal is likely to be much cheaper than replacing a granite countertop after a DIY project goes awry and much safer than doing it yourself. 

When is Saving Granite Countertops Impossible?

Types of Granite

While the type of granite may not make it exactly impossible to save during a renovation project, different kinds of granite may make it much more difficult to save your countertop. As we mentioned before, there are different thicknesses of granite, and the thinner a granite slab is, the more difficult it will be to keep in one piece during the removal process. In addition, the extra step of needing to remove and replace plywood during the renovation process means that there are more opportunities for the granite to break before it makes it on top of your new counters. 

There are three standard levels of granite. Level one is considered the cheapest kind of granite, but it isn’t necessarily worse than other kinds of granite. This level is characterized by thinner cuts and patterns that aren’t considered premium. Levels two and three are thicker, and the primary difference within these two levels is the kind of patterns each level of granite has. This is important because granite is made of many different minerals, and some of these minerals are sturdier than others. While the level system may not be the best way to determine whether your granite will be easy to save, you may want to take it into consideration if you’re working with level one granite.

Damaged Granite

Almost all granite will have natural fissures and small cracks. These natural deformities will not cause structural damage to the granite and are generally nothing to worry about. However, after years of use, these natural fissures may become pressure points, which can lead to severely cracked granite or even a countertop that has been broken into multiple pieces. It’s important to know that serious issues like this cannot truly be repaired. 

The best solution for damaged granite is to fill the cracks with epoxy or resin—or, in the case of a broken piece, use the epoxy as a glue to hold it to the larger piece. To make this look best, you can mix the epoxy with granite dust in a color that closely matches your countertop before applying it to the granite, then buff down the epoxy until it is flush with the granite. 

Although this is the best method, it still may not look perfect. Technically, it is possible to remove a repaired piece of granite in the same way that you would remove an intact slab, but because it has already broken once, it may be more fragile, and you risk breaking the slab again. 

Different Sized Designs

One significant limitation of preserving your granite countertops is that granite cannot be made bigger or reconfigured, so you will need to keep your kitchen layout exactly the same. If you have the same layout but need your granite to be smaller, you can have your granite cut down. You will need to go through a professional, and it may be expensive enough to consider getting new granite. If you have the same layout but larger, you can add more granite, but you’ll want to find granite that looks nearly identical to your existing granite, and there will be visible seams between the new and old granite. This may not be appealing to you, in which case it might be best to get new granite that fits the layout of your new kitchen perfectly. 

More Options for Kitchen Cabinet Renovation 

If you plan to keep the layout of your kitchen the same and all of the above sounds exhausting to you, have no fear! There is an easier method for sprucing up the interior design of your kitchen called refacing. There are many definitions of this with slight variations, but essentially, cabinet refacing is replacing your cabinet doors rather than the entire cabinet. Often, the cabinet boxes, which are the actual cabinet itself, without doors, hardware, or trim, are in good shape even if the cabinet doors are outdated. Rather than tearing apart your kitchen and removing the counters for a cabinet replacement, you can safely replace or refinish the doors without touching your granite countertop. 

The Buy Wholesale Cabinets Advantage

Now that you know that technically, you can save granite countertops when replacing cabinets, it’s time to look at the other member of the equation: the cabinets. Going through the process of kitchen remodeling is only truly worth it when you’ve found the perfect cabinets to make your kitchen look brand new. 

Luckily, Buy Wholesale Cabinets is here to help you do just that. We pride ourselves on friendly customer service and unbeatable prices, and we love making our customers’ renovation projects easier by providing them with quality cabinets with no hassle. Contact us today to get a free quote and to see what we have to offer. 


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