Replacing Cabinets While Leaving Granite

shaklee3October 20, 2013

I have all of my lower cabinets removed after some water damage on the floor, and two very large piece of granite are being held up by 2x4s from the removal company. If I order cabinets to fit the kitchen, they're not going to be exactly the right height, so I need to slide them in and shim them up to the correct height (about 36"). Since this seems like a fairly fragile task, has anyone here done something similar? If so, what tips would you have for preventing any damage to the granite?

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Holy mackerel! I'm sorry that you have to go through all of that.

Is the 36" that you are referring to from the floor to the top of the counters or to the bottom of the counters? Cabinets are 34.5" tall, with the countertop usually 1.5" thick, to bring it all up to 36". Did you have any flooring (tile or hardwoods) under the old cabinets?

    Bookmark   October 21, 2013 at 12:50AM
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I think it will be easier if you get cabinet boxes with out toe kicks, and instead have adjustable legs on each corner. Then lower the legs to the minimum, slide the cabinet under the counter and raise it up into place. It will be much easier than fiddling with shims.

    Bookmark   October 21, 2013 at 1:28AM
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Echoing Bob_cville - it will be much easier with legs instead of shims. Or, cut off 1/2" of the toe-kick and use the EZ Levelers.

Sorry for the huge mess. This is not going to be an easy replacement with the granite already in place, no matter which method you use.

    Bookmark   October 21, 2013 at 7:31AM
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Wow, I've never seen anything like that! I had no idea that removing cabinets while leaving the granite in place was even possible.

I imagine you will have to cut the back of the sink cabinet nearly entirely out to get it around the already-installed sink. Isn't there a lip on the granite edge that you will also have to get around, or is the granite still attached to the plywood sub-top?

    Bookmark   October 21, 2013 at 8:35AM
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The 36" is from the ground to roughly where the plywood ends underneath the granite. I haven't checked, but the counter *may* be propped up a little too high or low right now, so my measurements could be slightly off. We were thinking of purchasing martha stewart cabinets, which don't have the adjustable legs. The only ones I've see with those are ikea. What other kinds have those?

The sink one will be difficult. We'd definitely have to cut out the back of the box to install it. The granite is still attached to the plywood subtop all around.

    Bookmark   October 21, 2013 at 9:38AM
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Can you unmount the sink? I would think that it would be preferable to remove the sink and plumbing so you don't have to hack up the new sink cabinet to install it.

What do you intend to do for flooring? If hardwoods, you can install them under the cabinets and that will help take up some of the slack space that you have under the counters. You'd have to do a lot of shuffling of support legs to do so, though.

    Bookmark   October 21, 2013 at 10:04AM
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That's a HUGE safety hazard as is! Your insurance company wouldn't be too happy to know that just a few 2x4's on end are what's holding up that stone. It should have been removed with the cabinets and the be re-installed after the cabinets are replaced. And your insurance company should replace the stone as well if it breaks.

Whatever happens, I wouldn't let that stay like that another minute! Especially if you have any pets or children. Call the hacks back and have them remove the counters properly. And email that pic to your insurance company complaining about the hacks. That's unbelievable!

    Bookmark   October 21, 2013 at 12:06PM
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I had the same response as Live Wire Oak. My first thought was, holy cow, that just can't be safe!

If you have kids or pets, please be very very careful around there until something else is arranged.

    Bookmark   October 21, 2013 at 12:11PM
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Thank you, live_oak_wire for telling it like it is! I didn't want to say anything because I wasn't sure if that was an acceptable way of doing things in certain areas. If it were me, I would have wanted those countertops removed ASAP before disaster strikes. I do think it is quite an amazing feat that they managed to get those lowers out without removing the granite! It sure does look scary as all get out, though!! And I can't imagine that the new lowers would go in without a great deal of trouble, not to mention the risk of having to climb under those precariously perched countertops to do adjustments, shimming, etc.

    Bookmark   October 21, 2013 at 12:38PM
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I agree that the counter perched up like that is a safety hazard and would have it taken down while the flooring and cabinets are replaced. Since the counter rails around the sink might be vulnerable to breaking while the counter is moved, a brace like this one made by Omni Cubed seems like it would be useful and help to provide support.

Braxton Bragg sells it and the description on their website reads "The Sink Hole Saver by Omni Cubed is an innovative stiffening device that protects finished stone pieces from breakage during lifting, transport and installation. The product is an ideal solution to strengthen countertops and backsplashes, especially fragile stone pieces. The Sink Hole Saver⢠features mechanical clamps, which stay secure around finished edges. Large, easy-grasp clamp knobs make the clamps effortless and quick to tighten. The stiffening rail is very strong, yet light-weight, and features a convenient sliding channel for custom placement of each clamp. etc. .."

Edit: Hmm the picture showed up in my post during the preview but not in the actual post. Please just use the link below to see the brace posted on the Braxton Bragg website.

Here is a link that might be useful: sink brace

This post was edited by pentimento on Mon, Oct 21, 13 at 14:18

    Bookmark   October 21, 2013 at 2:14PM
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I can't imagine why they left that granite in place, especially in such a dangerous way. Whenever you do have the cabinets replaced, they are going to need access to move things in place, screwing things together and to the wall, making sure the tops are all level, etc. You can't do that if the granite is in the way. I can see it if they simply moved the granite to another room but this is kind of ridiculous. They haven't even supported the back corner so it's in danger of cracking. I really hope you have no children or pets in the home.

    Bookmark   October 21, 2013 at 3:03PM
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Regarding the potential safety hazard - are we worried that the granite will crack because it's not supported between the studs? The load carrying capacity of a 3' 2x4 stud is almost 3000 lbs, so there's certainly no risk that the studs themselves will fail.

    Bookmark   October 21, 2013 at 3:03PM
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We have two cats -- no kids. You're right in that the back of the counter doesn't look very well supported, if at all. They left part of the old cabinets nailed in apparently.Ideally they'd remove the granite and reinstall it once the new cabinets were here, so I really don't know how they're going to do it. I didn't know it was such a safety hazard since they made it seem like it was common practice.

    Bookmark   October 21, 2013 at 3:36PM
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I had seen one other kitchen where they did that, so maybe it is common practice. I would make sure though that the 2x4's are secured to the floor so they cannot be kicked out accidentally. I would also make sure that the back edge is being supported.

    Bookmark   October 21, 2013 at 3:44PM
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I'm betting this was left in this condition because the removal company only has to remove without damaging, not consider how cabinets have to be installed.

This is a non-starter. The granite must be removed to set the cabinets and this is now more difficult to do since the old cabinets are gone.

The last time I did this job, I built a temporary table and slid the granite onto it. I'd put the sink base in place, then beat the front off with a block and hammer from the inside. Slide the granite in with the sink attached and reattach the front. It isn't that big a deal.

    Bookmark   October 21, 2013 at 5:51PM
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I'm no expert, but I can't see how in the world you could possibly get cabinets in and leveled. DH and I installed our own cabinets, and leveling them was a trick. How in the world can you level if you can't get to the tops, or see if they are flush against the wall? If it were me, I would call back the company that removed the cabinets and have them remove the granite. I would rather have to pay for new countertops if it ment properly installed cabs. If your cabs are not properly installed, because the granite is in the way it seems your setting yourself up for more problems down the road. Plus it's going to limit your cabinet choices.

    Bookmark   October 21, 2013 at 7:13PM
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Hi shaklee3, I am considering replacing my base cabinets without removing the existing granite in a similar manner shown in your photo. Would you please provide a follow-up as to how the cabinet installation was done, whether the granite was damaged, and any tips/tricks/lessons learned from the installer? Thanks!

    Bookmark   February 16, 2014 at 11:49AM
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Shaklee, what is supporting the rear of that countertop? As best I can see, it's only the backsplash.
At the beginning of the original install process, usually the flooring goes in, then the cabinets with the plywood being attached to the cabinets frames. Then the countertop is glued to the plywood. Then the b/s goes on, with silicone between the countertop and bottom tile.

It seems to me that the only thing supporting the rear of that counter is that silicone and the tiles adhered to the wall. IMHO how this was done in your kitchen is just wrong! It looks like a serious accident just waiting to happen. You could end up losing that stone, along with the whole b/s and the drywall holding it. The b/s can't support that weight.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2014 at 1:18PM
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I'd forgotten about this thread! I'd sure be interested to find out what happened with this.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2014 at 1:52PM
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I was originally trying to replace my cabinets while keeping the existing granite (previous owners put beautiful granite on old particleboard, peeling paint cabinets). Every place I went to said it wasn't possible without damaging the granite.

Then I called a custom cabinetry company that some neighbors recommended. He said he could do it - that he does it all the time in cases of water damage. Only it seemed like he was not going to take out all the cabinets at once. He said he would have adjustable feet on the cabinet bottoms, lower the cabinets, then raise them after they were under the granite. He did show me pictures of the process.

However we have decided to scrap the granite, as we wanted to change out the old scratched double bowl sink with a single bowl, and I would have had a better chance of winning the lottery than finding something that would work in the same space.

I'd like to find out how shaklee3's kitchen came out, too.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2014 at 2:34PM
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