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DIY Granite--yup, I tried it, and survived

Posted by reyesuela (My Page) on
Sun, Dec 24, 06 at 1:49

In my bathrooms an kitchen, I did DIY granite from DIY Granite with DROP IN sinks for and effective price of $20/sqft (with an extra discount and free shipping) and about $7/sqft for installation ($5/sqft in the bathrooms, $10/sqft int he kitchen).

I actually highly recommend it for bathrooms with only straight edges and with drop-in sinks as long as the wall is very flat or you're going to install a backsplash of some sort or a long mirror. It's amazingly simple to work with, just quite heavy. (For undermount sinks, I recommend a FULL prefab place like Marble Master. If your workers will install a special-order fake-stone counter from a box store, they'll install this one!) THe DIY Granite will take cutting, and many workers will shy away from that, but it's not nearly as hard as you think to use a Skil saw to make sink openings for a drop-in sink. First, you cut an X inscribed in the circle or oval of the sink. Then you inscribe a t. Then you cut straight lines connecting the arms of the Xs and ts. You continue cutting off the corners left over until you have a sink cut out. Someone with a spray bottle can keep a diamond blade nice and wet, so you can cut the sinks in situ, though I'd cut it to length outside.

I have also now done a kitchen (I'm flipping a house) with granite from DIY Granite and don't recommend it if there are any corners in the counters because it can be such a PAIN to make them fit right. And the granite is HEAVY!!!! If you want to do it anyway, I'd recommend Marble Masters over DIY Granite (fewer seams--I have two extra because I went with DIY Granite, but I don't mind since I'm selling the house) first check you walls and corners to make sure they're really 90 degrees or VERY, VERY close, order enough to do full 45 degree angle cuts in the corners, and make sure you have at LEAST two, preferably three, strong people to move the granite. And MEASURE WELL!!!! Also, you'd better be REALLY, REALLY good at using a diamond-blade Skil saw. Install for my kitchen cost me $600 for the time of two guys--I was the third laborer. Make sure your 3/4" plywood under the granite is INCREDIBLY level, and make sure no plywood seams match up with granite seams. Then use clamps and heavy weights if the granite still isn't perfectly level after gluing it to the substrate while the glue dries.

I hadn't heard of any reviews for DIY Granite, and many people said that granite is a job for pros only, but I decided to risk it. If I failed, I'd eat the cost of the kitchen granite (about $1400) and just tile the suckers, but I was certain that the three bathrooms would work great, each of which had 6'-8'3" counters. I saved more than $6,800 on my granite this way, so it was worth the risk. Still, there were several moments of kitchen install that were touch and go! Follow the tips above to make it easier for you.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: DIY Granite--yup, I tried it, and survived

I didn't even know it was possible to DIY granite. Good for you, post some pictures to let us know what it looks like.


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RE: DIY Granite--yup, I tried it, and survived

Most projects aren't rocket scientist,but like most things, the more you are familiar and have practiced, the more your confidence level.Before tackling a more expensive material project such as granite, it's best to educate yourself by watching pros on an actual install and visiting a granite works shop if possible. Uneven walls and out of square corners are dealt with by scribing, which is a practiced art that not everyone can fully understand.Templates are generally used as patterns and knowledge of the proper tools and their safe use are other important concerns.Prep work is probably the single most important aspect of most any project before the actual install.You had to have a few seams, but no biggy because you are selling the house? Not a professional attitude imho.Any thing can be done as long as you research and get educated before diving in head first into that muddy water!

Here is a link that might be useful: granite countrtops


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RE: DIY Granite--yup, I tried it, and survived

>Uneven walls and out of square corners are dealt with by scribing, which is a practiced art that not everyone can fully understand.

Yup, I know, but scribing granite is quite difficult, and I would NOT recommend that the average experienced DIY-er try it!

The choices were A) two extra seams or B) granite tile. I think most buyers would prefer two extra seams rather than granite tile. The other granite was simply not in the budget, and I don't think that Marble Masters even existed when I ordered these months and months ago, or I would have gone for them to save myself a lot of install agony.


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RE: DIY Granite--yup, I tried it, and survived

BTW, I've seamed my granite now, and it matches perfectly. I have graphic design experience, so mixing the colors wasn't that tough for me, but I've still never done it before.


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RE: DIY Granite--yup, I tried it, and survived

Seams are what separate a good fabrication job from a poor fabrication job, and ultimately affect the longevity of the installation. 45 mitered seams are NOT used with stone countertops of any variety. That's standard with a laminate type of countertop, but stone is too heavy for that. All seam placement should be above where two cabinets butt together for proper support. That means in an L shaped kitchen, one piece of granite is cut with a small L to follow that corner cabinet around the corner and rest on the cabinet edge. The butting piece is then cut to begin on the adjacent cabinet side. That way the seam is fully supported. THe same process should be used in a line seam where you have two slabs butt together in the middle of a longer run. The proper location for the seam is where one slab ends on the side of one cabinet and the other slab begins right next to it where another cabinet side fully supports it. Placement of seams where there is no vertical cabinet side supporting them underneath is a big no no as it leaves a huge weak spot in the slab and can lead to the entire top cracking. Additionally, no seam should be located above a DW as well for that very support reason, unless additional support is installed. Placement of a plywood sub top is NOT enough support, even for 2 cm granite as opposed to 3 cm granite, to ensure the support that the top needs. All seams should be supported by the cabinet sides all the way down to the flooring.

I have been in new home construction jobs where the builder obviously got a container load of pre fabbed countertops from China and had someone unfamiliar with granite installation install them. It shows. The "bling" of granite may blind some to a bad install job, but the blinders don't stay on long when the countertops cracks.


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RE: DIY Granite--yup, I tried it, and survived

I've seen 45'd corners with granite because of the pattern of the granite, they liked the look of a 45, but as suggested, has to be well supported and i definetely do not recomend free handing the cut with a skli saw. They have jigs out there that are a guide for those cuts when going the skil saw route.


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RE: DIY Granite--yup, I tried it, and survived

>That way the seam is fully supported.

I have a continuous underlayment of 3/4" inch plywood. Perhaps this is a regional thing. I've seen plenty of diag seams here, and they're easier to do for a non-pro if you have to meet at a corner with straight pieces of granite--they're just more expensive because they use 4 sqft of granite more.

Here's a diag seam by a professional installer: http://www.heritagestonecraft.com/photos/gallery/Seams/New Venetian Gold Seam.JPG

And another place discussing it:
http://www.barefootfloor.com/seams.html

Another pic:
http://img61.imageshack.us/my.php?image=butterfliedseams0029iv.jpg

I searched for info about NOT using diag seams, and it seems that the main reason is countertop waste, not anything at all about stability. In fact, of the L-shaped seams, I couldn't find any that appeared to be trying to hit a cabinet edge. And certainly the countertops with a seam at the sink don't have a cab. side there to support the edge, which is the single most common type of seam that I found! (I used it, too.)

I would also note that I'd NEVER recommend DIY granite if you want a large pattern. I used Opal Brown for precisely that reason. If you tried it with a "fake granite" like one of the metamorphic rocks with wide veins, I'd say you were looking for trouble. :-)

I also would NOT recommend free-handing it! We has a guide the entire time. The gap would almost certainly exceede 1/8th of an inch in places with a freehand approach. With the guide, our worst seam (the first one) was 1/16th of an inch. One of the seams was so tight I had a hard time getting seaming material in it at all!

Professional installation techniques also vary from place to place. Some (very expensive!) installers use equipment that creates a near-inivisible seam that must have a kind of vacuum pump to force the seaming material in. Most are considerably wider. Even my widest looks very much like the pics of professional installations by installers who are proud enough to put their seams on the web! I chose a light-colored granite, which means that my seam is more obvious than those on dark-colored granites. If you want your seams to disappear, choose black.

But again, overall, I think that going DIY with granite in a kitchen with corner cabs & counters is risky and could have disasterous results, though it is quite possible.


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