Cutting granite to size?

20 Replies

I am hell bent on having granite bench tops. It's really expensive to buy new but I'm finding a lot of people selling it on craigslist.

My kitchen is fairly small and people are selling large granite pieces as they are remodeling.

I wanted to buy the second hand bench tops and cut them to fit mine. My contractor said it can't be done because granite is very temperamental and it can't be cut in certain places and will crack etc.

I'm wondering if my contractor is saying this as he simply doesn't want to do it. Has anyone ever bought second hand granite and installed it?

Well, marble has veins and can be tempermental, but not granite.  He probably doesn't have the right tools to cut it, The marble/granite yard cuts it with a giant wet saw and polishes it there.  You can cut it on site, but it takes a long time, is dusty and takes work to get it looking right.  

There are a lot of composite materials that look like granite, you can probably find leftover pieces for not a lot of money.

Granite "installers" who measure your project, cut the slabs to the right size, and install them are often separate companies from the companies that sell granite.  So, you could buy the granite second hand and then use an installer to cut and install it.

You can cut it yourself with the right saw.  Trouble is that the pieces are bit and heavy.  Too big to put onto a portable wet saw.  So the only tools you can use are hand tools.  You're not going to get a smooth cut with an angle grinder.  A installer will cut the pieces on a very large, stationary wet saw.

Granite can crack. You have to find a granite shop that can do the cutting for you without you having purchased the granite from them by the sounds of your OP. Or you ask if they have remnants (and give them the size you need) to see if you can get them to cut and install the remnant. 

I dumpster dove at a local granite shop(got thier permission) , and found many large pieces 2'x4' 3'x6' etc. 

I used randomly broken pieces to lay a patio and square cut pieces to face the top of an outdoor gas firepit. 

(my home,  not a rental) 

Your contractor is wrong. 

Granite is easily cut with the proper wet saw and Diamond blade. 

I cut my granite with a Harbor Freight diamond blade in an old circular saw holding a garden hose on low aimed at the blade/kerf. 

Not a model of safety, so I don't recommend it. 

Cutting it is the easy part,  getting the cut faces polished to perfection  like the top is more difficult. 

Once again, thank you so much Bigger Pockets people for the exceptional suggestions. I now have more clarity and understanding. 

I really wanted to figure out this granite thing as I want to develop methods and formulas for remodeling properties so future projects are streamlined. 

You just can't trust what contractors tell you sometimes so I really appreciate the knowledge from seasoned rehabbers.

@Nat Chan  

 I can well understand why your contractor is reticent about doing it. Cutting and installing granite countertops is a specialty trade requiring specialized tools and equipment. I'd hire it out as Jon and others have suggested. 

@Nat Chan  

Hi Nat. Your "contractor" is either lazy or just doesn't know . . .

I have used a small masonry saw like this one on Amazonto cut many granite slabs. They are HEAVY as mentioned above but you can have some very nice results at a third of the cost of custom granite (about $15 per sq. ft.). I have done some small vanities with free or cheap pre-fab granite remnants and some medium-sized kitchens with pre-fab granite slabs. Just google pre-fab granite in your area and see what importers come up. Almost all of it comes from China these days. The pre-fab slabs usually come in pre-cut sizes (97"x 26") that are polished on 3 sides. I recommend the "flat-polish" edge and not the bull-nose because it is so much easier to but the flat seams up together at corners and long sections.

You might run into trouble with used granite only because it might not work with your kitchen floorplan. I will attach a couple pics of kitchens I did with the saw above and I really like the IKEA DOMSJO sink with this this approach because it keeps you from needing to polish an undermount sink cut and drill faucet holes. Polishing edges and drilling holes can be done but it's just more tools and more time.

Have Fun!

Originally posted by Art Allen:

@Nat Chan  

 I can well understand why your contractor is reticent about doing it. Cutting and installing granite countertops is a specialty trade requiring specialized tools and equipment. I'd hire it out as Jon and others have suggested. 

 She didn't want counter tops.

We bought second hand granite with a display kitchen and it is heavy.  Keep this in mind if you are doing a kitchen. We wound up using 2 teenagers,  an adult and an engine hoist to get an L shaped  6 ft x 4 ft piece  in place. It was a single piece though. It was well worth it for us to use the display but we only had to take a small piece of trim to the shop to be cut. It was $15 for one small backsplash cut.   If you have a small kitchen you might also consider finding a granite yard that has remnants, it may be cheaper to buy off craigslist but if the transport is figured in and charge for fabricating if you use their scrap then it may work out, especially if you don't have to hoist the granite (think hernia).  I got a beautiful piece this way.  You could also see if you can line up a fabricator who will handle everything for the material you get (including pickup and install).

On the other hand we have fabricated corian off craigslist very cost effectively ourselves and it looks very nice and it is durable. It was for buy and hold rentals.   However if you want the look of granite go for it. Be patient until you find a piece that works.

Originally posted by Art Allen:

@Dawn Anastasi 

I guess I misunderstood.  What are "bench tops" then?  I've never heard that term. 

@Nat Chan do you have a picture to post of what you're trying to emulate?

Originally posted by @Douglas Larson :

@Nat Chan  

Hi Nat. Your "contractor" is either lazy or just doesn't know . . .

I have used a small masonry saw like this one on Amazonto cut many granite slabs. They are HEAVY as mentioned above but you can have some very nice results at a third of the cost of custom granite (about $15 per sq. ft.). I have done some small vanities with free or cheap pre-fab granite remnants and some medium-sized kitchens with pre-fab granite slabs. Just google pre-fab granite in your area and see what importers come up. Almost all of it comes from China these days. The pre-fab slabs usually come in pre-cut sizes (97"x 26") that are polished on 3 sides. I recommend the "flat-polish" edge and not the bull-nose because it is so much easier to but the flat seams up together at corners and long sections.

You might run into trouble with used granite only because it might not work with your kitchen floorplan. I will attach a couple pics of kitchens I did with the saw above and I really like the IKEA DOMSJO sink with this this approach because it keeps you from needing to polish an undermount sink cut and drill faucet holes. Polishing edges and drilling holes can be done but it's just more tools and more time.

Have Fun!

How durable is your Ikea sink? Have you had any issues with stains for chipping? I was looking at them for the exact same reasons as you stated.

@Andrea Jones  

Hi Andrea.

I love the IKEA double bowl DOMSJO sink and have installed about 10 of them, but only one in a rental that I still own. I think the durability is very good and I can say that they look much better than stainless steel sinks after a couple years of normal use. The only problem I've encountered is with certain metals leaving marks on the porcelain. I noticed that my titanium wedding band left a line on the apron front of one sink with only a light brush across the surface. It looked like a crack and was very difficult to get off. Silverware and pots don't seem to do this. Hope that helps!

Merry Christmas.

Originally posted by @Douglas Larson :

@Andrea Jones 

Hi Andrea.

I love the IKEA double bowl DOMSJO sink and have installed about 10 of them, but only one in a rental that I still own. I think the durability is very good and I can say that they look much better than stainless steel sinks after a couple years of normal use. The only problem I've encountered is with certain metals leaving marks on the porcelain. I noticed that my titanium wedding band left a line on the apron front of one sink with only a light brush across the surface. It looked like a crack and was very difficult to get off. Silverware and pots don't seem to do this. Hope that helps!

Merry Christmas.

 Thanks! That's the final push I needed, will be getting our first one very soon.

Not sure if you are willing to cut them yourself or if you are wanting to have someone do it for you ?? If it's the second one, it should be less expensive and much safer to have a granite contractor do it than your regular contractor. 

If you want to do it yourself then it's not that hard to actually cut with the right blade. The hard part is moving it around and building a table to the size of a wet saw in order to slide the slab. Much better and safer method than using a circular saw. There are also hand held wet saws for trickier angles. Depending on the size of the slab it may take 2 or more people to carefully slide it into the saw blade. I redid a very small kitchen in a combo of butcher block and granite. I happened to have a couple of scraps with 2 bullnosed edges which worked well. Very heavy stuff. A good blade is key. If you are going to work the edges look on utube for how to do it and try to do it outside. 

I believe the slabs sold on the east coast are a bit thinner than what is sold on the west coast. If so they will need a plywood sub structure, Any shimming should be done to the substructure- not the slab.

If you want to do it yourself, it can be done. It will take about 700-1000 dollars in tools, saws and specialty. I did my own in my home in Maryland before I sold it. The slabs were from a conference table dismantled and put in storage for years. I asked for them, they gave them to me. It was a total of 3 slabs 6 1/2 ft by 5 ft.

This of a pic of them being pulled from under the semi trailer they were stored under. You can see the others under the trailer still, one is cracked down the middle. That worked well too, I still got 2 pieces 2 ft by 6 1/2 ft.

This is the rack that got them home and was also used to initially to get everything cut to rough size for easier handling so it could be removed safely

After all the 25 inch rips with splashes where cut, there was one piece left to handle on the cradle which was laid over as a table to cut the island top. By the time it was cut on for the drop in cook top, it only took a young man and myself to pick it up and install it.

My cutting table made of steel tubing and plywood surface.

The circular saw with water feed at the blade, truing up an edge

Finished countertops and splashes in place.

The post was getting too long so I cut it short. Yes it can be done, it took 3 weeks to do this, and that is just the tops and splashes only. Baths too. I would not do it again for a home I worked on. The whole project cost only say 2,000 with sink faucets, other incidentals. It may have been a $5,600.00 set of tops. I could not afford that, but I could afford the time. One last pic of the whole kitchen...

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