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How to Install a Granite Countertop

Installing a new granite countertop might sound like a job for a professional team, but with the right tools and a tried-and-true checklist, you can tackle this DIY project yourself. Learn how to install a granite countertop in eight straightforward steps.

Measure and Order the Granite

First, you’ll want to choose the perfect countertop for your space. Since granite countertops come in all types of colors and designs, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to choose a style that fits your home. From neutral beige and peach highlights to deep green and gray notes, these countertops come in a wide range of options. To select a style that works well with your kitchen, consider the countertops, the flooring, the overall design, and your personal preferences.

When ordering your granite countertop, take care to choose the right size. Measure the width and depth of the cabinets where you’ll be installing the countertops, and add 1 to 1 1/2 inches to account for the overhang. Don’t forget to measure where the sink cutout should go, and note where the granite should have finished edges or other special features.

Gather Tools and Equipment

Along with the countertops, you’ll also need a few common tools to do the job right. Gather the following tools and materials:

  • Granite countertop cut to size
  • Plywood sheets (three-quarter inch) to cover cabinet tops
  • Power drill with one-sixteenth-inch bit
  • Circular saw with dry-cut segmented diamond blade
  • Jigsaw
  • Caulk
  • Silicone
  • Polyester-based epoxy resin
  • Hardener
  • Tint
  • Putty knife
  • Wooden shims
  • Seam stone
  • Screws
  • Pencil
  • Masking tape
  • Level
  • Safety goggles

Prepare the Cabinets

Granite countertops can be incredibly heavy, so you’ll want to add an extra support element before putting the counter in place. Measure three-quarter-inch sheets of plywood to cover the tops of the cabinets, and then put the plywood sheets in place. Make sure the sheets line up with the cabinet edges perfectly without creating an overhang, and then screw them in place. To avoid cracking the cabinet faces, try drilling a hole first to make way for the screw.

Dry Fit the Countertops

Even if you think the walls in your kitchen are perfectly square, there’s a good chance that they’re slightly off. Since even a slight error in measurement can mean your granite countertops won’t line up exactly, try creating a mockup of the cabinets. To do this, use large pieces of cardboard or craft paper to create a template for each countertop section.

If the granite slabs don’t quite measure up to the templates, you’ll need to trim the granite. Fit your circular saw with a dry-cut segmented diamond blade, and cover the saw base with duct tape for added protection. Then cut the granite slabs to size.

Keep in mind that this is a two-person job, as granite slabs are both heavy and fragile. Take care when handling and moving each slab, and secure the slabs in an upright position to store them prior to installation.

Cut the Sink Hole

Your granite countertops should arrive with the sink area already cut out, but you’ll need to remove this area from the plywood subcounter. To do this, dry fit the granite slab, and trace the sink cutout.

Remove the granite slab, and use a jigsaw to cut out the sink hole. Rather than following the traced line exactly, make the cutout about one-eighth-inch wider to allow for a small margin of error. Once you’ve cut out the sink area, put the sink in position and put the granite countertop back into place.

Level the Surface

The flooring, cabinets, plywood, sink, and granite slabs themselves can all affect the level of the countertop, so never assume your countertop will automatically be perfectly level after installation. After dry fitting the countertops, check for uneven seams, and place a level on top of each slab to see how they line up.

If the countertops aren’t completely level, add wooden shims as necessary between the plywood surface and the granite slabs. Use silicone to keep the shims in place and ensure the countertops are level throughout.

Affix the Countertops

After preparing the cabinets for installation, leveling the surface, and placing the sink, you’re ready to install the granite slabs. Starting with the slab around the sink, lift up the granite with the assistance of at least two helpers. Remember to take care when lifting each slab, as granite can crack and break during installation.

Apply small beads of silicone along the perimeter of the plywood, leaving about 10 inches between each bead. To add waterproofing around the sink, apply caulk around the rim. Then lower the granite slab into place and press it gently to adhere it to the plywood. Repeat the silicone application for every granite slab.

Glue the Seams

When you’ve placed all of the granite slabs and allowed the silicone to dry, you’ll need to glue the seams to create an even surface and prevent water, food, and debris from becoming lodged between the granite slabs. First, apply masking tape or painter’s tape along the top edges of the seams. Next, mix a drop or two of the tint to the resin until you’ve created a color that closely matches the granite.

Split the tinted resin into several batches, and then add a small amount of hardener to the first batch of resin at a ratio of about 3-97. Since you’ll need to use the resin within a few minutes, only add hardener to batches as needed.

Apply the resin and hardener mixture to each seam, smoothing it out along the way. Once you’ve filled each seam, remove the masking tape. After the resin has dried, use a seam stone to ensure the seam is completely smooth.

Once your new granite countertop is securely in place, your kitchen is bound to look like an entirely new room. To keep your countertop looking brand new for months or years to come, take steps to treat it with care. Be sure to clean and maintain your granite countertop regularly, using a soft cloth and mild detergent, and don’t hesitate to reseal the countertop if necessary.