Hello! I'm Suzannah, a serious DIYer and mom of two little ones. Follow along with my DIY fixer upper house renovations, sewing and crafty projects, real food recipes, and de-stressing goals.
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Prefab marble look countertops - budget-friendly and DIY-friendly options

Getting our countertops in was a HUGE milestone for our DIY kitchen reno. We are using the kitchen again basically as usual! Countertops are a major part of the expense of a new kitchen, so I shopped around and found a great option for ours from a local place, but I'll share how you can find something similar near you.

Remember you can also check out other posts on this DIY kitchen reno:

Budget-friendly solid surface countertops

Getting quotes

I decided I wanted quartz, marble-look countertops and started getting quotes as soon as we had a preliminary floor plan of our new kitchen layout (the one Walcraft Cabinetry made for me based on my measurements of our existing layout). I sent out our floor plan to several local granite/stone places near me. Most of these places sell the material and do the fabrication. (I also contacted some companies that have granite, marble, etc. at great prices per SF but you have to find a fabricator to do the templating and cutting, so it didn't end up being a savings.)

I learned that normally when you order solid surface countertops like quartz or marble, you can get them in 2 cm or 3 cm thickness. The 2 cm needs to be mounted on top of plywood, 1/2" or 5/8" inch thick, and has a laminated edge--that means the material another piece of material is attached at the edge so it forms a lip and wraps around the plywood, so it actually looks thicker than a 3 cm slab would.

I should say I also researched countertops at places like IKEA, Home Depot, and Lowe’s. Some of these places have sales occasionally, 10 or 20% off, but most of them only had one or two options for white Carrara or Calacatta marble-look countertops and they were all about $75/SF. I did get quotes from Lowe’s, I think, and they were right in line with some of the nicer stone places I got quotes from. But, they have fewer options such as slab thickness and color. Some of the stone places can order you basically anything you want, with lots of images on their website. (I also considered a honed black granite or other flat/matte almost-black countertop--granite is cheaper than quartz or marble!, so would also be a good money-saving option, but since we went with almost-black floors instead of wood I wanted something lighter.)

We had 31.5 SF of countertop, and the quotes I got were generally about $2,800. I think some were higher (nicer places), and then because of the sale at Lowe’s if I got them at a certain time it might’ve been a little less there. I was trying to get prepared to spend that much money when I saw another kitchen reno use another option: prefabricated pieces of solid surface like marble look quartz.

Prefab quartz

Prefab pieces are standard countertop or island depth, and come in 8' or 10' in length. They are 2 cm thick so they have a lip on the edges, and the fabricator can create that same lip on a piece that is cut shorter but hangs over the cabinet on the sides. There is less selection in the prefab pieces… They order them from China and you don’t get to see exactly what they look like until they are at your fabricator's shop. The place I used said they could get them there in only a few days, and if I didn’t like them, they could order them again. They didn’t even have a photo they could send me exactly from their website, but it was Calacatta marble-look quartz and I did some research and found some images that look basically exactly like what we got (you can see in my preliminary design collage here).

I did call a few places before settling on ours for the prefab… not everywhere offered this option, and it is less common so I had a hard time getting a quote from a couple. I did learn that the slabs are only about $400 per 8' long piece, which sounds like an amazing deal!, but then they need to be fabricated so the labor adds more cost. However, all of that savings in materials means that this is a way cheaper option in most cases. The place we went with (Sunset Granite in Hillsboro) charged $1,784. More than $1,000 less than I had been hearing! For a larger kitchen the savings are even bigger.

Aside from less selection, they look exactly like a regular custom countertop from the slab once installed--with one exception for our kitchen I will say below. When you go to a stoneyard you usually pick from really deep slabs and they cut out your counters from a bigger piece and leave remnants. They can cut L-shapes for corners, whatever, with the only limits being the very large slab size they started with. The challenge with prefab is that they are standard length, so as we had 10'3" of countertop we would need at least two pieces, with a seam somewhere. They preferred to put the seam away from water, so we put it just at the edge of the dishwasher in an area of the kitchen that is less prominent. I don’t mind the seam itself, but I don’t love that the two pieces that we got don’t line up perfectly and there is one vein that just dies at the seam. The other one they matched up pretty well. If you had a large peninsula or something coming from your main countertops, you would also need a seam there, which they can totally do with prefab counters, it’s just not as seamless and high-end as a big slab--but at that point a big slab method might cost you $3,000 more for a larger kitchen, so for most people I think it’s really still worth it to save and go prefab!

I put down a 75% deposit and schedule the template in. The owner came and created a template of our cabinets using these thin pieces of wood and hot glue. It’s pretty insane to me how they are able to do that and have it be accurate enough to cut these massive pieces of stone! Makes me nervous just thinking about it! Really glad we weren’t trying to do this part ourselves. We also had the sink on-site, so I thought that they would take it with them to attach it or do the template there, but our sink came with a paper template that they were able to just take.

Initially they had said it might be 2 to 3 weeks until our countertops were done and installed, but happily, they got the material in very quickly and I came to check it out at their shop on a Friday. By Tuesday, they had finished cutting them and were ready to schedule installation. Looking back to demo, that meant that we were only without countertops (and therefore major kitchen function) for 1.5 weeks! Having the countertop template scheduled also gave us a deadline that we had to work toward for installing the countertops. It was a busy 1.5 weeks, but worth it because living without a kitchen is so hard!

We installed the plywood ourselves… bought it at Home Depot and had them cut it to the depth that we needed, about 25", and installed it flush with the cabinets everywhere. Then the countertop people cut the opening for the sink so that it lined up perfectly with theirs.

It took them quite a while to install the countertops, I think because of the sink logistics and the narrow piece of countertop we wanted behind our range.

They used this fancy machine that looked like jumper cables and a battery for a car or something, and hooked it up to the countertops for a while while it made a noise. I asked, he said it was to pull the pieces all the way together but also to level them. Really cool! (And the pieces are totally flush at that seam.)

The countertop place also cut the hole for the faucet, so I had to choose the faucet before they came as well as the sink. (I considered a bridge faucet with side sprayer for a while, so would have had them cut 4 holes, but then decided on this single-hole one. I will post more about the sink and faucet later, they are some of our favorite parts of the kitchen so far!) When the countertop people installed the countertops, they also sturdily mounted the sink.

That was it! Then we had countertops. Next, Jason installed our faucet and hooked up the dishwasher and garbage disposal. We could also unload into the drawers without worrying about dust. (Yes, ideally I would have had the hardware already installed on the drawers, but it has taken me a while to decide. So frustrating, not having all of your finishes picked out and on site early! Don’t do that if you ever do this!)

We also had to have those counters in before we could do our tile backsplash. I will share more about that later this week, as it had some big successes and failures too!
I think there is some grout haze on them in this pic but you get the idea.

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