About a week before Christmas, we received our fabulous gift. Granite Countertops! They were installed by TopMaster, but we purchased the product and installation through Nebraska Furniture Mart. I believe financing up to 30 months is allowed, but you do have to put a certain percentage down since the service is provided by an outside vendor. Financing was provided at 0% (guilt-free debt! Yay!). We also purchased a stainless steel sink with our countertops.
We could not say enough wonderful things about both Nebraska Furniture Mart (I could live there!) and TopMaster. The whole experience was great and we are extremely happy with the results. Here are some things we learned along the way:
Our install involved several appointments. Plan on 3 or 4 meetings at your home and 1 to go to the rock quarry to approve your hunk o’ rock.
We just love the new countertops. The color is called Crema Caramel.
In my opinion, you should know which tile you plan to use as your backsplash before your countertops are installed. What if you picked you countertops and then couldn’t find a tile you liked to go with it. Or is it just me that needs to plan (and obsess over) these things? Backsplash is installed after countertops, so keep that in mind. We made sure our old tile was removed and the wall was ready for installation of the new backsplash. Just don’t jump ahead and install your new backsplash beforehand. On one side they shimmed up our countertops to make them level and if we had a backsplash in place first, it would have been oven an inch off. Start thinking about what profile you prefer and what colors you like. The most commonly available colors are naturally going to cost less. We chose Crema Caramel and it was offered at a special price. There were 3 or 4 other colors from which to choose at the lower price, two of which were black. I have not seen “our color” included in the sale since and at the time they said it was included because they over-ordered. In my opinion, even if it is a “common” color, no two pieces are going to look the same and it’s going to be unique to your kitchen no matter what. To get an idea of what you prefer, I just wandered about the kitchen departments at big blue and big orange to “hone down” on my preferences. Look at the different profiles available too. We went with a full bullnose and a custom shape for our island. Since I changed color choices at the last minute without even discussing it beforehand with my husband, I let him choose the profile and make the final decision on the island shape. We were going to go with Black Galaxy and I am sooo glad we didn’t. I already have an obsessive compulsive counter cleaning problem and Black Galaxy would have sent me way over the edge! I do polish a lot though because super shiny is way prettier than water spots.
If you want to save a little money, you can remove the old countertops yourself. We noticed that the charge to remove our island was a lot more than the rest of the kitchen. I think when they described the p revious top as tile, they imagined that they would have to remove all the tiles and grout and charged extra for that. In reality, all the tiles were all mounted to a wood top, which is screwed into the cabinets below just like the rest of the counters. So, we decided to do this part ourselves. Keep in mind, it may be worth it to you to have this included because they also will take away all of the old materials. They hauled off the island tiled top along with our other old counters for free, so it was worth our effort to do it ourselves and they didn’t mind taking it away for free.
Back to the island . . .
I like the curves, but not the flat sides. Check out the mini-fridge. Super cool!
This island shape is very similar to our final choice.
I really wish we could have splurged on the double bevel like this island has.
with our contractor, special shapes were not extra. He said each piece – even the rectangular and boring ones are a “custom” shape because they are cut to fit your kitchen. I found some photos of island shapes and we decided on a shape that is slightly unique, but nothing over the top. The island idea research also conjured up some ideas for how I could paint and dress up the cabinets below the island. See how the island looks after it got it’s makeover. And here are some other photos I considered.
We really love the undermount sink and new oil rubbed bronze faucet (from Costco).
You will need to know what you want well in advance and have any new items on site and ready to be installed along with your new counters. Our garbage disposal died the week prior to installation, so we had it installed along with the new sink. Many installers will tell you that you should replace your garbage disposal when you install a new sink anyway. They even had a good reason, which I have since forgotten! Sorry!
There will be seams. If you have the opportunity to see any of the install jobs your contractor has completed, look at the seams. Here is where you judge their skill! Also ask how your seam will be joined. Our installer used a machine that vacuum-gripped each side and hugged them together. Our seam is not noticeable at all. The color of your granite is also going to affect this and our natural color is rather forgiving. For a few weeks, you will go around looking at seams and granite colors.
Don’t forget to look at sinks. And while you’re at it, you may as well check out faucets as well. I’m sure your old faucet just won’t cut it when the new granite arrives. Here’s our fancy schmancy new faucet.
Be sure to ask when or if you will need to reseal your lovely new countertops. They should go over the do’s and don’ts.
Here’s how our island looks. I am soooo not going to miss that tiled top and all the grout. We also enlarged the island a bit to allow room for extra seating on all sides. You see, when company comes over, the island is where everyone congregates. Now the island top looks great. Just need to put back the microwave, paint the island cabinets, update the stools, paint the walls . . . I think we have opened Pandora’s box!!
Here's how the island looks now.