Every product we buy is available in various levels of quality. Since the differences between good, better and best can be substantial it's important to understand the kinds of things that affect the price.
Exotic granites colors are generally more expensive that standard grade colors. So, you might assume that exotic material is better quality stone, right? Yes and no. When stone is quarried it is classified into one of four basic grades; monumental or sculpture grade, building grade, utility grade and finally waste or landscape grade. Every granite slab used for countertop fabrication is building grade stone at this point.
While wholesale distributors and retailers market and price their slabs as 1st, 2nd and 3rd grade or as exotic, premium, standard and commercial the fact is there is no standardized criteria for assigning those grades. Stone grading for the retail market is primarily a matter of aesthetics (i.e., uniformity of color distribution, the presence of surface imperfections and the prominence or lack of mineral concentrations) and availability.
Therefore retail grading has nothing to do with the inherent quality of the stone. Some of the most expensive exotic varieties have been coated with epoxy resin to hide surface imperfections and enhance color and are reinforced with fiberglass netting to keep them from cracking during transport and fabrication. Here's the bottom line, if you love a stone’s color and pattern that’s all that matters. Retail grading is marketing fluff.
Be careful when shopping for prices. Some fabricators advertise prices that are based on the customer's purchase of full slabs. Solid Surface Designs only charges customers for the stone that is needed to fabricate a project. All fabricators price their granite with per square foot, however, items like edge and corner treatments, undermounting sinks, inside diagonal corners and charges for coring holes are add-on charges that can drastically affect the final price.
Final considerations: Is the fabricator certified? Are they licensed and insured? Have their installers passed criminal background checks and drug screens? Does the fabricator offer a written warranty covering stone integrity and installation? If not ask yourself, “Why?” and proceed with caution.
In 1993 Solid Surface Designs, Inc., began business as a factory certified fabricator-installer for DuPont Corian. Since then we have grown to become the region's largest fabricator and installer of Granite, Quartz and Solid Surface countertops. Email your countertop questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. If you need help with an estimate give Trevor or Mitchell a call at (417)258-2787.