Don't Order Countertops Until You've Finished This Part Of Your Kitchen Remodel

A full kitchen remodel can be one of the most exciting home renovation projects for homeowners who are ready to get rid of the old and bring in the new. In particular, you may be thrilled to get rid of those Formica green countertops and replace them with a beautiful granite or marble option. While this is such a massive component of your kitchen interior design project, and you certainly should choose what you love as a component of the design process, don't order them just yet.

The order in which you complete your kitchen remodel matters, since small differences in the structure and layout of the space could change as the project progresses. Minute details in grade changes in the floors or angles of the drywall make big differences later. That's especially true for countertops which absolutely must go on very level, very precisely placed cabinetry. 

With that in mind, you can definitely start the selection process by visiting a design center to pick out your countertops, even selecting the actual stone for your project. However, there are crucial mistakes that can be made when putting countertops in your home, and you ultimately should not order the measurements and final cutting for your countertops until after your base cabinetry is in place and level. Doing so, in fact, could cost you valuable time and money. 

Why your cabinetry goes in before your countertop

Slab countertops are large pieces of irreparable stone. While they can be pieced together to some degree, a crack in granite is never going to be fully as beautiful as a whole piece. That's important because until your cabinetry goes in and until it is properly balanced and leveled, it's not safe to have your countertops positioned. Even slight differences in the placement and layout will cause the measurements taken to be off if the cabinetry is adjusted in any way.

Once you find the slab you desire, you'll work with the kitchen designer to complete all other aspects of the project, including matching your cabinet and countertop colors to each other. That includes everything from whether you'll have a drop-in or mounted sink. It needs to factor in things like the location of any faucet openings and hoses, fixtures for your stove, and the sink sprayer. Once this is planned and selected, you can then purchase your cabinetry and have it installed. You'll need to update the flooring before the cabinetry goes in, too, if you're planning to do so.

Most homes are not squared, but even small differences in the level of the cabinetry can make a big difference in the stability of the stone. There could also be a strangely uneven corner in one area of the kitchen, or the wall isn't perfectly vertical. Those differences may be only small degrees, but they will matter when it comes to creating a strong foundation.

How to have your countertops properly measured

Before you can officially order your countertops from the fabricator, there are a few more steps that need to happen. Let's assume you have your cabinetry in place, and that its level and ready to go. The next step is to have a professional out to measure the countertops properly. The fabricator will likely create a template for the space that takes into consideration each one of those uneven areas and differences in spacing that are not obvious. Today's digital tools create very exacting measurements that fabricators can be sure are as accurate as possible. Once the template is ready, you can then process your order and get the countertops prepared.

Depending on the type of countertop, you may be able to do this work yourself. For example, if you're installing a new composite countertop and plan to do the cutting yourself, you can measure these materials yourself and cut them after the base cabinets are in. For any type of heavy or highly valuable stone, though, you'll need to leave the work to the professionals.

If you're doing the work yourself, you can then go ahead and cut the countertop to meet your accurate measurements now once you've double-checked everything for accuracy. Otherwise, the fabricator will return to the shop to create the perfect fit for your cabinetry.