Whether to Re-Cut Granite in Place

Does it make sense to install granite that you plan to cut later to accommodate an appliance change? December 7, 2008

I have a customer who is running low on funds towards the end of their addition/remodel. They are looking to cut costs on appliances, with the intention of upgrading in a year or so. Originally, they were going to go with a 36" gas range top (which I've already built the base for) but now want to get an inexpensive 30" until they're ready to upgrade. My question is, if I have the granite cut for the 30" range, how big of a problem is it going to be to have the granite re-cut in place to accommodate a 36" later? Any idea on cost?

Forum Responses
(Cabinetmaking Forum)
From contributor R:
Granite can certainly be cut after the face as you describe. It is messy, but possible. As far as the cost of the recut, discuss it with the Granite guy and he should be able to give you an estimate on the cost to come out and recut the granite.

I'd also advise cutting the cabinet for the bigger cooktop, but add in removable cleats to close the area to the smaller opening. That way, you have no worries about the granite cracking where it overhangs a too-wide opening. Just in case it is years before they make the switch.

From the original questioner:
Glad you mentioned the extra cleats. Somehow granite seems stronger than it actually is sometimes!

From contributor A:
You are talking about 3 " of overhang on both sides of the stove. I can't imagine why a piece of stone would not be able handle that small unsupported overhang.

From contributor P:
Stone's a natural product, and there's no way of knowing where it's internal weak points lie, even if no defect shows on the surface. It could easily have a crack or fissure that could cause it to fracture.

More to the point, why risk it? Granted it's highly unlikely that an unsupported 3" overhang is going to break off, but not hard to guess who'd get the first angry phone call. Even more to the point, what's the difference in cost between the two cooktops? If one considers the difficulty and cost of getting a stone-guy to come and do the work, the mess, the time to either rig dust-containment or deal with the inevitable fine dust everywhere, and installation of the new cooktop, this can't pencil out. Assuming tossing a cheap 30" cooktop (not a lot of resale value for a year-old cheapo) and everyone's time, this'll eat a quick $1000, which is more than enough to cover finance charges on the 36" for a year until they can pay it off. I'm violently anti-borrowing, but now and then there are times when it makes sense. This is surely one of them.

From contributor K:
If they are positive they are going to upgrade later, how about getting it cut the right size now and overlay the hole with thin granite to fit the temporary one? Then they don't have to call out the folks and deal with the mess when they can afford it.

From contributor L:
Granite can be recut, that's not the problem. When granite gets cut, it's a wet cutting process. There is little chance of doing this in place without a huge mess and also possible water damage to the cabinetry and anything else in the way. Plan B would be to remove the top for re-cutting? You would need to remove the backsplash first. This invariably will lead to needing to do drywall repair and paint, not to mention the chance that the top gets broken in the process, pretty likely considering that granite is usually epoxied to the substrate. I would try to convince them that this particular "savings" is false economy.

From contributor A:
I think contributor Philip hit the nail squarely on its head. The customer hasn't thought about the logistics and cost of cutting it at a later date. I would have them cut the stone to the final dimension for the 36" stone. You should build a 6" temp cabinet. Have them cut a 6" piece of stone. Silicone between the two counter tops.

From contributor K:
Contributor L has a good point. It will cost them more in the long run to try and save a little now. They say a shortcut is the longest distance between two points.

From contributor D:
Contributor L - the granite does not need to be cut wet. It can be cut with a 7" dry-cut diamond blade on a Skilsaw. However, obviously that would be dusty in a person’s home. A spray bottle with a little water applied will keep the dust down without creating slurry. Either that or a high quality vac attached to the saw, or a variable speed grinder with a dry, flush cut diamond blade attached.

From contributor L:
I’ve done all kinds of screwball retrofits, and yep, it can be done "dry". If the job was still in construction i might even reluctantly agree that this is a plausible, if not ideal, solution, but in a finished home? Tent the area, use the deluxe spray bottle, hook a million dollar vacuum to the saw and have a 5 micron dust extractor outside the tented area. They'll still be cleaning dust long after the cutting is done. I’d exhaust other possibilities before agreeing to this scenario.

From contributor P:
Despite any and all assurances by the stone-guy, it's a hellacious mess! "Can be done" and "should be done" are two completely different animals. That 36" cooktop seems like more of a bargain with every post, doesn't it?

From the original questioner:
Wow guys - I'm seriously tempted to print out this page to show the customers! I've been trying to tell them most of these points, but it hasn't seemed to have gotten through yet. I do like the idea of pre-cutting the 36" and covering over/sealing with another piece. That may do away with the need for cleats, as well.

From contributor M:
Each of the posts on this one is right one way or the other. It would be best to do the 36" unit now and get it over with but if your customer wants to do the 30 now and then cut larger later that is not a big deal. You don't need a degree in granite you can do it yourself. You need an angle grinder, diamond blade, shop vac and two men/persons. Hold the vac so that it picks up as the blade is coming out of the stone. You will have some clean up but not all that bad.

From contributor D:
While I agree that the mess factor in this could out of hand, my primary point was disagreeing that "when granite gets cut, it's a wet cutting process." That is not always the case as I sit here and look at a wall of portable 4", 5", 6" and 7" diamond blades stamped "dry cutting." Use them wet, they'll simply last longer. Of course, the 12" - 24" Bridge Saw Blades next to them with 20mm segments have to be used with constant water flow.

From contributor J:
I've been learning a lot from your forums for a while and here's a chance I have to actually chime in. My family has been in the appliance business for sixty years, granite business for two years and cabinets for one year.

I'd charge $1000 to come cut the granite, mostly because if you slip and nick the top then you have a really tough repair on your hands. I would do the cut dry with a shop vac (one guy cutting, one guy shop vac-ing). The dust wouldn't be horrible at all - a little light dusting when I finished. It would probably take 20 minutes to triple check the dimensions and mark the top - 30 minutes to cut and that long to clean up. The problem is that in the cabinet the dust would be bad (lower drawer slides, hinges, etc). The granite would not need any additional support for the cooktop - standard cabinets (support on 4 sides) provide more than enough support (by far). Don't worry about extra cleats, etc.

The cooktop cost: 30" and 36" tops of the same features are not drastically different. It is crazy to get a 30" top if they want a 36" top. Instead just buy a basic 36". It would be beyond crazy to downsize the cooktop - it will cost way more money in the long run. Just buy a more basic top and upgrade to the Monogram or Wolf later (check cutout specs and plan the cutout with that at least partially in mind).