Over the past two weeks I’ve been running around town either before or after work in the hope of negotiating a fair price for some granite countertops in my latest kitchen remodel. Since I’ve found the experience frustrating and painstaking, I wanted to share my experience with the local businesses in case anyone finds themselves setting out on a similar project.

First, let me introduce you to my kitchen. It is a simple galley kitchen (i.e. compact and designed as if for a ship) with black appliances, oak cabinets and laminate floors. With regards to the countertops, the kitchen consists of four rectangles.

Sketch of kitchen layout with sizes indicating countertop lengths. Walls on all sides except for the right side thus forming a galley kitchen.
Sketch of kitchen layout with sizes indicating countertop lengths. Walls on all sides except for the right side thus forming a galley kitchen.

Going with granite means that there is really only one good choice for a sink: an undermount sink. Since my dishwasher is on the left side when facing the sink (rather than the more common right side), I will need a left configuration of the 60/40 split bowl sink that is currently the de facto standard in kitchen remodels (e.g. see this image).

before even starting my search for an installer in Tallahassee, I had already narrowed down the specifications for which I was looking. I’ve always prefered sharp edges and lines so any of those ornate bevels and ogee edges were out of the question. In addition I prefer tiled backsplashes to the extra strip of granite that some people go for. Color and style of granite is highly variable, but it helps having an idea of some of the common patterns and to which color/hue you’d want.

In summary, the specs for the countertops were:

  • Eased edge (or quarter round)
  • 1 undermount sink, a 60/40 with one faucet hole
  • No backsplash
  • Ubatuba granite (or similar price and look)
  • Total sq footage of 38.5

Now for the fun part of driving all over town and working through the above with the salesperson in order to receive a quote. I personally used Google Maps to find and locate granite yards and countertop installers around the city, but there is certainly no ‘right’ way to do this.

Now at the end of my search I’ve collected quotes from four businesses and visited at least three in addition (i.e. 1 is apparently only open at night and two others just didn’t work out). In the spirit of transparency, I’ve decided to recreate the four quotes I’ve received from the various granite installers in Tallahassee. While these are merely estimates, they were all for identical granite slabs and based off of the exact same measurements and considerations.

Stop 1. Master Granite & Marble

I received excellent service here and after a quick tour of their stone yard we worked through the specifications listed above. All toll, I was in and out of there in 15 minutes or less and felt confident that the salesperson and I were on the same page. I received their quote by phone the next day. Their quote did not include a sink.

Countertop total 2,846USD

+ Sink purchased separately 330USD

Project Total 3,176USD

Stop 2. Master Granite

While this store had a larger inventory and bigger showroom than the first stop, my experience was quite similar. Their friendly and professional saleswoman showed me around and I described all the specifications that I’ve listed above. She wrote me up a quote on the spot and even emailed me a copy for my records (which surprisingly isn’t as common as you might imagine). They large and varied inventory was a positive change from the first stop as well, even if it was largely superfluous due to my simple needs.

Countertop 2,146USD

+Undermount hole 200USD

+Sink itself 350USD

Project Total 2,696USD

Stop 3. Home Depot

After feeling like I struck out twice in a row, I headed to HD to see what they could do. From my research it appears that most people report that the prices at HD are higher than the local stoneyards’ and that they simply outsource the project to one of the local installers anyway, so imagine my pleasant surprise when I found their quote to be 600-1,000USD less than my two previous estimates. With that, I felt confident in pursuing more quotes since there must be some more reasonably priced places around.

Countertop 1,540USD

+ Undermount 200USD

+ Sink 330USD

Project Total 2,070USD

Stop 4. Talquin Fabrication

Although I showed up here after hours, the salesperson (owner? manager?) was more than happy to show me around and figure out what I wanted. The Talquin inventory was the largest I had seen during the course of my search and their selection was certainly varied. After a few minutes of explaining, the salesperson priced me up a rough quote on the spot. The price was right in line with my back-of-the-envelope ideas for 30-40/sq foot granite for a basic kitchen like mine (no special considerations). The quote also included a quality 60/40 undermount sink and cutout for a much more reasonable price of 250 (compared to Master Granite’s price of 200 + 350). He even came out and measured my kitchen that same evening.

Countertop 1,362USD

+ Undermount sink 250USD

Project Total 1,612 USD

The final results and experience will be included once I’ve completed the project.

Update: 01/24/16

The countertops were installed a few days ago, and I am very pleased with the results. Talquin Fabrication did well in confirming my initial impression of their professionalism. The installation was efficient and the installers were pleasant and communicated well. Let’s take a look at the results.

2016-01-24 14.56.08

A couple things of note for anyone having granite installed. Since walls are not square and often slightly curved based on the 2×4 studs from which they are formed, allowances have to be made to set the countertops against the walls. The installers made sure to cut away a strip of drywall so that the countertop could slide into it along one portion in order to allow the best fit along the entire length. You can see this here.

2016-01-24 18.32.11

The sink that was included by Talquin Fabrication was a high quality 60/40 and it looks absolutely beautiful. The seams are well cut and professionally sealed.

2016-01-22 14.39.31