FAQ for Natural Stone Countertop Installation

How to Properly Install a Natural Stone Countertop

So, you’ve spent countless hours going through styles and varieties of stone countertop materials and have finally nailed down your choice! All that’s left is to procure the piece you’re looking for and install it. The installation process for natural stone tops requires careful planning and execution, but the end result is well worth the time and effort.

So, how do I go about installing my new stone countertop?

First things first, there are several tools that are typically required for the installation of your stone countertop. These can include a 4’ level, angle grinder, caulk gun, shims, painter’s tape, measuring tape, cardboard (for templating), utility knife, pencil, sealer, cleaner, and a soft cloth.

The first step is to make accurate measurements of your space. Next, create a template of the countertop with cardboard or a similar material, using a scribing tool. Cut outs for sinks, cooktops, and faucets should be clearly marked on your template, and undermount sinks require clips to be installed underneath, so labeling this on your template is crucial. It is advised to allow for no more than 2 feet of a span between any two cabinets in your space.

Do I need to do anything to my existing cabinets?

If new cabinets are not a part of your current countertop project, then there are some things that you will need to do to prepare for the installation of your new countertop. First, and foremost, you will need to level your existing base cabinets. If your base cabinets are not level, unfasten them and insert shims where required. Shims are recommended to be used under the cabinets, but not under the countertop itself.

Of course, if new cabinets are part of your planned project, then levelling will be taken care of when you install the new cabinets.

Ok, you’ve planned it out and are now ready to install!

As stone slabs can exceed 400 pounds, it is advised to have your new countertop delivered if your supplier offers that service. Carrying and manipulating stone of this size, can be demanding and problematic. Never carry a slab of granite or other stone in a flat orientation. Slabs should always be carried lengthwise and vertically. This helps avoid breaking or cracking the stone. Crucially, stone slabs should always be stored on their edge, so making extra space in your work area for storage is advised.

At this point, you should dry fit the slab to make sure that if fits accordingly before permanently installing it. If there is any issue with how the slab fits along the wall, you can either modify the wall (especially if it’s drywall) or modify the slab (if possible) using a diamond blade on an electric grinder.  This is a risky process but may be required to attain a proper fit.

What if you have multiple slabs that need to be installed in one place?

Any time you are working with multiple slabs in the same workspace that need to be joined together, they must be properly fit and seamed. To join the seams, you will need to use color-matched two-part epoxy. This should be available from the supplier of your slab. Pulling the slabs in tight together will require a seam setter. These are usually available to rent from your local hardware store.

Two-part epoxy is basically a chemical reaction occurring in real time, so once the process has begun it must be seen through to its completion. Epoxy will begin setting immediately once both parts have been introduced into the mixture. Affix painters’ tape to the top of the counter on either side of the seam. After the epoxy has been mixed to the proper specifications, take a small putty knife, and liberally apply it to the seam. Using your seam setter to pull in both sides of the slab should be an easy process and will help to ensure that the seams stay flush as the epoxy sets. Once the epoxy is fully set, remove the seam setter, and, using a razor blade, remove any remaining epoxy that is visible.

The immense weight of the countertop seems like it should be enough to just rest on top, but a bead of caulk is recommended to be run along the underside of the perimeter. Make sure to use acrylic caulk, as silicone caulk can stain over time.

The Countertop is installed! Is there anything else I should do?

Congrats! You’ve installed your new countertop. This is an exciting moment for sure! However, there is one more thing to consider depending on the type of counter you installed. If you’ve installed a granite top, it will need to be sealed before being used and will need to be resealed annually. This is any easy process and granite sealer can be purchased from your local hardware store.