Can I replace my existing worktops with granite or quartz?
Can I upgrade my kitchen simply by replacing worktops on my kitchen units, using granite or quartz?
Yes – a number of our customers do just this. Good kitchen units can outlast laminate worktops by many years, and we have even had occasional customers giving their kitchen a makeover by replacing granite with granite or quartz.
The trend towards painting kitchen units has helped with this option too; older units get a new lease of life with a fresh coat of paint, and the kitchen makeover can be completed with the addition of a new, high quality solid-stone worktop.
Given the impact of the description “granite worktops” on an Estate Agent’s blurb, some customers clearly make this upgrade precisely with a view to enhancing the value of their property.
Upgrading your worktops is possible, but, like so many home improvement projects, it does raise a number of further questions that need answers in order to do the job right…
Will Affordable Granite Project-Manage my Worktop Replacement/Exchange?
Will my existing kitchen units take the weight of the granite worktops?
It is highly unlikely that you will have serious problems, but there are two areas that need to be watched:
- ANY rot in the actual units needs to be dealt with, realistically by scrapping the units. Putting costly and weighty granite or quartz worktops on units that really need to go is a false economy.
- Some older, budget, units can lack in strength at the back. Because of the additional stress of the swinging door, the cheapest units tended to have most of the reinforcement at the front. In general, strengthening of the back of the unit with vertical internal battens or battens on the wall will help.
For more information, please see our full article on weight and kitchen units.
If you opt for our AG Worktop Exchange service, we will take a look at your units on our initial inspection, and will discuss any potential issues with you at that point.
Nero Assoluto Granite – glossy black, our densest stone: 95kg per square metre at 30mm thickness
If replacing worktops, are there other issues with kitchen units which I should be aware of?
Very frequently kitchen units are out of alignment and level beneath the worktops. This may be due to poor original fitting or settling of the carcasses over the years. The issue becomes painfully obvious when templating and fitting new worktops.
Any remedial or levelling work on your kitchen units should really be done by a competent handyman:
- Prior to templating, the units must be sound, able to bear the weight of stone, and well aligned and levelled.
- Adjacent units should be visibly at the same height, with overall height variation no more than 3mm.
- The units’ front edges must be in a straight line.
- If, on removal of the tops, the units do not meet these requirements, corrective work must be done before templating.
If you have opted for Affordable Granite to manage your worktop exchange, then we or tradespeople we sub-contract will do the removal of the worktops and this vital phase of levelling up and making good. In general we will include an element for this in our initial quotation.
Will the solid stone worktops be the same thickness as my old worktops?
Not normally, no. Most laminate and wood worktops are around 38 or 40mm thick; our granite worktops are 30mm (±2mm) thick. We occasionally fit quartz worktops (which have greater tensile/flexural strength) at 20mm thick, although this tends to be on contemporary-style units which are less likely, at present, to be seeing their worktops replaced.
For more info on worktop thickness, please see our article here.
What difference does worktop thickness make?
The 10mm or so makes little difference unless you have a decorative treatment on the back wall which you are looking to keep. Tiling presents a challenge:
- Removing the old worktops without damaging the tiles – this can be tricky, especially if the tiling has been grouted onto the old worktops. Bear in mind that broken tiles may be impossible to replace.
- Making up for the lost thickness in the worktops – there will be a gap that needs filling.
This gap can be compensated for by one or a combination of:
- Using the adjustable legs in some units to gain a few millimetres – occasionally an option.
- Packing up the worktops to gain the height. MDF can be used. This may not be ideal if there is to be an open-plan area with seating where the eye-level may be at worktop height. This can be mitigated by painting the MDF to blend in with the colour tone of the worktop.
- Using an upstand to cover the gap. This can be over the tiles, or under the second row of tiles having removed the first row. The upstand can be cut to size so as to bridge the gap. Some customers may feel that having an upstand with the tiling may be too “busy”.
- Using extra silicone or a trim strip to fill the gap. If the filler is matched to the tiles/grout this can be surprisingly effective; the extra 10mm do not look as excessive as might be thought, provided the grouting-gap was not excessive in the first place.
Once again, if you choose to use our AG Worktop Exchange service, we will discuss this issue and possible solutions with you during our initial site visit.
When does templating occur? When replacing worktops, can you template with the old worktops still on?
It is possible to make a template with the old worktops on, but our experience of poor templates, uneven overhangs and a generally bad basis from which to work is such that we insist that in ALL cases the worktops are OFF for templating. Not least, it is impossible for our templater to make a proper evaluation of what is under the worktops, what support issues there may be etc., with the old worktops on. So get your tops off, please! If a template visit is booked and our template arrives to find the worktops still on, we may have to apply an abortive template visit surcharge to your account.
If we are managing your worktop exchange, then we will try to organise both the best possible template via worktop removal and the minimum possible disruption to the smooth-running of your home.
Will AG remove my existing worktops?
We will, but only if you have asked us to at the outset. Unless your kitchen worktop quotation specifically says that we are quoting to manage your worktop exchange AG does not undertake removal of worktops, releveling or other remedial work on kitchen units, nor the disconnection and reconnection of water, gas or electrical services. These are services that you must opt-in to.
How do you remove laminate worktops?
First you will need to disconnect the water, and electricity and gas. Care and competence are needed, and a Gas-Safe Registered tradesman must deal with a gas hob.
It is usually possible to remove worktops with a cross-head screwdriver to unscrew the tops, and a 10mm open spanner to remove the bolt holding joined wooden worktops together. Sometimes, if the worktops have been glued down, a flat handsaw and/or a Stanley knife may be needed. You will also have to ensure that you have isolation valves on your taps.
After we have installed your new worktops you will need to re-connect the services; flexible hoses help with the tap aspect. You may need to alter the plumbing under the sink. Even if you are re-using your existing sink you may need to alter the waste plumbing as the bowl will be slightly lower.
How quickly can the new worktops be fitted?
We are very conscious that, for customers who are replacing their kitchen worktops, the disruption to normal life is quite different from those who may have been without a normal kitchen for weeks. Basically, the worktop replacement IS the disruption. Conversely, given that the kitchen is fully working prior to our involvement, there may be less time pressure to actually get the work started quickly – what is critical is reducing the time with no worktops.
Our recommendation is that a replacement top installation is booked well in advance, with the planned removal of the old worktops possibly being over the weekend. (Assuming a DIY removal, for a customer who has weekends off work!) We can plan well in advance for our templater to be with you on the Monday morning. The old worktops can then be put back on a temporary basis (probably without reconnecting the services) until we come back to install later the same week. With careful planning it is possible to reduce the gap between removal and replacement to only two or three days, and this is what we aim to achieve when we are managing the job..
We are Affordable Granite. We are the leading installer of granite and quartz worktops in Surrey, Sussex and across the South East. For questions, queries and quotes connected with any aspect of worktop installation or kitchen design, please contact us on 01293 863992 or by email on firstname.lastname@example.org