Granite countertops can be cut in place if the professional uses the right tools and follows the correct procedures
Granite is a fabulous addition to your kitchen, adding value and luxury, but it's not the easiest material to work with. If you need to change the layout of your kitchen or you're upgrading your appliances, you may find that the granite countertops are no longer the right fit. Maybe you're installing a larger sink, for example, or the new appliances you ordered are bigger than the old ones. Instead of having new granite counters installed or the old ones removed for resizing, if you hire a local countertop installer, they can cut the granite countertops in place.
Can You Cut Granite Countertops Yourself?
Theoretically, yes, you could cut granite countertops yourself, if you had the right tools, knowledge, and skillset. However, it's best left to professional countertop installers. If you're planning on cutting your granite counters to avoid the cost of a full kitchen remodel, then you're already making significant savings, so the extra savings you'd accrue by doing the work yourself are not that significant.
Plus, of course, there's the time and energy involved and the cost of hiring tools.
And, if you get it wrong, the mistake will be extraordinarily costly, as if you crack the granite, cut away too much, or otherwise irreparably damage the countertop, you'll have to pay for a replacement plus the cost of the installation.
Then there's the significant risk of you or your family inhaling silica dust from the cutting process if you don't take all the right precautions or don't clear up properly afterwards.
All things considered, it's smarter to leave modifying a granite countertop to the pros.
The Risks of Cutting Granite Countertops In Place
The risks of cutting granite countertops in place fall into two categories: monetary concerns and health risks.
If you cut away too much granite, you'll need to find bigger appliances to fill the gaps or it'll ruin the look of your kitchen. If you cut away so much of the countertop that you're left with just a thin or narrow piece between the edge of the cut and the wall or the edge of the countertop, the granite can easily crack and may not support the weight of a sink or the appliance you're fitting into the space.
Cracking and breakage can also occur if you leave the internal corners square rather than curved. Instead, to avoid breakage and costly replacement, the internal corner should all be rounded to relieve stress on the stone. Additionally, all edges should be chamfered (or rounded) to ensure there are no sharp places.In each of these situations, you'll likely have to purchase a replacement. The cost of a granite countertop is between $40 and $100 per square foot for the materials, and $35 to $85 per hour for labor costs.
One of the biggest risks of cutting granite and other stones is the inhalation of silica dust. Respirable crystalline silica particles are produced when stone like granite is cut, sanded. And, when inhaled, can lead to long-term and often fatal. Silica dust is most notorious for causing silicosis, a disease that can quickly become debilitating, causing long-term disability and even death.
Silicosis is incurable and can cause the lungs to stiffen and form scar tissue, making breathing painful and difficult, which can reduce lung function. OSHA also notes that silicosis weakens the immune system and can put the patient at risk of lung infections.
Aside from silicosis, inhaling silica dust can cause terminal lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and kidney disease.
What to Expect From Your Granite Countertop Technician
Once the big day arrives, the pro will mark out the cuts—whether they’re cutting granite to fit a larger sink or new appliances—and erect a dust tent around the area, sealing the tops and bottoms to the floor and ceiling to prevent any silica dust from escaping and permeating your home. They'll wear PPE including a filtered mask for respiratory protection. Then, they'll use an angle grinder or circular saw to cut away the excess granite.
Once the cutting is done, the contractor rounds the inner corners and chamfers any exposed edges for strength and safety. They'll then clear away all the dust and clean down the area.
Depending on the scope of the job, the contractor may also position any appliances into their new positions.