Whether you’re working with granite tiles or slabs, here’s how to make the perfect cut
Granite is a fabulous home addition that can add luxury and value to just about any space, from the bathroom to the kitchen. Although it may seem impossible, following the steps for how to cut granite is doable for advanced-level DIYers with the necessary tools and skills. This guide covers the precautions, prep work, and steps involved with cutting granite countertops.
Before getting started, know that cutting granite can be a dangerous DIY. Granite slabs can weigh several hundred pounds, making them extremely difficult to transport. Plus, cutting into granite produces silica dust, making goggles and dust masks must-haves. If you’d rather avoid injury and damaging your counters, consider leaving this job to a pro.
When Would I Need to Know How to Cut Granite?
Knowing how to cut granite can come in handy if you’re interested in installing granite features in your home or are keen to update the ones you already have. For example, you may want to cut new holes into your existing granite countertops to accommodate a new faucet setup. If you’re replacing old granite countertops with new ones, perhaps you’ll want to find a way to reuse the old materials in a new space. Cutting this stone yourself will help you fit it without requiring a massive overhaul of your space.
How Much Does It Cost to Cut Granite?
Materials and tools make up the bulk of the cost of cutting granite. Buying all the necessary tools outright can be more expensive than hiring a pro who already has them. For example, the circular saws needed to make perfect cuts cost $200 or more, and the rest of the supplies you’ll need—like diamond-edge blades and protective gear—can add another $200 to $500 to the project.
On the flip side, granite cutting tools are available as rentals for $30 to $70 a day at most hardware stores, and taking this route can help cut costs you’d normally pay to DIY this project.
How to Prep for Cutting Granite
Although cutting granite is not impossible, it can still be dangerous without the correct preparation. Sawing produces dust and debris that can be hazardous if you’re not wearing gloves or goggles. An unsteady surface may cause a slab to crack or even collapse. Here are all the ways to get ready for your project and ensure that nothing goes awry at any step of the process.
Transport Granite With Care
Depending on the thickness of a slab, granite may snap very easily if not transported correctly. Pros move granite slabs vertically because they may cave in or crack if carried horizontally. If transporting it horizontally is your only option, make sure to recruit two extra sets of hands—one for carrying the end opposite you and another for stabilizing the center of the rock. Furthermore, slabs are incredibly heavy, and there is a risk that they could fall on someone’s toes.
Gather the Right Tools
There are quite a few things you need to complete this job, and all of them are essential. Protective gear like goggles, aprons, gloves, and dust masks will help protect you from dust and anything that may fly off the granite during cutting.
For cutting, wet saws produce less dust, but a dry saw produces equally good results. However, if you opt for a wet saw, you’ll need to attach your drill to a GFCI (ground fault circuit interrupter) to eliminate the risks of working with water and electricity. Diamond-edge blades are also non-negotiable because they’re the only blade sharp and strong enough to successfully cut through granite.
Here’s everything else you may need depending on what types of cut you’re making.
Wet or dry circular saw with diamond edge blade
Wet tile saw with diamond-edge blade
Drill with a diamond tip
Angle grinder with diamond blade
Solid workbench or another sturdy working surface
Protective goggles and gloves
Ear plugs (optional)
Protect Yourself and Your Surroundings
In addition to wearing protective gear, there are a few extra steps you can take to keep yourself and your surroundings safe. For one, always work outside when cutting granite because there’s too much room for error to safely do so inside. If you don’t have access to an outdoor space large enough to accommodate the project, hand this project off to a pro.
From there, don’t forget to tie up long hair, roll up long sleeves, and remove any low-hanging jewelry or anything else that could get caught in your saw's blade as you work. Finally, set granite slabs on extremely stable surfaces to ensure they don’t crack or collapse at any point during the process.
Make Measurements Before Getting Started
Measure the space where you’re planning to install your granite, write those measurements down, and use painter’s tape to mark them on the granite accordingly. When in doubt, measure twice to be extra sure.
How to Cut Granite
Now that your work area is ready, tools and supplies are at hand, and you’ve finished your prep work, here’s how to cut granite countertops.
Cutting Granite Slabs
The process of cutting granite slabs requires either a wet or dry circular saw with a diamond blade. Here’s what you need to do from beginning to end to get the cleanest cuts.
1. Place the Slab on a Solid Surface and Secure It With Clamps
You can mark the slab with measurements before or after doing this, so don’t sweat it if you haven’t already.
2. Prepare Your Tools
Set up your saw according to the manufacturer's instructions. If using a wet saw, ensure the tank is full to the limit.
3. Make a Back Cut to Prevent Cracking
Doing this is necessary because granite becomes very fragile as you approach the end of the cut. At this moment, the vibrations of the saw are more likely to cause the rock to crack or shatter at the edge.
Place the edge of your blade on one end of the cut line. Turn the saw on and apply light pressure to cut several inches. Once you’ve made this cut, stop and switch to the opposite end.
4. Continue Sawing Down the Cut Line Starting From the Opposite End
Be patient; stone is a lot harder to cut through than wood, so expect the process to take a bit longer. Though it can be tempting to rush and force the saw, doing so is more likely to result in cracks, scratches, and uneven cuts.
5. Repeat the Two Previous Steps for Each Cut
Although it may seem like a pain, you won’t regret taking the preventative step of making a back cut each and every time to reduce the risk of cracks.
6. If You’re Not Using a Wet Saw, Minimize Dust With a Hose or Spray Bottle
Recruit a friend or family member to stand by your side and spray with water while you cut the granite.
7. Use an Angle Grinder to Smooth Cut Lines
Make sure the angle grinder is fitted with a diamond blade, turn it on, and apply light pressure to smooth edges or any chips that may have happened while sawing.
Cutting Granite Tiles
The process of cutting granite tiles is slightly different because they’re much smaller than slabs. For one, you don’t have to worry as much about transporting them. As long as you handle them with care, they should be fine.
You’ll get better results on smaller tiles by using a wet tile saw instead of a larger circular saw. Tile saws come in many different shapes and sizes, but the most common options consist of a stationary base with a sliding table and an adjustable guide and blade that allow you to secure the tiles without clamps.
1. Set the Tile Saw on a Sturdy Work Surface and Fill It With Water
Set up shop in an open, well-ventilated area, just as you would with granite slabs. Have a sturdy work surface ready, and fill the saw with water.
2. Mark the Tiles With Your Desired Measurements
Use painter’s tape to mark your tiles accordingly.
3. Align Your First Tile With the Tip of the Blade and Begin Sawing
Make sure your tile saw is fitted with a diamond blade. Place the first tile on the sliding table of your tile saw and place the blade's tip at the start of the cut line. Turn on the saw and begin applying pressure in a forward motion. There’s no need to make back cuts on small granite tiles because there’s not as much distance between each end.
Drilling and Cutting Holes in Granite
Cutting holes in granite is sometimes necessary when installing faucets and handles into countertops—or perhaps you just want a sneaky way to hide any electrical cords on your bathroom vanity. If so, you’ll need a drill with a diamond tip and all the protective gear that the previous steps require.
1. Firmly Secure Tile or Slab to a Stable Work Surface
Use clamps to lock the granite in place, and make sure there’s no risk of your work table collapsing.
2. Use Painter’s Tape to Mark the Spot for the Hole
Measure the diameter at the base of the object that needs to be installed in your granite countertop—for instance, a faucet. Transfer that measurement to your granite slab or tile. It can be slightly larger but not smaller.
3. Place the Drill Tip Over the Mark and Begin Drilling Down
Be sure to hold the drill straight and apply gentle pressure. Once again, you’ll need to be patient as this process takes time. Whenever you notice resistance between the drill and the granite, dip the tip in a bit of cutting oil to get things running smoothly again.
3 Tips for Caring for Granite After Cutting
After cutting, there are a handful of extra things you can do to ensure your new granite feature always looks its best.
1. Use Polish Pads to Restore Shine
Although your granite will certainly look a bit worse for wear after all that sawing, it’s nothing a polish pad can’t fix right up. Working from one spot to the next, scrub the surface in a circular motion with a wet or dry polish pad. Then, rinse to remove dust.
2. Seal Once or Twice a Year
Granite surfaces become more sensitive with each use, but resealing your granite countertops from time to time will ensure they’re always protected. When doing so, invest in a sealer specifically made for granite, thoroughly clean the stone before applying it, and let it dry completely before applying it again.
3. Clean Regularly After Installation
Regularly cleaning your granite surfaces is a must to keep them looking great for years. Wipe up spills the moment they occur to prevent staining, dust whenever you notice buildup beginning to form, and wipe down your counters (with either a homemade cleaning solution or a store-bought one specifically for granite). Repeat the cleaning process weekly.
DIY vs. Hire a Pro
Although it’s possible to cut granite countertops yourself, countertop installers in your area have all the tools and skills to make the process easy. And if you get it wrong, the mistakes can be extraordinarily costly. For example, if you crack the granite, cut away too much, or otherwise irreparably damage the stone, you'll have to pay for a replacement and installation.
Then there are significant risks that come with this project, like you or someone else in your household inhaling silica dust from the cutting process if you don't take all the right precautions or don't clean up properly afterward. Additionally, granite slabs can weigh several hundred pounds, so there is a serious risk of injury if not handled properly. Rather than take on this risk, you might want to hire a pro who cuts granite on-site.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, a granite countertop can be cut in place. However, learning how to cut a granite countertop in place is a lot trickier than cutting granite in an open, well-ventilated space. You’ll also need to protect everything in the surrounding area (like your kitchen cabinets and appliances), but even that might not be enough to prevent dust from getting stuck in tight spots. If you absolutely must cut a granite countertop in place, consider hiring a pro to get the job done in the cleanest and safest way possible.
In most cases, chipped or cracked granite can be salvaged, but it depends on the size and scope of the damage. For example, a pro can smooth out small chips on the edge with polish pads or an angle grinder, but a crack that runs through the stone's surface has little-to-no chance of being fixed easily.