Eco-friendly and less expensive than solid slab, granite remnants may be perfect for your small to medium-sized project
For those making home improvements, few materials are more desirable than granite. Dense, durable, and elegant, it can bring refinement to a kitchen or bathroom without a lot of fussy upkeep.
As you’ve browsed granite and marble companies, dreaming up your next big kitchen project, you’ve probably come across references to granite remnants. Though it may be obvious from the term that we’re talking about leftovers of some kind, questions remain. Remnants of what? What are its applications?
What Are Granite Remnants?
When a stone manufacturer receives an order for a countertop or tiling, they cut a large slab to the required specifications before polishing and finishing it. The small to medium-sized pieces left over are granite remnants. Purveyors of granite make remnants available to consumers at a price lower than the cost of solid slab.
While solid slab granite costs an average of $40 to $60 per square foot (and rare colors and patterns can be as much as $100 per square foot), granite remnants usually go for $10 to $35 per square foot. Remnant pieces are no less durable than a solid slab, meaning you get the same quality material at a fraction of the price.
It would be a mistake, though, to regard these pieces as salvage, as some do. The creation of remnants is an unavoidable part of the granite fabrication process, and many large-scale manufacturers design their mass-market models to maximize efficiency so that they produce both the slabs and the remnants in ideal shapes and volumes.
It’s also worth noting that remnants are not the only type of granite leftovers available on the market. Many purveyors distinguish between a remnant, a granite orphan—a remnant that stands as the only remaining piece of its kind—and a partial slab, a term that some dealers use only in reference to quartz (but which others, confusingly, use interchangeably with “remnant”).
How Can I Use Granite Remnants?
When it comes to the high quality associated with the stone, there is no difference between solid slab and remnant granite. When you’re wondering whether or not you might opt for lower-cost remnants, the real question is size.
Small and medium-sized granite remnants are perfect for small and medium-sized projects, but they are no substitute where large slabs are required, such as a kitchen remodel. Though it’s possible to seam them together, it’s often difficult to find enough remnants of the same color and pattern.
If you want to create some contrast in your existing granite kitchen or bathroom—or add a granite accent to a room with counters made of other materials—granite remnants might offer the perfect solution. For the kitchen, you might find a perfect remnant for that kitchen island countertop or a striking backsplash. In the bathroom, smaller counters, vanities, and shower seats are other possibilities.
Remnants can also provide an excellent opportunity to bring granite into rooms other than the kitchen or the bathroom. It can be great for a bedside or coffee table, for example. You can also incorporate it into fireplace mantels or windowsills.
Beyond the more traditional applications, remnants’ affordability and sometimes unusual sizing create opportunities to use granite in new, creative ways. The options are endless, but some possibilities include:
Cheeseboards and other kinds of serving trays
Pros of Granite Remnants
Let’s take a closer look at some of the pros of using granite remnants in your remodeling project.
The primary reason to opt for granite remnants over solid slab is the significantly lower price. You can find granite remnants for about $10 to $35 per square foot, in comparison to the price of solid slab granite at around $40 to $60 per square foot.
Keep in mind, though, that remnant granite is still more expensive than granite tile—so if you’re working on a project for which tiles may be appropriate, that could be the most affordable option.
In addition to being easier on your pocketbook, using remnant granite is also easier on the earth. Though granite is naturally abundant, the process of quarrying it and transporting it to market is highly energy-intensive. Using a remnant for a small project like a backsplash means that you’re not producing additional waste by cutting another slab that will leave its own remnants and contribute to overall demand—and that’s in addition to the benefits already accrued by recycling material that may otherwise go unused.
For many types of smaller projects, remnant granite isn’t just a cost-effective workaround but is actually better suited for the job. If you’re adding a small countertop to a kitchen island, it won’t make sense to cut down a large slab when smaller pieces are available, even if money were no object.
Cons of Granite Remnants
Before making your final decision, let’s review some of the cons of using granite remnants.
Remnants are not, however, a panacea. As discussed above, you cannot substitute them in most jobs that call for a large slab. Using remnants also requires more flexibility in terms of color and pattern than you might otherwise exercise. Although made-to-order slabs are an option, by definition remnants result from choices others made. Only a certain selection of remnants will be available to you at any one place and time, so rather than searching endlessly for a piece that matches that design you saw in your favorite magazine, you’re better off shopping around and drawing inspiration from what’s available.
You should also keep in mind that, depending on the nature of your project, using a remnant may lower the price of materials while raising the cost of labor. While slab prices often include the costs of cutting and sealing it, a remnant may require additional work at an additional charge if, for example, you need special edges or any other custom templating.
Where to Buy Granite Remnants
Most slab yards, fabricators, suppliers, and other granite slab dealers usually carry a selection of remnants. Some of them even feature remnant showrooms. Before hitting the stores, develop a sense of the size of the remnant you’re looking for as well as your budget so as not to become overwhelmed with the choices. If you’re not sure where to begin, discuss your project with a local granite countertop installer, local bathroom remodeler, or the appropriate professional to get some guidance.