Purchase each of your granite slabs with seams in mind.
Strategically align continuous granite slabs to achieve a seamless look.
Know that color affects your ability to hide countertop seams easily.
When all else fails, use paint or caulk to hide seams.
If you’ve ever inherited a haphazard kitchen countertop job, you know that a visible seam in a high-traffic area can distract the eye (not to mention antagonize the homeowner). It doesn’t take actual magic to disappear seams in granite countertops—but it does take strategy for which color to use and where to make your cuts. Here’s what you need to know about installing seamless granite countertops in your kitchen or bathroom.
What to Know When Purchasing Granite Counters
Granite countertops have many benefits, like their durability and easy maintenance. Still, the seams in this material don’t disappear easily like with solid surface countertops—with solid surface, the manufacturing process hides seams. So when purchasing a granite slab, be mindful of the overall look of your kitchen and how much granite you’ll need to minimize seams.
If you’re outfitting a smaller kitchen or bathroom with granite countertops, you might get away with a single slab of granite—which is usually about 50 square feet in size (9 to 10 feet tall, 5 to 6 feet wide) with a thickness of 0.75 inches to 1.25 inches. Not only will it lower the overall cost to install your granite countertops, but it might make seams one less thing you need to worry about.
However, if your kitchen is large or you have a kitchen island as a focal point, you’ll likely need two or three slabs to compensate for the extra width and length of the final countertop surface.
If you’re using patterned granite countertops, make sure your local countertop installer uses slabs from the same family of stone, so the patterns and colors on each slab line up with each other. You can also go with bookmatched slabs where the veining will align, and the adjoining pieces will mirror each other like an open book.
“We have a four-part approach to dealing with granite—or any stone—seams that are uneven or not smooth to the touch,” says Bob Tschudi, Expert Review Board Member a Raleigh, NC-based general contractor. “The first ‘s’ is for shim, for surfaces that are very out of line; the second ‘s’ is for sand, which lowers the higher part to the lower part; the third ‘s’ is for smooth, which involves filling gaps and different levels with a non-granite material; and the fourth ‘s’ is for seal, which makes the entire surface look like one smooth cut of rock.”
Pick Your Countertop Color Wisely
Choosing the perfect countertop color is essential for creating seamless granite countertops. You can buy granite counters in pretty much any color you can dream of, from more neutral tones like white, brown, or black to a rainbow of bold, bright hues.
The lighter in color, the better your countertops will match the wide-ranging palette of traditional grout colors, and the easier it will be to achieve inconspicuous seams. If hiding seams is a priority for you, you might want to go with a solid white surface or a semi-solid color like a black pearl countertop. It’s easier to hide seams with a darker or solid color than with a stone with variations in color and a complex pattern that’s difficult to match.
One creative solution for avoiding a seam in your countertop is to design a two-tone kitchen with different countertop materials. For example—if your kitchen layout allows it—you can install granite countertops along the wall with the sink and refrigerator, and use another countertop material like butcher block or tile for the island. This approach also opens the door for getting creative with your kitchen cabinet colors.
Strategically Place the Seams
Granite countertop installation requires moving extremely heavy slabs of stone (several hundred pounds), and incorrect installation can cost you more in repairs. Unless you're an advanced-level DIYer, call on the pros for this project.
Talk to your pro about the placement of the cuts in the slab so they’re not front and center in your kitchen. If you have a cut-out for a range or sink in the middle of your countertop, your pro can place the seam in line with the appliance edge to create a visual sleight of hand.
If the slab for your cabinets is long enough to stretch from one side of the wall to the other, you won’t need to worry about a visual seam. Otherwise, a pro will be able to make an invisible seam by filling it in with an epoxy resin dyed to match the color of the granite. For L-shaped countertops, a pro will cut two slabs to form a straight 45-degree angle, creating another visual illusion that makes the seam nearly invisible.
Make Granite Countertop Seams Disappear With Caulk
Sometimes a countertop seam in the middle of the room is unavoidable, and while most seams are one-sixteenth of an inch or less, you might still notice them. One way to make your seam disappear is to fill it with a caulk that matches the color of your countertops. The products that pros use are different from the retail variety, so you’ll want to consult with a countertop installer near you on which type of caulk you need.
“Granite repair is heavy, dirty, and a lot of work,” says Tschudi. “That’s why we spend a lot of time and effort finding and employing the best granite fabricators and installers.”
Or Paint the Seams of Your Solid Granite Countertops
Painting countertop seams works if you have an old, solid color countertop like white or black; it would be harder to do with granite slabs that have veining. Before painting the seams of older countertops, thoroughly clean out the seam and scrub the surrounding surface. Then, use a brush to fill the seam with paint and wipe away excess paint across the seam. If the countertops are brand-new, you can skip the cleaning step.
You may need to apply multiple coats, as well as a seal with epoxy to finish your DIY countertop painting project. Don’t feel like taking on this project? A countertop installer or local interior painter can create a colored epoxy to match the main palette of the countertops and apply it for you.