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What Is the Difference Between Prefabricated And Slab Countertops?

— by in Kitchen Remodeling

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What Is the Difference Between Prefabricated And Slab Countertops?

The average person makes roughly 35,000 decisions each day. Even if we set aside the hours we spend on sleep, that still leaves an average of 2,000 choices every hour. 

If you're in the midst of a kitchen or bath remodel your list of decisions is even longer. You'll need to choose everything from paint color and hardware to backsplash and grout color. 

And then there's the countertop decisions to make. You'll need to choose the material, color, design, and more. There's also the choice between prefabricated vs slab countertops. 

What's the difference between prefabricated and slab countertops, you ask? Keep reading to learn the difference between these two options so you can make the right choice for your home and budget. 

The Difference Between Prefabricated and Slab Countertops

The choice between slab vs prefabricated countertops typically applies to natural stone materials like granite, marble, and soapstone. But, it's also an option with quartz countertops.

Prefabricated countertops come pre cut to fit a standard countertop. These countertops are already cut to size and have a finished edge. Many times, it's a standard bullnose edge. 

Prefabricated countertops for bathrooms often come with a hole for the sink. Since kitchens vary in size, it's less common for prefab kitchen counters to come with a hole for the sink. 

Slabs are large pieces of natural stone or quartz that are large and unfinished. A slab countertop is custom cut from the raw slab of stone or a large piece of quarts. You'll get to choose the edging, the dimensions, and the finish for the stone. 

The Dimensions

With prefabricated counters, the dimensions are set in stone. If you have standard kitchen cabinets or a standard bathroom vanity, a prefab counter will work great for your renovation. If you need more surface area or you have an L-shaped countertop, you can always connect two pieces with a seam. 

If you're planning on a custom-built kitchen, slab countertops are a better option. You have more flexibility when it comes to your countertop dimensions. You can design the stone to accommodate an oversized island or deeper countertops. 

Since the slab option allows you to pick a custom size, you won't have to deal with any countertop seams no matter how large the dimensions. Plus, when it comes to dimensions, the only limitation you have is the size of the original stone slab. 

The Quality

In some cases, prefabricated countertops may have slightly lower quality compared to the slab option. Since the pieces are smaller, manufacturers may use lower-quality pieces of stone for prefab counters. 

With larger stone slabs, they have to be structurally sound enough to withstand the mining process. That can point to higher quality and a more reliable countertop. Plus, given the unfinished nature of a slab, it's easier to see any structural problems or pattern inconsistencies. 

That said, the exact quality of your bath or kitchen countertop will depend on your supplier and the manufacturer. You can always tour their showroom to get a sense of the quality of their materials. 

The Design Options

When it comes to design options, prefabricated countertops come with fewer options than slab countertops. If you go the prefab route, you'll have to choose from the colors, patterns, and edge designs that the manufacturer offers.

While many suppliers offer a large range of choices, it's still limited by what they think will sell. That said, it can be a great option if you're easily overwhelmed by lots of design possibilities. A more limited selection will help you design your kitchen without a ton of stress.

If you're looking for a one-of-a-kind kitchen, slab countertops are a better option. With a custom slab counter, Mother Nature is your only limit. 

For example, granite can range in color from pink and green to brown and gold. No wonder it's still the countertop of choice in 64% of new homes. And with a custom slab, you can choose a truly special piece that will set your kitchen apart from other homes. 

The Cost

One of the biggest benefits of prefabricated countertops is that they're more affordable than slab countertops. They're already cut and polished, so all you're paying for are the materials and the installation. 

Slab countertops are the more expensive option because it involves more labor. Since it's just a large piece of stone, someone will need to take exact measurements for your kitchen countertops. Then, they'll have to cut it to the right dimensions, polish it, shape the edges, and cut the hole for the sink.

Transporting a slab countertop can also be more expensive. If you have a single-piece L-shaped kitchen counter, for example, it will take more time and skill to move it. To save money, you could form the L-shaped counter with two pieces of prefab counter and connect them with a seam. 

The Time

If you have limited time to spend on your renovation, prefab countertops are your best bet. Since they're already cut and ready to go, the turnaround time is much faster.

Your stone supplier might already have the prefab countertop you want in stock. You could even get it delivered the next day. Even if they have to order it, it still may only take a week or two for delivery. 

If your renovation schedule is more flexible, go for a custom slab. Once you choose the slab you want, the process can take weeks or months to finish. Make sure that your construction contractor is aware that you want a custom countertop so they can factor that into their schedule.  

Which Type of Countertop Is Right for Your Remodel?

There's a big difference between prefabricated and slab countertops. The prefabricated option is cheaper and quicker, but you'll have more limited options and you might sacrifice quality. Slab countertops are unique and completely customizable, but they require more time and money. 

If you're planning a kitchen or bathroom remodel, Solid Construction & Design can help. We offer full-service remodeling, from picking cabinets and countertops to installing the finished product. Contact us today to learn more or to get a free estimate and consultation. 

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