Granite • Quartz • Fabrication • Installation
Everything you need to know about buying new countertops
Choosing new kitchen countertops can seem overwhelming to someone who has not been through the process before, but we're here to help. When we began building our website, we were stunned to find that very few fabricators or installers seem truly interested in educating their customers.
We want you to LOVE your new kitchen countertops, and we also believe that educated buyers make better decisions and rarely experience buyers' remorse. With that in mind, we're striving to provide the most comprehensive, informative countertop site in all of Northeast Florida.
You have to know the people you want to reach in order to make content that they will love.
This isn't just about profiles of who they are, but you have to know in your soul exactly the type of people they are.
Then you'll create content that isn't all about pitching or landing the sale. It will share more about your company or solve a problem that they have.
Start with the soul and end with the sale. Not the other way around.
- C.C. Chapman,
Founder of The Cleon Foundation and author of "Amazing Things Will Happen"
Let's get started...
Choosing a countertop material...
There are four primary materials that dominate the market for stone kitchen and bathroom countertops:
Aside from pricing, there are substantial differences between the four which can greatly affect the appearance and the durability of your countertops for years to come.
As it pertains to quartzite and marble, there is also a ton of misinformation surrounding the two. We have paired our own real-world experience with trusted resources like geologists from the Marble Institute of America and the Natural Stone Institute to provide you with reliable information based on science, not hearsay.
This will allow you to buy confidently and know how to expect your countertops to perform under normal use and everyday life.
Which material is right for you?
Granite is an igneous rock which is formed when magma or lava cools slowly below the surface of the ground. Granite contains feldspar and between 20-60% quartz.
Unlike quartz, which is man made and contains up to 10% chemical resins and binding agents, natural stones like granite can be considered the "organic, non-GMO" material of the countertop world.
Because granite is a natural stone, it does not exist in pure or true white, and is typically busier than quartz or marble. "White" colors in granite range from grayish to creamy or antique white.
Here is what to expect with granite countertops:
Granite will not scratch with any household item including keys, knives, and glass.
There is not enough calcium in granite to make it react with citrus acids or any common household cleaners including vinegar, CLR, and LimeAway. You may also safely clean granite with acetone, alcohol, Windex, bleach, and any other off the shelf product. You do not need expensive or specialized "Granite Countertop Cleaners."
Even unsealed granite is extremely stain resistant. Common spills, even red wine and marinara sauce pose little threat to your countertops if cleaned in a timely fashion. Properly sealed granite is nearly 100% stain proof.
Granite has a melting point of between 1,200 and 2,100 degrees Fahrenheit depending on the moisture content of the stone. This makes it impervious to hot pots, pans, candles, and even most torches.
Hot granite will not crack or shatter if you put something cold on it, nor will cool or cold granite crack or shatter if you put a hot pan or pot on it... even directly from the oven or stove.
Quartz is a man made surface combining approximately 93% crushed quartz crystals with around 7% epoxy and/or polyester resin and other binders by weight.
Because quartz is a manufactured material it is available in true white and black. Unlike granite or marble, quartz is also available in solid colors, which is impossible in natural stone because of mineral inclusions.
Although quartz slabs lack the variance and randomness of quarried natural stone, there are patterns available which mimic the appearance of granite and marble. Because of this, quartz is an excellent choice for someone who wants the look of marble without the maintenance and lack of durability that come with it.
Here is what to expect with quartz countertops:
Quartz is slightly less scratch resistant than granite. In our testing, it has proven resistant to abrasion from keys, glass, and smooth blades, but we are able to lightly scratch it with serrated steak knives.
Like granite, quartz is resistant to household chemicals and citrus acids. It may be safely cleaned with any off the shelf product including fingernail polish remover, alcohol, Windex, and bleach. There is no need to purchase specialized "Quartz Countertop Cleaners."
Quartz requires no sealing and is the most stain resistant of the four major countertop materials. Although it is advertised as stain-proof, lighter colored quartz can stain lightly if something like red wine or marinara sauce is left on the surface for several hours or more. As with anything, common sense must prevail.
Objects slid across lighter quartz can also leave dark marks resembling scratches which can be removed with some elbow grease. An abrasive cleaner such as Soft Scrub or dishwasher detergent can assist in this removal process, but test and proceed with extreme caution.
Quartz far less heat resistant than granite. The resin binding agents of the countertops begin to fail around 300 degrees Fahrenheit. It is good practice to use a trivet or mat with hot pots or pans.
Quartzite is a metamorphic rock which began its life as quartz sandstone. Under immense heat and pressure, the sandstone recrystallizes, forming interlocking chains of quartz crystals. Comprised almost entirely of quartz, quartzite is the hardest of the four common countertop materials and can offer the beautiful grays and whites of marble without the worry of etching and scratching.
Because they are often similar in appearance, many marbles are often miscategorized as quartzite or soft quartzite. "Soft quartzite" is a misnomer; dolomitic marble is much more appropriate since the durability of such materials has nothing in common with a true quartzite.
Dolomitic marble or "soft quartzite" will etch in the presence of acid and can be scratched by glass, metal, and even copper coins. A true quartzite is impervious to all of these things and is even harder than granite!
If you are considering quartzite, we HIGHLY recommend you read this article by The Marble Institute of America. Do not be fooled by disreputable or uninformed slab distributors, fabricators, and installers.
Here is what to expect with TRUE quartzite countertops:
After being on the market for several years, severe staining issues are appearing in quartzites around the country. This is seen as a darkening around the edges, sinks, faucets, and soap dispensers. The issues are seem to occur randomly, sometimes months after the countertops have been installed. Sealing, even with multiple coats does not always prevent it, and there is no reliable fix for it at the moment. For this reason, we are not currently recommending the use of quartzite for countertops.
Quartzite is even harder and more scratch resistant than granite. It is only scratched by heavy pressure from gemstones such as topaz, saphires, and diamonds.
Like granite and quartz, quartzite is impervious to all household chemicals and cleaners including acids. There is no need for specialized or expensive "Natural Stone Cleaners."
Quartzite has a melting point of around 3,000 degrees Fahrenheit making it impervious to any kitchen or household heat source.
Marble is a metamorphic rock which forms when sedimentary rocks such as dolomite or limestone recrystallize into interlocking carbonate crystals. It has been used as a building material since Roman times and is often desired in lieu of granite because of its whiter color.
Due to its mineral content, most importantly calcium and calcium carbonate, marble with etch in the presence of acids. Marble is also the softest and most porous of the four common countertop materials and will scratch and stain easily.
Here is what to expect with marble countertops:
Marble is very soft and has little to no scratch or impact resistance. Metal, including knives, keys, coins, and many other household items scratch it even with light pressure. Marble will also chip and pit on its edges and surface due to impact.
Unlike granite, quartz, and quartzite, marble is highly susceptible to even weak acids. Marble will fizz, etch, and dull in their presence. This includes citrus acids from fruit and carbonic acid from soft drinks. You may not use vinegar, CLR, LimeAway, or other acidic cleaners on your marble countertops. Marble is, however, bleach safe in moderation. The same applies to alkali cleaners such as Windex, 409, and Fantastic.
Many fabricators and slab distributors will tell you that sealing marble will prevent it from etching. This is a widely disseminated piece of mis-information that is simply not true. At best, sealer will provide you with a very small window of time to remove the acid from the countertop before it starts to etch.
Under no circumstances should and abrasive cleaners such as steel wool, Comet, ScotchBrite, or Bar Keepers Friend be used. If even remotely in doubt, test a small, inconspicuous area first. We highly recommend using a neutral cleaner labeled for marble.
Marble is porous and stains easily. It is imperative that it be sealed prior to its initial use and resealed regularly. Red wine, marinara sauce, and grease pose and imminent threat to unsealed marble and must be cleaned promptly.
Marble has a melting point of around 1,500 degrees Fahrenheit making it completely impervious to any kitchen or household heat source.
Choosing your slabs...
We do not inventory slabs at our shop. We can bring small sample pieces of basic granite, but the best way to select material for your project is to visit our slab distributor in person.
Steer clear of companies who try to limit you to slabs they have in stock at their shop. No where else will you be afforded more choices in quality, size, and color than at a slab yard.
Our customers, no matter what their budget, are always encouraged to hand select their slabs. Granite and marble are natural stones which will vary slightly in color and movement as slabs are taken from different parts of the quarry.
Large, room sized chunks of stone are blasted from quarry walls and sliced like bread into countertop thick "slabs". Slabs sliced from the same block are grouped as "lots". At the slab distributor you will notice that lots labeled as the same color can be quite different. This is an effect that is impossible to see when attempting to select your material from a 4" x 4" sample piece.
We prefer to purchase our slabs from one of four distributors in Jacksonville. Feel free to walk-in anytime and tell them Jacksonville Countertops is your fabricator.
You may choose to browse undisturbed, or a staff member will assist you. Slab yards only sell raw materials to fabricators, so they will not give you pricing specific to your kitchen during your visit. They will, however, be able to guide you towards basic, mid-level, and exotic stones.
Be sure to provide the distributor with reliable contact information, so we can contact you after your visit:
10475 Fortune Pkwy Suite 211
Jacksonville, FL 32256
Mon-Fri 8am-5pm Sat 9am-2pm
8686 Philips Hwy
Jacksonville, FL 32257
Mon-Fri 8am-6pm Sat 10am-3pm
5916 Philips Hwy
Jacksonville, FL 32216
Mon-Fri 8am-5pm Sat 10am-2pm
The process for getting new countertops is not as difficult as it may seem at first.
It is 3 simple steps...
1. Schedule an in home estimate. We'll answer all of your questions and give you an honest quote of your square footage.
2. Visit one or more of our slab distributors to select materials that interest you.
3. Choose the material that fits your taste and budget, then relax while we bring your vision to life.
Left brained? Here's the whole thing in agonizing detail...
In Home Estimate
Total Time: 30 minutes - 1 hour
We'll come to your home, answer all of your questions, and address any concerns you may have. We epitomize low pressure sales.
We'll tell you how many square feet you really have. We don't round up or count things twice to pad the numbers.
We'll suggest you visit one of our slab distributors to see the full size versions of the actual materials going in your kitchen. You're not forced to pick from a few drink coaster sized samples. We're geology nerds, but we promise it's pretty cool!
Total Time: About 3 weeks
Once you have made you final material selection and accepted our quote, you enter our production lead time. Your template (see below) may already be complete, or we may schedule it at this time. Average lead time throughout the year is 21 days though this varies depending on how busy we are.
We produce jobs in the order they are sold and ready for templating. Delays due to other trades (tile, cabinetry, drywall, plumbing, electrical, etc.) may affect your place in queue and will not create an emergency on our part or impact other customers who have been waiting patiently.
You can reach us via phone, text, or email at any time during your lead time, even if it is only to check in and say hello! Similarly, we will immediately inform you of any unforeseen circumstances which may extend or decrease your expected lead time.
Be wary of any granite company who has a reputation for promising customers short lead times and then disappearing for weeks while not responding to phone calls or emails. It is unrealistic for us to say jobs are never delayed, but you will never be left worrying that we have disappeared!
Similarly, companies who consistently have extremely short lead times usually either have very little work or are pushing through jobs at a break neck pace that is not conducive to high quality work.
Total Time: 1-2 hours
Your template is the road map which guides the cutting and fabrication of your kitchen countertops and/or bath vanities.
If we are replacing existing countertops, your kitchen and bathrooms will remain in working condition until the day of your install. We do not have to remove your old countertops, disconnect your plumbing, or do anything else affecting the functionality of your kitchen, and you should question any company who claims they do.
Prior to templating, any or all new cabinetry, drywall, or related aspects of the room must be complete and secure. The template may consist of detailed final measurements, physical templates, or both.
During this process, we will finalize all aspects of your new countertops. This will include sinks, corners, edges, and any other options discussed to this point. Your template may be completed as little as 3-4 days before your installation date.
Total Time: 6-12 hours
Install day is here! With the exception of unusually large projects, your install will usually be complete in one day.
Having your kitchen torn apart is inconvenient and stressful... we get it. Our installers show up prepared, don't waste time on their phones, and work efficiently. They get in, get out, and you get on with your life and start enjoying your new countertops.
Relax, rest easy and enjoy watching the transformation. Everyone in our company loves what they do, and there is across the board accountability. We clean-up after ourselves just like at Grandma's house, and the owner of the company will call or stop by to make sure you're happy with the work.
A word about plumbing...
During your install, we will mount all sinks, and drill the required faucet holes, but we WILL NOT be connecting your plumbing. Customers should be very wary of any countertop company who promises to do such work.
The silicone used to seal your sink(s) to the countertops should be allowed to cure overnight at which point you, as the homeowner, or a licensed plumber may reconnect and inspect all faucets and fixtures.
Regrettably, a few times per year, a customer in an attempt to get a discount will claim that we promised to connect their plumbing after the install. We can assure you that we have NEVER promised this in the history of the company. It is in writing on this website, it is on every invoice we send, and it is discussed verbally at every estimate.
Jacksonville Countertops does not have a plumbing license. It is a CRIME to install or connect plumbing fixtures in the State of Florida without a plumbing license. We could be fined and/or arrested for doing so.
About twice per year, Duval county conducts "contractor round-ups" during which they arrest handymen and contractors who conduct unlicensed work.
Furthermore, most general liability policies will not cover damages caused by unlicensed activities.
If you need a trustworthy, licensed plumber, we highly recommend:
FL License # CFC056489
Pricing for new countertops can seem confusing for someone who has not been through the process before. There are a lot of countertop companies in Jacksonville, and there are several different ways prices are quoted and advertised.
$29.99 per ft² rarely actually means $29.99 per ft²
Many companies in our area advertise per square foot prices as low as $30 but then start adding in charges for sinks, sink holes, cut outs, extra faucet holes, and sealer. These extras can easily add $5-$15 per square foot to the true cost of your countertops.
Don't get suckered into paying a couple hundred dollars for sealer. It should be included. We do it on every job, and we don't use the cheap stuff. It's $240 per gallon.
If you have any "L" shaped counters or 45° angles, make sure the corners are not "double counted". Countertop companies will measure the back of your countertops along the walls, If they don't factor out the corner area, this will add roughly 4 1/2 ft² per corner to your job that does not exist.
Also, do not allow them to round every measurement up to the next inch. Rounding up and double counting corners is VERY common because many home owners do not realize it is happening. This can easily cost you several hundred dollars.
I gave an estimate for a customer yesterday (2/7/20) who was told by a $29.99/ft² company that her kitchen was 74 ft². It was actually 61. When she included the $299 for cutting the sink hole, it actually averaged out to $41.25 per square foot, and she still would have had to pay $199 for sealer.
This may sound like fear mongering, but as the owner of this company, I PROMISE you this happens every day. It makes me so upset, that you can send me your estimate from another company, along with a simple sketch of your kitchen and your measurements, and I'll double check it for free... even if you have no intention of doing business with us.
Send it to Chris@JacksonvilleCountertops.com
If you aren't sure how to measure your countertops call me at
(904) 910-6354, and I'll walk you through it.
How do we price countertops?
First, we take accurate measurements, we do not round up, and we do not double count corners and angles.
Labor, sinks, et cetera:
Our labor rate is $39 per square foot for 95% of materials. This includes square or radiused corners and an eased, bevel, or pencil round edge.
For certain exotic granite and all quartzite, which are extremely fragile and difficult to work with, the labor rate is $49 per square foot.
An undermount 50/50 or single bowl stainless steel sink, as well as actually cutting and polishing the sink hole is included with every kitchen we quote at no additional cost.
Bathroom vanity sink are $50 per sink for an oval or rectangle ceramic undermount. This includes the sink itself, as well as cutting and polishing the sink hole.
If your kitchen has a raised bar top or any overhang over 9", it may require steel corbels every 24-36" to properly support it. The charge for the corbels, mortising, and installation is $50 per corbel.
Removal and disposal of standard Formica or laminate tops is $2 per square foot.
Removal of tile, quartz, or granite countertops varies on a case by case basis but is generally around $5 per square foot.
Your material... aka "the slabs":
Depending on the shapes and angles of your countertops there will be a 20-30% waste factor from your slabs when we cut your kitchen. This means that for every 45 square foot increment of countertops, the need to purchase an additional slab of material begins to become a possibility.
When you visit slab yards, they won't tell you how much the materials cost. This is because most fabricators place a mark-up on the slabs, and the distributor does not know what that percentage is.
There is no industry standard regarding mark-up, and many fabricators don't even have a standard within their own company. Unfortunately, many base their entire pricing structure on what kind of car you drive or what neighborhood you live in.
We don't like stereotypes, and we really don't care what you drive or where you live. We charge you the actual cost of the materials required to complete your job plus a 35% mark-up. Any left over material (remnant) is yours to keep if you wish.
Among other things, our material mark-up serves to mitigate the very real risk of breakage.
If you choose a low cost fabricator who does not mark-up materials and budget for breakage risk, you may be left fronting more money for another slab to complete your job if something goes wrong. This happens more than people think.
So how much do the slabs cost?
There are no set standards that define what "Levels" are, but these are general guidelines. These levels also correspond directly to the row numbers at one of our distributors, Quality Stones.
Granite, Quartz, and Marble Slab Prices
Typical natural stone slabs are 60-70 square feet.
Level 1 granite slabs are generally between $650-$850 per slab.
Level 2: $850-$1,100
Level 3: $1,100- $1,400
Level 4: $1,400-$2,000
Level 5 (Exotic): $2,000 -$3,850
Super Exotic: $3,850+
Quartzite starts at Level 4. Taj Mahal Supreme and other high end colors can easily exceed $4,000 per slab and more.
Decent quality marble slabs begin at Level 2. Varieties like Calacatta Gold can surpass the $6,000 mark.
Quartz Slab Prices
Quartz slabs are typically 55-60 square feet.
High quality quartz slabs begin around $900.
Brand names like Cambria, Caesarstone, and Silestone cost between $1,800-$4,500 each.
Phoenix Quartz Group 1: $950 per slab
Phoenix Quartz Group 2: $1,450 per slab
Phoenix Quartz Group 3: $2,050 per slab
The Bottom Line...
Installed, including all labor, materials, and an undermount stainless steel sink:
Level 1 Granite starts around $49 per ft²
Quartz starts around $65 per ft²
Quartzite starts around $85 per ft²
Marble starts around $65 per ft²