How To Remove Granite Countertops

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Last updated: August 26, 2023

Do you know how to remove granite countertops?

Straight off the bat, here are some key points:

  • You can remove granite countertops without damaging cabinets if you plan carefully and take precautions.
  • Granite countertops are heavy, so it’s important to have help when removing them.
  • To remove a granite countertop, you’ll need a pry bar, utility knife, hammer, screwdriver, safety glasses, and gloves.
  • Start by removing the sink and any appliances from the countertop.
  • Then, cut the caulk or adhesive seal around the edges of the countertop.
  • Use the pry bar to loosen the countertop from the cabinets.

Home renovations are a constant in home ownership.

Sometimes, you’ll want to make simple or significant changes involving permanent fixtures like cabinets and semi-permanent fixtures like appliances.

However, you may not be a home renovation expert. You may not have the essential design skills, construction knowledge, and, most importantly, project management skills to see changes to completion.

However, if this is a do-it-yourself (DIY), you want to know how to remove granite countertops to safely preserve cabinets in the process.

Here’s my simple answer.

When removing your granite countertop, your kitchen cabinets will be safe, but only with proper planning and preparation.

Sloppy work can lead to minor dents, scratches, and severe damage. 

How To Remove Granite Countertops & Safely Preserve Cabinets

Yes, you can remove granite countertops without damaging cabinets, whether the reason for the removal is because the counters are already cracked, stained, or look dated and worn out.

Although removing your granite counter may leave some debris behind, especially if you plan to use an electric saw to cut away the tops of your cabinets and the face frame, your kitchen cabinets won’t sustain any damage as long as you follow the correct steps for the job.

You will need several tools and materials for this project.

It would help if you also planned out how you want your space to look after you remove the granite countertop.

Installers often use pin nails that hold the cabinet tops and sub-tops together before the granite is glued on top.

Due to this construction, you can remove granite countertops almost hassle-free with the help of hard-wearing pry bars.

It also won’t damage your cabinets, provided you do it carefully.

Modern and clean kitchen interior design with marble countertops, minimal pastel green cupboards, white kitchen island and stools

Is it hard to remove granite countertops?

Removing granite countertops is not hard, but it can be tricky if you don’t know how to do it properly.

While some contractors prefer to break granite countertops into pieces before removing them, removing them in one part as long as you plan accordingly is possible.

Since granite tends to break easily despite being heavy, you should apply caution while removing it if you like to keep it in one piece. Before you start the job, prepare a sturdy surface where you will place the granite counter after removing it.

Ask for help when removing the countertop in one piece safely. Although the work is straightforward, the main challenge here is working patiently for successful removal.

How heavy is a granite countertop?

Granite is often measured in weight by square feet.

Since granite counters are cut into various thicknesses, they differ in weight and mass per square foot.

For example, granite cut into a thickness of ¾ inches weigh around 13 lbs per square foot.

Meanwhile, a granite cut with a thickness of 1 ¼ inches is approximately 18 lbs per square foot.

Average-size granite slabs in most kitchens today weigh around 700 to 1200 lbs.

While you can have your granite counter sized according to your available space, expect the material to be heavier the larger it is.

Extra structural support might be required if a granite slab is too heavy for existing cabinets to support.

Can you remove granite countertops without damaging them?

Yes, you can remove granite countertops without damaging them with proper planning but I am want to be very clear, this requires careful attention and a delicate touch.

Why? Granite is fragile and very heavy.

Before getting started, you’re going to need a few things which you can find at Home Depot or Lowe’s or if you’re in Canada, at Canadian Tire.

  • Pry bar
  • Putty knife
  • Utility knife
  • Hammer
  • Screwdriver
  • Protective gloves and eyewear
  • Moving blanket or other thick padding

Now, read my step-by-step guide on how to do remove your granite countertops carefully.

SAFETY MEASURESPut on your protective gloves and eyewear on. This protects you from flying debris during the removal process.
REMOVE SINK AND APPLIANCESYou need to remove your sink, cooktop, or any other appliance before removing your installed countertop. Make sure to shut off your water supply and any power. Make sure to disconnect all lines and carefully lift out your sink or appliance.
DETACH THE COUNTERTOPGranite countertops are set with a series of brackets and adhesive. Locate these brackets, but typically, you will find them underneath the counter. Unscrew them.
CUT THE SEALUsing your utility knife, cut the caulk or adhesive sealant along the edges where the granite meets your backsplash and the lower cabinets. Avoid scratching the surfaces of the cabinets or the walls during this process.
PRY YOUR COUNTERTOP LOOSEStart with the corner. Insert your putty knife (or a pry bar, which may be far more helpful) between your countertop and the cabinet. Carefully and slowly, begin prying the granite upwards. Remember, you need to be very gentle to avoid cracking or chipping the granite. If there is resistance, you need to look for additional screws or other adhesive that you may have missed previously.
LIFT THE COUNTERTOPOnce you’ve loosened the granite, lift it off. CAUTION: Granite is extremely heavy. Don’t try this alone, if you have a bad back or are older. This IS a two-person job at least. You need to be mindful that this must be lifted straight up to avoid sideway pressure that could break the granite.
MOVE THE COUNTERTOPAfter lifting the countertop, put it on the moving blanket or other thick padding to avoid any damage as you move it away.
White modern kitchen with steel appliances

Can you replace cabinets without removing granite countertops?

Yes, you can replace the cabinet without moving the granite countertops. Granite is among the world’s most rigid of natural materials, meaning it’s made to last.

I understand why most people wish to keep their granite counters safe and intact. They’re not cheap.

But if the time comes that you need to replace the cabinets under your granite counters, expect that things will get a bit complicated.

Before I provide some step-by-step instructions, consider these three things.

The thickness of the granite countertopBefore replacing your cabinets, please consider the thickness of your granite countertops. If your granite counter is ¾ inch thick, a plywood layer measuring ¾ inch will support the granite material underneath to keep it more durable.

Before replacing your cabinets, you have to remove this plywood layer before you store the granite slab and replace it with new plywood once it’s time to install it again. However, remember that the granite may be prone to cracks or breaks during storage, so be extra careful.
It’s not a one person job, seriouslyMoving a large granite slab on your own might be extremely difficult. Average island countertops measure 40 x 80 inches or approximately 22 square feet. The thinnest granite countertops measuring ¾ inch, weigh about 13 lbs per square foot, while granites measuring one ¼ inches weigh about 18 to 20 lbs per square foot. A granite slab can easily weigh around 285 to 450 lbs.
ExperienceAlthough it’s recommended to seek professional help to remove your granite counters, it’s technically something you can do on your own if you have enough skill and experience, and lots of it.

Removing granite tops can be a hazardous procedure that might lead to injuries if you aren’t too careful.

The process may also involve long hours, heavy labor, and hazardous chemicals, which makes it best to leave the job to the experts.

Before I get into the steps, I want to remind you that this is a challenging task.

You will need basic carpentry skills.

If you don’t have these basic skills and are not comfortable performing the following steps, hire a professional.

Unless you’re made of money, damaging a granite countertop is very costly, and sloppy risks are not worth it.

Also, like any home renovation, check your local building code rules and requirements, including any permits you must have to avoid any fines.

Step-by-step guide

Step TaskDetailed Instructions
1PreparationClear out your cabinets and remove any items on your countertops. This reduces the risk of damage to your belongings.
2Turn Off UtilitiesIf the cabinets are near utility connections like water, electricity, or gas, make sure to turn these off to prevent a serious accident during the process.
3Support the CountertopThe granite countertop will need to be supported while you remove the cabinets. You can do this by placing 2×4 wood braces under the countertop, parallel to the cabinet. Use clamps to hold the 2x4s securely in place. Just make sure it’s not so tight that you end up cracking the granite through the pressure points.
4Detach the CabinetsLooking for screws? You will find them inside the cabinets at the top and bottom. Slowly unscrew, so there is enough support for the cabinets and to prevent a damaging fall.
5Remove the CabinetsCarefully remove the detached cabinets. This is a two-person job because of bulk and cabinet weight.
6Measure and Purchase New CabinetsMeasure the space for the new cabinets. Be accurate and account for the granite countertop’s overhang.
7Install the New CabinetsPosition your new cabinets in the correct location, making sure they are level, and adjusting the height with shims if necessary. Once in position, screw them into the wall using the provided installation holes.
8Reconnect UtilitiesReconnect utilities (water, power) and make sure you check any leaks or electrical issues.
9Final TouchesAfter installing the cabinets, remove the 2×4 supports from your countertops. Clean up debris you may have accumulated, and reinstall the doors and drawers for your new cabinets.

Are granite countertops out of fashion?

I don’t think granite countertops will ever get outdated.

I can certainly not bet the future on this since trends in home design and remodeling will always fluctuate.

However, granite countertops remain steady.

There are several reasons for this.

Firstly, granite countertops bring a unique, luxurious look to any kitchen or bathroom.

Each piece of granite is unique, which means no two countertops are the same.

Don’t you find that amazing? Luxury homeowners constantly strive for uniqueness in their home decor.

This individuality adds appeal, and is why granite is often the focal point in the room.

Secondly, granite countertops are incredibly durable. They are resistant to heat, scratches, and stains when properly sealed, making them perfect for high-traffic areas like kitchens.

The longevity of granite can make them a cost-effective choice in the long run, so try not to let the sticker shock get you at first.

Unlike other materials, a maintaining your granite countertop can last a lifetime.

Since granite countertops can be timeless, they could potentially increase the value of your home.

A well-appointed kitchen with granite countertops often attracts prospective buyers, and many are willing to pay a premium for this feature.

According to the National Association of Realtors’ article, updated kitchens, including those with granite countertops, are a top priority for home buyers and can significantly impact the resale value of a home.

Josh McNair specifically references granite countertops as one of the distinctive features that made an Indianapolis home attractive.

Although granite is natural, it does require extraction and involves an energy-intensive manufacturing process.

This explains their high-cost.

While this may not look positive in terms of environment, granite countertops will last a long-time, so they get replaced less than other materials, and why they remain popular.

Based on the above reasoning, I don’t think granite will ever go out of style but the color may be a factor for home buyers and home styling trends.

Granite color styles

Just remember, color and patterns can vary between slab to slab.

Every slab of granite is unique. Striking colors like blue, green, red, or pink granite may or may not be “timeless” because in the end, a homebuyer’s styling and taste is all that matters if ever plan to sell your home.

The moral of the story?

Stick to popular colors versus trends like white kitchens and the use the appropriate colors that work best with this type of style.

I’ll provide some examples and then you can decide on the granite color and style that would work best on this basis.

  • For a clean and minimalistic look, off-white or different shades of white can add depth and remove that flat feeling.
  • For a calm and visual appeal, consider neutral tones like beige, cream, taupe or light gray, or even wood tones for cabinetry, flooring.
  • Shocker! Black and white combinations never go out of style. Black countertops, appliances and fixtures add a dramatic contrast. But remember, the more dramatic the feature, the risk rises that someone may not like it. Check local home styling trends in the neighborhood through other listings, before deciding on a change.
  • Cool tones like light blues and greens will bring a refreshing, coastal and serene ambiance in a white kitchen, but remember that your personal appeal may not be the same as a homebuyers, if you ever decide to sell.
  • Warmer tones, like soft yellow, light orange, or earthy browns add warmth and appeal in a white kitchen but again, it’s a unique styling trend that can have varied tastes.
  • Bold colors, like red, navy blue, emerald green and deep purple are very powerful but adventurous. Considering granite colors in these colors comes with risk. Consider their use in white kitchens, for accents and accessories, versus more permanent features like backsplashes and feature walls.
  • Looking for some sophistication? Consider silver, brass, gold and copper finishes for fixtures, hardware and accessories.

Here’s the list of granite color styles for your reference.

ColorGranite Style
WHITEWhite granite isn’t pure white; it’s typically marbled with shades of gray, blue, pink, or black.
BLACKBlack granite can range from deep, pure black to a more charcoal color, often speckled with greens, grays, or whites. Some types, like Black Galaxy granite, have gold or copper flecks.
GRAYGray granite is a popular choice for modern kitchens. It often includes darker and lighter shades of gray swirled together, sometimes with black or white accents.
BEIGEBeige granite often features brown, ivory, or gold specks or veins. It’s a versatile choice that works well with many different cabinet colors.
BLUEBlue granite is often more accurately described as blue-gray. It may have shimmering blue minerals scattered throughout or bluish veins.
BROWNBrown granite can range from light tan or coffee color to dark, rich chocolate. It often has specks of beige, black, or green.
REDRed granite is less common but can be striking. The red can range from bright to deep burgundy, often with gray, silver, or even blue accents.
GREENGreen granite might be dark forest green, light mint, or a grayish-green. It often includes accents of white, black, blue, or gold.
PINKPink granite is typically a soft, light pink with accents of white, gray, or black.

Remember to do your homework and consider reputable home contractors if you’re not going the do-it-yourself route.

Always remember a trendy choice may seem appealing today but classic choices in color and materials like granite continue to stand the test of time for a reason.

Will removing granite countertops ruin cabinets?

No, with the right approach, removing granite countertops will not ruin cabinets.

It all comes down to the planning and preparation.

When it comes to removing granite countertops, consider these additional tips:

  • Be sure to wear safety glasses and gloves to protect yourself from flying debris.
  • Work slowly and carefully to avoid damaging the countertop.
  • If you encounter any resistance, stop and inspect the area for additional screws or adhesive.
  • Once the countertop is removed, you can clean it and store it in a safe place until you’re ready to install it in its new location.

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