Today your customers are smarter and more demanding. This is especially true when it comes to selecting their new kitchen countertop. Few customers are solely considering one surfacing option. The savvy consumer is not only looking at solid surface, but they are also taking a serious look at granite and quartz. In this instance, the solid surface fabricator is at a lost if they cannot also offer granite and quartz.
What does it take to fabricate granite and quartz? What are the handling and fabricating differences?
The following are some basic differences and some tips to add granite and quartz to your line of products.
The first thing you are going to notice about granite and quartz is the weight difference. Granite and quartz slabs can weigh as much as 18 lbs. per square foot. What this means is you’re no longer going to be able to move slabs of material with just a couple of workers. You’re going to need a forklift, boom and clamp to move these materials around.
WET VS. DRY
The fabrication of granite and quartz requires lots of water. Nothing is done dry. This means you have to provide a means to recycle or get rid of all the water that you will need. Your saw is going to use the most water. You will have to dig trenches or build dams to collect the water.
Unlike solid surface sheets granite and quartz cannot be carried in a horizontal position. This means it must be lifted vertically. This means you are going to need enough height in your shop to lift the slab up on you saw. You will need at least a 16-ft.-high ceiling. The higher the better
None of the equipment you used for solid surface will work for granite and quartz.
Here is a brief list of what you’ll need at bare minimum:
Sawing: Cutting granite or quartz is going to require a good heavy duty saw. If you’re starting small you can start with an inexpensive rail saw that will set you back around $3,000. If you’re going to be doing a lot of work, you will need a larger saw, these start around $20,000.
Profiling: Sorry, the little router you use for solid surface is not going to work on granite or quartz. You will need a large, heavy-duty router. Starting costs around $2,000.
Polishing: A small, handheld polisher, either air or electric, will be needed for finishing your edges and sink cutouts. This is a water-feed machine; the prices start at around $300.
Cut outs: A small, handheld electric saw will be needed to cut sink holes, range openings, etc. These start around $200.
Blades and abrasives: No more sandpaper. You are going to need diamond abrasives and diamond blades for cutting and polishing
Make sure to get the proper training. There are several schools and training programs available to learn how to work with granite and quartz. I would also suggest you visit a few shops to see how they are set up.
ADVISE AND CONSULTATION
It may be helpful to hire a consultant to walk you through shop set up, and to provide training. This will not only save your money but also a lot of headaches.
What will it cost to offer granite and quartz? This is going to depend on a lot of variables. You can start very small with a small rail saw, router, etc., and some used handling material for around $10,000. If you want to go for production, then you’re going to have to step up to some large equipment.