Resources & FAQ
Tile Outlet & Granite
Countertop Installation Checklist
Thank you for allowing Tile Outlet & Granite to be a part of your project. These tips will make your countertop installation as smooth and easy as possible. They run in chronological sequence from in-home measurement to final inspection.
In-Home Measurement & Template
After you’ve selected your new countertop and made a deposit for your project, you will get a call to arrange a convenient time for an in-home template visit. At this visit, we will confirm all details of your new countertop purchase, verify countertop measurements and create a physical template to ensure proper fit. If any adjustments to the original project estimate are required, this is the time to make them. The store will then make that revision to your estimate with your approval. Once you’ve approved the final estimate, you will get a tentative date for installation of your new countertop.
Before Measurement and Template
Please remove all items from the countertops and wipe down.
Make sure cabinets are plumb, level, square and secured to the walls and/or floor. If new cabinets are part of your remodel, they must be installed before countertops can be measured and installed.
Cabinets that will rest on top of the countertop (appliance garage, etc.) must be installed after the new countertop is installed.
Disconnect and remove all existing countertops, backsplashes, sinks, and cooktops from cabinetry. (Removal of countertop and backsplash may not be required in all instances. Ask your store associate for details.)
Make sure sinks, faucets, cooktops and any other items to be mounted in the countertop are on the job site. All cutout information (that is, information on holes or cuts required in the countertop for things such as sinks, faucets, soap pumps, hot/cold water dispensers, cooktops) must be supplied for measurement and templating. Apron and farmhouse sinks must be installed prior to the date of field template.
Make sure all appliances (including dishwashers, stoves and refrigerators) are in place, or have the specifications on site.
Final wall preparation (i.e., painting, wallpapering, etc.) should not be completed prior to installation, if at all possible. Care will be exercised during the countertop installation; however, scrapes, punctures or digs to wall surfaces are possible in the work area, as are scratches and scrapes to cabinetry. These items are considered incidental damage and are the customer’s responsibility to repair. In most cases, cabinets can be easily repaired with a cabinet touch-up kit.
Make certain to have an adult over age 18 on hand who can make decisions and approve all countertop details.
**Note: If a responsible adult is not present, no one is home, the cabinets are not ready, or you cancel within 48 hours, we will re-schedule your project and it may require a return trip fee of $150. It’s in your best interest to be prepared.**
The day before installation, your installer will call you to confirm time and arrival. Be sure to disconnect and remove your old countertop, sinks, cooktop, appliances, etc. prior to installation. We suggest you schedule a plumber and electrician for the day following installation so they can reconnect plumbing and wiring as required. In some areas, Tile Outlet & Granite can provide these services for you for an additional charge. Ask your store associate for details.
Payment is due upon completion of your installation. We can provide an invoice at the conclusion of the installation. You may also choose to take a day to inspect and confirm everything is ok.
Installing new countertops is a construction process, and some noise and dust should be expected. If you’ll be living in your home while your new countertops are being installed, plan accordingly to minimize disruption.
For areas directly affected by the installation:
Cover the installation area’s entryways and vents to contain dust and debris.
Create a clear path through your home for easy access to the installation area and removal of debris.
Cover furniture and floors along this path and in areas adjacent to the installation.
Remove all items from cabinets. This is a great opportunity to clean and organize.
Move all breakables, such as lamps, vases, mirrors, wall hangings, antiques or other valuables from areas affected by installation work (including the pathway.)
On installation day, our installers will be courteous and efficient. They’ll have everything they need to install your new countertop, just meet these simple requirements:
Make certain to have an adult over age 18 with authority to make installation decisions on hand during installation.
For safety, keep children and pets away from the construction area.
It is your responsibility to ensure the sink fits in the base cabinet. We can help evaluate this during template time.
Our installers will:
Install the countertop. If the countertop seams are required, the installer will decide where to place them for the best appearance.
Clean the immediate area and leave the job site in “broom-clean” condition.
Ask you to sign a statement confirming your satisfaction with the quality, fit and damage-free condition of your new countertop.
Unexpected Site Conditions
In almost all cases, the final estimate you receive will accurately reflect the condition of the installation site. We work very hard to avoid surprises which could affect project cost and schedule. Occasionally, however, we discover conditions (water or termite damage, electrical or plumbing problems) during installation that must be addressed before we can complete the installation. These conditions may require additional labor and materials.
If the Tile Outlet & Granite cannot supply the necessary labor, you may need to hire another contractor to perform that portion of the work before we can complete your installation.
If properly cared for, your new countertop will give you many years of good service. Please review the care and maintenance information for your new countertop, and note the following guidelines:
If you haven’t already, arrange for a plumber and/or electrician to reconnect plumbing or wiring as required.
We recommend that you use cutting boards and/or trivets to protect your new kitchen countertop from cuts, heat sources, etc. Placing hot pots, pans or plates directly on the countertop is not recommended. (depending on the countertop material)
If you have any questions about the installation process, we are ready to help. Please call your sales associate at The Tile Outlet & Granite.
Granite vs. Quartz
Do I want Granite or Quartz? - Things to consider:
While it’s true that both are durable, it depends on the kind of abuse you throw at the two materials. Do you cook or bake? Most of us do and on a daily basis we are cutting, handling hot pots and pans, moving heavy mixing bowls, and using small appliances like stand mixers and crockpots. You need to compare how each material holds up to accidents and flat out abuse.
Will it Burn?
Granite is formed in intense heat and is naturally impervious to high temperatures. Hot pots and pans won’t damage the surface, though they may damage any sealant on them.
Quartz, on the other hand, isn’t nearly as heat resistant. Even Silestone, the best selling engineered stone manufacturer in the world tells you to never place hot objects on their product. This quote: “It is always recommended to use a hot pad or trivet when placing hot objects on the surface”
The resins used to give it flexibility and shape will warp and melt under high temperatures. Low quality brands have been known to discolor under crock pots and electric skillets, so if you want put hot pans directly on the counter, cross quartz off your list.
What about Scratches?
The same resin that makes quartz susceptible to damage from heat also makes it more likely to scratch. While it’s not easily scratched under normal use, it’s definitely more likely than granite to see scratches from dropped pans or slipping knives. Granite, the tough, rugged stone that it is, can handle you cutting vegetable directly on its’ surface. It’s so durable that it will actually dull your knives so invest in a wood cutting block.
Accidents happen–dishes fall out of cabinets, kids drop things on countertops, adults aren’t much better. If you drop a heavy pot on granite or whack a corner with a heavy ceramic bowl, it’s more likely to chip than quartz. The problem is that those chips are notoriously hard to repair, but granite is fairly easy to fix and you can probably do it yourself. It’s so simple to do they sell granite repair kits at nearly every big box home improvement store. You can use similar kits with quartz but the repairs are usually more noticeable and hard to polish out.
Easy to Maintain?
If granite has a weakness, it’s the fact that it is susceptible to stains because of its composition. Because it’s a natural stone some varieties can be porous, and stains can be a real possibility unless you take 10 minutes out of your day to seal it once or twice a year. Because of the man-made resin that is used to glue quartz together it is non-porous, so it’s stain resistant (not stain proof) and super-low maintenance. Before you assume that this makes quartz superior to granite, consider the very reason it’s non-porous. Remember how it’s made of a resin-stone mix? The same resin that makes it low maintenance also increases its risk of damage and discoloration from the heat of your pots and pans. Maybe you think that the ratio of resin to natural stone is trivial? Consider this. The manufacturers claim their slabs contain about 7% resin. What they gloss over is that the ratio is by weight. The actual volume of resin makes up about 30% to 40% of the finished product. It's almost appropriate to call them resin countertops instead of quartz. Sure, sealing stone a couple of times per year is a hassle, but a melted countertop from forgetting to use a trivet under a hot pan is a nightmare.
Is It Cheaper?
This is probably the first thing most people consider when choosing their countertop. The final cost of countertops will depend on several factors, but generally, granite countertops cost $60-80+ per square foot including installation. Quartz ranges from $70-95+ per square foot installed. There are different “levels” of stone, and with the levels can be significant price differences. This difference can really add up if you have a big kitchen.
What about the Environment?
At first glance, quartz may seem more environmentally friendly because it can be engineered and manufactured close to where it will be sold. The manufacturing plants also love to boast about how they use recycled materials as well as how they conserve water. However, both have to be quarried from somewhere–sometimes in the US, but usually abroad–so they’re both using the same energy and resources for that. Beyond this, quartz requires extra energy and resources since the stone is crushed and non-organic resins are added to basically glue the crushed pieces of stone together. Granite is literally formed by Mother Nature, cut out of the ground in big blocks, sawn into slabs, and then polished to a shiny surface. It doesn’t get more natural than that.
You may have heard that granite is dangerous to use in countertops because it emits radon gas. Radon is a colorless and odorless radioactive gas that is produced by the breakdown of decaying uranium. Why do people think radon is in their countertop? Because it has trace amounts of radioactive materials in it–but so does the soil your home sits on and many other naturally occurring objects (like sand and stone). The fact is that there is such a minimal amount of radioactive material that it poses no threat to people. Even if radon gas is released as the radioactive materials in the stone decay, the released gas mixes with the regular air and is diluted to such weak levels that it poses no threat to people. Of course, that’s not to say that radon gas isn’t a real problem–it can be, especially if you have cracks in your home’s foundation and holes in your home’s structure that are near the ground. However, radon from granite? There’s just not enough to be problematic.
Fading In The Sun?
Very few shades of granite will fade when left in direct sunlight for extended periods of time. This is why stone slabs are often stored outdoors in direct sunlight. Quartz, however, fades noticeably in as little as a few weeks of direct sunlight, especially the darker colors. If you have a lot of direct sunlight in your kitchen, you should avoid it.
Don’t be fooled by the 10 different options available at Home Depot and Lowes. Head to your local stone yard or even better go to the wholesaler that sells slabs to the fabricator. They’re open to the public and will literally have hundreds of slabs for you to choose from. To make matters worse, most stone yards keep very few slabs of quartz in stock. They tend to just have samples for customers to view and choose from. This is a flat out terrible way to pick a countertop because samples don’t necessarily give you a true idea of how the finished product will look. For granite, you’ll find lots of full slabs to choose from and you can see exactly how your countertops will look because you choose the exact slab and not just a sample. You’ll be able to compare the intricate patterns and subtle color differences before you ever have your countertops designed.
Working with the Tile Outlet & Granite for New Slab Countertops
1.0 We create an ESTIMATE. In order to provide you with the most accurate estimate, we prefer to use your specific kitchen layout and a specific slab material with known dimensions. Each slab material needs to be evaluated to ensure proper layout, seams, etc. 2.0 We agree to move forward on your project. Once you approve the estimate, you make a project DEPOSIT and we schedule an appointment at your location to make a TEMPLATE. We prefer to have sinks and faucets selected and available at this time. 3.0 We purchase the slab material (or use our stock) and plan to fabricate your project in our shop. We communicate and SCHEDULE THE INSTALLATION at this time. 4.0 We install (demo, install, plumbing) typically in 1-2 days. When you’ve inspected our work, you remit the balance of the project. 5.0 Tile backsplash installation may take place a few days after the countertops are installed. Slab splash is the same day.
Slab Material Options
1.0 Slab Materials include Granite, Quartzite, Marble, and synthetic Quartz. We have limited space, yet stock some slab at our store location. We also work with a number of local slab wholesalers. They have large showrooms and have hundreds of slabs to look through. You can view and note materials, or have their assistants do this for you. You may even place material on hold by letting them know you are considering us to help with your project. We will be happy to share the benefit/tradeoff considerations when evaluating these materials for your project.
Preliminary Sketch for the Estimate:
Creating a sketch of your kitchen for an estimate requires only a tape measure and a note pad.
If we do it, we do charge a fee for the time it requires. The fee will be applied to your project.
Carefully confirm your measurements to ensure they are accurate. We can typically work with dimensions within a quarter inch for estimates. Please call us if you have questions about the process. We are also happy to schedule a site visit to measure for you.
1.0 Please include Name, Phone, Address, & Email. 2.0 Measure / Sketch walls and existing tops. Note the example layout at right. 3.0 Check for angled (lazy-susan) corners and window sills. If window sills are above counter or at the same level. Note sill length & depth. 4.0 Note the dishwasher, range, sink, and fridge locations. Do you have a range or cooktop? Does your range need a piece of counter behind it? Locate each on the sketch. 5.0 Note existing counter edge overhang, extended bar overhang, open counter ends, raised bars, or any other details affecting the counter tops. 6.0 Bring or email pictures, as these often reveal key information. 7.0 We do perform demolition of splash and counters for remodels. We can also take care of the plumbing, etc. as needed. 8.0 Note your cabinet and appliance colors. Perhaps bring a cabinet door to evaluate stone color. 9.0 Consider sinks styles and shapes. We stock a range of good quality sinks, as well as faucets.
1.0 We offer splashes in both tile and slab material. Your splash will be an impactful element in your project. 2.0 If Tile, we have many splash options to choose from and will patiently support you through the design and selection process. 3.0 Measure the height from counter to the bottom of the cabinets. This may change a little with new counters. If you have a microwave over the range, check the height there as well. 4.0 If Slab, we just need to know the height. We can make the splash 5-7” (under the outlets), or we can make a full height slab splash. 5.0 Note any window locations and size. Note the height from the counter if raised. Slab sill pieces are a beautiful addition to consider. 6.0 If you have a raised bar, note the height and length of this area. Consider splash edges against windows, open wall area, etc. 7.0 Note outlet and switch locations.
Tips for using Epoxy Grout
Epoxy Grout is an excellent alternative to traditional Portland cement based, acrylic, latex, or urethane grouts. It is the most robust option available as a grout for tile. It does not require sealing, is extremely durable, is impermeable to fluids, and is extremely difficult to mar or stain. You may use grout joints as small as 1/32”, yet we typically recommend 1/16” to 1/8” for most wall installations. Floors can have wider joints. It is exceptional for high use and wet areas, and can be cleaned with much more aggressive cleaners than traditional grouts, without causing damage to the grout (see cleaning below). It typically will seal porous stone with an enhancing effect. In short, you will have a bomb proof tiled surface when completed, especially when combined with porcelain tile.
Epoxy Grout is more difficult to apply than traditional grouts. Epoxy is a two-part grout which requires a decently accurate mixing ratio, and thoughtful application. Thorough cleaning during installation is helpful to ensure the grout is removed from the tile surface and not tracked into places you don’t want it (clothes, shoes, carpet, wood flooring, etc.).
1. Epoxy grout comes in two parts A and B. Part A is the Color/Activator, and part B is the Solid Resin Paste. (note: you will want to mix part A until smooth)
2. Epoxy grout should be mixed using the ratio appropriate for the grout you are using.
Custom CEG Lite: ~8:1 ratio. (8 parts Epoxy Solid (part B) and 1 part Color/Activator (part A)
3. Use measuring tools (e.g. Tbsp, ¼ cup, etc.) to accurately measure the grout components. You may find you develop a good visual reference for mixing and can use this once you are comfortable.
4. Epoxy has a bucket life (application time) of approximately 30 to 75 min. The time is dramatically affected by temperature. So, it is best to chill the epoxy materials in the fridge before use to maximize the bucket life. In addition, it is best to mix in smaller batches (1-2 pints) and work through each batch before moving on to the next.
5. Application can be done several ways, but it is recommended that you try to apply the grout into the joints with a special epoxy float (stiff not spongey) as carefully as possible to eliminate extra cleanup. Masking and using cheap, throw away pastry frosting bags is a great method to minimize excess cleanup.
6. Remember to measure both components as accurately as possible. Scrape all excess off measuring tools prior to mixing the two parts together.
7. It is helpful to first place the larger component (resin) onto a flat open or contained surface (piece of cardboard or large bucket) and create a center pocket for the color/activator. Add the color activator and mix thoroughly with a small painters stick or putty knife until mixed and a consistent color is obtained.
8. If using a pastry or frosting bag, carefully fill it with mixed grout, remembering to clean up as you go.
The Epoxy process is similar to traditional cement grouting. It is important to fill the joints completely, checking your work for areas that sag or have trapped air pockets. If the tiles are large, it may be helpful to mask the edges with painter’s tape. This would only make sense if you are not doing a large area.
1. It is helpful to ensure the area to grout is clean and free of debris. Grouting of walls requires the most care to control the application and droppings. Floors are much less demanding.
2. Try to grout when the external temperature is lowest, as higher temperatures reduce the working time (pot life).
3. Once the grout is into the joints, and you have finished with a mixed batch, shaping and cleaning using a damp sponge is done in a circular motion. We typically find it useful to have a grout sponge that is used for the initial dirty work. If the grout is dark, you will typically go through many more sponges, as the epoxy grout doesn’t rinse from the sponges readily.
4. If grouting walls or tile base, try to create a nice radius in the wall to wall, or wall to floor joints. This will facilitate water movement from vertical to horizonal surfaces.
5. Cleaning and shaping with warm/hot water as a second/third wash can help with textured tile. Be sure to use enough water to emulsify the solid grout residue and remove from the tile surface.
6. When using epoxy grout, you will not need to use caulk or apply sealers after grouting.
1. Use warm/hot water for cleanup. You can use vinegar as needed if the epoxy is curing and becoming stiff.
2. Within 12-24 hours after grouting, the grout joint is very firm, yet the residue (or haze) can be easily removed from the tile with straight white vinegar. We recommend using a misting sprayer to apply the vinegar, letting it sit a few minutes, and then wiping with a micro fiber cloth. This is a simple cleaning process.
3. We recommend you clean your tools well, to ensure a long useful life.
4. You can use an Epoxy Paint Remover (i.e. Jasco) to remove residue days and months after grouting.
5. Small clumps of epoxy grout can be removed from a hard surface with a razor blade. Use vinegar or Epoxy remover if a residue remains.
Repairs / Touchup:
1. After grouting, if you discover a few depressions or areas needing a little more grout, clean the area to touch up with acetone or vinegar. When dry, mix and apply small amounts as needed. Sponge off and leave as desired.
2. To remove the grout and repair or replace a tile, use a heat gun or hair dryer to heat the grout. Once it is hot, it will be soft for a few minutes. Cut or pick the grout from the joint.
Please feel free to call us anytime for explanations or additional guidance. We want your project to come out beautiful with minimal struggle. Choosing to use Epoxy grout reduces maintenance and will improve the robustness of your project.