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Kitchen remodel -- which comes first, granite or cabinets?

I'm looking for some guidance. Our kitchen remodeling project is moving very slowly. It seems every time I take one step forward, I take two steps back. My latest quandary is whether I should first choose the granite for the countertops and then choose the cabinet finish (which is likely to be paint/glaze), or to do it the other way around and choose the cabinetry first. They'll be custom-built cabinets, so the color (some shade of white/off-white) can be formulated to work well with the counters. OTOH, maybe I should choose a cabinet color I really love, and then find the granite to complement it. Is there a "best way" to approach this? Thanks!

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  1. Is there a 'best' way? No, but since you are using a paint/glaze finish it makes sense to get the granite first.
    Granite varies as it is a natural product. The sample is never exactly the same as the finished/installed product, especially whn they split the stone to make an EL. All of a sudden the grain/veins are running in a different direction and there is shading. By getting the granite and adjusting the paint/glaze to match you will end up much happier. My SIL is still complaining after 10 years that her granite countertops are not exactly the same as the sample. The salesman and my wife the designer warned her that if you want an exact match you need a man-made product such as Silestone, NOT natural products such as granite or Marble. SIL eventually refininshed her cabinets as Brother would not replace the granite.

    5 Replies
    1. re: bagelman01

      Around here (southern CA), there are several stone yards where you pick out the actual piece of granite you will be getting. I would be wary of making a decision from a sample.

      1. re: BubblyOne

        Although I haven't yet looked for granite, it's my impression that I'll be choosing a slab of granite, as you've described, rather than choosing from a sample. I can't imagine selecting something like granite countertops from a small sample, which may bear no resemblance to a much larger slab.

        1. re: CindyJ

          Cindy,
          Even here you can choose a slab, but when it is split to the deisred thickness, finished, polished, etc. it will vary from the raw stone you looked at.

          1. re: CindyJ

            My final product was exactly as I picked out, or at least close enough. One tip, if the granite is outside, make sure they haul a piece inside as well so you aren't just looking at it in the sun. I learned that from my first kitchen redo, because the color was much darker indoors.

            1. re: CindyJ

              After I chose the slab I wanted, the guy at the stone yard hammered off a small piece in the corner for me. THEN, I chose the flooring and THEN I chose the paint color of the cabinets. You might also consider the backsplash. My backsplash is the same color as my cabinets. I was VERY lucky to get it the same after having chosen the cabinet color. Like someone else here said, paint comes in thousands of colors and it will be so much easier to coordinate after you have the harder stuff done.

        2. There are thousands of paint colors and maybe a hundred granites you will consider, so I'd go with the granite first. And as BubblyOne said, if you can go to a yard and pick out your actual slab/s you'll know exactly what you are getting. (That is most important if you are choosing something with variation in color and pattern. We chose a very simple speckled granite that was considered very consistent and picked it from the Home Depot sample. What we saw was what we got.

          1. My only advice for kitchen remodels is to make sure all surfaces look good after you've (i) dropped a molcajete in a variety of spots, (ii) shattered a pot of tomato sauce all over the place and (iii) sliced yourself and bled all over the most inconvenient of places.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Karl S

              I've been told that I should bring cookie sheets along when I'm oven shopping, and platters along when I'm refrigerator shopping. It makes sense, then, that I should bring my molcajete with me when I'm countertop shopping. :-)

            2. I'd ask the question you've probably already asked yourself.

              Is this the kitchen layout you'll be happy with for the rest of your life in that house? Is the counter space right? Do you need the cabinet where the dishes are stored to be closer to the sink/and or dishwasher? Do you want more electric plugs? Are the counter heights and cabinet heights a good fit for your height?

              1 Reply
              1. re: shallots

                We've spent the past several months pondering those questions and many more, and I think we've arrived at a design that will serve us well. But now, it's the choice of materials that's scaring me a bit. Cabinets, countertops, floors, walls, fireplace surrounds -- there are days I feel so overwhelmed I want to ditch the whole project.

              2. My real advice is DO NOT make the same mistake we made!!! I can't tell you which to choose first, but I think you have to go with what 'speaks' to you and design around that. We underwent an extensive home remodel last year, which included our kitchen. I knew EXACTLY what cabinets I wanted (natural cherry). I struggled, really struggled, with countertop choice.
                I settled on a dark silestone quartz , with a matte finish (think soapstone with less maintence). It looks FABULOUS when it is clean. The trouble is, it shows EVERTYHING. Dust, fingerprints, cat foot prints (yeah, yeah, they are not supposed to be up there but they are stubborn little critters). You name it, it marks it up.
                It cleans easily, but we have to do it several times a day.

                Well, DH does because he really pushed the dark counters ;).
                Good luck, and have fun with your remodel!

                8 Replies
                1. re: justme123

                  I've heard that SO many times about dark countertops, particularly those with shiny surfaces. We've already decided that what would work best on our countertops is something that will do a good job of camouflaging food droppings, fingerprints, etc.

                  1. re: CindyJ

                    That's why we chose a New England granite, speckled white, tan, gray and black. Impossible to tell when it's dirty unless you run your hand or a cloth across it.

                    1. re: escondido123

                      That's the downside, isn't it? We have granite countertops (speckled brown and white, not my choice) and dust and crumbs and dirt just disappear into the countertops. Until you run a wet cloth across and are prepared to be shocked.

                      When I do manage to get the kitchen I want, granite countertops will be low on the list. The cold surface is terrific for rolling out dough and pastries but I'd rather have a countertop that I know is actually clean.

                      1. re: Roland Parker

                        In my kitchen, I consider the fact you can't tell when it's dirty to be a blessing not a curse.

                        1. re: escondido123

                          I'm with you on that one, AND I also know when it needs to be cleaned, whether it's obvious or not.

                    2. re: CindyJ

                      "something that will do a good job of camouflaging food droppings, fingerprints, etc."

                      I choose my clothes on the same basis.

                      1. re: CindyJ

                        I'd also add, if you live in an area w/ ant problems, to keep that in mind. As my son put it, our granite is ant camouflage. It never occurred to us when we picked it out.