Small Fabricators vs Big Box Stores
If you're walking into a large blue or orange hardware store to pick up a lightbulb, tomato plant, appliance, screwdriver, door knob, or grill, you'll likely see a display near the entrance advertising stone and quartz countertops.
Even better, they advertise laminate, butcher block, "solid material", and a multitude of other options. It's super convenient!
But are big box stores the best option for countertops?
Like everything associated with home projects, it will come down to what's best for you. Here are some things to consider:
Price - It's more than likely that the cost of raw material for the countertops, i.e. granite, quartz, etc. will be lower through a big box store. But that doesn't mean the total project will be less expensive. Make sure to compare apples to apples with pricing. Are you paying by the slab or by the square foot? Are you being charged for the edge work? Is there a price with sink, range, or faucet cuts? What about tearing out, template, and installation? Make sure you have the full cost of a project before you decide.
Selection - One of the reasons big boxes can keep raw material costs down is because they purchase a large amount of a limited selection of materials. While it will be easy to get something that matches the latest trend, it doesn't mean that it matches the vision of your project. Smaller countertop fabricators will have access to many different stone vendors, allowing you to find the perfect piece for your kitchen or bathroom.
Project Size - Some of the big box stores have a minimum square foot requirement for a project. The blue store requires at least 25 sq. ft. of raw material. Local fabricators will have a selection of remnants left over from previous jobs. This gives you the ability to only buy what you truly need. Plus, these remnants can be from higher-end stone or quartz but are priced much lower.
Single Point of Contact - Dealing with a local stone fabricator means that you're directly in touch with the people that will estimate, template, order, cut, schedule, and install. Every step of the way, you have one hand to shake. The big guys simply outsource all the work, but you'll still need to work through the store. This especially becomes important after the fact, because a small fabricator will remember you, and your project, and can easily answer questions about aftercare and maintenance.
At the end of the day, every project should be evaluated to see what is the best option. But don't be fooled by the fancy display at the entrance to a big box store. Do you research, and support your neighbor!