Ambitious DIYers can now install granite countertops themselves. If you have straight countertops with no inside corners, it's actually quite an easy DIY project. However, if your kitchen is like most, you'll have to do some cutting and seaming. But if you have basic woodworking skills, that's not as intimidating as it might sound.
The key is to find a company that provides the granite along with most of the cutting, shaping and machining of the sink and faucet openings. Doityourselfgranite.com is one online source for both the slabs and the fabrication work. Go online and search for “granite countertop suppliers” for many others. Send the company a sketch of your kitchen layout with dimensions. The staff will review it, pencil in where the seams should go and provide the quote.
The only tricky part is cutting butt joints wherever there are inside corners, which you'll have to do yourself. That involves making a straight cut just short of the bull nose and then cutting the miter with a special jig that’s provided with the rest of the tools. The cut doesn't have to be perfect; fillers and polishing will take care of small irregularities. Don't get scared off by these cuts. Just be sure to measure twice and cut slowly—the diamond blade does all the hard work for you.
Doityourselfgranite.com even includes a misting system that attaches to your saw to keep the blade cool and eliminate dust. After installation, you fill and polish all the seams, making them nearly invisible. Go to the Web site above to find out more details. Doityourselfgranite.com offers substantial discounts on the tools you'll need if you buy them at the time of your slab order. Even after buying the tools and paying the shipping charges, you'll still save about $1,500 for countertops for the average-size kitchen.
It takes about a month for the slabs to arrive. At that point, you install 3/4-in. plywood over your base cabinets and call in favors from all your friends. You'll need their help to heft those heavy slabs out of the shipping container and into the house. So buy beer—and lots of it.