The official start of Summer is just around the corner, yet at the moment remnants are the hottest thing on the natural stone market! A natural byproduct of the fabrication process, these underrated little guys have been around as long as humans have been using natural stone. Now, with rising material costs and good labor priced at a premium, homeowners are looking for more ways than ever to tighten their budgets around countertop materials, and their appreciation for remnants has never been greater. Aside from the lottery (not recommended), and ritual sacrifice of old laminate (definitely recommended), quartz and granite remnants are the best natural (or supernatural) cure to budgetary maladies. If you’ve heard that remnants cost less than slabs, that you can hand-pick the exact piece(s) you want for your project, and that the turnaround time is quicker than on slab jobs, then you’ve clearly been well informed! However, despite the celebrations that these advantages afford homeowners, there are still a few things you need to be diligent about when shopping for remnants. We know you’d rather be at the lake, so let’s go over a few pointers that will make your hunt for remnants as fast, inexpensive, and painless as possible!
1) Know the details of your project before you come in!
First off, remnants are just like you and me: they come in all shapes and sizes and each one is completely unique. But just because granite and quartz remnants are so versatile doesn’t mean that they’re appropriate for every project. The general rule of thumb is that your kitchen is unlikely to fit on remnants, your bar will probably fit on a large remnant, and your bathroom will almost always fit on a remnant. It’s also true that the larger your project, the fewer remnants will be large enough for that project and the fewer color choices you’ll get to choose from, and vice versa. For large projects, slab-shopping will offer you a much larger range of colors and finishes, albeit at a higher price.
Anyway, because we carry so many different styles of stone, we’ll need to know the dimensions of your project and the material/color scheme you’re looking for to even begin exploring! Don’t know where to start? Try here. Also, if you bring in color samples of the other surfaces in the space (tile, flooring, cabinet, paint, etc.), you won’t have to guess at which remnant is best for you, and you won’t waste time looking at stone that’s not a good fit!
When you inevitably do find a remnant that you love, you’ll likely want it quoted right away so you can make a decision without having to wait! In order for your fabricator to sweat over making a quote while you drink coffee and talk about the weather, they’ll need a few key details, so for their impending questions be sure to have the following information ready:
Backsplash. For vanities, bars, and other wall-touching countertops, know if you want backsplash and the details of how you’d like it made. Backsplashes can be customized as much or more than countertops themselves, and your fabricator can quote you price options with or without backsplash included! (Pro-tip: Consider how backsplashes may interact with any electrical outlets on the walls. Outlets can be cut into stone, but they often add cost.)
Cutouts. If your project is going to have a sink cutout and faucet holes, have an idea about the sink/faucet you’re interested in. Your fabricator may sell sinks (like we do), or maybe you have a specific sink in mind to flex your individuality! If you’re getting a different sort of cutout like a grill or cooktop, be ready to communicate details of those as well. Information about cutouts are often gathered at template appointments, so if you’re like everyone else and hoping to secure your job without a template, you’ll need to be prepared to answer more specific questions about your cabinetry and sink/faucet models. (Pro-Tip: If you’re not sure what information you need to give us regarding your cutouts or cabinets, call us from your home and we’ll talk it through over the phone while you’re there to measure!)
Radii and edge-profiles. All fabricators offer multiple options for radius shapes and sizes, as well as edge profiles. Some choices may affect pricing, so have a conversation beforehand about what you might be willing to pay extra for, and always ask to see samples of radii and edge treatments as they usually differ slightly between fabricators. (Pro-Tip: Most people use these elements to bring the feng-shui of the room together, by matching them with the aesthetic of softer or sharper.)
Template, Delivery & Install. This is a big one, and can be the difference between a steal and a budget breaker! Many remnant projects are simple and plans can be drawn in broken crayons. Many are small and can be installed by your pet Corgi. However, smaller pieces of stone can still weigh well over 100 pounds and can be difficult to transport and install, and projects with custom features and cutouts still need to be templated more often than you’d think. Ask your fabricator what they think is appropriate given the specifics of the project, and if you choose to save money by opting to measure, transport, and install yourself, be prepared to assume some of the risk that goes along with it! Which brings us to...
2) Storyboard your project in advance!
If your project is a few months down the road, then it’s probably too early to have these things all lined up, and a trip to the remnant-yard is more to get a feel for what’s available and a general sense on pricing. However, if you’re reading this within a month of when you’re looking to get your project done, then the following should rocket to the top of your priority list:
Plan Each Step. Text your niece, flag down that big stranger walking down your block, and call the amateur contractor next door. If you know that someone (or multiple someones) with experience is going to help you measure, transport, and install a project, then you can go exploring for remnants knowing you’re only shopping for the stone and fabrication! (Pro-Tip: Some jobs can fit into a flat-bed truck or your back seat, but you may need a trailer and A-frame to transport large pieces of stone. It's always best practice to transport stone as vertically as possible.)
The Scheduling Discussion. Know the date you want the project completed by, and communicate this to your fabricator (and whoever else is helping out) well in advance. This is busy season in the home improvement industry, and assuming that you’ll have a finished product within one week is not a realistic expectation! We may not be able to get your project done exactly when you want, but knowing when you need something done will help us prioritize our workflow and do our best! This is especially important if you’re trying to schedule template and install appointments as well! You should budget about three to four weeks for the entire project. (Pro-Tip: Find someone with a flexible schedule to plumb your sink and faucet, as this is often the final step and may get bumped around with any unexpected occurrences upstream!).
Consolidate your Materials. Your fabricator may need certain materials on-hand to complete a project. In the case of a vanity, this would be the sink and faucet. For a table-top, it may be the table base. Save yourself the headache of trying to wrangle these together later by bringing all the materials with you when you stop in to shop for remnants. You can drop these off in case you close the deal same-day, and never worry about them again! Which brings us to…
3) Be ready to buy!
When you find the remnant for you, you’ll doubtless experience something that most humans only feel between one and six times in their life: true love. At this point it would be prudent to snatch up your find right away, because in all likelihood there are more potential suitors coming for your new Sugar Plum. You don’t want that level of heartbreak, and we’re not in the business of filming (or acting in) Showtime dramas. Unfortunately, “getting-your-favorite-remnant-taken-by-another-customer-who-was-ready-to-place-their-order” falls into the genre of non-fiction in these customers-buy-remnant times. And while remnants usually give people a warm, fuzzy feeling inside...they can also elicit painful and lasting feelings of remorse, regret, and loss when they slip through your grasp. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. To finish things off, when jotting down your John Hancock here are a few things to keep in mind:
Money Stuff. We collect 75% up front for template and install jobs, and 100% up front for fabrication-only jobs. This is because too many customers didn’t come to pick up their finished pieces and we never got paid for the work we did, so we had to get strict for once. Also, checks and cash work better than card, but we do accept all three. Regardless of who you go visit, call your fabricator before stopping in to see how they accept payment, or you’ll put yourself at risk of experiencing that emotional emptiness I counseled against. (Pro-Tip: You may be able to secure a slightly lower price by paying in cold hard cash!)
Loyalty. Despite the big game I talked above, we’ll actually protect your remnant to the death once you’ve placed your order with us. We’d never let anything come between you two. In some rare occasions, we’ll even set up a visitation program where you can come spend 30 minutes a day with your remnant until we start fabrication. Applications only.
Celebrate! This is what this entire post was about. You read this whole thing and put up with me all this time just to figure out how to save a few hours and a little money in the whole process. Now you need to take those few hours, and that money, and go do something fun! After all, remnants are here all year long, but Summer won’t be. Happy hunting!