How Far Can You Cantilever A Granite Countertop?

Perhaps your kitchen is next in line for a facelift, and you’re debating granite countertops. If you plan on using natural slabs of granite, you’ll need to do some careful planning to ensure you don’t make expensive mistakes. This includes calculating the size of slabs you’ll need, how thick the stone should be, and how much of an overhang you want.

If you decide to go with a bar-style overhang, you’ll cantilever the stone when you install it. A portion of the stone will hang over the edge of the base cabinets, creating the perfect spot for a few barstools. 

When you cantilever any countertop, you’ll need to consider supports and whether they’re necessary. Since granite is heavy, you need to be smart about support for the overhang. Here’s what you need to know.  

What Is A Cantilevered Countertop?

If you’re new to remodeling, you might be unsure of what a cantilevered countertop is. So, to start, let’s look at cantilevered countertops. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, the word ‘cantilever’ simply refers to a projecting beam or member supported solely on one end. 

You may hear this word used for various projects in construction, as architects use cantilevered features to create an eye-catching focal point or add more light to a room. However, in your kitchen remodel, a cantilevered countertop is simply a countertop with an overhang. 

The overhanging countertop is the “projecting beam,” whereas the support comes from the base cabinet. The result is a cantilevered countertop. In some cases, these counters don’t need support, but in many scenarios, they require wooden corbels or alternative supports to prevent cracking. 

What Is The Maximum Overhang For Granite Countertops?

Most granite countertops feature a maximum overhang of 12 inches, as the overhang is often used as a bar-style countertop. The overhang offers plenty of space for people to sit on small stools or chairs, which can nest underneath the counter, out of the way when not in use. 

However, some folks have incorporated 24-inch overhangs to create a tabletop using a granite overhang. While this is doable, you’ll need plenty of support to ensure the stone doesn’t crack due to the sheer weight of the overhang. Adding legs to the overhang can add extra support, but brackets or corbels can work too. 

What Is The Maximum Overhang For A Granite Countertop Without Support?

According to the Marble Institute of America, 1 ¼-inch thick granite countertops can safely support an overhang of 10 inches without additional supports in the form of corbels, rods, brackets, or legs. 

As a general rule, you should never cantilever more than one-third of the total width of your granite countertop. Any more than that, your countertop might suffer from the stress placed on the cantilevered portion. That said, you could add supports, which would correct the issue. 

Additional Considerations For Cantilevered Granite Countertops

Aside from the specific overhang measurement, you need to consider a few more aspects in your planning process. Once you determine how large the overhang will be, you need to assess the thickness of the slab, the cantilevered portion in relation to the anchored portion, and the intended purpose of the overhang. 

The thickness of the slab can affect how much weight it can support, as thinner slabs are less sturdy than their thicker counterparts. Most granite slabs intended for kitchen countertops are made of 1 ¼-inch thick granite. However, in some scenarios, the slabs might be thinner, at ¾-inch thick. 

If the stone is thinner, you can’t create as large an overhang without additional support. If the stone is ¾-inch thick, you should add support for any overhangs over 6 inches wide. That said, you might want to install supports regardless, especially if the countertop will be leaned on regularly. 

The second major consideration is the cantilevered portion in relation to the fixed portion. As mentioned, you should use the ⅓ rule for cantilevering granite countertops. Avoid cantilevering more than ⅓ of the total countertop width (unless you add additional support), or the countertop might be prone to damage. 

Lastly, you should consider the overall purpose of the overhang. If the countertop overhang is small and will rarely be used to support anything heavier than a small vase of flowers, it might not need extra support. 

However, if you plan on using the countertop as a bar-style counter or to store heavy items, you should incorporate support. Or, if you have kids that might climb on the counter to reach the cupboards above (or the elusive cookie jar), supports are always a good idea. An unsupported cantilevered countertop might not be able to support the weight of the climber, leading it to crack and causing the child to fall. 

How Much Overhang Should A Granite Island Have?

A granite countertop is a perfect finish for a kitchen island. If you don’t want a bartop-style overhang around the countertop with room for stools, the counter should have about 1 ½ inches of overhang. However, if you plan on adding extra seating at the countertop, plan on incorporating 12 inches of overhang to accommodate standard bar stools. 

How Far Can A Granite Countertop Span Without Support?

In some scenarios, you might want to incorporate a small seating area in a stretch of a countertop, as maybe you’re using granite for your built-in desktop. Or, perhaps, you want a small eating nook in your kitchen. Either way, a gap in the countertop is doable, providing you meet specific requirements. 

As long as the span of the countertop is supported on both sides, you can get away with a 36-inch gap. If you decide to make the span of the unsupported countertop stretch more than 36 inches, you’ll need to install supports spaced 24 inches apart. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What Is The Standard Overhang For A Granite Countertop?

For the most part, granite kitchen counters feature an overhang of 1 ½ inches, which is the same as any other countertop. This applies to most of the countertops throughout your kitchen, such as above the cabinets or in the workspace. If the countertop is on an island, there might be a larger overhang (usually 12 inches) or the standard 1 ½ inches with cabinets beneath.

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