Many people ask us: Can you remove granite countertops and reuse them? The answer is yes! All you have to do is simply pry of sections of the countertop. Although many contractors prefer to demolish granite countertops, they are relatively easy to salvage if you have some patience and the proper tools.
We all know how great granite is. It’s one of the most desirable materials, and it comes in all sorts of colors. It’s unique, durable, lasts forever, easy to maintain, and looks beautiful. But it’s much more of a chore to remove a granite countertop than a laminate countertop. It’s not only hundreds of pounds heavier, but it’s held down with industrial-strength adhesive.
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How do You Remove Granite Countertops Without Damaging the Cabinets
If you want to do it yourself and you think you can handle this type of project, this method is the best way to remove granite countertops. It will save you money, and the process is simple, but it’s much easier said than done.
Make sure to take all the necessary safety precautions before you start any project, roll up your sleeves, and be prepared for some good old-fashioned hard work.
Things you’ll need:
- Box cutter
- Putty knife
- Heavy Rubber Mallet
- Wooden Shims
- Heat gun
- Reciprocating saw
- Furniture dollies or wood pieces
First things first: How do you remove a granite backsplash without breaking it?
Naturally, you’ll want to remove the backsplash first. If you try just to go in and recklessly pop off the backsplash without warming up the glue first, it’s likely to crack. To remove the granite backsplash without breaking it, follow the steps below.
- Take a box cutter or putty knife to cut all the silicon caulk sealing. Make sure to cut as much as you can on all sides. You might have to run the box cutter through several times.
- Use a heat gun to warm up the glue holding the backsplash to the wall for 5 minutes or so.
- Carefully pound in wooden shims where needed. It should easily pry off after that.
How to Remove a Granite Countertop
Take all the doors and drawers off of the cabinets to avoid damaging them. If you don’t want to take them off, cover them with heavy cardboard.
Next, search for a gap between the granite and the cabinet. Use a box cutter or putty knife and cut the silicon as much as possible throughout steps 5-7.
Take several prybars and place them inside the gap. Use the mallet to wedge it in place by hitting the underside of the granite. Strike it just as you would a hammer but from underneath instead. When you see the edge lift, slowly work the pry bar deeper into the gap.
Keep doing this until the front edge separates.
Sections of countertop are held together by a thin epoxy seem. If you find a seem, use the heat gun (or blowtorch) and the box cutter to cut the epoxy. You can use a reciprocating saw to make this easier.
Ok, now you are ready to lift. Granite is heavy; if you know any football players, get them to invite their team over to help. Slowly work the countertop until the glue no longer holds it. This part may take a bit of work.
Use furniture dollies to move the granite. If you don’t have any, you can also slide the pieces along a wooden edge as long as it’s not flat. Flat pieces can leave dents in your floor.
The Faster Way: How to Break Granite
Many people asked us: What are granite countertops glued down with? Most of the time, they are just held with dabs of silicone in spots, but a strong adhesive is also used. Unfortunately, some installers will apply the adhesive directly to the cabinets without even putting a plywood board in between. If this is the case, you may not be able to salvage the cabinets.
If you don’t mind destroying the granite and don’t care what happens to it, you can demolish it. It’s a great way to work your frustration out if you’ve got a good back. A lot of people prefer to go this route if it’s not being reused because, especially since small pieces are easier to handle.
Things you’ll need:
- Hammer drill (optional)
- Mask for dust
- Safety goggles
- Painter’s plastic
- Painter’s tape
- Duct tape
- Sledge Hammer 5lb or more
First, use the painters’ tape and the plastic to put up zip walls. This will create a dust barrier, or else you’ll bury your stuff in a cloud of dust.
Next, put on your goggles and mask to prevent dust inhalation. Use the hammer drill and a series of holes. If you want to keep the dust to a minimum, you can skip this step, but it will make things much easier if you do.
Now you can break up the granite with the sledgehammer. Be careful because many things can go wrong and end up costing you more in the long run. The granite will break up into shards that can go flying everywhere, and if you are too forceful, you could damage the cabinets. If this is a concern, you can put a grid of duct tape over the granite to minimize the spread.
The Easiest Way to Remove a Granite Countertop
This project is easy enough for most people to handle, but consider how much money you will actually be saving before you try this on your own.
Most people would agree that the truly best way to remove a heavy countertop is to call a professional granite removal company. Lifting a large slab of granite is not a one-person operation, and there’s a lot of potential for damage. You can remove it in one piece, but it is more involved.
The money savings may not be worth the aggravation; it’s probably in your best interest unless you are pretty handy (and you have a good back).
A professional may only charge a couple of hundred bucks for a simple job, and they are experienced at lifting granite countertops. Something that could take all day only takes a crew a few hours.