How to Remove a Granite Kitchen Countertop

A light-colored granite countertop in a modern kitchen.
  • 3-4 hours
  • Intermediate
  • 0-100
What You'll Need
Plastic bag
Wrench or pliers
Putty knife
Rubber mallet
Utility knife
Oscillating saw
Wood shims

A granite countertop is one of the most durable surfaces you can have in your kitchen, and the eye-catching blends of color in the stone can easily change your kitchen's look entirely. Granite is a popular choice when the time comes to remodel the room. However, irreparable damage can happen to either your counter or your cabinets, facilitating the need for a replacement. In this case, you'll need to strip the granite from your cabinets before you can proceed with a new install. There are some steps you can take for this project and mistakes you should avoid to help get the best result, so read on for advice.

Step 1 - Check How it Is Secured

Before you start hammering or pulling at the granite, check how the countertop has been secured to the lower cabinets. Methods can vary depending on the original installer, but the most common situation you will see is adhesive securing the granite either directly to the cabinet tops or to a plywood base that will be screwed into the cabinet. Once you know this, however, you will also know the best way to take care of it when the time comes.

Step 2 - Remove All the Cabinetry

In order to ensure that none of your cabinetry gets damaged in this process, you'll need to slide out all of the drawers and unscrew the doors. Set these aside in a safe place and keep any loose hardware in a zipped plastic bag.

Step 3 - Pull the Sink Out

Once you have removed everything you can from your base cabinets, you can take out the sink. First, make sure that the main water valve is turned off and that all the water has been drained from the pipes. Then, disconnect the plumbing from the faucet and sink using a wrench or pliers to turn the nuts on the lines and piping until they come loose. Also make sure to remove the nuts holding the faucet onto the sink at this time, and set it aside. Make sure to put it somewhere you won't potentially drop anything onto it, especially when you're pulling out the countertop. You don't want to replace the sink too.

On the underside of the sink there are fasteners that you will need to remove as well. Turn the nut on each and set these aside in another plastic bag. You'll need to break hold of the glue and caulking around the edge of the sink as well, so run a putty knife around the edge between the sink and the granite. Finally, lift the sink out of its opening and place it somewhere away from your working area. If it proves stubborn to dislodge, lightly tap the bottom with a rubber mallet until it comes loose.

Step 4 - Protect the Countertop

Granite can be a delicate material so it is important that if you're keeping this piece, you protect it properly before you can finish preparations. A simple cloth laid over the surface will do in protecting the granite from any wayward debris as long as it is big enough to cover the entire thing.

Step 5 - Take Out the Backsplash

There is one more piece that needs to come out before the granite can: the backsplash. Since this is a wall or vertical covering found above the countertop, it will make pulling the granite out much harder than it needs to be if it stays.

Find the seam between the backsplash and the wall. Place your crowbar there and carefully hit the free end using a hammer. Do not hit the crowbar too hard or it can cause the pieces to crack or break. Try to slowly loosen the backsplash from the wall as you hammer the edge a little in at a time.

Step 6 - Check the Granite

Brush away any chips or cement that may have fallen onto the cloth you placed on top of the countertop. Lift the cloth to see that the granite is not damaged before you proceed.

Step 7 - Move Your Cloth to the Floor

Now that it's time to remove the countertop itself, you won't need to leave the cloth on top. Instead, take this and spread it on your floor to make for easy clean-up when you're finished.

Step 8 - Unscrew or Pry Up the Slab

If you were able to discern earlier that your granite is secured to a plywood base, you'll need to decide if you intend to leave the granite attached to the plywood or if you wish to separate them. Keeping them together can be the simplest removal, particularly if the plywood is screwed on to the cabinets. All you will need to do is cut away any caulking around the edges of the granite with a utility knife or a small, oscillating hand saw, and then unscrew the fasteners from the base cabinets to lift the countertop and plywood off together. Make sure you ask for assistance when you can finally lift the granite as this material is heavy. Finally, store it safely, where the slab won't crack under its own weight.

In a situation where you're removing granite that is secured to the cabinets entirely with adhesive, removal is still simple, but can take a lot more hard work. You will want to cut away the caulking about the counter edges again first. Then, place your crowbar between the seams of the granite and either the counter or the base plywood, tapping it in with the hammer again if you need. Gently lift the granite away from the attached surface. As you go, have several wooden shims handy. Tap these into the open joint to hold up the granite in that spot. Continue slowly along the entire seam, prying and shimming every few inches until the countertop is no longer attached. Move to the inside supports afterward and pry and shim in the same way.

Once the entire slab has been pulled up from the cabinetry, get your assistants to help you lift it away and store it.

Step 9 - Clean Up

Brush any loose debris out onto the cloth you laid down and scrape up bits of caulking that may be left behind. Then, just pick up the sheet and empty the mess into the trash.