Louis Avina, owner of Orange Coast Remodeling, in South Orange County, Calif., installs prefabricated granite countertops for clients who want the look of granite without the cost of a custom slab and installation. The slabs are prefabricated with a front profile edge and come in 21-to-24-inch depths, costing about $200 to $600 for an 8-to-10-foot length. Many are manufactured in China, where cheaper labor makes processing more cost-effective.

Avina points out that these tops are a good option for budget-conscious home­owners or for investors buying a house to fix up and sell. When he’s using prefab granite countertops in kitchens, Avina says, “you know there will be a few additional seams, but you save $800 to $1,200.” However, homeowners who plan to stay in their homes long-term are more willing to pay extra to choose and have a fabricator cut a slab. And, given the choice for kitchen counters, Avina still prefers custom slabs, which lack the corner seams created by prefabs.

Also, with reduced cost comes limited choice of stone types, “maybe 200 choices versus thousands if you go to a slab yard,” Avina says.

For a more custom look, Avina generally removes the 6-inch backsplash that comes with many prefab tops and will install a travertine or glass backsplash instead, or will cut the backsplash to create wall tile inserts that match the counter.

—Nina Patel, senior editor, REMODELING.