Many of us when shopping for kitchen worktops feel that the price for a granite or an engineered quartz kitchen top is a bit too much. So I decided to post a supply chain perspective for kitchen worktops, surely it will help explain the value stream of this product.
It’s important for buyers to value the kitchen worktops correctly, confidence in quality products is essential to maintain a long lasting satisfaction. We will be focusing specially on granite and engineered quartz kitchen worktops, being that the supply chain starts off at different points, but ends up in the same sales channels.
The end price of a kitchen worktop is effected by many factors, besides quality of the raw material, technology implied to manufacture, professional assistance to the sale, installation supervision and control, etc.,etc.
A great while before your kitchen worktop gets installed in your beautiful kitchen, it all starts in the quarry, the granite is extracted in giant blocks, leading to the slab manufacturers to cut and polish.
While the engineered stone also starts off at the quartz quarries, although it then is grinded into specific grit sizes. The quartz grit and other components are the input at engineered stone plants, being the output high quality engineered quartz slabs.
As you may imagine before your kitchen countertop arrives and is installed in your kitchen it goes through several companies and stages, at this point we are at the polished slab stage, being from here on granite and engineered quartz have similar paths. As both are manufactured from this point on with similar tooling and use the same sales channels to arrive at the end users home.
The slabs are then shipped to slab distributors who wholesale slabs to the manufacturing industry. And from this point on we may find several sales channels available. The kitchen countertop manufacturers may service the consumer, however due to the necessity of scale sales, and to the whole installation involved they tend to avoid the direct channel to the end customer. So they tend to service the market through intermediate businesses, having in some cases market channels directly to contractors and developers, who coordinate the kitchen countertops with cabinet manufacturers.
At the next level we may find a few types of business which focus on the end customer, either directly or as we mentioned before through contractors and developers, due to the quantities involved and the constant stream of sales from the latter, they both have particular features. While on one end we have a better price paid by the end consumer, on the other hand we will have volumes, which will imply scale and bigger earnings.
The types of businesses we may find at this level may be: Kitchen and Bath Dealers, Cabinet Shop, Installer Reseller, Big-Box Store. So on one end we see installers and on the other side retailers. Some will focus on certain niche markets, like the contracting and developing market, these tend to syndicate their orders to approved suppliers. The end customer will certainly need to visit a few showrooms to help decide and view some options available.
Regarding the kitchen countertops specifically, obviously from country to country things may be slightly different, but in general the sales channels defined are the major outlets for kitchen countertops.
The businesses who service the market will tend to carry a few (one or two, rarely more) brands of engineered stone, with a sample collection to help the clients selection, while granite type will have a wide selection of samples organized by colour.
Some important features to look for when buying kitchen worktops:
- Be sure you choose your kitchen countertop material correctly, ask all questions regarding the material and especially all needed maintenance, if it has a brand name, look it up on the Internet, see if it has positive reviews
- Be certain that the installation is serviced by professionals, many problems occur during installation, so supervise this phase closely, make sure they don’t try to hide mistakes
- Look over your countertops material carefully, make sure there are no pours, cracks or other defects
- Check edges next to the backsplash walls, make sure the gap is acceptable, many tend to use a strip of material as a mini backsplash, however in most cases it is to hide countertop size imperfections;
- Check the areas where the countertop is amended, in most kitchens the countertops are divided into a few pieces, make sure that the division made is logic, this means the least possible number of pieces, and also, verify the joint, make sure it’s well disguised and not fully visible.
- Another important thing about the joint area, is that both pieces should have the same thickness on the visible end, so check to see if they two pieces are perfectly calibrated.