Our Philippine House Project – Granite Countertops

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Our trials and tribulations with finding and installing granite in our Philippine home’s kitchen and bathroom counters.

We must have looked at every piece of granite in Iloilo City ten times.  We looked at Moostbrand,  AM Builders, Citi Hardware and Merit Marble.  Merit had some lovely Italian granite, but the price was a bit too high for our budget.  Much of the other granite was saw was just too bland for us.  Finally we found what we were looking for at AM Builders, Tanza, Iloilo.

The granite we selected

The granite we selected

Here’s what it looks like installed:

Granite installed

Granite installed

This “Jun Li” granite is from China, as is most granite for sale in the Philippines.  The pattern is called “weave white”.  The price per 60cm by 220cm slab was P3,990.  We required four slabs to do our kitchen and a small counter in our bathroom for a total of P15,960. After some haggling we paid P13,866 including delivery to Tigbauan.  AM Builder’s Depot recommended an installer.  After negotiation, we hired the recommended installer for P8,000.

The three installers worked almost three days.  As usual, they were very nice people, but it was a frustrating process for us and for them.  They were really not experts, just guys with an angle grinder who install granite.  They did not have a drill and carbide bit to make a hole for the bathroom faucet.  Instead, from the bottom of the slab, they cut away the granite using the angle grinder.  It was a bit barbaric.  Sadly, I had a hammer drill and carbide bit that would have been perfect to make the hole for the faucet, but we did not realize what they were doing until it was too late. They were very big on epoxy.  They used it much the same way a carpenter uses wood filler.

Epoxy stained granite.

Epoxy stained granite.

The unpigmented epoxy soaks into the granite and stains it, probably permanently.  Black pigmented epoxy was used to fill joints.  That worked fairly well.

Like other aspects of building our house, we hoped to hire people who would do top quality work. The reality is that getting good work usually requires constant supervision and sometimes unpleasantness. Now that the job is done, it’s not perfect, but we are satisfied. Perhaps part of the problem was that just before the installation started we were in Manila, where we looked at some excellent granite work.

Under counter sink

Under counter sink

The total cost of the granite and installation was P21,866 or about $490.

Comments (20) Write a comment

  1. The slabs were probably unsealed prior to being installed by the workers. Hence, the yellow stain. Any update on how your countertops look now?

    Reply

    • We have not treated them in any way (no sealing) and they are holding up very well. They are pretty much indestructable.

      Reply

  2. Some granites are more absorbent than others, I think it depends on the size of the crystals in the granite and their mineral composition.

    Another thing to consider is how brittle the granite is. Cheaper granite is often more brittle. When installing granite worktops using a flexible compound like -like builders silicon- rather than cement can provide a bit of flexibility so it is less likely to crack during an earthquake.

    Reply

  3. Good post! Yes, you are very much right about constant supervision in fabricating and installing granite countertops.

    Was quite surprised, though, by the price of materials as compared to that of here in Manila. Cost of shipping, I guess. Anyhow, aside from the epoxy stain (must have used glumax + toner instead), the countertop looks really, really great.

    Good job! 🙂

    Reply

    • It may be a surprise to some, but we find that generally things are cheaper in Manila than in the provinces — excepting real estate. We just got back from Manila. Mangoes were P50 per kilo. In Iloilo they are P70 or 80. For building materials there is a hugely better choice in Manila. If I was going to build again, I’d consider spending a month in Manila shopping for materials, filling up containers and shipping materials to Iloilo — not cement or block, but just about everything else.

      Reply

      • Yeah, I got a house in Cavite just some few kilometers from Manila. I tell you the prices are totally much different plus the quality. You are correct, should shop around with materials in Metro Manila first then bring it back to your location, save a lot of money.

        Reply

  4. In regards to the granite countertops and the water in your area – is the water hard or soft? Hard water has calcium products which has a tendency to permanently stain the granite over time and subsequently you will have problems removing it. Whereas software doesn’t stain and the granite will always look new.

    Do you have problems with the water in your area? Can soft water systems be purchased in the PI.

    Thanking you ahead of time.

    Reply

    • Paul and Ester,

      We a shallow (20′) dug well, so basically we are using surface water which is generally soft. That said, I do notice build-up in pots when we boil water so there must be minerals. Still, it’s noting like as hard as I have seen in deep drilled wells in the U.S. We still have not been able to find granite treatments here despite the fact that inexpensive granite is widely available. Would any paste waxes work?

      Bob

      Reply

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  7. DuPont StoneTech Professional is the best! That’s all I use on my granite/stone installs. They offer three leaves of protection 1)sealer 2) heavy duty 3) bulletproof. Keep in mind this is a professional product, not to say the DIY person can not use it but follow the instructions and don’t deviate.

    I would recommend for the DIY Miracle 511 impregnator, and can be found at the big box stores like H.D. One good coat once or twice a year works for most jobs, when the water no longer beads up on the surface time for a reseal.

    Reply

  8. I echo what the others have said about the appearance of your granite counter tops. The average person will not see the stains. Yes, some granite is absorbent. Because of this you may need an impregnating sealer. Did you do the “lemon and oil test” before your purchase to determine how absorbent the granite was or if it was acid-sensitive? What sealer (brand) have you decided to use?

    Reply

  9. Bob

    I did researched in the World Wide Web on how to remove epoxy markings from Granite Counter Tops. One of my findings was using acetone for nail polisher, http://www.the-signal.com/archives/9886/

    Another option is too find exactly What type of epoxy they use on those counter top’s. That way you could decided what will be treatment to remove those stains.

    Example of this: Some Epoxy Resins are Bisphenol A (BPA) diglycidyl ether, meaning most of the resins are high-performance resin products/systems for use in coating, adhesive, civil engineering, structural, electronic and composite applications.
    Other resins are made of acrylic and polymer blends. Example: SUPER Glue or hobby cement for plastic cars.

    Another thing Granite it is a porous rock, What goes in must come out. Meaning it could be extracted with the right treatment. I’ll advise you to try out a small area and experiment for better results.

    In my previous comment, my contractor almost got fired by me, his installation technique and application of that resin on my granite was sluggish and poor. I don’t want to talk about it anymore, but I will guarantee you I will get new granite . Since the problem is not one stain, but a horribly clown make up gone bad. So much for trusting him.

    Reply

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  11. The granite counter tops that are going to be installed in the kitchen are done by my contractor. I have seen some of previous houses and his job is pretty solid, Except for the type of color some home owners choose……

    The color we choose are bage with black spots.

    Reply

  12. Looking good as always Bob. Sorry that you thought you were getting someone that knew what they were doing. Granite is not just something that anyone can do right. Most likely the average person will not even see the stains.

    Any way, that granite looks great.

    Reply

  13. Hi Bob,
    Granite looks well, we had the same experience and ended up with a similar pattern but green. This went well with lemon yellow cabinets. http://www.sulit.com.ph/1833325
    Odd stuff this granite, soaks up water and takes ages to dry out…..mila still gets out the chopping board to prepare the vegetables despite the worksurface hardness!!
    Peter

    Reply

  14. Looking pretty nice Bob and Carol. Eager to see the finished product as I am sure you are also.

    Reply

  15. Well if those minor stains are the worst of the installation, you’ve done well. It certainly looks good, and I think for the amount of work you had done, a very reasonable job, overall.

    Wish you had let us know you were going to be in Manila, please give us a heads up next time you come up to the north-land, OK?

    Reply

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