Although contractors doing demolition prefer to break granite tops into pieces for removal, you can remove them in one piece with a well thought out plan. Granite is very heavy and breaks easily, so you must apply caution when removing it if you want to keep it. Prepare a sturdy surface to rest your removed tops on before beginning demolition. Recruit plenty of good, strong help to remove the countertop safely in one piece. While the work itself is simple, the challenge is working patiently enough to be successful.
Fixtures and Sinks Removal
Shut off the water at the emergency cutoff valve, typically located directly below the faucet inside your sink cabinet. Turn both hot and cold valves clockwise by hand until they stop. Disconnect the water lines, just above the valves by turning the nut on the line with a wrench or pliers counterclockwise.
Follow the disconnected water lines up to the bottom of the sink. Turn the large hold-down nuts counterclockwise with pliers to remove them. Pull faucets up from the top to remove. Set plumbing fixtures aside.
Find the hold-down brackets around the bottom of the sink, inside the cabinet. Turn the nut on the bottom of each bracket counterclockwise to remove. Run a putty knife beneath the edge of the sink for sinks that sit on top of the granite. This helps to break the glue and caulk. For inset sinks, run the putty knife between the bottom of the granite and the top of the sink to break the seal. Lightly tap on the bottom of the sink with a rubber mallet to drive it up. Lift the sink out for removal.
Examine the underside of your granite. Make a mental note of every place that the cabinets touch the bottom of the stone, if the stone is exposed. Look for a layer of plywood or other wood platform beneath the granite. Make note of everywhere that the plywood or wood top makes contact with the cabinets.
Remove the screws from the plywood layer under the granite countertop from inside the cabinets. Use a drill and screw tip. Look for screws running up through the cabinet top support into the bottom of the plywood. If you cannot find them, you will need to break the glue seal between the plywood and the granite before you can remove the plywood.
Tap the end of your small, flat pry bar behind the edge of the backsplash in the top corner, every few inches using a hammer. Gently pry the backsplash out from the wall, starting from one corner working across its length until the backsplash pulls away from the wall easily. Do the same for all the backsplash that lines the countertop you plan to remove.
Granite Countertop Removal
Locate the joint between the front brace of the cabinet and the bottom of your countertop at a corner. Look up inside the face of the cabinet to see it. Tap the end of the pry bar into this joint with the hammer. Pry gently up to loosen any glue. If there is plywood under the granite, work underneath it to remove the granite from the plywood or remove them together, if you were able to remove the screws that hold the wood platform in place. Follow this by tapping a wooden shim into the now open joint, to hold the countertop up in that spot. Work along the front edge, prying and shimming, until the whole front edge is slightly lifted.
Move further inside the cabinets. Starting at the front and moving back use the pry bar to lift the granite, or plywood and granite, away from the top of the cabinet supports. Add shims as you go. Go slowly to avoid cracking. Work along the length of the countertop, only prying up the next few inches back. Continue working in sections, from end to end, until the entire countertop has been lifted.
Station at least one person every 3 to 4 feet of countertop along the front edge of the counter. Work together to slowly tilt the countertop up from the back edge, so that it tips into the hands of the waiting workers. Lift gently and move the granite to your storage place.
Set the granite with the top face down for protection. If there is plywood underneath that needs replacing, pry it carefully away from the granite. Work slowly to separate the glue and remove the plywood. Scrape any additional plywood or glue from the bottom of the granite with a heavy duty scraper.