A: No, and yes.
The weakness of natural stone comes from its many veins and dry seams. Both 2cm and 3cm have these characteristics. The material itself: granite, marble, or other stone – is inheritably stronger when thicker. So yes, a 3cm slab of granite is stronger than a 2cm slab. However, we never install a 2cm slab on your kitchen without a plywood substrate. This substrate adds strength and flexibility. Once installed, both 2cm and 3cm counters are equally durable, and both are extremely unlikely to break. What’s more, the 2cm stone will weigh less – therefore requiring less support from counters and house foundation below.
So, what is the difference between 2cm and 3cm stone anyway? Here’s a bit more information:
Stone slabs come in two standard thicknesses – 2cm (3/4”) and 3cm (1 3/16”). Years ago, slabs were sold exclusively in 2cm thickness, and today the industry trend is toward 3cm as machine finishing becomes the norm. With this shift there has been some misinformation spread about 2cm stone.
For countertops, the most popular edge details are either 3cm or 4cm thick. A 3cm slab gives that look easily and quickly, which is why many today work exclusively with 3cm stone. However, a 4cm edge can also be successfully achieved with 2cm material by a process called lamination.
Here’s a photo comparrason of a 3cm vs a laminated 4cm modified bullnose edge.
There are many other areas in a house where stone can be used such as shower walls, tub decks, and fireplaces. These other areas are often best suited for 2cm material.
What is lamination?
Essentially, we take a 1 ½” wide piece of stone and glue it along the edge to create a double thickness edge, 4cm (about 1 ½”). We can also miter a piece of stone along the edge to create any counter “thickness” desired (see the drawing below). These techniques, laminating and mitering, require skills that many new fabricators do not have. They are also more time consuming to fabricate than a simple unlaminated edge. So, some of them spread the idea that 2cm stone is inferior in order to better sell their 3cm products. Really, the choice between 2cm and 3cm comes down to availability* and personal preference.
You may now be asking what the cost difference is. Well, they’re really very similar. You see, given that 3cm stone is thicker than 2cm stone, it costs more. But, it’s easier to fabricate a non laminated edge. So, fabrication costs are lower. Installation can be more costly with 3cm material due to its extreme weight. A 2cm slab will cost about 25% less than its 3cm counterpart. However, laminating the slab edges does cost more in time and labor. In the end, the costs often even out and you end up with a very comparably priced counter. With high grade stones, the added expense of a 3cm slab will almost certainly be more than the added fabrication costs for a laminated edge. If you’re interested in what the difference would be for your project and your chosen stone, we’re happy to talk with you about options and different prices for your specific needs.
We recommend that our customers choose a slab thickness that will give the edge effect they desire. See our page on edge details for more photos and ideas. We invite you to come by our showroom and take a look at our 2cm, 3cm, and 4(+) cm edge details in person to find the one you like best.
*Note that some materials are locally available almost exclusively in 3cm thickness. As the industry here trends towards thicker material, it is becoming less common for suppliers to stock 2cm. Still, it is readily available in many materials. In fact, some parts of the country, such as California, still primarily use 2cm material. Many engineered quartz materials come in 2cm and 3cm thicknesses – and some even in ½” thicknesses!