Generally, the more expensive countertops (i.e. granite, Corian, quartz) require a template when doing a kitchen remodel. Fabricators want to accurately cut the material the first time and they would rather do most of the cutting at their fabrication shop. Because of the dust factor, you would want that too.
Usually, you will get the best result templating your new countertop with the old countertop removed from your cabinets. If you are getting new kitchen cabinets, then this isn't an issue. However, if you want to keep your old cabinets, removing the old countertop does inconvenience you being without a sink. Unless you cleverly re-install the old countertop or a part of it so you can plumb up your old sink until the new countertop is installed.
With the old countertop off, the templator can verify that the countertops are level and/or on the same plane - a necessary step to insure that the new countertop installation will go smoothly.
Often we can template a kitchen countertop with the old countertop still in place. There are some obvious benefits to this for the home owner. Keeping the old countertop in place means the homeowner will still have use of their kitchen sink while they wait for the new countertop to be installed. On average your new countertop will be ready for install 7 to 10 days after template.
So which is better, a digital template or a wood template? A template of your new countertop can be created digitally (using a computer and lazers) or using strips of wood luan. Either approach doesn't have any clear advantage over the other from the homeowner's point of view. The digital template, if the operator is trained properly, can result in doing the template faster. The average kitchen takes about 1 to 1-1/2 hours to template using the wood luan method and between 45 minutes to one hour using the digital template method. The templator will have some questions that only a homeowner should answer. So it is important that the homeowner be present during the template.
So when are you ready for a template? If new cabinets are being installed, then all base cabinets that will come in contact with the new countertop need to be properly installed. All appliances, particularly the dishwasher, range and cook tops need to be on-site. Plumbing fixtures such as sink and faucet need to be available to the templator. If you are keeping your old cabinets, then all items on old countertop need to be cleared.
If you have any questions about the templating process, please use the comment block below...