Counter top installation tolerances

MarinebobJanuary 11, 2014

After a sloopy counter top installation I am trying to find industry tolerences that define front edge-overhang tolerences, My counter tops range from 13/16 to 1 3/4 inches

Any references to industry tolerenaces would be appreciated so I can explain to the installer his work is substandard

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oldryder

Check the Marble Institute of America website. Around here an overhang variance of + or minus 1/16" (1/8" total) is considered very good work

January 11, 2014 at 9:37PM
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snoonyb

" My counter tops range from 13/16 to 1 3/4 inches"

Is this at the face frame, at the finished end?

January 11, 2014 at 11:10PM
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Trebruchet

Marinebob:

oldryder is again correct, however, I would depend on the My Check Ain't Gonna Cash Institute than the MIA.

In all fairness, who installed the cabinets? If they are not in plane, top fabricators have no exceptions to the laws of mathematics.

This post was edited by Trebruchet on Sun, Jan 12, 14 at 0:55

January 12, 2014 at 12:48AM
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Marinebob

I am refering to the overhang at the cabinet fronts. We specified the overhang to be 1 inch. Standards note a bit more, typically but we wanted 1 inch, so I have variation all over the place.

January 12, 2014 at 8:56AM
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Marinebob

With regard to the cabinet fronts: they are straight as an arrow: 25 year old, very solid oak with no measurable variation. Longest span is 9', shortest is 3'. On the 3 foot span, where the nominal is supposed to be 1 inch the variation is simply a crooked counter top with 1/4 inch, end to end. Crappy workmanship. Part of the problem I think was the installers inabillity to reconcile the cut out (simple but too hard for him) for the dropin-slide in range.

January 12, 2014 at 9:03AM
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snoonyb

There are a number of conditions which can affect the installation of new counters over existing cabinets.

While you addressed the "straight-ness" of the cabinets, was there a backsplash included or existing, are there any wall areas which are either convex or concave and were the rough-ins for all affected slabs provided the vendor at the time of measure?

Did the vendor pattern, or just bring edged slabs to be milled and fitted on site?

"Part of the problem I think was the installers inabillity to reconcile the cut out (simple but too hard for him) for the dropin-slide in range."

This portends of something being out of square or not level.

The "standards" are yours, not anyone else's, you check and approve of the work, before, you write the cheque.

January 12, 2014 at 12:30PM
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PRO
Sophie Wheeler

Pics would help us to understand the issue better. It's never just about the cabinets being "straight". Everthing has 3 dimensions, including the stone.

January 12, 2014 at 12:36PM
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Marinebob

What I am describing is not a mystery. The facts are this: My cabinets have no bow in them, the walls are not perfect, there are some minor gaps at the back splash - rear side of the counter tops, but that gap, none exceeding about 3/16" will be covered by mosaic tiles. The problem is the overhang on the front edge of the Curava counter tops.

Nothing was templated, (if thats a word), measurements were taken with a tape measure, Lowes supplied the contractor, The contractor brought the precut counters and installed them

The problem is the overhang at the front edge of the counter where it overhangs the cabinet fronts. On one 28 inch cabinet, that abuts the range, the overlap is 1/4 inch more on one end than the other: 1/4" in 28" That is crappy workmanship.

And even if the whole kitchen were warped, the reason you hire some one is to take measurements and cut/adjust the counters to fit.

I simply really only want to know where I can find industry specifications for the tolerance where I have a problem. I looked at the marble institute spec and could not find a clear defintion for the dimension I have a concern with.

I am starting to think people just accept the crappy worksmanship I now have in my kitchen which will be fixed, even if it takes a trip to small claims court. I am hoping it does not get to that

January 12, 2014 at 12:52PM
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hank-mountainmarble

MarineBob,
Sound simple to me. The "Countertop Industry has used a nominal 1" overhang forever" The Marble Institute allows for you to spec what you wish and gives an +/-1/16" or 1/8" variation. If the frames are indeed straight, you got crappy work. Go back to your supplier/fabricator and demand satisfaction. Just out of curiosity did you buy from the cheapest guy? I'm not asking to excuse their bad work, just that I'm 30+ years in the stone industry and I see that alot. Just curious.

January 12, 2014 at 2:35PM
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snoonyb

"Marinebob"

"Nothing was templated, (if thats a word)"

Templates are a common technique in the construction industry.
All of the hard surface vendors I use, accomplish it in one form or another, either prior to in shop fabrication or on-site, and I've never had the problems you are having,

In your agreement with LOWES, is the 1" overhang specifically called out?

Have you contacted LOWES construction services, or just the subcontractor?

January 12, 2014 at 7:05PM
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Marinebob

We looked at all sorts of counter tops and really liked the Curava supplied through Lowes. I guess they have some agreement with the manufacturer because there are LOWES all over that have the stuff and not many other providers

So, the price was good, and I bit. I made lots of mistakes: Lowes makes you pay 100% up front... ewww. Dumb, dumb on my part.

The fabricator they use is 100 miles away and its hard for them to schedule. Dumb dumb, I should have pulled the plug.

their fabricator has been doing commercial forever, but just got into residential installs.... another flag to stay away

Their 'measurer' (their BEST man I was told) showed up and parked on my lawn, tracked mud all over. should have pulled the plug then.

His measurements were taken with and old clip board and pencil using a tape measure I would have tossed years ago. I am scaring myself listing the red flags.

At any rate, Lowes immediate reaction was I HAD to call the installer with issues. When I offered to rip the counters out and dump them in the managers (LOWES) office, they told me they could help.

So then I got a call from the installers 'customer service person'. She should not be allowed to talk to customers. She pretty much accused me of accepting the job and its my problem. When I offered to her the resolution would then be in small claim s court, she said that the 'boss' /owner was on vacation and he might be able to call me next week, if he returned.

At this point, I have the asst manager at Lowes asssiting me, supposed to call me Monday with the resolution. I offered two or three choices:

They have one week to make it right.

They can screw around for more than a week and we will go to small claims court

They can authorize me in writing with a 'blank check' to hire a reputable installer to fix/correct what can be fixed

Or come remove the crappy job, pay me for the plumbing work done to install the sink/faucet and give me my money back plus \$1000 for my trouble.

So, hopefully by Monday afternoon I will know what they want to do.

I have a feeling they think I am a typical docile accept anything on any schedule customer.

The lessons I relearned are dont pay up front,,duh

Do not work with Lowes with this 3d party nonsense.

Have the installer provide a post installation inspection sheet that details the dimensions we agreed on

Live and learn. I will post any developments

I got a feeling this is not going to be pretty.

January 12, 2014 at 7:29PM
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Trebruchet

Marinebob:

You can relax, trust me. I've been a Lowes counter top vendor, so I have first hand experience from the contractor's point of view.

Lowes will tell this guy in no uncertain terms that he will fix/replace the existing tops to your satisfaction promptly or they will do so and his relationship with them will be terminated. He'll be lucky to get paid. This is never making it to court.

In all fairness, you do owe them a chance to make it right.

January 12, 2014 at 8:41PM
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rollie

"On one 28 inch cabinet, that abuts the range, the overlap is 1/4 inch more on one end than the other: 1/4" in 28"

What does the actual top measure on each end? Is it the same, or is it 1/4" different?

January 12, 2014 at 9:50PM
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snoonyb

Marinebob

Onward and upward.

January 12, 2014 at 11:45PM
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PRO
Sophie Wheeler

You know, everyone here sympathises when a job goes wrong. We put our heads together to try to figure out what happened so that someone else can benefit from that knowledge and try to avoid being in the same situation. No one on this forum screwed up your job, so there really is no reason to be so aggressively unpleasant towards people who are attempting to figure out what the problem might be. And a noob poster to boot.

Sheesh. I may be crochety occasionally, but at least I didn't blow off the entire DaleCarnegie course.

January 13, 2014 at 7:44AM
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Marinebob

Treb, thanks for the input. We'll see what happens. I keep finding more things not so good. On an L shaped section, I believe that the inside radius ought not to be too sharp: in fact granite specs call for 3/8 min radius. My cut is almost perfectly square. That, to me, suggests a great stress riser initiation point.

Also the under counter sink, damn, can't recall the manufacturer name ....K... ? anyway, they recommend 8 hangers/clips for my size sink. I have 4, one at each corner. Again, to me thats a sample of poor workmanship and arrogance thinking you know more than a manufacturer of their product.

January 13, 2014 at 7:58AM
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snoonyb

"Again, to me thats a sample of poor workmanship and arrogance thinking you know more than a manufacturer of their product."

There are a number of commercially available support systems for under-mount sink installations.

My method will vary from others. suites me.

I've never doweled and bracketed a sink.

Instead I use a separate bracket, installed in such a manner that allows the sink and/or counter to be replaced independently of one-another.

January 13, 2014 at 9:34AM
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hank-mountainmarble

MarineBob,
The 4 anchors should be fine, The manufactured are just playing CYA. We've used 4 forever without issues. You've got bigger fish to fry... I agree with Trebruchet , lean on Lowes, give them some time, be reasonable and in the end you should gain a reasonable measure of satisfaction. Court is a good threat and a lousy way to go!

January 13, 2014 at 9:56AM
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live_wire_oak

You might want to save nuclear war until after you have some followup interactions. Honey and vinegar and all.

And you might want to post the pics on here as well. There are a lot of pros here that can point out exactly where the job went wrong. And that's beneficial to you to be able to hold the conversation with the installers, as well as to others thinking of doing the same project.

January 13, 2014 at 10:01AM
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Marinebob

I called Lowes national office and they called the local Lowes. Only good thing is now the regional manager is involved.

Lowes had the installation shop manager/owner call me who started the conversation with " What's YOUR problem"? After a minute of conversation he told me: "What are you talking about? Marble Institute? I don't know what you are talking about....we don't use any specs or tolerances".

The attitude, ignorance, and arrogance seem to me that nuclear war is an inch away. (Like the workmanship on the installation) Lowes is having a tough time trying to get the guy to come to my house to view the work. I think Lowes has finally agreed to come here by themselves to view the work. Supposed to get a call today.

So now its a week and no resolution. Ya gotta love what this country has come to

This is all insanity and makes no sense. Goggle Curava and who sells the stuff. I do not understand Lowes

January 15, 2014 at 5:45AM
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snoonyb

"Standards"

He is correct. Standards can be an industry standard established by some disassociated group of "experts", (X=unknown, Spurt= a drip under pressure), who may simply have established a level of professionalism the industry generally conforms too, which then, because they have a web site, can then be used as a "justification."

When, in reality, The "standards" are yours, not anyone else's, you check and approve of the work.

January 15, 2014 at 11:21AM
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Marinebob

Snoop, I have to beg to differ with your interpretation of what spec and standards mean. How can any business work without some standards?

In my case ought I be subject to counter top overhang that varies by essentially an inch and believe that is acceptable? I would think, as has been my experience in over 20 years at a highly respected company, that missing specific reference to a particular standard, good businesses refer to industry specs that are created by that industry. I do not know for sure, but I think its a safe assumption that marble/granite/stone counter top installers, kitchen remodelers and so forth are the members of the MIA who write the specs for kitchen counter top installation.

Any reputable installer/fabricator would either have their own, more restrictive specs (to gain a competitive advantage) or reference trade association, ASTM, whatever specs so there is some aim point for their work.

I can not believe any fabricator would tell a customer he has no specs or tolerances to which he works. Perhaps this guy has a good lawyer of likes to entertain law suits?

January 15, 2014 at 1:31PM
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debrak2008

What does your contract say? Did you ask how it would be templated?

IMHO if the contract says 1" overhang and its not then you have a case.

BTW my contact said any variance would be 1/16" or less.

I understand your frustration and no offence is meant but...... perhaps watch the tone you are taking with those involved. To me (JMHO) your posts seem hostile. If you are speaking to those involved with the same then whether you are right or wrong they will be less inclined to help you. Be firm in your resolve to get things fixed but do it with a smile : )

January 15, 2014 at 2:36PM
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snoonyb

"Any reputable installer/fabricator would either have their own"

This goes directly to "professionalism," nothing else.

There are no written standards to which tradesmen are required to perform within, as it applies to products considered as decorative.

"more restrictive specs (to gain a competitive advantage)"

Again, "professionalism," nothing else.

There are none, nor will there ever be, because 1st of all, it's a whole different ball game and not even remotely associated.

You say that you have 20yrs experience associated with "industry" standards, yet your agreement with LOWES did not "specify" the standards you "assumed" would be "assumed" in the product you ordered.

While you have alluded to your short-comings in your dealings with LOWES, like so many before you, you did not post here asking the advice which may, or may not, have alerted you to the potential pitfalls of "assuming."

Persons writing and negotiating contracts, do not assume, because it makes an "ass" out of "u" and "me."

January 16, 2014 at 10:52AM
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Marinebob

I have a contract that says my counter tops will have a 1" overhang. My counter tops range from 13/16 to 1 3/4 inches and have variation in single sections (spanning 30") as high as 3/8 inch. By any measure that is crappy workmanship.

I have a sink installation that does not meet the manufacturers spec nor the MIA spec. I have an inside corner that is out of square. I have an inside corner that is ground/cut to too tight a radius, thereby increasing the potential for a stress created crack from the inside corner.

And all tradesmen who have licenses have specifications for their work. Those specs are called code.

People who install counter tops seem to have no specifications by which they operate and do not need to be licensed in the sense of code meeting work. But their business depends on workmanship that is acceptable to the general public. Good companies then, will use industry/trade organization spec to guide their work.

I will have to admit this forum is interesting, few people seem to be interested in understanding that quality means 'conformance to specifications'. Logic then dictates without specifications there is no quality.

Again I would reiterate that any 'good' tradesman, reputable company, etc will have specifications that they work to. Without specs how does anyone know if they are meeting requirements set upon them: either explicitly or implicitly.

I found the Marble institute of America specs, and they do define tolerances for kitchen counter top installation. Obviously no fabricator, lacking written commitment to the spec, has to abide by them, but those suppliers do not need to be in business either.

January 16, 2014 at 1:42PM
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suzanne_sl

I disagree that few people on here understand that quality is dependent on adherence to specs. In reading this thread over several days (I do keep coming back), I've come away with several impressions;

*You got crappy workmanship.

*There's been some confusion about how that overhang ended up being wonky - the way the slab was set onto the cabinets? a wavy wall in back causing irregularities in front? Some idiot can't cut straight? #2 seemed most likely for a while when you described how they measured, but now I'm thinking #3 perhaps in conjunction with #2.

*Intentionally or otherwise, you're kind of aggressive, hence the advice on vinegar and honey and holding off on nuclear war for the moment.

*People here are really big on excellent workmanship and full of helpful advice on how to deal with lack thereof. First, though, it helps to know exactly what the situation is. In this case, the exact nature of the installation problem has been an evolving story. While we were trying to nail that down, you'd moved on to mayhem. Hey, we like justified mayhem, we just hadn't quite gotten there yet.

*Way back at the beginning oldryer referred you to the MIA, my favorite go-to for installation issues. You found info you needed there, but the rest of us were still mulling over the original problem trying to make sure we got it right. A forum like this depends on clear back and forth messages and I think you just got ahead of us. If you're cool, we're cool. I, for one, want to know this comes out.

January 16, 2014 at 4:18PM
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annkh_nd

I agree with everything Suzannes said.

I also think that photos of the problem would have made everything a lot more clear - and might have generated different responses.

January 16, 2014 at 5:15PM
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snoonyb

This is not true.

Depending upon the state, there may or may not be a requirement for a hard surface material fabricator, who also installs, to have a contractors state license, or if they are operating as separate of one-another.

Their specs are the professionalism which insures them in perpetuity, nothing else.

"Those specs are called code."

Would you care to site the code, state by state?

"But their business depends on workmanship that is acceptable to the general public."

Exactly.

"Good companies then, will use industry/trade organization spec to guide their work."

Seldom, if ever.

"few people seem to be interested in understanding that quality means 'conformance to specifications'."

So, is it your assertion, that we are devoid of "pride in workmanship and professionalism"?

"Logic then dictates without specifications there is no quality."

Actually it offers the opportunity to transfer blame to others.

"Without specs how does anyone know if they are meeting requirements set upon them: either explicitly or implicitly."

Pride in workmanship and professionalism.

"I found the Marble institute of America specs, and they do define tolerances for kitchen counter top installation."
Which generally apply to commercial and institutional installation, and, and, are cited in the contract documents.

Here'a flash; ethics and integrity, is what you do when the lights are out.

January 16, 2014 at 9:30PM
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suzanne_sl

When we had our granite installed, we got an outstanding job, wonky walls and all. In the course of talking to these folks, who both sell and install the granite, we discovered that 10 years ago there had been a dozen or so fabricators up and down the road where they're located. Almost all of them are gone now. Like your fabricator, Bob, they did less than stellar work. The natural result is that over time they got fewer and fewer referrals. When the recession came along, that finished them. Our outfit had as much work as they could handle throughout. They still do. It's not that we were so clever in choosing our guys - there was a lot of luck involved because we were ignorant on how these things worked. You weren't so lucky. Your issue is, what now? Best case scenario would be to get your money back and start over. You might make that happen - I hope so.

January 17, 2014 at 11:43AM
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Marinebob

We are here now: A Lowes manager and kitchen 'specialist' are coming by tomorrow morning to look at the installation to see if they agree or not.

My position is make it right, or take it back and refund my money plus the incidental costs (plumbing install for the sink , facet etc) I have offered to take the counters out and bring it to the Lowes management office. Lowes suggested I wait and give them an opportunity to fix the issues. Problem is, they never seem to have the same sense of urgency as me. Its now been a week and a half and they can't get the install company manager to come to my house in a timely manner.

I have a feeling (so long as Lowes does not think the job is acceptable, which I don't think will happen) they will make it right.

We'll see.

I get the sense the supplier is new to Lowes, the material is relatively new (Curava) and seeing that Lowes is almost (Not totally, but overwhelmingly) the current sole provider of the material, they will want to make it right.

The funny part (not ha-ha but sad-funny) is that I would have possibly accepted the lousy workmanship had Lowes not called me and asked about 'how it went' the day after the installation.

When I started to explain to the Lowes rep what I didnt like, and I told her I would accept it anyway because my wife wants the kitchen back together, she told me it was not Lowes problem and insisted I call the supplier.

That was all I needed to hear: the people to whom I made the payment, not accepting responsibility for the job? No way.

So, we'll see what Lowes says tomorrow.

January 17, 2014 at 12:06PM
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M4rtin

Whatever the attitude, you did not get what you asked for and what was stated in the contract.
I wish you good luck, and a lesson learned, never pay in full up front for any job.

January 17, 2014 at 4:02PM
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Marinebob

It was dumb to pay up front but I am hoping Lowes will take care of the issues. Their contract says you only need to pay the total on orders under \$1000 but the sales person insisted I needed to pay the total on this \$3000 order.

Lowes has yet to reconcile that 'inconsistency' yet. Bigger fish to fry first.

The Lowes manager is supposed to come by this morning so we'll see how it goes.

January 18, 2014 at 8:52AM
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Marinebob

The shop owner and a mute Lowes representative showed up Sat morning. Both took ther shoes off because it was snowing and all slushy outside.

The owner agreed the job was crappy but would not agree that he has any standards or tolerances. Pretty much said they try to do a good job, but unless the customer complains, thats their standard.

They are supposed to come next Sat to remove 2 sections o f counter (not involving the sink because of the trouble with its removal, although he said he would if I wanted it fixed) That section is 'off' but not too visible unless you look close

Its then supposed to be replaced Monday afternoon. I agreed that the pieces in question could be reworked such that the wall gap would get bigger but still ok considering the back splash is thick tile and will cover the gap created.

So if the plan works, its almost 3 weeks to get the poor work fixed.

I had to endure the owners list of his problems: too much competition, demanding customers, slim profits, too much travel time....yada yada yada

January 21, 2014 at 5:51AM
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Marinebob

Completed the fixes. After agreeing the job was schlocky the company owner came with the installer and replaced one of the poorly cut sections, recut another and leveled the section where my slide in range goes. Next day, Lowes called to ask if the job was done and how was the install. It was clear the question was required to be asked and the Lowes person did not want to hear my answer.

All in all, the install is now how its supposed to be but Lowes was of little help. Took too long and Lowes cant explain why I had to pay up front, and why they did not make the work repair go more quickly.

February 20, 2014 at 10:23AM
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jellytoast

Wow, interesting thread ... I completely missed it until today's resolution post. I think people believe that a big company like Lowe'is going to stand behind them, and maybe they do in the end, but it sure seems like a lot of crap to go through when you do have a problem, all that going back and forth between Lowe's and the people who actually do the work. I wonder if it isn't wiser to just leave Lowe's out of the mix completely when it comes to anything that isn't a DIY project.

February 20, 2014 at 12:06PM
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