Issues with Caesarstone Installation

denise133January 25, 2014

Hello!

We just had our Caesarstone counters installed today.

There were a couple of issues that I am concerned about.

Could anybody give me some advice, as to how I should handle it with the fabricator?

The overhang on the main counter is twice what I had specified. We have a modern kitchen and had asked for a .5 inch overhang - but the overhang is actually 1 inch. (Oddly, on the island it is .5 inch as we had specified)

There is a seam near the cooktop. The seam itself seems ok but there is a big blob of adhesive on the edge of the counter. We speculated that perhaps it was chipped and then filled in? It's very noticeable.

Would I be unreasonable to ask that these issues be addressed? I hate to complain and focus on defects. But I feel somewhat disappointed right now.

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romy718

I can't advise you on the overhang but I wouldn't hesitate to complain about the seam. It wouldn't be acceptable to me either.

    Bookmark   January 26, 2014 at 12:10AM
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may_flowers

That's awful! Of course it's not unreasonable to get what you paid for! Is your seam really that noticeable? It seems very obvious for a quartz seam. Here's mine.

    Bookmark   January 26, 2014 at 10:26AM
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Trebruchet

You have every right to complain and give the fabricator a chance to make it right.

The degree of difficulty of fixing these items depends on your top configuration and seam placement. It could be one guy in an afternoon or two taking the whole job back to the shop.

Can you live with a larger edge radius? You may like it even more and it would make the chip repair much easier and much less likely to happen again.

    Bookmark   January 26, 2014 at 10:42AM
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sjhockeyfan325

I feel terrible for you - my Ceasarstone went in Friday and they did a brilliant job. Here's what the seam should look like (and this is a close up - just standing at the cooktop, you'd have to run your hand over it to even find it)

(It's always something isn't it? In my case, the cabinet handles on the top drawers were installed an inch lower than I'd like - that one is NOT a re-do - I don't want to order new drawer fronts, and it's something I can live with -- at least they're consistent, and they they did own up to the error and ask what I wanted to do).

    Bookmark   January 26, 2014 at 12:48PM
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sjhockeyfan325

I should add, we also did a 1/2" overhang - I was intending to go with flush, but my DH changed it to 1/2" and it looks great. Honestly, I don't think the 1" edge would be a problem either, but it absolutely depends on how it looks to you - and whether you had the edge profile specified in writing.

    Bookmark   January 26, 2014 at 12:57PM
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Trebruchet

denise133:

Taking another look at your seam, place a level or straightedge over it. It shouldn't rock or have a gap underneath.

Unfortunately, it looks like the bottom of the estone is touching and the top is not. This means that each piece is probably not in plane. The cabinet tops can be shimmed a bit to compensate.

    Bookmark   January 26, 2014 at 1:02PM
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sjhockeyfan325

Which is exactly what our installer did - my DH was here watching.

    Bookmark   January 26, 2014 at 1:37PM
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denise133

Thank you all so much for your replies!

I did try to do my due diligence on the Fabricator and did not select by price. Having lurked on the board here for a long time, I knew there was risk in the installation.

Mayflowers and Sjhockeyfan.....your Caesarstone looks great! I have seam envy.

The .5 overhang on the island looks very good to me too which makes me more regretful that I have 1 inch on the main counter. I also wanted to go flush with the cabinet but ended up specifying the.5 inch. The Fabricator had me sign off on the specifications including the overhang but he took those away and didn't give me a copy. I've always worked on a trust basis with contractors.

Trebruchet....thank you for your expertise/opinion. Yes, you're right, the two pieces aren't level. When they initially joined them the pieces were very uneven at the bottom and he "feathered them" to make them even out. There is a lot of filler/adhesive on the underside of the overhang.

I didn't mention it before because we think we can cover with a large backsplash tile but there is a gap between the counter and wall up to about .5 inch. In some places the counter is very snug to the wall. I'm wondering if the initial measurements were off. The Fabricator did not use a template.

I'm really hoping the Fabricator will want to correct these problems, but if not I'm fairly resigned to having to call in someone else rather than feel bad every time I look at the counter :-)

Thank you again for your thoughts and advice.

    Bookmark   January 26, 2014 at 4:02PM
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sjhockeyfan325

The fabricator didn't use a template - what DID he do? Ours didn't use a measure - he did the old-fashioned balsa wood thing - I asked why he didn't use a laser and he said he thought it was less trustworthy than the old-fashioned way. However, our templating wasn't perfect, although it ended up just fine - he did have to make an on-site adjustment to the cooktop cutout.

    Bookmark   January 26, 2014 at 4:33PM
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denise133

He just used a measuring tape. The installation crew were different people. It took them about 6 or 7 hours to install it which surprised me. I think it was about 55-60 square feet - all straight with no angles. He said it was too simple to use a template.

    Bookmark   January 26, 2014 at 7:00PM
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denise133

The Fabricator came by today and I had to argue with him to recognize that there was anything wrong. He brought someone with him who removed all the extra glue and spent a lot of time polishing it level.

It does look better now but the two pieces are so different in thickness that a "wonky" look remains. There was a considerable gap between the pieces when the glue was removed so I am surprised they got it to look better.

Are they supposed to surface polish Caesarstone to make the seams level?

Also he insists that a counter is not cut to accommodate the wall or cabinet and if they are not straight the counter will be off too.

He says fixing the overhang may not work because the walls/cupboards are not straight.

Trebruchet....would you be kind enough to lend me some of your expertise?

    Bookmark   January 29, 2014 at 2:29PM
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Trebruchet

"Do not surface polish seams to make them even/level."

Caesarstone Fabrication and Installation Manual, page 10.

"Also he insists that a counter is not cut to accommodate the wall or cabinet and if they are not straight the counter will be off too.

He says fixing the overhang may not work because the walls/cupboards are not straight."

Counters are cut to follow walls all the time. If the wall is wavy, the top will be too.

Cabinets must be in plane on a given run. If they aren't, the overhangs will be different if the depth of the counter stays consistent.

Sometimes it's a "pick your poison" kind of thing. Either have the cabinets re-installed in plane or don't but then no objecting when the overhang is inconsistent.

Here is a link that might be useful: Manual

    Bookmark   January 29, 2014 at 4:50PM
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lcskaisgir

Invaluable information Trebruchet. Your expertise is appreciated, even though this doesn't apply to me! We are all so lucky for all the experts on this forum.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2014 at 7:06PM
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may_flowers

The reason you don't surface polish is it dulls the sheen of the resins. This isn't granite. You'll want to look at it in various lighting situations to see if you now have a dull spot.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2014 at 7:10PM
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suzanne_sl

Did your fabricator check to see if the cabinets were level when he came to template? Ours brought several size levels and placed them parallel to the wall, perpendicular to the wall, and at angles to be sure everything was in the same plane. It's pretty much his job to do that and advise you if there's a problem that simple shimming won't fix.

And this business of it's not his problem if the wall is wavy? Yes, it is. 98% of walls are wavy to some extent, so your wavy walls are hardly unusual or unexpected. Half-inch gaps along the wall are way out of bounds. A good fabricator is shooting for a 1/8" (2/16") gap max, but may hit 3/16". A 1/2" gap (8/16") is just sloppy and may well show even with the backsplash installed.

He never read p.10 of the manual? Did he train with someone who knew about installing quartz?

Your real question is what to do now. I'm presuming you spent somewhere in the neighborhood of $4000 on this. I know you said you don't like to complain. Most of us don't. Unfortunately, it sounds like you have legitimate issues with the fabrication and installation of your perimeter counters. Did you choose this fabricator or was he sent by one of the Big Box stores? If it's Big Box, you should definitely have a word with them. If your GC recommended him, what does he have to say? If you chose him, do you want to argue it or leave it alone? I'm so sorry you're having to deal with this.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2014 at 8:42PM
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denise133

Thank you for your input Trebruchet, mayflowers and suzanne.

I understood from the Fabricator that the fellows who came to install were his subcontractors and I'm not sure the Fabricator himself does any installations or seems to understand some of the issues here. I found him though a "review" website.

Suzanne, we are doing our own general contracting. We've done it before. It is very hard to find a good general contractor in our city. The total cost of the counter was about 5K and we have paid him in full. I'm not actually sure he can fix the counters so I think my option may be paying someone else to redo them or just accepting them as they are.

I'd like to send him the Caesarstone installation manual but then maybe that would be a little cheeky. He told me templating, and laser templating was "all marketing" so I don't think I'd get far by insisting that he wasn't supposed to surface polish Caesarstone.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2014 at 9:31PM
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sjhockeyfan325

This makes me appreciate the fabricator we used so much!

    Bookmark   January 30, 2014 at 12:07AM
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suzanne_sl

*Sigh* We've seen before tradesmen who trash talk whatever it is that they don't do. There's more than one way to template a countertop, but the ones that turn out well involve an actual template. These can be luan or paper or whatever. A laser system used by a trained fabricator produces a virtual template and returns excellent results, for instance

and

Just to the right of the microwave there is a big hump in that wall (stud turned the opposite way of all the other studs in that wall!). At no point can anything thicker than a fingernail be slid between the counter and the wall anywhere in this kitchen. Also notice the precision of the flush mount sink cut.

At the very least you could add to the review site that this guy doesn't know what he's doing. A couple of specifics might help like doesn't actually template and unfamiliar with the instructions in the Caesarstone installation manual. Regardless, I have great hope that these miscues can be disguised so that unless you know the problem, you won't notice it.

    Bookmark   January 30, 2014 at 1:42AM
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Trebruchet

denise133:

I suggest getting a qualified person to document the lack of following the manufacturer's instructions and submitting that documentation to Caesarstone.

While you have little leverage left since you've paid in full, the last thing this "fabricator" wants is to be told by Caesarstone that his supply has been cut off for not following instructions.

Caesarstone will probably try to make this a warranty claim, which is fine because they will have to send someone out. That person will verify fabricator error. In most cases, fabricators are given the chance to make things right or face being terminated.

I recently brought pressure on a GC who was his own "fabricator" with the help of Silestone. It was that or the electrical violations I found.

This kind of crap hurts our entire industry, not just individual purchasers. When incompetents go after my livelihood, they're going after my family and that means war.

    Bookmark   January 30, 2014 at 6:52AM
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may_flowers

Do contact Caesarstone. You might get him on the surface-polishing issue as part of a warranty claim. Be persistent!

How much time did they spend and what method did they use to polish it? With my Caesarstone, the install team cleaned the epoxy off with Barkeeper's Friend and dulled the finish in a small area. They said the rep told them they could use BKF, but that got them nowhere with Caesarstone. The head fabricator then went to a 5 hour class to learn how to repair quartz. The understanding was if he couldn't repair it, they'd replace it. He spent 2 1/2 hours working on the dull spot, using progressively finer degrees of polishing pads and various solutions, but he was only able to blend the dull spot into a bigger area. He'd have to polish the entire countertop to make it look new.

    Bookmark   January 30, 2014 at 10:54AM
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denise133

Thanks again Trebruchet, Suzanne and Mayflowers.

He polished it using a very loud machine that smelled like burning rubber...was that the resin? I guess I can live with the slightly wonky front which is probably only prominent when your attention is directed there.

His suggestion to address the overhang variance was to push the pieces in and cut the drywall. He is very hesitant to do this however and frankly I wonder how the seam that he just polished would stay intact under those circumstances. Also, I don't see how with the cooktop cut-out it will work since the cooktop is already too close to the wall according to the spec. Another .5 inch will put it about 1 inch from the back wall.

I am mad at myself for not asking the right questions up front. He had glowing reviews on this website stating how detail oriented he was so I thought that was enough. I have doubt about those reviews now. Yes, I'm sure that he is concerned that I will post a negative review.

Thank you for your suggestion to contact Caesarstone. I think it might be long and messy to have this Fabricator involved in fixing things so I'll have to think about that one.

Thanks again everybody.

    Bookmark   January 30, 2014 at 5:30PM
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snookums2

That is a really bad install that you shouldn't have to accept.

" I found him though a "review" website.
He had glowing reviews on this website stating how detail oriented he was"

Could you share what review site that was? Not Angies, I hope.

This post was edited by snookums2 on Fri, Jan 31, 14 at 12:29

    Bookmark   January 31, 2014 at 12:28PM
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denise133

Yes, the site is called Homestars. We are in Toronto.

He was supposed to come today to push the counter back and cut the drywall but he didn't show up. I called them to see if they were coming and the Fabricator's wife yelled at me that they weren't making enough money on this job to put up with the hassle of fixing it.

Not sure if I mentioned in a previous post that they subcontracted out the installation.

We've decided that the grief of dealing with them is not worth it.

    Bookmark   January 31, 2014 at 8:39PM
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deedles

Just read through this thread and whoa... so sorry.. it really burns when you run into these clowns. We're watching the corners of one bedroom slowly tear open because the drywallers didn't embed the corner tape properly. Paid in full.

You have to contact Caesarstone, right? I mean, you are going to. right? What a pain but really, you shouldn't have to look at this forever and be sad.

    Bookmark   January 31, 2014 at 8:56PM
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londongirl_2009

Yes, I agree it is time to involve Caesarstone. I think you have been very patient in allowing the fabricator to make it right. BTW I'm in London, ON and the company I used sent out a specialist to use the laser to template my kitchen and it was so accurate. I wouldn't hesitate to have it done that way. He asked me all kinds of questions about how I wanted the edges and if I wanted to have them hangover and by how much. I sure hope this gets repaired/replaced and you are happy in the end. I'll be watching and keeping fingers crossed for you.

    Bookmark   January 31, 2014 at 9:22PM
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denise133

Thanks deedles and londongirl.

I guess as my 12 year old daughter says "it's a first world problem" :-)

I share some blame in that my due diligence wasn't great. I guess I didn't really know how to get to a good fabricator and I was really anxious to get the kitchen back.

Sorry to hear about your drywall. One's home is so important it's hard to see things go wrong. It used to be that we hired contractors without knowing anything about them and never had a problem.

Oddly the fabricator's wife told me that she called Caesarstone because they are now saying it's Caesarstone's fault! The whole thing is so bizarre. Like you suggest, I should probably contact them too.

    Bookmark   January 31, 2014 at 10:03PM
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snookums2

" Fabricator's wife yelled at me that they weren't making enough money on this job to put up with the hassle of fixing it. "

Really. That is their problem, not yours. They should have thought of that before they slacked and screwed up the job. So is that supposed to mean they want more money to fix that cr!@ job?

Don't feel it was your fault for not foreseeing this. It is only through experience with these projects that we learn there are plenty of clowns out there who are able to just put on a professional contractor's hat but who really don't have adequate training or knowledge to be messing with people's houses.

He was trying to make a quick buck on your house but screwed up. That's his fault and his problem to resolve the outcome.

Easier said than done, lol. Contacting Caesarstone sounds like a good idea. Maybe they will send someone out. And get after him for representing their company and product so poorly.

    Bookmark   January 31, 2014 at 10:36PM
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Trebruchet

denise 133:

Don't forget to write a review.

Not all review websites are created equally. Homeadvisor requires reviewers to be customers of contractors; Yelp does not.

    Bookmark   January 31, 2014 at 10:54PM
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WendyB

just read of your troubles. So sorry.

It reminded me of an issue I had with a quartz vanity installation a few years back. They cut the holes wrong for the sink and couldn't fit in the backsplash. They had to redo it from scratch and got something else wrong too. I forget what. Then the store had to start again from another fabricator and another quartz manufacturer. That piece had a small non-fixable damage in it. They also redesigned the shape of the backsplash (it had a curvy design). By that time, I was up to my eyeballs in it and just put a soap dish over the spot. Their redesign was not so bad actually but why didn't they follow the specs!?!?!? . It is indeed so frustrating, not to mention time-consuming and plain inconvenient.

I bet with a lot of effort and frustration you could get it all fixed to be done as it should be, but at some point you just want to be done with it. I understand.

One consolation might be if you could get some money back out of it as compensation for your damages. I withheld some of my final payment on mine. That helped me feel a little better about it. DId you put any of it on a credit card? They might stand behind you and do a chargeback.

    Bookmark   January 31, 2014 at 11:23PM
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may_flowers

This is not your fault AT ALL! Get that out of your head! We see it all the time on this forum.

I wonder if he's new to quartz. I would just shoot an email off to Caesarstone and include a link to this page. Won't take much time and could save others some grief.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2014 at 10:40AM
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raee_gw

And if the fabricator complains to you again about not making enough money, tell him "That is such a pity, so you should have done it correctly in the first place!"

We really are allowed to insist on getting the quality of work that we pay for.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2014 at 12:24PM
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sjhockeyfan325

Raee, that's a great line!

Denise, maybe it would have HELPED if you had been more "educated" about the process, but that does not absolve the contractor one iota - he is responsible for doing a professional job, and for fixing it when he doesn't! (Short aside - we had a wonderful fabricator in our last remodel in 2006. They still made a huge boo-boo, which to this day I don't understand. We had two sinks - they templated properly, and cut wrong - cut a big hole where the small sink should be and no hole where the big sink should be. Their answer? They picked up the phone to apologize and then immediately called our slab warehouse to make sure they could get another slab the very next day, which, fortunately, they could (and it was the next one in order too). We were back in business a week later. That's how it's supposed to work!)

    Bookmark   February 1, 2014 at 12:31PM
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detroit_burb

Great Lakes Marble and Granite in Redford MI did a similarly crappy job for me.

Though they spent a bit of time doing the template, in reality, they did not cut the slabs to the template, they cut them roughly to the template. this resulted in varying overhangs, mediocre seams, and gaps between the slab and the wall.

I have since donated the slabs and had them redone at my expense.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2014 at 2:00PM
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denise133

Well my gratitude for your support and advice Trebruchet, wendyb, mayflowers and raee.

Sorry for your experience detroitburb. Sounds like we ended up with similar fabricators!

The day our Fabricator came out to polish the seam he bragged about hanging on to the second payment until "I was happy" but then I saw he cashed it the same day! I really should have put a stop payment on it.

It is difficult to put so much time, effort, money into getting everything right in the kitchen and then seemingly have the ball drop just as you are crossing the finish line. Lesson learned though.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2014 at 6:26PM
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canuckplayer

I am so sorry this happened to you. Since you live in Toronto, I am sure you are probably familiar with Mike Holmes' show(s).

Some time ago, he had a show that touched on this same problem. A couple had paid over $8000 for their countertops as part of their kitchen remodel and their problem was very similar to yours. The fabricator didn't take responsibility for a very lousy job either: almost mirroring yours. There was a large gap in some areas at the rear and only one seam lined up in height. The kitchen had 3 straight runs, no corners. One of the runs was 7' and he used 3 pieces of quartz. It was as if he was trying to use up material he had already. The rest of the seams were so unlevel that the level actually rocked when put on it. There were big globs of resin/glue on all of the seams. It was as if they didn't smooth anything out and used the resin to fill gaps that they hadn't fit properly.

Mr. Holmes contacted Caesarstone and lodged a complaint on behalf of the homeowner. Caesarstone sent a representative to investigate. The second guy was appalled. He said that in this day and age, the only way to get the most accurate template, was with a laser. Even a paper template is so difficult to record every "wonk" in the walls and impossible to determine cabinet level.

This second installer had the countertops removed, suggested the cabinets be shimmed to as level as possible, and suggested plywood be installed level with all the cabinet tops. This way, if the countertop had to be shimmed, there was something to slide the shim onto.

In the end, Caesarstone replaced the second countertops at no cost. Their rep. said that the bad publicity was more costly than the cost of the counters.

Unfortunately, they didn't post the name of the original contractor (wonder if it was the same guy). I think you should definitely contact Caesarstone. If no one complains, these "cowboys" keep getting away with this. There are a LOT of cases in small claims court for shoddy contractors who take the money and have no idea how to do the job they're contractored for.

If Caesarstone doesn't satisfy, contact Mike Holmes (lol)

    Bookmark   February 2, 2014 at 1:15AM
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denise133

I'm not sure I'm quite in Mike Holmes territory :-) Thanks for the suggestion though!

But I'll take the good advice here and contact Caesarstone. It does surprise me that Caesarstone would sell material to someone who doesn't seem to know the basics of how to install it. At the very least maybe they can recommend a Fabricator that will redo or fix the main counter. I'll keep everybody posted with their response.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2014 at 7:37PM
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blackchamois

Denise - Any updates? What's the latest?

    Bookmark   February 16, 2014 at 2:47PM
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