Stone Installation Expectations-is this reasonable?

bbtrixApril 25, 2014

My marble was installed yesterday. The guys were nice and it appeared to go well until I saw one of them start mixing epoxy and applying to my island and to the seam. I was present but did not hover staying in the background. Never did they offer any information that there were chips. One guy did announce that one of the perimeter pieces did not fit but did not say how they would resolve it. They ended up sawing into my new drywall. So much for the fancy laser templating!

When they were finished the main guy brought me the invoice and asked for the expected payment. I asked if that was a chip he was working on and if it happened during the install. He said that indeed it was a chip and that it happened previously during manufacturing. They acted completely nonchalant like this is accepted procedure. As I looked it over and commented about the lack of color match and quality he said I'd have to talk to the owner about it. He expected payment and they were in a rush to leave. I did not have time to do a full inspection. It was very awkward.

I understand that I will chip and etch this stone and I will take full responsibility for its care and upkeep. That is what I knowingly signed up for. What is it that we should expect from a stone install? Knowledgable workman that care about the quality of their work? Standards? Craftsmanship? Honesty? I'm not sure where the non-truth has occurred but they have not been up-front. The chips occurred during fabrication. They should have told me and given me choices. Instead they choose to see if I catch the problems and do anything about it. Stone experts, are chips acceptable? Crooked reveals? Island and sink out of square? I have pix of my most obvious problems. Please chime in what you think. I am out of town at a doctor visit all day, but want to at least contact the shop owner this afternoon and setup a meeting.

Seam chip - very uneven and rough. The seam itself has good vein matching but is rough at the joint.

Chip over DW - this is the worst issue. Horrible epoxy job. Very uneven and noticeable. It should never have been delivered.

Sink reveal uneven - it appears they did not center and adjust it correctly.

Wall

To make this worse, I subbed this out to take some of the load off my contractor DH. He could have done laminate or solid surface himself, but after 6 months on this gut project I wanted to give him a break. Are our expectations too high to expect a product delivered undamaged?

Thoughts? TIA for...

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lmsscs

If you aren't happy with something ask them to come back. When my quartzite was installed I wasn't happy with how a couple of the seams came together like in your first picture. They came out and smoothed the edges and now I'm very happy with it.

One of the pieces had a corner come off as they were bringing it into the house. I was so upset because I could see the fix where they epoxied it back on. However I knew it was there because I saw it. Once I stepped back and a few days went by I realized it just looked like another vein in the stone. If you didn't know it was there, you wouldn't know it was a fix.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2014 at 2:46PM
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Trebruchet

bbtrix:

Please hold a straight edge tight to the right bottom side of the marble in your first picture that spans the seam and measure from the top of the straightedge to the bottom of the left side. If it exceeds 1/8", I doubt it will, it is out of the MIA's Residential Installation specifications, section 11.4.

The edges can be reprofiled on site to a radius large enough to consume the chip. This is by far the best "repair". This larger radius may not be the look you wanted, but will be less likely to chip in the future.

While the MIA drawings aren't specific as to a positive sink reveal, consistency seems to be obvious and may be the deal killer here. In these days of DXF files for sink cutouts, missing one is simply inexcusable. I wouldn't want to be disappointed or angry every time I stood at my sink for the next 30 years.

Use the MIA specifications to your advantage. Now it's not you arguing with them, its them arguing with the specifications of a 70-year-old world renown trade association.

Here is a link that might be useful: MIA

    Bookmark   April 25, 2014 at 2:55PM
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jellytoast

I don't think crooked sink reveals are acceptable, but I've seen enough of them to know that they are commonplace. Some sinks show imperfections on the reveal more than others and your sink seems to fall in this category. I would have wanted less of a radius on those corners.

I think chips that are repaired so as to be unnoticeable are acceptable, and those that are obviously repaired are not.

I have no problem paying a contractor as soon as they are done the job. But if there issues that aren't acceptable, I'd make a phone call to the guy in charge right then and there to see how they want to handle it. As soon as the guy said I'd have to talk to the owner about it, I'd have him get the owner on the phone. If they were in too big of a hurry to allow me to inspect the finished product, I don't think I'd be in that big of a hurry to cut the check.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2014 at 2:59PM
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dcward89

I don't mean to make you feel worse but that sink reveal looks AWFUL. There's no way I would have paid the rest of the bill until that was fixed.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2014 at 3:15PM
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Trebruchet

dcward89:

The best thing a friend can do is be honest in a case like this. Mismatched shoes and dress are done in an evening, not so with sink installations. Tact and honesty have their respective places.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2014 at 7:54PM
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romy718

bbtrix, so sorry you are going through this. I can't comment on the sink or out of square installation but I know they can fix your seam & chip. My initial seam looked much like yours, rough. I also wasn't happy with the color match. The second time around they used a less white, more translucent product that had to be heated. Also, one of the edges that ran along the side of the cabinets looked rough. All the others were perfect. They were able to smooth that edge out. I had them repair every little chip, even the ones I could feel & not see.
Of course, it's Friday. If you weren't able to talk to someone, don't let it ruin your weekend. I think there are lots of people out there who accept this kind of work. Don't let them tell you they can't fix it because of the nature of the stone (Danby). They can. They will. Seems like all of us GWers get these issues successfully worked out.
The little of stone I can see looks beautiful!

    Bookmark   April 25, 2014 at 9:12PM
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bbtrix

Imsscs, I hope my fabricator is as responsive as yours and that I also have a happy outcome.

Trebuchet, I did the measurement as you directed and it's barely a smidgen more than 1/8". Thanks for the link to the MIA document. It's very helpful. I discovered this evening that there is a half inch difference in the overhang on the out of square L piece to the left of the stove, and I failed to mention earlier that they did not use any adhesive, only ran a bead if silicone under the overhang where the stone meets the cabinet. They said it is to make it easier to change to cabinets. I see in the MIA that's unacceptable.

Jelly toast and dcward89, the sink reveal and the chip on the island are my greatest worries. You should have heard my DH when he came home and saw it. He immediately took measurements and was floored by the lack of workmanship. He is a commercial contractor and said this type of work should be redone or greatly discounted. I've never had an under mount and didn't know what to look for. I was only concerned that my cutting board would slide! The sink radius actually follows Kohler's template exactly. They must have gone wrong with the finishing as they had the CAD file and the cutout should have had no reveal. I know I made a mistake paying but only saw the the chips at that point. My paperwork states there is a one year warranty on installation. Hopefully I won't have problems getting this resolved.

Romy718, you're right it's Friday,and I wouldn't expect him to respond tonight. I was not able to call him today, but sent him a brief text with a few pictures when I got home early this evening. I am positive he is already fully aware of all the issues, especially since some were created during fabrication. They are open tomorrow so I'll call in the morning. It helps to hear of your similar problems and that they were fixed. That gives me hope. Once I'm past this, I know I'll love it as you do yours.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2014 at 1:31AM
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Trebruchet

" I discovered this evening that there is a half inch difference in the overhang on the out of square L piece to the left of the stoveâ¦"

bbtrix:

You may be blaming your fabricators for a cabinet installation error. It is difficult to see cabinets out of square or out of plane to each other. It becomes readily apparent when the tops go in. Top fabricators are faced with the "rock" choice of keeping the overhangs consistent or the "hard place" choice of different reveals at stove openings, for example.

Shame on me for not asking for your sink brand and model number before criticizing your cut-out. If you have a sliding cutting board, that cut-out may be to manufacturer's specifications. If it is, and you and the fabricator had no previous agreement to deviate from the specs, you have no right to complain now.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2014 at 10:01AM
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bbtrix

Treb - No cabinet installation error - DH is a master carpenter by trade and specializes in casework. He is also solid surface certified. He knows what he is doing. They are level and square. That is not the issue here. The poor templating is clear. The wall has a bow and that was pointed out to him at templating. I was concerned during templating that the guy (owner) continually took phone calls and texts. He was completely unfocused and I really wondered if he was giving it the due diligence it needed.

Regarding the sink, the opening is larger than the Kohler supplied template. I know he used the DXF file, but mistakes were made in the cutting/finishing that it ended up an uneven quarter inch larger. I even brought the sink to him the day before the install as he did a practice run of the template on a piece of plywood. It fit perfectly with no reveal. We even talked about how this sink has no reveal. I also brought the cutting board to test. If they had laid the marble correctly, the over cutting would not be so apparent. The island was laid over the sink by eye rather than measuring, so it is skewed. Since they did not use adhesive they could reasonably fix this by removing the silicone from the sink and moving it to the correct position. Not 100% correct, but I could live with it.

I have a feeling they are inexperienced with marble and possibly added it recently. The guy that ran my install has only been doing this for 6 months. He did not smooth the surface of the epoxy at all. We had a conversation about marble at the end and could tell he did not know much about the stone. He had no idea how to fix etching. That's when I became concerned that he had done these repairs.

It is apparent I picked the wrong company of the two in my rural area. I believe I had a sense that I made the wrong decision going with this shop and that is why I was so nervous the day before install. There were signs along the way, but I let price dictate my decision. I am still hopeful the owner will make things right.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2014 at 11:25AM
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Trebruchet

bbtrix:

I used to work in a cabinet shop and the peer pressure to do good work was relentless and overpowering. The worst thing that could happen was a group of guys standing, pointing, and laughing at your poor work. It was cruel, and I made sure it never happened to me. Even now, although I know it's nearly impossible, I'm terrified that Woody will see a job of mine that didn't turn out as well as I'd hoped, so I redo it.

Call your fabricator and tell him you've arranged for his competitor to fix all of his screw-ups and you're going to allow him to take pictures. If he has any foresight at all for his business, this is the last thing on earth he'd want to happen, especially in a rural area with little competition.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2014 at 11:49AM
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Awnmyown

With Trebruchet here, sometimes if the money's gone, public shaming is the way to go. When I had problems with my counter fabricator (quartz...they cut the sink upside down...) I photographed all the errors (making sure to make it obvious how bad they were) and sent them off to him after he initially blew me off. I included a "I'll have to ask around town for who can fix your mess" and let him know that they photos would go on the small communities' facebook page, buy-and-sell, BBB, craigs list, google+ reviews, and I wouldn't hesitate to call our local paper with my story.

...he became a *lot* more responsive after that...

(because that's the perk about small communities...everyone knows him!)

    Bookmark   April 28, 2014 at 3:38PM
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belle_va

I had a similar issue with my marble installation. As I understand it (mainly from reading posts from experts here and elsewhere) really white marble has a sort of translucency and it is hard to get the epoxy to match. In my case, the marble (Alabama white) was factory honed and the finish was as glorious and silky matte smooth as a baby's bottom. It was so perfect. I guess there were some divots en route or during fabrication and the installation guys touched them up on site. No one communicated with me about what was going on- I just looked over and saw them scraping away epoxy with a razor blade and then they started sanding. The sanding discs created a haze if you will because the sheen was different than the original finish. I was absolutely livid! Fortunately I DID NOT pay the installation guys right then and there which gave the owner a lot of incentive to try to make it right. Unfortunately short of re-honing the whole darn counter there is no way to make those spots match in sheen. It took several months to come to some resolution with the owner of the stone fabrication shop since at that point I was just over it and didn't want a new counter or in-home re-honing. The good news is that many, many months later I hardly notice those spots (in part due to strategically placed cutting boards.) Your stone is lovely and it is the whole of the project is what matters. But when you are in the thick of it, all the little things make you crazy. At least that was my experience. Let us know how they fix it!

    Bookmark   April 28, 2014 at 8:21PM
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Linelle

the guy (owner) continually took phone calls and texts. He was completely unfocused and I really wondered if he was giving it the due diligence it needed.

That behavior just frosts me. Is it appropriate to ask the person to stop doing that while doing exacting work in your house? Or is it ill-advised?

    Bookmark   April 28, 2014 at 8:29PM
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bbtrix

Trebuchet, I understand what you are saying about working under pressure but most of us do that. I recently retired as an IT Director/Network Adminstrator of a large system. The pressure never let up 24/7 and almost is never good enough. It is just sad how difficult it seems to find quality work these days. You used the peer pressure to attain a different level. I hope you also found enjoyment in this process and in a job well done.

Treb and Awnmyown, we are right with you on the public sharing aspect, and absolutely do not want to go there unless necessary. Our roots are deep and connections far spread in our community. But we will if...

Belle_va, our experiences are so similar! I noticed on my epoxy repairs he was very sloppy on allowing the epoxy to spread far from the chip creating a thin layer that will never have the same sheen as the rest of the finish. I am sure from my research it is because he had no idea how to do this. Fixing chips is a very difficult art but it's not impossible to have a reasonable remedy. What was your ultimate outcome? It may help me decide what is acceptable. I do love the stone already and just want this resolved so we can have a kitchen again. It's been 6 months and now it is a tease vacantly staring at us - I did laboriously and joyfully cook dinner on my range for the first time tonight but it was quite the drag carrying my supplies up and down stairs. No water until this is resolved!

linelle, that is exactly what I'm talking about! How do you let them do their job without micromanaging? When do you intervene? We try to take the high road and assume a craftsman will do the job they've chosen and have been hired to do. Unfortunately, some are just grunts in it for the money and can care less about doing a good job, much less enjoy their chosen profession. I see my first mistake was not making a statement to the owner of exactly what was expected upon delivery of the stone. I guess we can no longer assume anything.

The owner will be here first thing in the morning. Our contract stated that I would complete payment upon delivery. I made good on my end and in good faith expect that he will make good on the warranty he promises.

BB

(Edited for typo)

This post was edited by bbtrix on Tue, Apr 29, 14 at 9:08

    Bookmark   April 29, 2014 at 12:19AM
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belle_va

bbtrix- the most frustrating aspect for me was that the lead fabricator in the shop was wonderful. he did a beautiful job. measurements were perfect. there are no seams anywhere in my kitchen except behind the slide in range where they made a bridge. the installation yahoos mucked it all up. they took a gorgeous perfect stone and marred it. as an aside, they also damaged our new fridge.

in my case, i had not paid the balance and after months of back and forth and a visit from the lead fabricator guy, we finally negotiated a significant discount. (he was very apologetic and stated that the installation guys did a poor job and he tried to massage the spots back to a better sheen but in the end said the only thing that would really fix it would be new slabs or re-honing on site.)

we also deducted the cost of a new door for our fridge. ultimately i would have preferred for it to be right- i wasn't looking for a "deal" but that was how it got resolved. we are likely moving this fall due to a job transfer and i know that the kitchen will be an immediate project in the new house...i'm not looking forward to the marble shopping process!

    Bookmark   April 29, 2014 at 11:18AM
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bbtrix

Bella_va, thanks for the info. I certainly understand why you're not looking forward to going through this again. The anxiety of this process is astounding.

I'm perplexed about my meeting this morning. The owner says he will do whatever to make me happy, but then states that the sink could end up the same with a new slab because marble cuts rough and much product is lost in the smoothing. My sink calls for no reveal yet I ended up with an uneven 1/4". How does this happen with a CNC machine? They are picking up my island top tomorrow to attempt to fix. I hate the thought of wasting a beautiful piece of stone to have them completely redo it, so I decided to let him attempt a fix. If that isn't satisfactory, he has another slab from my lot.

Stone experts, i am being told that a zero reveal cannot be achieved from the DXF file since much grinding has to occur after the machine cuts to smooth the marble. From your experiences, is there truth to this statement? I've watched some YouTube videos of a CNC machine in action and it looks incredibly accurate cutting granite. Is it different for marble?

    Bookmark   April 30, 2014 at 12:08AM
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Trebruchet

"Stone experts, i am being told that a zero reveal cannot be achieved from the DXF file since much grinding has to occur after the machine cuts to smooth the marble. From your experiences, is there truth to this statement?"

No.

"I've watched some YouTube videos of a CNC machine in action and it looks incredibly accurate cutting granite. Is it different for marble?"

No.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2014 at 6:41AM
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