Help-Is this a poor laminate countertop installation?

Skyangel23July 11, 2014

I still have a few unresolved issues with my builder's cabinet installation (unnecessarily wide fillers with no overlays, for starters), but they went ahead and installed the countertops today.

I see several issues that seem like they might be a problem, but I want to know if they are really poor installation problems that I need to take up with the builder and insist on a fix for or something I need to just live with. I asked to see a drawing of the templating, was told that it would be sent to me, and I even sent three reminder emails. Never saw the template or approved how the countertop would look before fabrication.

The problems I see are 1) uneven countertop overhang in at least one place, 2) overhangs that barely cover the full overlay drawer front with not enough overhang to protect the cabinets, 3) too much space between the countertop and the wall that a bead of caulk will not be able to cover (we are not doing the laminate built-in backsplash, but a tile backsplash that might take a while for us to get around too),
4) clipped corner edges that are not lined up over the drawer corners and look bad.

Here is the clipped edge that doesn't properly cover the corner:

Here is the uneven front. Hard to tell from the pic, but it is visible to the naked eye:

another view:

how little the overhang is:

another view:

countertop corner doesn't line up with cabinet corner at all AND hangs over 4" for no reason.

another view:

here is the master bath, where it appears the countertop is just too long, overhanging at that end almost 3", with the clipped corner edge completely past the countertop corner:


space between countertop and wall:

another one:

I really appreciate any and all feedback. Thank you.

This post was edited by Skyangel23 on Sat, Jul 12, 14 at 11:43

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Oh my goodness! I can hear those guys now-- "Math is hard!" Do-over!

    Bookmark   July 11, 2014 at 7:45PM
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Yes, I think this is a poor installation... I thought my was bad--but just little annoyances, that only I notice. The clipped/uneven corners bother me the most, with your installation.

    Bookmark   July 11, 2014 at 7:49PM
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Ok, good. Keep it coming. I just want to make sure I have grounds--if I do--to insist on a do-over, as May_flowers so aptly put it.

And I'm sorry the pics are so small. I don't know why. When I click on them, they do get larger though. :-(

    Bookmark   July 11, 2014 at 7:55PM
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My first thought was that the pictures were way too small to see if it was a good installation or not. Then I looked at the pictures and realized the installation was so bad that it didn't matter. Yikes.

    Bookmark   July 11, 2014 at 7:55PM
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Well that's great they screwed it up because now you can still resize the cabinets or whatever you plan to do with the other issue.

    Bookmark   July 11, 2014 at 7:56PM
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You are not being picky. Each of those is bad. I was going to say that the only thing possibly out of their control is the wall being uneven, but that should be picked up at templating, right?

may_flowers - This math teacher hasn't heard that in a month or so, so it's overdue. ;)

    Bookmark   July 11, 2014 at 8:33PM
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You're right. It looks even worse when the photos are larger. I can't imagine anyone looking at that and thinking it is acceptable.

There is often a gap between the wall and counter as they do expect some sort of BS there. I'd make sure they understand your plans for a BS when they come out to redo the template.

    Bookmark   July 11, 2014 at 8:48PM
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Imhappy&Iknowit IOWA zone 6b

It looks like their saw got out of control when they were cutting the back of the counter. I don't know how that happens. and the size of the "error" would be hard to overlook. The must have thought your back splash would cover it. The whole job is a do over. Be there. They won't be happy.

    Bookmark   July 11, 2014 at 9:09PM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

I don't know that I would have them do it over. What makes you think they will do a better job? If this is not a one person outfit, then at the least I would make sure the person who did it, did not do the 'do over'.

    Bookmark   July 11, 2014 at 9:17PM
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Definitely a poor installation and not something I would pay for!

    Bookmark   July 11, 2014 at 9:50PM
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It is not a one person outfit doing the installation, I don't think. I will be requesting a meeting with the building supervisor on Monday. Can you guys help me with the proper wordage and what things SHOULD be?

The gaps against between the cabinet and the wall, should they be 1/8th or less, for example? We did not plan to do the backsplash right away, but in a few to several months. These counters are overhanging the cabinets 3/4th of an inch--isn't the standard between 1.25 and 1.5", or am I wrong on that? Clipped edges should definitely line up with their respective cabinet corners, right?

Thank you so much for the help.

    Bookmark   July 11, 2014 at 10:05PM
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I can't help, but will be anxious to hear the answers. I'll add a tweak to the wording of your question though, just to be clear. "The counters should overhang the side of the cabinet and the drawer or door front by what amount?"

(Meaning when you say it should overhang the cabinet, it could be misconstrued. sometimes 'the cabinet' means with the drawer/door and sometimes it means without. I'd be super specific here.)

    Bookmark   July 11, 2014 at 10:56PM
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I agree, cal_quail. We have full overlay doors/drawers. How much should the overhang be from the cabinet face frame?

    Bookmark   July 11, 2014 at 11:58PM
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You should email Trebruchet. He'll tell you exactly what to say. He'll also almost certainly tell you to read your contract, so dig it out and read the fine print. Good luck getting it all sorted out!

    Bookmark   July 12, 2014 at 12:09AM
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The contract doesn't say anything about the countertop specifically. However, I do have emails from the KD saying she will show me the template for approval before fabrication, which she never did.

And I remember a conversation during our initial meeting where she said the counter tops will have a 1.5" overhang, because we wanted at least 12" overhang on the seating side, and I remember her saying, 1.5" for front cabinet overhang, 24" for cabinet box, 4" for knee wall, and 12.5" left for the seating overhang on the other side, for 42" total peninsula depth.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2014 at 1:09AM
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ravencajun Zone 8b TX

Definitely a sloppy job and I also can't believe they are trying to get away with that. Believe me they know what they did wrong, just didn't care enough to fix it. Whoever is doing the work has very little pride in their workmanship.
I would take lots of really good pictures that show those obvious screw ups and lay them out and say would you accept this in your home?
Did you specify that type of edge and the clipped corners? You have good recourse just because they never provided you with the template for approval.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2014 at 5:00AM
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It's pretty bad... basically thereifixedit bad. Go get 'em. :)

    Bookmark   July 12, 2014 at 6:31AM
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I agree with
1. Contact Trebruchet
2. Do-over bad job.

And, FWI, if viewers click on the pictures, a full-size image appears--or at least it does for me. You might want to edit your original post and instruct viewers to try this.

Good luck!

    Bookmark   July 12, 2014 at 9:16AM
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Thank you for all the advice so far! And the confidence and support to insist this be redone. I will be collecting pictures and measurements and copies of emails this weekend for my "presentation" to the super.

I will also contact Trebuchet since it has been mentioned twice.

Oh, the contract AND the engineered plans do both say no built-in backsplash. Both bathrooms have built-in backsplashes. Doh.

The countertop installers are also the cabinet installers. There are also a few doors that are uneven. I should insist they fix these too, right?

sink base doors:

This is a desk drawer that is higher than the cabinet drawer next to it, and the top of it scrapes against the countertop when it is opened:

door next to countertop bookcase with no filler between to keep door front banging into bookcase when opened. This one maybe I just need something to keep the door from opening all the way?

This post was edited by Skyangel23 on Sat, Jul 12, 14 at 10:23

    Bookmark   July 12, 2014 at 10:06AM
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ravencajun Zone 8b TX

Oh yes you need to bring up those problems too, anything that obvious needs to be addressed.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2014 at 1:00PM
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In my opinion the doors and drawers should be adjusted at the end of the project....after the counter has been installed and everything else is in order. There is less chance then of them going out of whack.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2014 at 1:15PM
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Looks terrible. I don't like the abnormally long overhangs.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2014 at 1:30PM
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The overhang is there to allow for the clipped corners. Without a 3" overhang, you can't do a 3" clip. Obvious in the area where there is a standard overhang with clip, and you can pretty much see the cabinet. With templating the overhangs should be more consistent, and it should be 1 1/2" past the front of the cabinet box.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2014 at 2:34PM
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I have come back to this thread quite a few times because I just can't believe what those counters look like. I cannot believe anyone could do work like this, think its fine and expect to get paid for it. I would have those counters removed without even a second thought. So sorry this happened to you.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2014 at 2:47PM
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robbcs3, the clipped edges were supposed to be 2", not 3", and the front overhang is less than 1" throughout both kitchen and bathrooms, nowhere near the 1.5" it should be.

michellemarie, I agree. It looks silly for some ends to have these really long overhangs and then the front overhangs of the cabinets aren't anywhere near as long as they're supposed to be.

Jancy, thank you for the support! These comments have validated how I already felt, but now I can be more specific about my complaints, as well as sure that I am in the right that these must be fixed.

I will update this thread when we get answers/results/new countertops. Thank you all.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2014 at 5:16PM
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Fori is not pleased

"Poor" installation is being a little generous. That's just bad.

On the bright side, now you know you made a good choice on materials--it's going to look great!

    Bookmark   July 12, 2014 at 8:36PM
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Oh, yes, that is a bad job all the way around. I have laminate with clipped corners and it does not look like that. Although I do like your choice in laminate, very pretty. The doors also are hung badly, I can't believe a professional would hang them like that. And the gap between the counter and the wall in the bathroom.....yeeesh, a 10 yr old could do a better job. I can't believe a reputable contractor would do that kind of work and think it was acceptable. You paid good money for this, insist that it is corrected properly.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2014 at 8:09AM
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Fori and hpny2,
Thank you. I was worried about that choice because there are no pictures online of it on a full countertop; I only had the tiny sample to go on.

hpny2, do you have a couple of pictures of your correctly placed clipped corners? I will show them to the super. thx

    Bookmark   July 13, 2014 at 12:00PM
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Sorry, I've been out of town or I would have responded sooner.

Your cabinet at your stove opening is installed incorrectly, I'll bet. (2nd, 3rd, and 4th picture). If the front and rear of the top are parallel it would have to overhang the cabinet equally.

Place a 6' straightedge across the top edge fronts at the stove opening. The tops and cabinets must be in plane. Place a 4' (minimum) level in an "x" over the stove opening. The tops should be level.

The work is substandard.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2014 at 3:50PM
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Hi Trebruchet!
Thanks for responding. We do have a 4 ft. level and will take it over to the house tomorrow and report our findings. :-) I'm trying to think of what we could use as a 6' straight edge.

We did measure the overhangs at various spots around the kitchen, and they varied from 7/8ths of an inch to 1 3/8ths of an inch. So it is not the spot around the stove only, although the cabinet being installed incorrectly is certainly a possibility, as the same company is responsible for both the cabinet install and the countertop fabrication and install. :-(

    Bookmark   July 13, 2014 at 6:35PM
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Skyangel, your materials are beautiful. The installation guys... morons.
I really can't speak to your laminate, but I know for sure your cabinets can be fixed fairly simply from the hinges. These people's work is simply unacceptable by any measure. Better work is done in mass production homes. So sorry you have to deal with this.

This post was edited by musicgal on Sun, Jul 13, 14 at 19:07

    Bookmark   July 13, 2014 at 7:04PM
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ok, update. KD and countertop manager met with me at the house. I really wish the building super was there too as I felt outnumbered and out of my element. They agreed to replace all damaged doors and drawers which is good since that is 8 doors/drawers.

They will redo that peninsula end and take off the 6" clip and massive overhang. The KD tried to say that's what I said I wanted. Thank goodness I printed out the emails to whip out and show her her own message stating the clip would be 2".

They said the gaps between countertop and wall are less than 1/4 inch and will be fine when caulked. I am not an expert so okay I guess?

They agreed the countertop depth varied too much and will make it even to 1/8th variance.

HOWEVER, the KD claimed she never said she would do a 1.5" overhang and that their standard is 1 inch. I do not like it and want it longer, but they are refusing. "we only do 1 inch".

This clipped corner in the pic below? They said it is SUPPOSED to look like that. I didn't even know how to respond. But it's not covering the cabinet??? Nope it's fine. That's how it has to be.

It was left with them saying they'd fix the one side peninsula overhang and the uneven overhang throughout, but it will still barely cover the cabinets and that corner looks bad in my opinion. They will 'fix things' but refused to outright replace it.

I can complain to my builder again, but it doesn't seem like they are on my side.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 10:17PM
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Complain to your builder & tell him you are simply not accepting this work. Tell him you were able to keep your cool during your meeting & are so upset about their response ( or lack of) that you want someone else to do the replacement. You are due a replacement on this countertop.
Edit: typo

This post was edited by romy718 on Tue, Jul 15, 14 at 23:15

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 11:10PM
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Just remember ... you will have to sell this house at some point ... you are going to get dinged for these issues, now is the time to force the builder to step in and either negotiate to your benefit or get another fabricator to re-do. What a mess!

    Bookmark   July 16, 2014 at 2:51AM
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Sophie Wheeler

You have to have more overhang at the sides if you want the clipped corners to competely cover the cabinet boxes. That is why I said on your other thread that choosing clipped corners was a design mistake since you don't want that extra overhang (that is needed) on the sides.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2014 at 7:38AM
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Okay, builder says they are addressing issues and it will turn out fine. So we'll see. I am not holding my breath.

Hollysprings, I very much appreciate your expertise and advice on this thread and others. However, as I said before WE did not choose clipped corners and WE DID want extra overhang. The countertop installers "always" do clipped corners, according to them, and they only do 1 inch overhang as their "standard".

    Bookmark   July 16, 2014 at 1:06PM
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How big is the overhang you have now? It doesn't look like it is even close to the inch they claim is their standard. I'm guessing their standard, and real expertise, is shoddy workmanship. I can't imagine any professional looking at that and doing anything but fall all over themselves apologizing for the hack job. That includes your KD.

Get LOTS of pictures. Put something on the counter for reference (ruler, dollar bill, etc) and take pictures of everything. I'd get the camera out and take lots of pictures while the hacks are there and just explain you're taking them in case this ends up in court.

How do you feel about the quality of the job if the overhangs were okay and you didn't have that wonky weirdness along the back? Those joints looks pretty lousy in the photos.

I'd be furious if they tried to pin this crap job as in any way, shape or form, my fault!! I get so sick of people trying to take advantage and not caring when they've messed up.

OT, but right now I'm dealing with a ridiculous situation regarding my daughter. My 8 year old fractured her foot in two places when a little boy ran by her and stepped on her bare foot while wearing hard soled shoes. She's on crutches and devastated she not able to attend the gymnastics camp I'd enrolled her in next week. I'd put down a $100 non-refundable deposit. Called the gym immediately and explained the situation. They have a wait list for the camp and will be able to fill her spot but are refusing to refund my deposit. It isn't the money, it's the fact that they want to keep my money in spite of the fact that this is a medical reason and they'll be out ZERO money because they can fill her spot. Plus she's attended this gym two-three times a week for the past five years and I offered to take a credit instead of money back!! I'm incensed. Called the Attorney General's office as well as BBB and both encouraged me to file a complaint. And I will if they don't come to their senses. What the heck is wrong with people?

    Bookmark   July 16, 2014 at 3:31PM
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One more thing, if your builder does't follow thru on getting everything fixed to your satisfaction let him know you will be happy to stand by his place of business so future customers can see his work. If he is working a subdivision with several builds you will be happy to provide fliers with pictures of the wonderful cabinetry work he uses. Follow him to several builds for possible future contacts.

Ask to see some of his present build's cabinets and if they are better--let him have it. You want good workmanship.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2014 at 11:25PM
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Poohpup, we were going over to the house to take even more pictures, including the uneven overhangs with a ruler, which we hadn't done yet and were going to per your suggestion, and the countertops are gone!

KD wrote me this morning that they are completely redoing the kitchen countertops, and the manager of the countertop business will do the template, fabricate the countertop, AND do the install himself.

They are replacing nine doors/drawers and will adjust all the uneven doors.

I followed much of the great advice on this thread and was prepared do start on the more drastic ones if we still didn't get results.

Thank you SO much! I heart GW.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2014 at 11:35AM
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What an aggravating situation. Seems like the definition of cutting off your nose to spite your face. Not only do they lose your business for their poor customer service and just poor humanity in general, but they will lose the potential business of your friends and anyone else you might have recommended them to but now surely won't. It is very hard to imagine how these people think.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2014 at 11:38AM
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"KD wrote me this morning that they are completely redoing the kitchen countertops, and the manager of the countertop business will do the template, fabricate the countertop, AND do the install himself."


That's good news, but if those cabinets aren't installed properly, the top overhangs will still be off. Math does not negotiate.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2014 at 2:07PM
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Did you figure out what you are going to do about the corners? Better jump on it or the new top will appear out of nowhere too and you'll be stuck.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2014 at 2:23PM
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I wanted to update. It took them five weeks, but they finally re-installed the countertops yesterday and they look much better. They gave me the 1.5 overhang that I wanted, and holy moly it's even all the way around the kitchen. They got rid of the massive 1/4 gap between the counter and wall and fixed the weird overhangs.
Thanks to everyone for helping me through the process. It was very stressful, especially when the KD said to my face "This is what its' SUPPOSED to look like." Having all this advice helped me stick to my guns.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2014 at 8:33PM
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Looks so good! Way to go to keep going until it was done right. I know how happy you must be. Now it's time to enjoy!

    Bookmark   August 23, 2014 at 9:40PM
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So glad it worked out! Looks great, like it "should" look. Very classic. I'm just now seeing this for the first time, so missed being able to comment while it was going on. But just had to say that I was so glad things worked out. It's great that you were vindicated! And yes indeed of the nerve of people!! And that goes double for that blasted "KD"!!

Could also not help thinking of your daughter and her situation. What a sad story of a bully wrecking havock on an innocent life. I hope she is on the mend in body and soul and I hope you can (or have?!) get some satisfaction or resolution in that area as well. I would be just livid and exasperated at that situation alone much less on the heels of your original countertop fiasco!

    Bookmark   August 24, 2014 at 9:49AM
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Skyangel, I've caught this thread at the end. You've been through the horrors the rest of us fear! And with a KD no less. I would definitely write a review of both the KD and the cabinet company to let other people know what to expect from both. I'm so glad it was resolved in the end. Your kitchen looks beautiful. What is the laminate you used?

    Bookmark   August 24, 2014 at 10:47AM
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Really glad this worked out. Your countertop is so pretty. What is the name of that pattern?

    Bookmark   August 24, 2014 at 10:52AM
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