Quartz Countertop Problem

KlakeJuly 22, 2011

I need advice, feedback. Our quartz countertop was installed in the kitchen and on a bar area. I am not going to mention the brand because I don't want to give it a bad rap. It isn't the manufacturer we're upset with, it's the fabricator. We noticed a problem with the edges and mentioned it to the installer (unfortunately after they were almost done). He tried "sanding" a small area, no help.

The edge is 1 1/4". It should be totally smooth showing the appearance of a thick "slab" of quartz. It has a small "bump" in the middle as well as some other "lines" - almost making it look like 2 pieces were put together - one on top of the other.

We've been trying to get a response from the fabricator without success so far for 4 weeks.

The bar top did not fit so they reinstalled a new one today. The edge is perfectly smooth - proving there's a problem with the rest. The installer today (different from original) said that the edge on kitchen was never sanded and polished after cutting it to size at the fabricator. He obviously does not want us to tell his "boss" what he told us.

I guess our options are:

1) Have them rip it out, replace. With this option, part of backsplash would have to be torn out and reinstalled, lose of use of kitchen, would it ruin the undermount sink? stress on cabinets? - etc., etc. I don't know if they'd try to "fix" what they rip out and reinstall or totally replace with new?

2) Have them try to sand it in the house, but installer said it would be a total mess. We saw that when the did the original install and had to cut out a hole for the stove stop.

3) Financial compensation.

If we were to go with financial compensation, what would seem like a reasonable percentage. Thankfully, we haven't paid for the countertop yet.

The thought of number 1 and 2 just makes me cringe.

Literally, there is not one thing that has gone right with this rehab. It was suppose to be totally done at the end of May. So my tolerance is getting very challenged.

I appreciate your thoughts.

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In your shoes, I would take pictures. Shots taken from acute angles show the most.

What would seem like a reasonable percentage: the description is too vague when you say "...should be totally smooth showing the appearance of a thick "slab" of quartz. It has a small "bump" in the middle as well as some other "lines" - almost making it look like 2 pieces were put together - one on top of the other ...." .

You are the first person to state you haven't paid for the countertop yet. Congratulations.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2011 at 6:39AM
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POST pics showing what YOU see....

It sounds like "Larry, Moe & Curly" get around !!!! LOL (sorry)

Not trying to be "self promoting" here - But............ seriously - It sounds like the first installer had not done too many ES jobs before yours - YOU CANT SURFACE POLISH ES WITH REGUAR STONE PADS!!!!

IF your material is 1/4" thick - it sounds like you have 3CM stock, but your description sounds more like it's 2CM that's laminated - PICS WILL CONFIRM THIS

Take shots from different angles to show the polish on the main tops (so you don't have a lot of flash glare in the pics). Take close ups and shots from a ways back showing the overall assembly.....

I'll be watching for your pics


    Bookmark   July 23, 2011 at 9:26AM
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If you go for option 2 make sure they have a shop vac and someone holds the nozzle right where they sand.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2011 at 10:41AM
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Sounds like it is not a mitered edge, which is the problem. Agree that we need pics.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2011 at 10:55AM
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I tried to get the best pictures I could. I first 2 are of the "problem".

New Bar Countertop:

    Bookmark   July 23, 2011 at 12:44PM
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This is NOT a mitered edge = it looks more like 3CM "Eased" Edge.....

It appears from your pics that you have 3CM material.

The first two pics show your edge that has been processed on a CNC machine or vertical axis rotational diamond head polishing machine (which leaves the horizontal "striations" that you see in the first two pics - and IMHO - I'll say it looks like they went up to... position 2 (which is in the range of 100 to 120 grit) nothing else was done on to polish the edge (I usually go up to a minimum of 3000 grit, but this will vary from stone to stone - usually never below 1500 grit)

My professional opinion is that the shop that did your fab has a CNC Machine, and they (like many others around the world) go up to position 2, then take the pieces OFF the CNC and finish the edge polish by hand (hence the absence of any finer striations on the other pieces that you are showing that are polished in your other two pics) They took the piece off the CNC in order to polish the edges the rest of the way, but somehow spaced out and shipped your first pieces without finishing them. Hey, it happens - guys screw up - I do, You do - Everybody does sometime, so give them the opportunity to make the situation right...............

The edges that are not polished are UNSAT - HOWEVER - This CAN be Remedied, but the tops that have the crappy edges will need to be PULLED OUT OF YOUR HOME and finished AWAY from your WOOD FLOORS - IF they try to finish this in your kitchen you will get:




THE BEST WAY to finish this IMHO - is WET PROCESS...

Sorry for not having better news for ya, but your guy should have had better QC practices to insure that this did not happen... maybe he was having a bad day, but your unfinished edges should not be lasting a memorial to his oversight...... I'm sure he didnt get up the morning he did your fab, and said "Hmmmmmm How can I screw up this job today?"

BOTTOM LINE : Your situation IS FIXABLE - B U T - The tops need to be pulled out of your kitchen in order to properly polish your edges the way that they should be -
IF your guy tries to do your edges WET and IN PLACE - you'll run the risk of getting water on your wood floors - which will destroy them..... :-( I personally would not want to subk=ject myself to the risk of having to buy you a new floor in your kitchen...



    Bookmark   July 23, 2011 at 1:23PM
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Wow Kevin. Thank you for your professional opinion. It helps considerably.

Now it's just the emotional side of the total inconvenience of having them taken out - again, no use of kitchen - as well as needing to redo the backsplash, possibly destroy the sink, cabinets.

So here is another question I would appreciate feedback on. Do I pay them the original cost or is there a discount for their error, even though at the end it turns out okay.

The fabricator is a large company that also has their hands in lots of other things. Our design company ordered through them.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2011 at 3:51PM
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Klake -

Thanks for your kind words - it means a lot !!!

As far as payng and discounts go:

I'd Pay then the original contract amount when they complete the work to your satisfaction - UNLESS you have any clauses in the contract that specifically address deducting a discount or credit if they screw up like this ( I really doubt that there is any language in your contract that makes a provision for this - but there could be.. check your contract docs....)

If they want to offer you a discount (since you may do repeat business with them), let them bring it up - otherwise - pay them the contract balance when they complete all of the work to your satisfaction.. If YOU incurr additional expenses as a result of this problem - that's another thing entirely, and IMHO you should be compensated as such..

Another way to answer your "discount" question would be this way - how would YOU like to lose pretty much all of your profit on a job like this because of the re-do, and THEN YOUR CUSTOMER wants an additional "discount" - after you are probably going to be upside down on the job anyways????

There's "fair" and then there's down right "unreasonable" - asking the guy for additional money off because of the screw up is something that WalMart & Home Depot have now instilled in our culture - but is it fair to the guy who's just trying to complete your project? Not in my book

Put yourself in HIS SHOES before you ask for additional money off because of the "inconvenience" to you......... Regardless of whether your Fabricator is large or not - fair is fair (I guess I am biased towards the contractor) - since these days - EVERYBODY wants Somethin for Nuthin.... (not saying that's you, but it gets REALLY OLD after a while = know what I mean?)

Bottom line - let him fix the project, and if you are satisfied = pay him his balance and get on with life in general - it's an honest mistake - just keep everything in perspective



    Bookmark   July 23, 2011 at 7:45PM
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If/when this countertop is removed for repair, will the undermount sink and cabinets be OK? I've wondered this before when people have counter problems, or even if someone simply wants to replace a sink eventually.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2011 at 10:13PM
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Removal will be entirely dependent upon how the tops were initially installed....In Klate's situation, it appears that 3CM thick material was used.

If this indeed the case, the following assumptions could possibly apply:

There are a lot of "IF" 's that go into answering your question -

IF the tops were set directly on top of the cabinet boxes, the adhesive used MAY HAVE BEEN applied around the outside perimeter of the cabinets. IF this is the case, all that is needed to loosen up the tops, is to cut the bead of caulk (IF that was used - this is oretty easy to do)

HOWEVER = "IF" adhesive was used on the inside stiles of the cabinets - removal will be more difficult.

Depending on how the sink is attached and / or supported - the sink may come out with no problems - maybe not.... this is part of the "risk" in doing a removal/repair/replacement opp.....

The GOOD thing that you have in this scenario, is that the stone is ES = and it is harder to break in this application than say... natural stone. ES is WAY STRONG and will flex more before it cracks = than Granite.... so it will be less risky ON THE PIECE of stone that's gettin yanked out - because the ES WILL flex more than Granite

Each situation is different - IF the installers used silicone or epoxy to "set" the tops = all bets are off, but..... if they used clear accrylic caulk around the outside perimeter of each top (as many guys do in 3CM opps = inital removal of the piece/pieces will be pretty easy and low risk (speaking for myself that is)

Without actually "being there" and seeing first hand what allis going on - I can only speculate so far.......

Does this make sense????



    Bookmark   July 24, 2011 at 9:55AM
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Thanks, AZ, that helps alot. It makes me think that when we get our top set, we'll be paying attention to how it goes on with an eye towards keeping our future options open-no epoxy on the inside stiles (those tops are so heavy, epoxy on stiles seems like overkill anyway). The idea of people ruining their new, possibly custom, cabinets because their fireclay sink has a crack or whatever gives me the creeps. And how about when a new buyer comes in and can't stand the surface and/or sink that the previous owner love-love-loved? Who knew 6 months ago that there were so many details to master and consider?!

    Bookmark   July 24, 2011 at 11:03AM
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IMHO - Fireclay sinks have ABSOLUTELY NO PLACE IN A KITCHEN - but that's just me - after fooling around with one about 10 years ago that cracked just HANDLING IT - one of my guys picked it up to check the fit with the undermount opening he was working on, and the dumb thing just cracked !!!!!

(and he KNEW how to handle sinks too - one of my BEST GUYS of ALL TIME too!!!)

    Bookmark   July 24, 2011 at 4:26PM
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I agree that it is good to pay full price after they fix this.

My guess is you will receive the suggestion that they will repair it on site and hire some minimum wage guys to catch the spraying water. Extra plastic sheet, tarps, many absorbent layers on the floor, and plastic on the floor too, and so on. They can alternate between wet and dry processes. Etc.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2011 at 5:47PM
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Okay all you experts. I need you again :). The fabricator states that the "CNC cutter gets worn and striations show more on quartz and our color". He wants to come into the house and dry sand and polish. He acknowledges that it will be a mess and "will try to clean up best we can". Says the dust can take a couple of days to settle.

He stated "we are not removing the countertops with your backsplash, seam, etc."

I don't even know how to react. My kitchen, diningroom, familyroom are all one big room - so this doesn't just involve a kitchen. The thought of the mess, particularly since 99% of my rehab is complete, my new hardwood, cabinets installed, new appliances, walls painted, new furniture delivered, pictures hung, tv hung - all of which are going to be a mess :(. AND, I don't know to trust them enough to have them "attempt" this fix.

What is the potential of the edges being "wavy" because they are going to use a 3 inch sander? How are they going to keep the edges square and perpendicual to the top with a little 3 inch sander? Guy says "kind of looks like a die grinder". My husband said "palm sander"? and guy said "yeah - something like that". How are they going to get the countertop next to a wall or the wood side panel of my refrigerator? It's also very close to my cabinets.

Do I need to hire someone to come out and give a 2nd opinion? Where would I go for that?

    Bookmark   July 26, 2011 at 3:42PM
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It's just dust. It's not fatal.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2011 at 4:18PM
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Klake -

in my opinion - what your fabricator said :

that the "CNC cutter gets worn and striations show more on quartz and our color" and "will try to clean up best we can". Says the dust can take a couple of days to settle....." is total BS - if the CNC cutter gets worn - why then is the other side of the kitchen (the pieces installed that DO have the polish) look better?

And as far as DUST goes - what he's really saying in the "will try to clean up best we can" line is REALLY meaning - there's going to be a huge dust mess (because WE screwed up) but never mind that it will permeate EVERYTHING near the kitchen - LIVE WITH IT...???

Besides.. when a CNC is used, the machine "cycles" up through a series of six to seven different grits in order to rough shape, sand, hone and THEN polish. The grits start around 36 to 50, and go to 100, 200, 400, 800, 1500 and finally 3000 grit. (the lower the grit number - the coarser the grit, the higher the grit number - the finer the grit. 3000 grit is used to polish glass - to put this into perspective) Guys will either "run the grits" or only do the first two or three (50.100 &200) - THEN, they'll take the piece off the CNC and finish the rest of the grits (400, 800, 1500 & 3000) using 4" or 5" polishers WET - by hand. THIS helps to ELIMINATE the horizontal striations that you see on the rough pieces in your kitchen, but not so much (if at all) on the polished pieces in your kitchen. Does this make sense?

If I were you - this is what I'd do:

1. get a copy of his business insurance policy. This is the policy that will cover your claim AFTER he's done - for cleaning up all of the dust and the mess and any other collateral damage that he will create trying to fix this in place. Make sure that it is current, and if you can - see what it covers and excludes in terms of liquidated damages caused by the contractor.

2. get a second opinion (or you can use mine posted above - I do this for a living on top of Fabrication here in Arizona) and then a third and fourth. if you live in California, Arizona or Florida there is a Registrar of Contractors that can help mediate things between you an your fabricator

3. insist that the tops in question be removed, completed and re-installed to your satisfaction - or have them start over - either way - I would NOT be paying another dime towards completion until this is resolved !!!

Ask your fabricator how he intends to keep from burning the edges when he does what he's proposing - polishing dry with no water. ALL ES polishes differently that Natural Stone. ES is made up of epoxy resin and quartz particulate and resembles terrazzo. The epoxy resin that surrounds each particle of quartz polishes at a lower speed and the resin can melt and burn REALLY EASY (hence the burning potential) Anyone who's worked with ES knows this too - that you also have to use A LOT OF WATER when polishing so you can keep the resins in the material cool and get a good polish quality......

IMHO - ES ia a harder product to polish, and takes considerable practice if a guy has never worked with t before, or just hasn't done much of it.

The bottom line for your situation is just getting the damn thing done to your satisfaction - and with as little mess and damage as possible. YOU do not have to accept his plan for remedy. HE wants you to because it;s easier for him, and you can deal with the mess (is my suspicion).......

Take what I've written above and previous posts on this thread as my advice to you. I would not polish the edges in question in place and dry if I had another - safer way for the work to be completed to your satisfaction.......



    Bookmark   July 26, 2011 at 4:45PM
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Kevin - once again, I can't thank you enough for your expertise. I have passed on your information to the Contractor we are using who determined the product and fabricator/distributor for our countertop. Forgetting pure inconvenience, needing to cancel out of town company, etc., both options (removal or in-house) come with real probabilities of damage. For removal, there's the backsplash, sink, refrigerator panel, plumbing, etc. For in-house, it's the floor, cabinets, appliances - not to speak of general nightmare mess. We have been put into a no-win situation here. I'll keep you updated.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2011 at 11:03AM
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Okay - so here's the end result. After talking to the fabricator/installer, we made the INCORRECT decision to let them try to repair the countertops in the house vs. removal. (Sorry Kevin). Our decision was based on their assurance that they would be able to minimize dust/water/mess - it would solve the problem and removal would not be a feasible option based on needing to remove repair backsplash, sink, etc., etc. They LIED. It was an absolute mess. They were totally not prepared to cover all of our floors, furniture, pictures, lights, etc. We ended up covering things with every sheet, towel, rag we had in the house. What we did cover, didn't work. The aftermath mess once we revealed everything was incredible. Water sprays mixed with quartz dust was all the way up to the crown molding, on and in cabinets, appliances. Water on hardwood floors caused them to buckle (they did lay down after a couple days of drying). The dust was on every dish, glass, covering everything within 25 feet. To top it off, although the countertops no longer have the original problem, it now has it's own set of problems with being wavy (they did it with a 3 inch hand saw), variations of shine and scratches. The explanation is that they did the best they could "in-house" - without machines.

Bottom line - Would removing them have been better? I honestly don't know. The damage and need of repair of all it involved would have been significant. That being said, the end result of what we have is disappointing, to say the least.

DO NOT, UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES - ALLOW THIS TYPE OF WORK IN YOUR HOME. The other lesson I've learned from this as well as other events with our rehab - as much as I hate conflict and I've tried to let people do their thing and not get in the way questioning, inspecting materials, etc., that ends now. Had I asked questions, inspected everything before install a lot of my problems wouldn't have happened. I will make sure that inferior products and workmanship not be accepted long before it's too late.

I have not paid for this countertop yet and am very conflicted about how I'm going to handle this. I will not permit them in my home again. I can not permit more action be taken causing more damage, time, inconvenience in my home. This project was due to be completed by the end of May.

    Bookmark   August 5, 2011 at 10:25PM
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OMG, Klake, this sounds like a nightmare. Start to finish. I have no expertise to offer, but wanted at least to chime in with support - and gratitude that you are doing what you can do for others to learn from your experience. I hope you get resolution on this that meets your satisfaction somehow.

    Bookmark   August 5, 2011 at 11:36PM
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Klake - please contact me asap

az school of rock



    Bookmark   August 6, 2011 at 10:12AM
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    Bookmark   August 8, 2011 at 12:19PM
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