Do I really need a seam? Ideas for transporting whole

CT_NewbieOctober 10, 2013

We have an L-shaped section which would be about 64" L and ~100" W at the outer parts of the L. We would be using Princess White Granite. The stone yard called it granite, the fabricator called it a quartzite. It is a softer granite and in my mind definitely, not a quartzite because it can't really cut the glass bottle. Fabricator A said we would need to cut it and then seam it together because he was worried that the piece would break during transport or when they were trying to set it on the cabinets as they have to bring it across flat. He said he would already be reinforcing it with steel for transport. He claimed we wouldn't notice the seam because they would epoxy it and it would be cut as one piece and then cut and seamed together. He said if it were Absolute Black granite, he would try it but the quartzite is weaker at the veins.

Do you agree that it is high risk for transporting? I take it, it is their risk for installation and I really don't want to sign anything transferring that risk of breaking to me. Is there a different method that could be used for transporting/installing that would reduce the risk of breakage? If so, what? How noticeable do you think the seam will look?

I'm checking with another fabricator but figured I would post.

Thank you!

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I'm guessing the shortest we can make is 96" and still have the 2nd seam at the sink. But we can't do anything about the 64" part


    Bookmark   October 10, 2013 at 3:01PM
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Responsible fabricators have told you how they would do the job, according to industry standards with a seam, and that they would bear the risk of breakage.

You want them to engage in a much riskier installation, one without a seam, yet you don't want to compensate them for the additional risk. You aren't being fair; your fabricators are.

You can't expect fabricators to take more risk without more money.

    Bookmark   October 10, 2013 at 3:12PM
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I am a fabricator.

This is a piece we would do with a seam. There would be a substantial risk of breakage.

The 60" leg also requires that the piece be placed on the cabinets flat instead of lifting it up vertical on the cabinet and tipping it down which creates a significant risk of breakage.

We have done oversize parts on occasion but only with the understanding that there would be a significant additional charge if the part broke and had to be remade.

Unfortunately with natural stone you can't predict with 100% accuracy if a given part will survive the handling of transfer and install. It can get very expensive to replace a broken part when a replacement can cost over $2000 just for the material.

    Bookmark   October 10, 2013 at 3:51PM
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"I really don't want to sign anything transferring that risk of breaking to me"

Stone is NOT INDESTRUCTIBLE ... especially along veins, inclusions and other changes of crystal structure. If they say "needs a seam or it will break in transport, you either sign a waiver or accept their way of doing things.

Given the hassle of making a good seam ... if it were possible to avoid them, they would.

    Bookmark   October 10, 2013 at 3:59PM
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Sophie Wheeler

You can't have your cake and eat it too. If you want them to try to make it a thousand pound single piece without a seam, and they recommend against it, YOU are the one that will have to assume the risk of paying for it again if it breaks. If you rely on their professional judgement about the seam location, and it breaks, or the seam is poor quality, then THEY get to fix it or redo it.

    Bookmark   October 10, 2013 at 7:45PM
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Thank you all for your perspectives! A few words of clarification. I am trying to assess the risk as opposed to take the risk as a given. I am trying to look for other solutions that might possibly work (to bring up for discussion with the fabricators) and REDUCE the risk vs. just asking them to take on the risk. I merely stated that I would not want to sign a waiver and take on the risk. I'm NOT forcing them to take on risk they don't want to do

I talked to a second fabricator, let's call him Fabricator B. The "tech" guy told me he wasn't worried about the risk of transport or putting it on the counter. He felt that the Princess White was pretty strong and they had a few slabs in their yard. However, he said he couldn't commit to doing it in one piece because he had to see the site to see how they would get it into the house. So I am going to measure my door. Now, I don't know if this has anything to with with his assessment, but he was a very tall big guy whereas the other firm had a person of much smaller build. Fabricator B had installed the granite in our current home. Not sure if "tech guy" had worked on it. They did one piece that was 104" L and 48" W which was an L shape. However, that 64" L for my new kitchen could make a difference.

Oldryder, do you think they took a risk with the 48" leg and we just got lucky? Or because it was a pure granite vs. the Princess White, it was stronger?

However, there were very minor hiccups with that install and I am not sure if that reflects negatively on the fabricator or not. The screw to the dishwasher was loose and we had to call him back and he put more glue on it and it was fine. I figure this was not big deal. The overhang on one end was slightly shorter than what I expected. It was the normal 1" but I thought we had asked for 2". We bought a remnant piece so I'm not sure if they just ran out of stone or if they forgot to account for it. Both fabricators were known to the supplier. Other than than they did do a nice job. Fabricator A was recommended by the kitchen designer.

Fabricator B also said while all veined stone is more vulnerable at the veins, for whatever reason, they didn't really consider my stone to have veins and didn't feel that it was more vulnerable than a granite like absolute black. So, I'm left wondering if Fabricator A is being more responsible (which is what a few of you are saying) or if he doesn't know the stone well enough and is being more conservative. Or if Fabricator B is just being a little aggressive/loose or if Fabricator B is more knowledgeable about my particular stone given that he has some in his yard and probably sold/installed it. Also, there's no guarantee that Fabricator B wouldn't insist on a seam once he saw the house and how to enter it. However, I do think we have a pretty large front door and big foyer with a clear run to the kitchen.

Holly, hypothetically, if I went with Fabricator B and the slab broke are you saying that they would just fix it vs. replace it? Also, how bad would an intentional seam look - one that is glued together right where it was cut vs. one that is pieced together from another part of the stone. Will I notice it?

Thank you!

This post was edited by CT_Newbie on Thu, Oct 10, 13 at 22:47

    Bookmark   October 10, 2013 at 10:43PM
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One other thing, the sales rep at Fabricator B said they have some sort of machine to help move the stone. I don't know if it is on wheels or like a conveyor belt or if it was a problem with stairs. I'm not sure if this is a factor in their assessment or not. It sounded portable (not the machine you use to move the stone in the stone yard) but it didn't sound like it would help move the stone on to the counter top

    Bookmark   October 10, 2013 at 10:59PM
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I am trying to assess the risk

Assessing the risk would take a physical exam of the slabs in question, looking for signs of strain, assessing the changes in crystal structure along the proposed cutting lines, testing for microscopic flaws that might spread, and testing various places for reaction to strain.

That equipment needed to do this doesn't come cheap, and neither does the experienced geologists and other staff to run it. it's the sort of thing they do before they remove a priceless slab of carving for restoration.

The safe way is to assume it's going to break and take preventive measures to minimize the damage.
The "machine" is just a pair of wheels ... the stone goes on it vertically and can be wheeled into position.

"Gripper cups" can help lift, but the critical moment is when the stone is horizontal with the weight at the edges for lifting ... gravity will flex the stone donward and stone doesn't bend well.

A planned seam, where the "L" is laid out in 1 piece but cut to prevent breaking, should be almost invisible because any pattern will flow right across it.

Second-best would be a carefully picked pair of pieces from different parts of the slab.

Worst of all would be the uncontrolled "oops" where they are trying to piece a broken slab together. These edges would be irregular and tiny shards would be missing.

    Bookmark   October 11, 2013 at 10:54AM
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"Oldryder, do you think they took a risk with the 48" leg and we just got lucky? Or because it was a pure granite vs. the Princess White, it was stronger? "

- The shorter 48" makes a big difference because you can set the "L" piece on the counter vertically and then tip it down. With the other, longer "L" you'd have issues with the ceiling and just that the part is that much more unwieldy. Of course the mechanical integrity of the stone also matters a lot.

"how bad would an intentional seam look - one that is glued together right where it was cut vs. one that is pieced together from another part of the stone. Will I notice it? "

We often put a seam in parts that fit on a slab but are tool large as one piece for transport and/or install. Such a seam, if well done, will be very inconspicuous because the grain of the stone will appear continuous across the joint. Whether or not you will notice it is very subjective and also depends on the distribution of lighting in the room. A well done seam should require a conscious effort to see it from a person unfamiliar with the kitchen. you will see it because you know where it is.

    Bookmark   October 11, 2013 at 3:06PM
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OK. Thank you all very much for your input! I think I understand

Ha! The "machine" is just something with wheels. Thank you for the enlightenment :) I thought that part was more complex.

I have one other question. Because of the width of the counters vs. the width of the slab, I need two more seams. There's the L shape, then the sink and then straight piece of counter. I prefer the two seams behind the sink. The fabricator said the two larger pieces would tug on the center piece behind the sink. However, he thought that he could use some sort of superglue and it would be fine. My KD wondered about adding a bracket to support the small piece but he said it wasn't necessary as the stone would sit on the cabinet and the sink. We just have to see if the usable part of the slab is long enough to reach the part of the sink that isn't the curved corner. Do you agree with using a superglue?

The alternative is to piece together two different parts of the L so that we could have just one seam in the middle of the sink. Given that I don't even like a big planned seam, I'm not very fond of trying to match a seam at the L. I figure by my sink a sponge or towel could go over the seams, plus they might even be behind the soap and dish washing detergent dispensers (unless you can't have the seam run though a hole)

It's a shame the stone is so short. I really don't have time to look for new pieces at this point and I do really like the pattern and properties.

Thank you!


    Bookmark   October 11, 2013 at 7:51PM
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Something to consider that hasn't been mentioned is having the fabricator charge you for top polishing a seam. Properly done on most stones, the seam can be very inconspicuous, can't be felt, and isn't made with superglue.

    Bookmark   October 12, 2013 at 9:22AM
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I have a couple of visuals that might be helpful. Our L is 96 x 49.5 and is about the max I've seen without a seam. Here is the "machine" they used to move it from the truck to the house. Notice that right behind the lead guy are two steps up into the house. Also notice the brace across the front of the sink cut-out:

Here they've gotten it into the house and headed for placement. This is the part where it had to be lifted, held horizontal and slid into the corner. I think there were 2 more guys who came just for the lifting. We had to shave off some drywall at the short leg of the L because a stud there has the crown facing towards the kitchen and all the rest face away from the kitchen. Once in place that wasn't a problem, but in order to get it in, the wall needed to be carved out and fixed afterwards.

And in

You can see how your measurements, although just 4" longer on the long side, but 15" longer on the short side, would make this process much iffier.

    Bookmark   October 12, 2013 at 12:09PM
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Thank you everyone! Just seeing this now.(and with the photos I see what you mean about it being risky) I will be holding my breadth. I went with the fabricator who came to my house in advance of getting the project. He looked around and said he wouldn't have a problem getting it into the house (which was the main concern of one of his other workers). I asked if it was a problem to keep it in an L mentioned that several fabricators felt we needed a seam and he said no problem. They've worked with the Princess White before and acknowledged it was more brittle than the granite but felt confident that they could do it. He was a little more concerned about the two seams by the sink but in the end felt that the superglue would be fine.

He and his brother were on the young side, but not so young that they were inexperienced. But I do see them as more risk taking. I said don't just tell me you can do it because you think that's what I want to hear and he said he wasn't doing that. I guess
I should have asked explicitly will you replace it if it breaks (vs. trying to fix it) but I didn't want to be too antagonistic before anything has actually happened. I asked if they had done anything as large as mine but with the princess white and he said hard to remember the exact dimensions

Hopefully, since I won't have the cutout for the sink the way you do, it will mean less stress at that particular point. I'm getting a farm sink and the part behind the sink will only be a few inches (just beyond the curved corner). That is if the sink is the proper dimension.

I'm so tired and I still need to figure out faucets.

Thank you!

    Bookmark   October 16, 2013 at 11:40PM
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We just had our Vicostone Pental quartz countertop installed on Monday. The main piece was 10 feet long with the sink cut out. they then seamed another 2.5 feet to it inside.

It took the two installers and our contractor to bring it in by hand. they couldn't use a cart into the house. They did say that Quartz is stronger than some granites.

Please see the two pictures. I hope it helps.

    Bookmark   October 17, 2013 at 11:52AM
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Continued from above:

Shot of the three guys placing it on cabinets

    Bookmark   October 17, 2013 at 12:09PM
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Continued from above:

Shot of the three guys placing it on cabinets

    Bookmark   October 17, 2013 at 12:10PM
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Thanks NW! I think your piece was easier than mine because yours was straight vs. having the L part that could break.

However, I'm pleased to report that we got lucky and they installed it without the seam without any problem. In fact, we only ended up needing one seam on the sink. I'm thrilled with the results. It had a mesh backing too, so it wasn't the strongest/tightest of the granites. It took 3 guys for the L and 6-7 for the island. I wish I had snapped a picture but they were done before I had a chance and I was trying to get the pendant out of their way.

Thank you for all of your help! Your comments helped me ask the right questions.

    Bookmark   November 4, 2013 at 10:28PM
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