Seam Help - What is a "good seam"
I am a fabricator ... and pretty fussy.
" I think many of the posts here are stressing that a lot of problems could be solved by better communication before the materials are chosen or cut"
The discussion on the "Cambria - Seam Help thread" led me to believe the following could be helpful.
A "perfect" seam is one that is is invisible. In practice "invisible" is unattainable.
A very well done seam is one that has to be looked for to notice it is there. Given the technology available to fabricators and installers a well done seam is attainable a large majority of the time.
The following situations can create a seam that is somewhat more noticable while IMHO still be very acceptable.
It should be a given that the seam is very very tight (the thickness of a razor blade or less) and that the underside of the seamed pieces are flush at the joint. The color of the adhesive at the seam should be close to the stone. In highly varied stone the color is a compromise since its impossible to vary the adhesive color with the varying stone. What looks best is somewhat subjective and sometimes the color match selected by the installer is too light or dark for the homeowner. fortunately this can be changed if necessary,
1. A slight step (maybe a 1/16") can occur at the middle or back of a seam where the top of the 2 pieces isn't perfectly flush. This can happen when mating 2 pieces of stone because natural stone and quartz isn't perfectly flat. (perfectly flat stone is sold as "surface plates" for machinists and is very expensive.) Very large seams in islands can be very difficult to get perfectly flush. It is possible to repolish the whole island after glue-ing the pieces together but the resulting piece is probably too large to handle and install.
If you have a piece with a slight rise or dip on either side of the seam this can make it impossible to get the desired perfectly flush surface at the joint. Installers with the proper tools can minimize the step and when it can't be completely eliminated will normally set the pieces to the step is to the rear of the top.
Some fabricators will grind the top of an irregular seam but it my experience this leaves an area that has clearly been worked if viewed from the correct angle or in certain lighting. (I might be wrong. Some stone experts will assert that the top can be ground and refinished to a perfect polish. So far I havent seen anyone that can do it consistently and I have been looking for it. I go to a annual trade show in one month and will be looking for it again.)
2. Grain transition is the other bugaboo. There are a lot of options to minimize the grain transitions. Some cost more because they require additional material. A competent fabricator works this issue with the customer BEFORE any stone is cut. Best is to involve the customer in the layout of the parts so they are bought into the final product BEFORE any stone is cut. This approach takes considerably more time after the sale but before fabrication and many fabricators don't do it for that reason.