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How to get an excellent countertop fabrication and installation?

Posted by LovesWindowsAndDogs (My Page) on
Sun, Aug 10, 14 at 16:04

It's time for a new kitchen in my old house. I have never created a kitchen from scratch, so I have been reading lots of posts in this forum and have learned so much! Even so, I still have several questions. Here is another one...

After looking at lots of slabs, I want Taj Mahal, Madre Perola or a similar quartzite for countertops. The kitchen I want is airy, quiet, light and classic which will fit my lovely old home. (Life has enough drama; I don't need any in the kitchen.) I have read the numerous posts about marble marketed as quartzite, countertop geology, etc. I think I am making an informed choice and will certainly test any slabs with lemon juice, red wine and a piece of glass.

What I worry about is the fabrication and installation. The layout includes three corners so there will have to be several seams. Are the best places at the fronts and backs of sinks and the cooktop? I have read so many posts about rusting rods, ragged edges, bad seams and other issues. Are rods always needed? If so, where? Will there be a better outcome if certain machines, blades and tools are used in fabrication and installation? If so, which ones? What questions should I ask potential fabricators to increase the likelihood of an excellent outcome? I live in a mid-sized city so there are only a few fabricators from whom to choose and I want to choose wisely.

Again, your sage advice is appreciated!


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: How to get an excellent countertop fabrication and installati

"Are the best places (for seams) at the fronts and backs of sinks and the cooktop?"

It depends. You'll find reputable fabricators split on this issue.

"I have read so many posts about rusting rods, ragged edges, bad seams and other issues. Are rods always needed? If so, where?"

Rodding is old school and obsolete. Some very fragile stones may still need rodding, but it should be done with stainless steel or fiberglas and epoxy, never cold steel and polyester.

Seams prepared by a CNC machine or Seam Phantom will be superior to butted saw cuts. Many stones can be top polished which makes seams even more inconspicuous. Top polishing engineered stone is not recommended. Yet.

"Will there be a better outcome if certain machines, blades and tools are used in fabrication and installation? If so, which ones?"

Omni Cubed makes the Sink Hole Saver which makes rodding obsolete. Gorilla Grips are ubiquitous on installations, as you can remove the bow from a top before it's seamed. Yes, there are bows in stone and estone. Your fabricator may or may not use this equipment, but should at least be familiar with it

What questions should I ask potential fabricators to increase the likelihood of an excellent outcome?

Ask them "Why should I give you my business?" then listen carefully.

You should concern yourself with verifying your fabricator's reputation and building a relationship based on mutual trust. When you have that, the technical takes care of itself.


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RE: How to get an excellent countertop fabrication and installati

The place where we bought our granite for the kitchen 3 years ago and the two bathrooms a couple of weeks ago has a website which explains how they do things. There is a video of the CNC machine that Trebruchet mentioned in action. This isn't the only way to do things, but it a way that returns very nice results. Between the laser measuring and the CNC programming, you can expect this very nice margin where the peninsula buts up to our wavy wall. I'm pretty much convinced that all walls are wavy, so I'm pleased that there is a way to deal with that. We didn't need a seam, but be sure to look at their video where they map out where the individual pieces will meet for maximum no-see seams.
Interesting edge photo Granite7.jpg

Here is a link that might be useful: Our granite place


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RE: How to get an excellent countertop fabrication and installati

Don't even think about shopping for price until you have seen several in home examples of the fabricator's work. You are shopping for skill and service, and you won't get that if the only criteria is how cheap you can get it done.


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RE: How to get an excellent countertop fabrication and installati

What I worry about is the fabrication and installation.

Start by worrying earlier in the process. Worry about the floors, walls and the cabinet.

The walls have to be square and straight, with no undulations in the drywall. Have it shimmed out if you have to.

The floor has to be level. No sagging!

The cabinets should be SQUARE and LEVEL. They should be shimmed if necessary, but if the walls are square and the floor is level, they should not need much shimming.

The world's best installer can't do a good job if the spot the granite is supposed to fit is not level.


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RE: How to get an excellent countertop fabrication and installati

"The cabinets should be SQUARE and LEVEL. They should be shimmed if necessary, but if the walls are square and the floor is level, they should not need much shimming.

The world's best installer can't do a good job if the spot the granite is supposed to fit is not level."

lazygardens is exactly right, but let me add PLUMB and IN PLANE with each other, please.


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RE: How to get an excellent countertop fabrication and installati

Every single word of advice given so far is excellent. Good luck!

Are you DIY-ing your kitchen or hiring a gc? If you are hiring a gc that choice is about as important as any of the tradesmen he will hire.


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RE: How to get an excellent countertop fabrication and installati

Thanks for the great feedback and advice. I really appreciate all of the comments.

Once demo is completed, the first issue to address will be the floors. They are soooo not level. There are humps and sags. Spills run under the fridge and into the pantry. I have spoken with a house leveler, so we have a plan for this mess. And another plan for the wavy plaster walls. Honest, we will do our best to get level floors, plumb walls, square cabinets, etc. This math teacher knows about right angles and planes. I don't want any more parabolas or sine waves in the floor and walls.

I am trying to keep this post about countertops since I will be posting other questions about other challenges.

Treb, I was hoping you would weigh in, thanks! I have learned lots from your posts and feedback. I knew you could provide insight into the process. I will be asking about the various machines used by fabricators.

Suzannesl, your counters are great. The video is impressive; I hope we have a comparable fabricator/installer nearby. Thanks for sharing; it helps me know what is possible.

Greenhaven, no way would we try to DIY this project; it's way too big and too complicated. The GC has a small business and uses a variety of subs, so having input into that selection is an option.

The start date is not set. I want to be as well informed as possible before things start; I know first hand the outcome of change orders. The most expensive words are "While we're at it,..."

Quality workmanship is worth paying for and we are happy to do so. Communication is key and written details are important. Mind reading and assuming are too risky.

More comments are welcome!


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RE: How to get an excellent countertop fabrication and installati

Thank you for providing that link, suzannesl. Lots of good information there, in a format my husband would actually observe. That may be one of the companies we consider; we are in south OC, so I'd have to contact them about distance. That is pretty granite in your photo.


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RE: How to get an excellent countertop fabrication and installati

I had granite installed on top of 28 year old cabinets (horrors) in the same age house 2 years ago. When we removed the Formica, we saw that one wall in the corner was really bowed in & the granite installer found that the sink cabinet area was sunk down. It was never noticeable & we had the house built, so lived here all the time. My granite is tight & level at all areas. It was amazing to see the Formica & how much the original kitchen people had to fit it to the wall etc. I imagine the sinking had occurred over 28 years. Cabinets were solid, but we had had a beam twist years ago under the kitchen area, which we corrected. Anyway, the granite people did a wonderful job & the counter looks great. They are a local family owned business that was around for 40+ years & came highly recommended in the area. They were not the cheapest, but their work is wonderful. Like others said, go see some of their work & be really confident before you choose the installer. Makes it more likely they will be attentive to any possible questions & problems that might arise.


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