What to Know About the Countertop Process
WHAT IS GRANITE?
Granite is a natural igneous stone that formed many millions of years ago when molten rock was ejected from volcanoes and cooled. Granite's extreme hardness, which approaches that of diamonds, makes it an uncommonly durable surface. It has a natural beauty which makes it appealing when used for counter tops or other surfaces within the home. Granite's natural beauty endures forever. Nations through the ages have chosen granite to memorialize their significant achievements. You can be sure that the granite you choose will stand the test of time and provide many years of enjoyment and service in your home.
WHAT IS MARBLE?
Marble is a natural metamorphic stone that forms when limestone is subjected to extreme heat and pressure. Marble is a beautiful material that has been used throughout the ages in buildings and great works of art. Although marble is often used as a countertop material, it is considerably softer than granite. As such, it is much more readily damaged from normal use, particularly in your Kitchen. If well cared for, marble will provide you many years of service and enjoyment but may require reconditioning from time to time.
WHAT IS SYNTHETIC STONE?
Synthetic or manufactured stone, which is often referred to as quartz in the counter top industry, is a mixture of natural quartz and resinous binding materials that are formed into an array of beautiful solid surface counter tops. These quartz materials offer a wonderful combination of beauty and practicality. They are dense, non-porous, and highly stain resistant. They fabricate well with minimal chipping and are generally free of the blemishes often found in natural stone.
I’VE HEARD NATURAL STONE MAY HAVE SMALL CRACKS AND PITS IN IT. WHAT ARE THESE?
Fissures occur naturally in many types of stone. The term "fissure" is used commercially in the stone industry to describe a visible separation along inter-crystalline boundaries. This separation may start and stop within the face of the stone or extend through an edge. A fissure differs from a crack in that it is a naturally occurring feature of natural stone. Almost ALL natural stone contains some degree of fissure. Some contains more than others. Since fissures occur naturally, they are not considered a flaw. Counter tops will not be replaced due to the presence of fissures.
Pitting of the counter top surface, particularly in granite, is a commonly seen characteristic of natural stone. Granites are made up of several different minerals, each mineral having a different hardness. Granite contain Quartz, Feldspar, Biotite, Amphibole, ferrous titanium oxides, and other mineral combinations. On the Mohs Hardness Scale, diamonds are the hardest mineral with a rating of 10. Quartz and Feldspar have a hardness of 6.5 - 7 and are very durable. Biotite (small, black minerals found thorough a natural stone slab) on the other hand are very soft (2.5) and can flake easily. All true granites have Biotite in their composition. Because Biotite is relatively soft and flaky, the first few layers can be removed during the polishing process. The pits do not make the granite less durable or otherwise inferior, and do not in themselves qualify a slab for replacement. Pits are common in all granites and some marbles and should be expected when dealing with natural stone. Countertops will not be replaced due to pitting in the surface of the countertop.
MY NEIGHBOR HAS GRANITE AND THERE ARE VERY SMALL CHIPS ALONG THE SEAM. IS THIS NORMAL?
Chipping will occur, particularly in igneous stone varieties, as a result of sawing operations even when using diamond blades. A small chamfer, called an "arris", of approximately 1/16" x 1/16" can be used to eliminate most of these small chips. The use of an arris will make the seam appear much wider than its actual dimension when filled. Large chips may be repaired with epoxy or polyester resin if the completed repair is consistent in color and texture with the surrounding area. Dee Brown does not use arrises, unless requested, when installing granite counter tops. Instead, seams are assembled and the small chips are filled with polyester resin during the installation process.
I HAVE SEEN SOME SEAMS WHICH ARE NOT PERFECTLY SMOOTH, WHY IS THIS?
The term "lippage," as used in the stone industry, is the planar offset of the finished surfaces of two adjacent stone pieces. Due to the relatively tight seams used in counter top installations, even minor amounts of lippage are noticeable. Lippage may be unavoidable due to permanent warp in the slab stock. There should be no detectable lippage at the front or rear edges of the counter top. Maximum lippage at the center of the counter top is 1/32" or 0.8mm. Counter tops will not be replaced due to lippage within acceptable industry standards.
WILL MY GRANITE MATCH THE SAMPLE I SAW IN THE STORE WHERE I PURCHASED MY COUNTERTOPS?
The sample you viewed may not exactly match the slab material available at the stone supplier’s warehouse. You should always view and select your slab from the supplier’s in-stock material. You may also request to visit our fabrication facility to view the slab or have a digital picture sent to you for approval. Slab viewings at our fabrication facility are done by appointment only, so please call in advance.
SOME OF THE WALLS IN MY KITCHEN ARE BOWED AND INCONSISTENT. WILL STONE BEND TO FOLLOW THIS BOW AND CONFORM TO THE WALL?
Stone is extremely rigid and cannot bend to follow the irregularities of walls. No wall is perfectly straight. There may be areas where gaps are visible. The size of these gaps is determined by the severity of the bows in the walls. Dee Brown will not caulk any gaps between the walls and the stone. Counter tops cannot be scribed in an attempt to follow the irregularity of any wall. Counter tops will not be replaced due to gaps between the walls and the counter tops.
I WOULD LIKE TO INCREASE THE OVERHANG OF MY NEW COUNTER TOPS ON MY ISLAND TO ALLOW FOR BAR STOOLS AND AN EATING AREA. CAN I DO THIS?
An unsupported overhang cannot exceed 1/3 of the supported top, to a maximum of 6" on 2cm material and 10" on 3cm material. Supports, such as corbels or brackets can be installed by the homeowner or contractor after the granite has been installed. Dee Brown does not install corbels.
I AM PLANNING A LARGE PARTY, HOW QUICKLY CAN I GET MY COUNTER TOPS INSTALLED?
Customers planning events in their home should be cautioned to provide several weeks of cushion before hosting an event as delays in major construction projects are common and can occur for many reasons. During transportation a top can sometimes break. Tops can also break during the installation process. Should a top break during transportation or installation, Dee Brown will remake the top and prioritize the installation of the new top as quickly as possible. No financial compensation will be provided for delays or the impact these delays have on an events planned by the customer.
DO I NEED TO BE THERE DURING MEASURING / TEMPLATING OF THE COUNTER TOPS?
Yes. The customer must be present during this process to review items such as seam locations, overhangs, radius corners, and other such issues which commonly arise. You will be asked to sign the drawing of your counter tops which will indicate the approximate location of the seams and other specific information of your project.
DO I NEED TO HAVE THE EXISTING COUNTER TOPS REMOVED PRIOR TO THE TEMPLATING DATE?
No. Dee Brown recognizes that being without a working kitchen for several weeks would be very difficult. Although it is more accurate to measure with the existing counter tops removed, it is not mandatory. However, occasionally the measurer will not see something that becomes visible after the existing tops are removed. This may mean that a piece has to be remade or reworked. Dee Brown will remake this piece at no cost to you. No financial compensation will be given due to delays in installation caused by templating issues.
WHAT ELSE DO I NEED TO KNOW PRIOR TO TEMPLATING?
Final pricing will be based on actual field measurements and conditions.
Additional charges will apply for installation of large pieces, such as islands and tub decks, that require more than two installers to set.
Undermount sinks, faucets, and cook tops must be onsite during templating.
It is the Customer's responsibility to make sure the sink, faucet, cook top, and down draft fit into their respective cabinets and are properly sized to fit the depth of the countertop. Dee Brown can help you with this determination if you are unsure, but will not be responsible if the chosen fixtures do not fit or function as desired.
Faucet, disposer switch, and dispenser holes will be drilled at our fabrication facility. It is the Customer's responsibility to inform Dee Brown of any special requirements regarding placement of these fixtures. Fixture holes will be drilled per the fixture manufacturer’s template. Dee Brown will not modify plumbing fixtures.
At the customer’s request, some small fixture holes may be drilled on-site. Additional charges will apply.
Existing countertops should be cleared of items which may interfere with the measuring process.
Cabinets must be fully installed including finished panels prior to the template. No finished panels may be added after the template has been made.
All cabinets must be with 1/2” of level end-to-end. All tub decks must be within ¼” of level end-to-end and flat such that no gaps will exist beneath the stone once it is placed. If these conditions are not met, installation of the tops may be delayed. It is the responsibility of the homeowner to have the cabinets repaired to within industry standards. If the installation must be rescheduled and a new appointment day is needed, trip charges will apply.
Farm or apron sinks must be mounted in their final location prior to templating.
Countertop overhangs at the cabinet face are designed to cover or hide inconsistencies in the cabinets. Overhangs will vary slightly over the length of the tops. Overhangs typically range from ¾” to 1 ½”. Overhangs less than ¾” may actually highlight irregularities in the cabinets. Dee Brown is not responsible for irregularities in the cabinets.
Gaps behind the splashes and the tops are caused by irregularities in the walls. Dee Brown will not caulk between the countertop/backsplash and the wall.
Caulking by Dee Brown is limited to only where stone meets stone.
Standard backsplash height is 5" on remodels and 4" on new construction. Dee Brown will not be responsible if the backsplash does not cover paint or wallpaper lines. It is the customer’s responsibility to have electrical outlets moved up or down to miss or fall within splash. This must be done prior to installation.
Dee Brown will provide dishwasher clips for stone. The dishwasher must be installed prior to our arrival. Dee Brown will not adhere clips to wood, nor wood to stone. Should a dishwasher clip become unattached at a later date it will be the responsibility of the homeowner to correct this issue.
Undermount sinks may be reconnected 24 hours after installation of the new countertops. Reattaching the plumbing before the sink has had time to set may result in the sink moving or dropping. If this occurs it will be the homeowner’s responsibility to correct this issue.
The tear out and installation of countertops is a MAJOR construction process. Cook tops, surface sinks, and drop-in tubs will be cut in place, inside the home to avoid breaking the stone. THERE WILL BE SIGNIFICANT DUST CREATED DURING THIS PROCESS. Owners should remove or protect any items left under the cabinets. You should turn off your ac / heat. You may also want to drape or cover the construction area to reduce the amount of dust and debris that reaches other areas. The construction site will be left broom clean. Dust will continue to settle for several hours after the installation has been completed. This cleanup will be the responsibility of the homeowner.
Mirrors in bathrooms that are permanently affixed to the wall and rest on or within 1" of the existing backsplash or countertop must be removed prior to the tear out of the existing tops. Any damage to mirrors or cabinetry not removed will be the responsibility of the homeowner.
Dee Brown installers are not expected to move, install, or adjust appliances.
Upper cabinets must be installed if the job requires a full height back splash.
CAN I HAVE DEE BROWN REMOVE MY EXISTING COUNTER TOPS?
Yes. Dee Brown offers this service. Please contact us to discuss. The tear out is normally done the same day of the installation. On rare occasions, especially with large tile tear outs, it may be done the day before. If this is required, you will be notified in advance.
ARE MY CABINETS STRUCTURALLY SOUND ENOUGH TO HANDLE THE WEIGHT OF STONE COUNTERTOPS?
That is a great question! Most cabinets can easily handle the weight of stone countertops. It is often impossible to assess cabinet problems prior to the removal of existing tops. If we find significant issues after the removal of the existing tops, either in structure or levelness, we may have to delay the installation of the new countertops. It is the responsibility of the homeowner to have the cabinets repaired to within industry standards. If the installation must be rescheduled and a new appointment day is needed trip charges will apply. Countertops can be shimmed and installed with out of level cabinets up to 1/2". Beyond 1/2" the cabinets must be repaired. Countertops sit directly on the cabinets and are held in place with silicone.
WHAT ARE SOME THINGS I SHOULD KNOW ABOUT THE INSTALLATION OF MY NEW COUNTER TOPS?
Owner or designated representative must be onsite during the entire installation process. Owner's representative must be able to make decisions on issues which may arise during this process. They will be required to sign the completion forms at the conclusion of the installation.
All seams will be placed at the discretion of the fabricator. Every effort will be made to indicate the seam locations during the measure. The fabricator reserves the right to move seam locations as needed to cut around inclusions, cracks, or other major irregularities within the slab. No financial compensation will be given due to seam movement.
When two pieces of granite are seamed together there may be slight differences in the thickness of the stones. This is very common. These areas will be "feathered" to blend the pieces together. This happens with roughly 80% of all installations.
Cut outs for undermount sinks will be made to have an overhang. This overhang reduces the risk of food particles collecting on the rim of the sink and molding. Overhangs WILL vary as no two bowls are exactly the same. Overhangs should be between 1/16" and 5/16".
The installation process can create large amounts of dust. No one other than the installers should be in the immediate area of the work being done unless requested by the installer.
It is the responsibility of the homeowner to provide a safe area for our installers to work. There will be many trips between the installation site and our vehicle. The pathways should be clean and clear of debris as well as items of value such as statues, paintings, vases, and other items which could inadvertently be damaged. Granite pieces are very heavy and difficult to maneuver. Children and animals should not be allowed near the work area. Homeowner should indicate what area is acceptable for use in cutting and staging material.
The removal of existing countertops and the installation of new ones is a major construction process. There are often delays in projects such as these. Countertops can break during transportation or installation. It is important to understand that delays are possible. Stone required millions of years to achieve its natural beauty; and, Dee Brown is committed to installing it correctly so that you may enjoy it for many years in your home.
It is our sincere hope that this page has clearly explained the process of installing new stone countertops in your home. Dee Brown is committed to fabricating and installing countertops using guidelines set forth by the Marble Institute of America. For more information on the MIA, please visit www.marble-institute.com.