You’ve no doubt heard tips from friends, family, neighbors, and even us on the importance of finding a quality fabricator to execute your stone project. But do you know what qualities constitute a “quality” installation?
Beautiful island by Magnotti and Son, Inc., PA
Let's focus on countertops. How, exactly, do you tell the difference between a mediocre installation and a really good one? Here are some key things to look for…
Does the fabricator bottom polish the edges? It’s a rather uncommon practice, but a highly desired one. Think about when you sit at a countertop bar. You, undoubtedly wrap your fingers around the edges, even if it's subconsciously. Polished undersides— even just a few inches around the edges— feel smooth to the touch giving that extra “finished” feel. It’s a subtle detail that doesn’t go unnoticed.
Impeccably fabricated countertop by United Marble Fabricators, MA
Are seams smooth, flat, and narrow? Any countertop will inevitably have seams. The key is to have them blend in as well as possible. They should be barely noticeable, smooth to the touch, flat, and measure 1/16-inch or less. They should be made with glue and should be color matched to be as unobtrusive as possible.
Is the countertop level? Skilled fabricators know the difference between a level countertop and a flat one. Stone slabs must be leveled and shimmed before final installation. Speaking of final installation, stone slabs need very little help to stay in place. In fact, a small bead of caulk or silicone around the outside of the cabinet edge is all that’s needed to keep stone countertops stationary. It’s overkill to use glue with epoxy or liquid nails. Besides that, it makes removal of tops exceptionally difficult.
Is the sink properly mounted? A sloppily mounted sink is the sure sign of a mediocre installation. When it comes to undermount sinks, sometimes they can be held in place with direct attachment to cabinet sides. But sometimes they need to be glued to the stone from below. A bead of silicone will keep the sink watertight as well as provide the bulk of the holding strength. If globs of glue can be found around the rim of the bowl, it’s almost a guarantee that you’ll be reattaching your bowl sometime in the future.
Gorgeous island by Precision Stone Marble & Granite, CT
Did they rod the top? “Rodding” a countertop is a process that involves creating a channel in the underside of the counter where holes will be cut for sinks and cooktops. Steel rods are then glued into the channels and work to prevent the top from cracking both during installation and during use. It’s a relatively easy process, but it is an extra step that does take some extra time. Fiberglass Rodding has become very popular in recent years because there is no fear of rust which sometimes can be a serious issue with steel rods.
Are the edges of the stone perfectly polished? Countertop edges should be just as shiny and attractive as the tops. Well-polished edges should have no scratches or “milky” sheens or textures. Ask the fabricator if they use CNC routers or if they finish by hand. The most beautiful, detailed, and top quality polishes are always finished by hand.
A top quality installer can make poor quality stone look good. Conversely, a bad installer can make top quality stone look lousy. Be sure to take the time to shop for both the best top-quality material as well as the most skilled fabricator you can find. The combination will lead to an end product you’re happy to live with for years to come. Need help finding a fabricator? Check out our list of recommended expert fabricators.