Granite Countertop Seam and Crack Issues

by Mike
(Spokane, Wa.)

Granite Countertop Seam & Crack

Granite Countertop Seam & Crack

QUESTION:

We recently had Black Galaxy granite counter tops installed. After installation, we noticed a 4-foot-long line through the counter. It goes in a perfectly straight line.

It appeared to me that the countertop had been broken and epoxied back together.

The installer assures us that it's a VEIN. So, we are assuming he is correct.

However, we also noticed a 2-inch long crack near the sink, that follows the exact path of the vein. We are worried that it will continue to crack along the vein.

We asked the installers to come and look at it. When they got there, I showed them how I could catch my fingernail on the crack. I asked them to do the same. They both just felt it with the PAD of their fingers, and denied feeling a crack.

I again asked them to use their fingernails, and they again just used the pads of their fingers. It was like they didn't want to know it was there. I even took pictures of the crack, and it shows up fine in the pictures. I emailed the pictures to them, but now they aren't responding to my emails.

Also, we had a problem with the granite countertop slab SEAM.

The seam has about 5 places where there were chunks or chips of the edge broken out. So, in places the seam is a little over 1/8th of an inch wide, and in one place in the back, there is a chip that is a half inch wide.

Also, it is more of a white or grey color that they used on the seam epoxy. I also sent them pictures of the seam. Again, they won't respond to me.

I am assuming this will end up in court. We still haven't paid the second 50% payment. Do you think we are being unreasonable?

ANSWER:

It certainly is not unreasonable to expect professional behavior and a level of competency necessary to install a granite counter top well.

I don't know that this is the case here, but in the stone industry you definitely get what you pay for.

This business is unregulated and no license is required to "be" a granite countertop fabricator/installer.

So, it's not at all uncommon to have a difference of $1000 on bids between different contractors for an average kitchen countertop install.

Most people when confronted with such a difference tend to think "well this high priced guy is trying to gouge us..."

But actually it is usually just the opposite. This is not a high-margin business, so the lower price is achieved only by cutting as many corners as possible, hiring minimally experienced labor, using low-grade stone, doing everything as fast as possible and then try and convince the customer that any problem is "normal".

That's a recipe for disaster and let me assure you... even the most detail oriented, experienced perfectionist granite counter top installers run into problems on jobs.

It's the nature of the business. And it's why it requires so much skill and experience to do it competently.

The true professionals know how and will actually fix any problems so the final product doesn't have a bunch of unexpected blemishes.

The low-ball "garage" fabricators make mistakes because its easy to do, but don't know how to make it right, let alone do it right in the first place and you end up with a hack job and customer service nightmare.

The "expensive professional" knows and charges the true cost required to pay for the skill, time and attention necessary to complete the job correctly as the customer expects.

It's only natural and prudent to pay as little as possible for any product or service, but often when you hire a fabricator that quoted what seems like a great deal you end up "paying" the difference in sloppy work and service hassles.

Ultimately that isn't what you or any customer wants. If only they had a crystal ball when hiring their installer, most would gladly pay more to actually get what they dreamed of.


I state all the above for all readers because this is a big issue to consider when shopping for a granite countertop installation.

Not that a higher bid automatically means "better", but that you want to really do your homework and focus more on hiring the most skilled and experienced fabricator (who will most likely charge the "true" cost) rather than trying to save money going with the lowest bid.

Most often you end up "paying" either way, but you only get what you want with the skilled pro.

So Mike, in your case I'd say that any one of these issues by itself could possibly be adequately explained, but the fact that you have multiple issues tells me it was a sloppy install.

And the fact that they have little concern for your concern says they are not very professional either.

It's good that a payment is remaining. It's the best leverage you have to get this sorted out equitably.

Regarding the....

Four foot line: Yes, it could be a vein, but very rare for a granite countertop vein to be "perfectly straight" and black galaxy not really know to have a lot of veins.

Same for a crack... almost never straight especially when over 4 feet long.

FYI... a cracks can often occur in/along a vein.

You say it looks as if it where broken and epoxied... if so, you would definitely be able to feel it and it would look somewhat like the seam.

Most often you cannot "feel" a vein. If it is "in the stone" you should not be able to feel it.

"Perfectly straight" is odd... but hard to say without seeing what the deal is exactly. However, the fact that it is a noticeable blemish is enough to call into question.

The crack may or may not be an issue. Cracks in granite countertops are a risk during install and often during sink cut out. Although, if a crack is not full-thickness and there is no lip and the granite countertop is properly supported it may never be an issue. It may never get worse and nothing to worry about.

However, when the crack is full thickness and/or it has a lip... that can develop into a problem. The lip can get chipped, water gets into the crack and it may lead to weakness elsewhere.

Usually such a crack requires replacement. Maybe not the whole granite slab. Sometimes you can replace a section, etc.

The seam sounds and looks pretty ragged. A granite countertop seam should be straight, with smooth margins and about 1/16 inch across. Also, the epoxy should be colored to match the granite color.

Sometimes a seam may need to be cut by hand, which results in a rougher cut.

I'm inclined to think that you have reason to complain, insist on correcting the issues and/or at least negotiate a discount.

Again, without seeing the granite counter top in person it's hard to say definitively. The problems may not be as big as they seem. But there's multiple and you probably didn't expect to pay for weird veins, cracks and ragged seams.

An acceptable discount is probably the path of least resistance. If they continue to ignore you, then yes, consider consulting with a lawyer.

Of course, if they ignore you they aren't asking for payment either. You just have to be concerned that they try putting a lien on your house if they are truly dastardly.

Unfortunate situation.

granite countertop cleanerGood Luck,
Ryan

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Comments for Granite Countertop Seam and Crack Issues

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What to do about granite installation problems
by: Joshua

My wife and I recently took the plunge to have a granite counter tops and a granite fire place installed in our home. We went to one of the nicer granite places in town and met the owner coming through the door.

He was a nice guy and we felt great when he explained all the options, gave us a tour of his shop to include showing us the machinery.

He then referred us to the supplier in the same plaza and we picked out our granite slabs (cold springs).

Guys came out and measured the counter tops and we paid 50% up front.

This is a $6,000 dollar job 86 SQ FEET the estimate says--which is a lot of money to us. We were exited.

Then it went down hill:
-We heard nothing for a week--we finally called the company and they said we have you on the schedule for tomorrow and would call.

--NO PHONE CALL. The next morning I call the company they said we will be at my house that day at 12:30. BAD COMMUNICATION. I told them I would remove the old fire place and countertops if they took that part off the bill. They said ok.

I got that all done and they call me at 3:30 saying one of the countertops broke on the trailer and that they would come out the next day at 12:30. They show up at 10:30 (BAD COMMUNICATION).

The first counter top they bring in the house broke on installation--The one with the under mount sink going in. The installer says that they will have to seam the next one.

I told them that when you sold me you said it would be one solid piece. I want one solid piece. They said ok we will have to rod the next piece, but not a problem.

It has been a week and we are still without our sink. One excuse after another-- some issue getting the new slab from the supplier--Tomorrow. Tomorrow. Tomorrow.

Tomorrow will be 8 days without a kitchen sink. The Company gave me $260 off for doing the complete removal myself and has offered nothing else in the way of customer service other than They are really sorry and to think about it from their point of view they had to eat the cost of a new slab.

What should be my next course of action??? because I haven't paid the second half because installation is not finished.

===== Countertop Specialty comment:

Joshua, frustrating I know, but many remodel projects encounter unforeseen problems and delays. Certainly communication and attention to the matter could be better, however, that doesn't mean you won't get what you want in the end.

I'd go back to the fabricator office and stone warehouse and ask to see and inspect the replacement slab. Try to get a face to face again with the owner to nail down a schedule and resolve it.

If you get a few more days of run around, then consider contacting a lawyer to see what your options are regarding your down payment, etc. Possibly just a letter from the lawyer will get them to finish.

Of course, do not pay the balance until they do complete the job to your satisfaction.

Granite countertop cracks after install
by: kAREN

I have recently also had a granite countertop installed in my new kitchen. I picked the slab (it is beautiful) and the price was reasonable (probably should have been an indicator of problems to come after reading this article).

I have no prior experience with granite and the store did not tell me anything with regard to the fragility of the more heavily marked stone.

They provided the under-mounted sink with the countertop, so they had it to do the cutting and brought it with them on the day of install.

Their person came out to measure and assured us that she knew exactly where the countertop was to stop. When the installers arrived and began to install, I heard a saw-they had to cut a section out of my patio door frame because they had cut it too long.

They also were patching a corner of the island-but did such a poor job they did have to redo that. They put on the sealer and said do not touch the granite for 2-3 hours so that is could set.

Since this is a completely new kitchen, they also said not to install any plumbing for at least 24 hours, as this could cause a problem with the seal on the undermounted sink.

We left the kitchen countertops alone for about 30 hours, without really looking too close for fear of messing something up, but when we did look, there are four cracks around the sink cutout, the sink is poorly installed-it aligns with the cutout in spots and the sink sticks out slightly in others.

Just enough to catch water and food scraps when cleaning the dishes. We called the company, who sent the countertop installer back out to inspect, at which time we told him we wanted to speak to the owner - he said he is the owner!

We explained the issues and he said he was going to do nothing. I had put this on my credit card, and when we told him we told him we were unhappy and were going to dispute the charges-he said "go ahead and dispute the charges".

Today, his wife-emailed some literature stating that cracks, fissures, pits, corrosive materials and other features that customers may find objectionable should be acknowledged when slab is being viewed.

Nothing like this was ever stated to us during the purchase of the stone! And we had no idea-I know - stupidity is not an excuse!

I have disputed the charge with my credit card company, which may force the issue of at least working with us - at least, I hope so. This article has been helpful in managing my expectations.

I do appreciate the information. And I will be reporting the difficulties on Angie's list, the BBB, and even Facebook, to say nothing of word of mouth.

==== Admin Comment: Always sorry to hear such situations....

Cracks around the sink cutout are the most common, but almost certainly were not in the slab when you chose it.

If so, then they would've had problems cutting the slab.

No, the cracks occurred after the sink hole was cut. Sometime during transport, installation and/or when attaching the sink itself.

low ball granite countertop bids
by: Anonymous

The lowball fabricators/installers have made the granite countertop business harder and less profitable. Even the best need to go fast to make any money.

The days of taking your time and doing a good job are going away as customers only want to hear about price.

A good granite countertop job will be in your home for a long time. Saving a few hundred up front is not worth living with a bad job that reminds you each time you use the kitchen.

Granite is rock and has natural fissures, cracks, pits and color variation. Some colors more than others. Cracks and fissures look similar. you can feel cracks. some slabs are imported with filling in the fissures. Low grade stone is worse.

The cheap guys use low grade stone.

Good black galaxy should cost more for the slab than the cheap guys advertise for complete job.

Good black galaxy should not have a lot of fissures. Weak areas in the stone can show up as the stone handled and worked.

Granite chips! A good installer should be able to fix chips so that they are not obvious.
This sounds like a bad job.

The original fabricator/installer should send a manager to evaluate the problems you have and let you know what they can and will do to resolve them.

If they are a reputable shop they will work to resolve it, if you do not pay they will file a lien on your house.

A good fabricator will also be wary that you are exaggerating the problem to get a discount. a good one will send some one to look at it.

If they are not a good fabricator complain to BBB and angie's list. If you paid $10/sq ft less than the next bid you got what you paid for.

Please do not ask another fabricator to fix it unless you are willing to pay to have this job torn out and replaced.

granite countertop crack
by: Anonymous

wow you are telling my story. I am so glad I read your article. Thanks

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