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(Musings of a Stone Designer)

Wednesday, July 13 2011
In response to my last blog post, a very unhappy homeowner sent me photos of her recently installed granite counter tops.  (I am very pleased to report, we were not her fabricator)
"At least you can use these photos on your blog for more examples of bad seams," she told me.

The seams in the photos above appear to be what is typical for larger volume shops in our area, so I cannot say that they are “sub-standard.”  The changing vein direction in the corners is probably the most glaring issue.  What causes a fabricator to do what is shown in this kitchen is material utilization.  Since the stone has a very linear pattern, there are basically two possible approaches for doing something that would look much better than this.

One is to run the veins in the direction parallel to the cabinets and have seams on 45 degree angles in the corner.  The veins then appear to 'turn the corner' with the cabinets. (See photos below)

When working on this kitchen, we decided that the angle method would result in the best possible appearance for this particular kitchen.

The other option is to run the veins in the same direction throughout the kitchen.  Some of the countertop then will have the veins running left and right, and the perpendicular run of cabinets will have veins that run front to back, as shown in the kitchen below.

In our opinion, this kitchen already had enough design features without adding a change in grain direction. We decided, by fabricating the granite with the same all-over pattern direction, we would achieve the best-looking kitchen.

To accomplish either of these layouts you need enough material so that the pieces can be cut with the veins going in the proper direction.  What happens in cases like the one experienced by the disappointed homeowner, I believe, is that fabricators quote jobs without knowing that the material has a linear pattern.  The job gets quoted assuming that the countertop parts can be fit onto the slab in any direction.  What you see in the photos sent to us, is the result.  In fairness to the fabricator, it can be more expensive to get it right.  It may mean the purchase of another slab.  Wanting to be competitive, he may quote the job with as little material as possible in order to get the work.

On one job this year, we were competing with another fabricator and the customer informed us that we were 25% higher than the other fabricator.  We were puzzled until we found out that the other fabricator based his quote on 2 slabs and we based ours on 3 slabs.  The stone had a very linear pattern such as the one in the example above, and it was a very expensive granite selection.  The kitchen could fit on 2 slabs if you ignored vein direction, but the result would have been hideous.  The customers only wanted a nice countertop, and were not looking to save money by only using 2 slabs.  They were never consulted. The issue was never discussed. In the end, they hired us (and payed the higher price) to get the best job.

The moral of the story is that the customer and fabricator should have a conversation up front about things such as seam placement and vein matching.  That way they can come to an understanding between cost and perfection.

There are no industry standards for vein matching at seams.  The final decision depends on the fabricator’s willingness to spend the extra time and money necessary to create something beautiful.

This book-matched joint on the backsplash behind the faucet creates a unified pattern.

It is difficult to see the laminated seam in this double thick granite island, because every attempt was made to match the grain in the stone

To get it right, it is important to visualize the granite selection, while considering the specific kitchen and the look the homeowners are hoping to achieve.

*Superior kitchens are created when thought is put into every detail.
Posted by: Marlene Wukusick AT 08:07 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Wednesday, July 06 2011
When it "seams" like a rocky road instead of a flowing river, then it's not a quality granite installation!
Let me show you what I mean:

It doesn't take a particularly observant person to notice the thick gray epoxy line visible in this photo.  Add to that the change in pattern direction, as well as color, and it is safe to assume that absolutely no one is going to be fooled into believing this surface is made up of one continuous piece of stone!

Here is one of our "phantom" seams. Special care has been taken to make it as inconspicuous as possible.  The two sides of the stone surface have been pulled together very tightly using a special tool.  The epoxy has been colored to match the surrounding area--different colors are used on different sections to simulate the variation of natural granite.

The image above shows the same view, but from a distance. Visitors will never guess that a seam is present.

Theirs.  Again, the epoxy line is very visible;  no thought is given to color matching; 
and the direction of the pattern does not flow.

Ours has a minimal joint line and continuous movement. Exotic slabs are rarely consistent in color and pattern throughout--it takes a little extra time and effort to do it right.

Theirs. This image demonstrates what happens when a company's top priority is to save on costs. 
The end result looks like the counter surface is not even made from the same material!

Ours.  Book matching is a technique used by conscientious and qualified fabricators to prevent the seams of exotic stone from looking disjointed. 
Consecutive slabs are polished on alternating sides to make this possible.

This may well be the worst seam I've ever seen--everything about it is drastically wrong!
The seam itself is too wide and there is a big dip where it meets at the front edge profile. 
The granite pieces are on different planes. 
The pattern moves in a sudden, perpendicular direction.
Large areas of light stone are adhered abruptly up against large areas of dark stone.
Oh yeah, did I mention, this is Theirs!

Ours ... Enough said.

Posted by: Marlene Wukusick AT 01:27 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email


Located in Batesville Indiana/
Serving parts of Indiana, Ohio, & Kentucky

*Please Note: We reserve Saturdays, by appointment, for slab viewing and tours.

To receive an estimate,
or to schedule an appointment,
call us today.
We work directly with you,
the homeowner,
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Pete & Marlene Wukusick in Batesville, IN on Houzz

Remodeling and Home Design

Pete & Marlene Wukusick in Batesville, IN on Houzz
Pete & Marlene Wukusick in Batesville, IN on Houzz

Pete & Marlene Wukusick in Batesville, IN on Houzz

Pete & Marlene Wukusick in Batesville, IN on Houzz

Pete & Marlene Wukusick in Batesville, IN on Houzz
Pete & Marlene Wukusick in Batesville, IN on Houzz
Pete & Marlene Wukusick in Batesville, IN on Houzz

Sebastian and Angie Moster, Owners

Natural Stone & the Green Movement  Countertop selection is often the first place people look to when opting to go green. Natural stone (especially Soapstone) is a top choice for the environmentally-friendly. 

The Stone Studio
20157 Five Point Road, Batesville, IN 47006
Phone: (812) 933-0200