How to avoid Granite Countertop installation problems

Granite Counter-top Trapped Back-splash

Trapped Counter-top back-splash
When remodeling a kitchen it is common to want to replace the laminate counter-tops, but still keep the existing tile back-splash.

Once you remove the Formica counter-tops or other laminate counter you will usually find about a 1.5 inch gap between the cabinet and the tile. The new stone is most frequently 1.25 inches thick so the obvious answer is to build up the cabinets by ¼ inch and it should all fit just perfect. If the Formica has the 4 inch build in back-splash then you will find a 5.5 inch gap between the cabinets and the bottom edge of the tile.

It works perfectly in theory, but not at all in reality. Un-level cabinets, inconsistent stone thickness, shims to level the stone’s seams or make up for settled cabinets are all contributing to why it is unrealistic to assume it will fit.

As a granite counter-top fabricator, this is a gamble that we are not willing to take. The odds are stacked against us. Although, it does work sometimes, it is not often enough to embrace the practice as “okay”.

One solution is to pay about $300 to remove and replace the existing tile with fresh drywall. If you’re getting new counters get a new back-splash at the same time. It’s a bit of an up-sell, but it sure beats cracked and damaged tile by just hoping it will fit.

Replacing the first row, using a ¼ round ceramic, porcelain or stone trim to hide the gap or installing a 4 inch back-splash in front of the tile are other options. None are without their own challenges or costs, but should all be investigated before removing the previous counter-top.

Other Trapped Back-splash Stone
The primary example of trapped stone is the 4 inch back-splash that is trapped between the counter and the bottom of the pre-existing tile back-splash. Another example is the fireplace hearth and accompanying surrounds may be trapped by the molding that is usually already in place. Finally, another frequent place to find trapped stone is in kitchen that has a raised bar tops. The piece of stone that sits on top of the counter but under the raised top is called a “Riser”. Risers may require a second trip. Two dimensional work is just length and width critical. 3D, or three dimensional stone work are length, width and height critical. When the stone to be installed is “trapped” it will require a 2nd template and 2nd installation over 75% of the time. It is safer to plan on the 2nd trips then to assume it will just work out.

Dan DiTomaso Stone Masters inc. 515 School House Road, Kennett Square Pa 19348

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