Counter Top Fabrication & Installation
Choice Granite & Kitchen Cabinets Inc. is a licensed and trusted kitchen and bathroom remodeling contractor that specializes in fabricating and installing counter tops, islands, vanity tops, backsplashes, shower walls, shower pan, fireplace, BBQ, tables by granite, marble, quartzite, quartz and other solid surface countertops. We are certified for Cambria, Caesarstone, Silestone, Vadara, and Neolith fabrication and installation. In addition, we also provide a Free Two-Year Warranty. Please contact us for an estimate.
The following is our Fabrication Process:
Clients select materials.
Choice Granite & Kitchen Cabinets Inc. helps clients determine areas for fabrication based on the template.
Free Two-Year Warranty
At Choice Granite & Kitchen Cabinets Inc., we are proud of our workmanship and feel confident that we can deliver a great experience to our customers.
Choice Granite & Kitchen Cabinets Inc. warranties all workmanship against manufacturers defect or workmanship flaws within two years of installation, such as
- Split or Damaged Seams
- Substantial Changes to Level ⁄ Grade
- Loose Counter Tops or Backsplashes
- Edge Delamination
- Cracks During Installation
- Any Visible Violations of California State Code
Please contact us if you have question regarding our fabrication and/or installation services.
Expert Quartz Countertop Fabrication and Installation Services in Los Angeles
The polished beautiful granite countertop that you install in your kitchen or bathroom undergoes an extensive process of stone fabrication to achieve the finished product. It is remarkable just how much occurs during this process and how important it is to getting the most from your countertop for years to come.
This fabrication process is done by a professional stone fabricator, which is a very specialized person. In some cases the granite supplier also specializes in stone fabrication and everything can be done at their shop prior to being delivered to your home. The convenience of one-stop shopping can lead to having more control over the entire process.
In this article, we will explore the steps between slab selection and countertop installation, otherwise known as the fabrication process.
INSPECTING THE SLAB
In this first step, the fabricator will inspect your chosen slab(s). Stone, being a natural product often contains characteristics indigenous to that particular material, similar to how individuals may be born with birthmarks. Some of these characteristics include dry seams, black spots, polyester resin fill, pits, and natural directional veining, feldspar or mica conglomerates (knots). Oftentimes, these marks make the stone what it is, unique and beautiful. On occasion, a customer may find certain characteristics unacceptable and the stone fabricator will work to avoid those during templating and fabrication process. As the customer will be enjoying this stone in their home for years to come, it is critical to jointly review the slab(s), laying out the template together to achieve the best possible outcome.
Prior to templating, a final inspection is made of the stone, identifying any areas unacceptable to the customer, or areas that are more severe than the normal characteristics described above. The fabricator will mark those areas and work to avoid those during templating, while balancing the effort to minimize waste and therefore cost.
Once the slab is inspected, it is then laid out and the previously created templates are arranged on the stone to ensure the best appearance of vein texture and color. The templates are also arranged to ensure appropriate flow for the various countertops in your layout. As an example with an L shaped countertop, or a countertop and an island that is parallel or perpendicular, you want to ensure the overall flow of the countertop pattern will work in your finished project. This natural beauty occurs more often in natural stone than in quartz, making this process especially important with granite or marble. This is where an experienced templater is key, it is a mix of experience and artistry. A beautiful countertop is just that, a piece of art, and you want it to be the focal point you are anticipating. For more information on the importance of templates in your project, see our article on templating and seams.
CUTTING THE STONE
The stone is then cut using either a water jet or a bridge saw. Historically, the bridge saw has been the favored tool, however in recent years the saw jet (combination water jet and saw) has come into play. This more specialized tool can be programmed with the parts you need to cut and determines where to use the water jet and where to use the saw, achieving higher productivity and quality.
The bridge saw cuts with a diamond segmented blade at a feed rate of approximately 7 feet per minute. The water jet cuts with high pressure water with garnet particulate suspended in the water at a feed rate of 1 foot per minute. In addition to increased productivity, the water jet can cut circles, radius’, or any intricate pattern, where the bridge saw cuts only straight lines.
In this phase of the stone fabrication, the cutouts for your undermount sink, cooktop, or holes for faucets are all made. The first step is cutting the stone to approximately 1/16 of an inch of its final size.
This equipment is a differentiator between garage operators and professionals. To achieve the most accurate result, we need a specialized operator and a specialized machine programmed with exact dimensions. For example, tracing a sink cut sheet on our stone versus using exact dimensions programmed into a highly specialized machine will achieve two very different results. As consumers, I believe we all want to achieve the best end result.
STRENGTHENING THE STONE
This step is specialized and may not be done by all stone fabricators. When you cut out the templates, you end up with a few stones that have thin rails of granite, for instance behind or in front of a sink or cooktop. By nature, those thinner pieces are not as strong as a larger surface area of stone. In the early 2000’s Choice Granite & Kitchen Cabinets Inc. conducted a study to find the best method for increasing the flexual strength of stone, specifically to reinforce this thin area. They tested various methods, working with the Marble Institute of America, and found the threaded rod technique described below to be the most effective.
In this step, rod slots (grooves in the granite) are cut and threaded rods are inserted into these grooves and encapsulated in high strength epoxy. When this process was studied, it was determined that this step increases the flexual strength of the countertop in that area by 400%. We should never be standing on our countertop, but we know it happens. Ensuring this step occurs in the fabrication process helps minimize the risk of a cracked countertop.
It bears mentioning that natural stone is extremely strong, approximately five times more than concrete. Even though different stones have various working characteristics, once installed in your home, the stone will likely outlive any kitchen you install it in. Understanding these characteristics and working within them during fabrication is key to ensuring your finished project is made to stand the test of time and use.
We are approaching the end of the process here, polishing the stone. When the granite arrives to the fabricator from the quarry, the face of slab is already polished. Typically the granite face is not polished or changed at the fabricator’s shop. What does need polished, however, is the edge.
Regardless of the edge, it will now go through a 7-step polishing process. The industry standard is to use diamond polishing pads of increasing grit from 50 to 3,000 to polish the edge.
During this step, the edges of the stone ground to remove the microchipping and achieve the best and tightest seam possible. This gives you a finished product where the seam should fit nicely together, not drawing attention to it. For a closer look at the seam phantom process check out this video.
At this point, we are almost ready to install our finished product. Granite is naturally 90% impervious to moisture migration. By applying one coat of sealer, we take that rate up to 95-97%. Both the edges and face of the stone are sealed during this step. Since sealer doesn’t degrade in an interior setting (like your kitchen or bathroom) it is pretty much a set it and forget it step. You may want to re-apply sealer in about 10-15 years. For the re-application, you can pick up a great sealer at your local home improvement store and apply it yourself.
QUALITY CONTROL & HAND FINISHING
The final step in the process is inspection of the stones. The stone fabricator will ensure the edges are uniform around all sides of the stone(s). Then they will be reviewed from multiple angles to make sure the light is bouncing off the edges uniformly, and the color of the top of the stone and the edges match perfectly. At this point, we have a finished product ready to be installed in your home.
Stone is truly a piece of natural art, and following this extensive process ensures that your finished product is a beautiful focal point of your project. Mixing experience, technology, tools and artistry is key to a stunning end result.
FAQ FOR YOUR STONE SUPPLIER OR FABRICATOR
These frequently asked questions outline processes that are best practices in the industry. Of course, every extra step takes time and money, but we feel these practices will leave you with the most beautiful outcome possible. Please utilize this information to empower yourself and ask these questions of the fabricator you are considering.
Are edges polished by machine or hand tools?
Depending on the edge profile, stone material, and configuration of the countertop, the edge may be polished by machine, hand or a combination of the two. At Great Lakes we use a series of steps in the polishing process.
The industry standard is to use diamond polishing pads of increasing grit between 50 and 3,000 to polish the edge. Think of sandpaper in increasing grit to visualize how this process works.
Do you use seam phantoming during fabrication?
Seam phantoming is when the edges of the stone are ground to remove the microchipping and achieve the best and tightest seam possible. At Choice Granite & Kitchen Cabinets Inc. we do seam phantoming on every job, our objective is to give you the best possible result.
Can I be involved in laying out the template on the slab(s) for my project (i.e. selecting how the slab(s) will be used for my project)?
We highly encourage our customers’ involvement in the templating process. It is our philosophy that every countertop, regardless of the size of the project, should have a template to ensure a beautiful finished product. During this process, decisions will be made as to where your sink and faucet are located, your overhangs, corner radius’ and more. Our templater will visit your home and make a traditional template with coroplast strips. Some fabricators use digital templating tools, we elect not to go this route. After thirty years in the business, we’ve found the traditional template gives us a more accurate representation, allows the customer to see (in their home) what their countertop configuration is going to look like, and gives the customer the ability to see the template on the stone and determine how to lay out countertop configuration on their chosen slab(s). Once we have this template, we work together in the warehouse to actually lay the template against your stone slabs. This allows you to highlight the points you love in your stone, or “hide” parts you don’t care as much for.
What is not included in my quote?
At Choice Granite & Kitchen Cabinets Inc. , there are not any hidden fees, we believe in you having a single point of contact, working hard to understand your goals for the project and discuss everything from finish type to edges or speciality items up front. We price by the job and not the square foot, giving our best price up front, ensuring you have a full picture of your project costs without hidden surprises.
Please contact us for a quote on your granite slabs and counter tops for your kitchen and bathrooms!