With expensive material, don’t go cheap on installation

February 13, 2013 

A question last eek about a hairline crack in a countertop brought some expert advice and more questions, proving once more that one should never take anything for granite.

The hairline crack under discussion was about 22 inches long and was in front of the sink.

The countertops are 5 years old, and the installer is out of business.

Marty Jensen of Blue Bell spent 44 years in the granite business and, though retired, troubleshoots for trade organizations.

He said the crack may be the result of a natural fissure or could be a pressure crack caused by the method of installation.

To repair the crack, the homeowner would need a good mechanic to apply epoxy, colored to match the granite and then polished to match the surrounding areas, Jensen said.

“This can be done,” he said. “It’s just a matter of locating a reputable firm, of which there are many.”

Coincidentally, another reader wrote in to ask about a chemical buildup around the faucets on his granite countertops.

“It’s most predominant on the hot water side,” he said. “What can we do to correct this problem and to prevent it from happening in the future?”

Jensen again provided an answer.

“That buildup is due to properties in the water and not a result of granite countertops,” he said. “A plumbing condition. Most likely hard water.”

Robert Marcovitz of Ambler says he isn’t an expert, but he, too, had a crack appear in front of the sink.

He said he was lucky the installer was still in business and stood by his work.

First, the installer filled the crack with adhesive and buffed it out. But another year passed, and the crack spread, opening up again.

“They said under the section of granite was a metal bar placed for reinforcing that narrow section,” Marcovitz said. “This bar can rust as a result of water seeping under the granite. And then it gradually expands, creating a crack.”

Newer construction uses a reinforcing bar made of a composite material, according to the installer.

“Ultimately, they matched and replaced the section of granite and only charged me for the granite, not the labor,” Marcovitz said, adding, “this is a reason to use a quality installer who has been in business for a good length of time.”

Excellent point. There is a time for saving money, but quality of installation on an expensive piece of material such as granite is not the place.

A reader signing herself “Susan” confirmed what Marcovitz reported about that rusting metal reinforcement bar.

This is what she described as a cost-effective cure.

“We had an under-mounted sink. The installer came in and cut out the sink and crack. Luckily, it did not crumble during cutting, but that is always a possibility,” she said.

Susan purchased a new drop-in sink that was 33 by 66 inches — large enough to drop in the new cutout in the counter.

“If this is not possible, use a piece of granite from the center island or desk to make the repair,” she said, adding that you’ll need to check the measurements. The center island or desk can then be replaced with a different granite.

“It’s the ‘in’ thing now not to be so matchy-matchy — treat it as a piece of furniture,” Susan said.

Alan J. Heavens of the Philadelphia Inquirer has been writing about real estate and home improvement for the last 14 years. He can be reached at aheavens@phillynews.com.

The Olympian is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service