One of the most common questions we receive from customers interested in stone countertop is, “Will my countertops have a seam?” This is understandable, as customers often envision counters as a picture-perfect slab. Unfortunately, due to slab size limitations of stone countertops (generally in the 60” X 125” range), most kitchens require a seam. The best way to enjoy your perfect countertop is to accept that slab size, the design pattern of the material, where the counters are being installed, and the associated access point size dictate the number of seams required in a countertop project.
If you desire to completely avoid seams, you will need to make your countertop selection early in the home and cabinet design process, having your General Contractor limit the size of the island or a single run of countertop to the slab material size. In addition, you also have to allow adequate space to accommodate the material’s length and width so it can safety be transported to the final installation destination within your home.
Just because seams are normally inevitable doesn’t mean you should be frightened of using natural or engineered stone for your new countertops.
Colors And Veining Patterns
While most homeowners understand that seams can never be truly invisible, they can still be made inconspicuously. The choice of colors and patterns will dictate the visibility of seams.
Generally lighter colors with limited patterns or veining create a natural contrast between the stone and the seam, which tends to make them more visible. This is why, when it works with your design, selecting darker colors with more patterns will tend to limit seam visibility. As you look through different slabs or you’re deciding between two stones, this is something you will want to consider if your project requires a seam.
Location Of The Seam
In the design process, the Programmer and Templator take into consideration the size of the slabs, the stone pattern, and providing proper seam support when choosing the seam placement. In most cases, taking these items into consideration allows for a long lasting seam.
What To Expect During Final Seam Positioning
The seam placement doesn’t have to be perfect during the early estimation stage of your countertop project. Information gained later in the process, specifically at template, allows the Programmer to precisely layout the countertop project and incorporate exact seam placement.
If you have concerns about slab layout and seam placement, please formally request from your Project Manager digital images for your review and approval prior to your countertop project moving forward in production. When doing this, prompt review and associated response is necessary to avoid potentially delaying your countertop installation date.
Seam Coloring And Size
When two or more stone pieces are joined together, your installation crew will use epoxy resins and polymers to create a strong durable bond. In an attempt to minimize the visibility of the seam, if necessary, your installation crew will tint the epoxy resins to mimic the base color of the stone. The Natural Stone Institute’s standard for acceptable seam width is 1/16 of an inch.
Painstaking effort is made when installing countertops to avoid unevenness in the seam which is referred to as lippage. If necessary, your installation crew will shim the counters to level the surface, adjusting for a multitude of variables including different slab thicknesses, unlevel cabinetry, and any warpage that might exist in the material.
In the seaming process, the install crew uses a tool called a seam setter to assist in limiting any unevenness in the seam. The end goal is to have the seam as flat as possible. A good way to judge the quality of the seam, is to run a wine glass across the seam, pushing it back and forth at the center of the stem. If it passes over the seam without tipping that would qualify as a good seam. For reference, the Natural Stone Institute’s standard for acceptable seam lippage is 1/32 of an inch.
Set Realistic Expectations
The best way to approach seams is to set a reasonable expectation. While the Templator, Programmer, Fabricator and Installation Crew will do everything possible to make your countertop look great, remember that seams will not be completely invisible and perfectly flat. The best thing to do is work with your Project Manager to establish realistic expectations.
Working in tandem through these various steps with your designer and Project Manager will help Wise Stone Choice deliver the final countertop project you desire.
If you would like to discuss further, always feel free to reach out to Wise Stone’s staff at (260) 749-8062 or stop at our showroom at 5733 SR 930E, Fort Wayne, IN 46803.