Frequently Asked Questions
“What are my options when it comes to good looking, quality countertops?”
The choices are almost limitless when it comes to countertop surfaces. Popular selections include: wood, quartz, recycled products, and of course natural stone. The options among natural stone alone are: marble, travertine, limestone, and granite.
“What is Granite ?”
Granite is a natural stone, formed many millions of years ago when molten rock from the earth’s core was pushed toward the surface. Granite’s extreme hardness, which approaches that of diamonds, makes it an uncommonly durable surface. It has a natural beauty that makes it appealing when used as a countertop and other surfaces in the home. Granite’s durability is infinite, nations chose granite to memorialize their significant achievements. Rest assured that the granite you choose will stand the test of time and provide many years of enjoyment and style in any home.
“I have heard that granite has small cracks and pits in it. What are these?”
Fissures occur naturally in many stone types. The term fissure is used commercially in the stone industry to describe a visible separation along inter-crystalline boundaries. This separation may start and stop within the field of the stone or extend through an edge. A fissure differs from a crack in that it is a naturally occurring feature of the stone. All granites contain some degree of fissure. Some contain more than others. Fissures occur naturally in granite and are not a flaw.
Pitting of the countertop surface, particularly in granite, is a commonly seen characteristic of natural stone. Granites are made up of several different minerals, each mineral having a different hardness. Granites contain quartz, feldspar, biotite, amphibole, ferrous titanium oxides, and other mineral combinations. On the Moh’s Scale, diamonds are the hardest mineral with a rating of 10. Quartz and feldspar have a hardness of 6.5-7 and are very durable. Biotite (small black minerals found throughout the slab) on the other hand is very soft (2.5) and flakes very easily. All true granites have biotite in their composition. Because biotite is relatively soft and flaky, the first few layers can be removed during the polishing process. The pits do not make the granite less durable or otherwise inferior, and do not, in themselves, qualify the slab for replacement.
Pits are common in all granite and should be expected when dealing with a natural polished stone.
“My neighbor has granite & there are small chips along the seam. Is this normal?”
Chipping will occur, particularly in the igneous stone varieties, as a result of sawing operations. The exiting portion of the diamond blade used to cut granite may create some small chips. The larger of these chips may be repaired with epoxy or polyester resin if the completed repair is consistent in color and texture with other general areas of the slab. A small chamfer, called an ‘arris,’ (of approximately 1/16″x1/16″) can be used to eliminate most of small chips. The use of an arris will make the seam appear wider than its actual dimension when filled. Atlanta Kitchen, Inc. does not normally use arrises when installing granite countertops as it makes the seams appear much wider. However, some stones are naturally more brittle and susceptible to more chipping. These stones will be arrised at AK’s discretion in order to create the most aesthetically pleasing installation. All seams are machined in our shop, and when assembled in the field, any visible chips are filled with polyester resin.
“I have seen some seams that are not perfectly smooth, why is this?”
In the stone industry, the term “lippage” refers to the planar offset of the finished surfaces of two adjacent stone units. Due to the relatively tight seams used in countertop installations, even minor amounts of lippage are noticeable. Lippage may be unavoidable due to permanent warp in the slab stock. There should be no detectable lippage at the front or rear edge of the countertop. Maximum lippage at the center of the countertop is 1/32″ (0.8 mm).
“Will my natural stone match the sample I saw in the showroom or store I purchased the countertops from?”
The sample used to make a specifc color selection may not exactly match the slabs used to produce the countertops. Some stone colors, due to the different types of minerals in them, are more consistent than others. Clients are encouraged to come in to our indoor Slab Gallery and view the lot of material used in the fabrication of the job. Please call 404-378-3220 to schedule an appointment with your Project Manager or inventory management staff.
“Some of the walls in my kitchen are bowed and inconsistent. Will the countertops follow this bow and conform to the wall?”
Natural stone is extremely rigid and cannot bend to follow the irregularities of walls. No wall is perfectly straight. There will be areas where small gaps are visible. The size of these gaps is determined by the severity of the bows in the wall. Countertops receiving a backsplash will not be scribed in an attempt to follow the irregularity of any wall. In these cases, a gap of 1/8” to 1/2” wide is normally used between the countertop and walls in order to allow the home framing to expand and contract during the change of seasons, giving the countertop room to move slightly. This gap is covered by the backsplash. For areas without splashes, counters will be scribed to within industry standards. Atlanta Kitchen, Inc. offers both stone and tile backsplashes to remedy bowed walls. These are priced separately on the quote form.
“I would like to increase the overhang of my new countertops on my island to allow for bar stools and an eating area. Can I do this?”
This is most likely possible. Unsupported overhang cannot exceed 1/3 of the supported top, to a maximum of 6″ on 2 cm material and 10″ on 3 cm material. For larger overhangs, supports, such as corbels or brackets, should be installed before the process. Atlanta Kitchen, Inc., has wood and metal corbels available for purchase that can be installed. These are not included in the price of the countertop and will appear as a separate line item on the quote.
“I am planning a large party. How quickly can I get my countertops installed?”
At least 10-14 days of cushion should be allowed before hosting an event in your home. Delays in major and minor construction projects are common and occur for many unforeseen reasons. Transportation and installation is a delicate process, and breakages occur. Should a countertop break during transportation, fabrication or installation, Atlanta Kitchen, Inc., will remake the top and prioritize the installation. However, we will not discount, credit or compensate the customer due to unforeseen breakage during fabrication, transportation or installation.
“Do I need to be there during the measuring / templating of the countertops?”
Yes, someone must be present during this process to review items such as seam locations, overhangs, radius corners, and other such issues that commonly arise. A signature is required on the blueprint of your countertops, which will indicate the approximate location of the seams and other specific design information for the project.
“Do I get to keep the remnants or drop materials from the fabrication of my countertop ? Can I keep sink cutouts or cook top cutouts?”
No. Most cut-outs are destroyed during the cutting process. Customers pay for fabricated square footage unless otherwise specified.
“Do I need to have the existing countertops removed prior to the templating date?”
Not always. Walls are rarely straight, and corners are rarely square. To ensure the highest degree of accuracy, it is preferred that existing countertops be removed. Fortunately, Atlanta Kitchen has very short lead times. A normal kitchen installation will be completed six business days following the template, so the counters won’t be “topless” very long.
If it is necessary to keep the countertops for the duration of the production process, it is possible to template with the existing countertops still in place. It is, however, required that any backsplashes be removed. Often, it is not possible to remove a backsplash without removing the countertops (e.g., laminate countertops with covered backsplashes). In these instances, both must be removed.
Also note, the countertops will still need to be removed prior to installation of the new countertops. Tear-out of existing countertops is not part of standard installation. *Atlanta Kitchen does offer simple tear-out, removal and plumbing disconnect and/or reconnect services. If there is need for any of these services provided, ask the Project Manager for separate pricing.
“What other items do I need to know prior to templating?”
- Final pricing will be based on actual field measurements and conditions.
- All farm and apron front sinks must be installed in place at time of template. Undermount sinks, faucets, and cooktops must be onsite during templating.
- The fit of the sink and cooktop into the base cabinet needs to be confirmed before arrival of the crew for templating (for example: 42″sinks selected will not fit in 30″ sink base).
- Existing countertops need to be cleared of items that may interfere with the measuring process.
- The appointment to template is the last chance to make changes to the original order. Make changes in writing and fax them to the Project Manager at 404-687-9501 or e-mail them to firstname.lastname@example.org or directly to the Project Manager.
- Changes may delay the installation.
- Cabinets must be fully installed, including all finished panels, before the templates can be made. Some cabinets are installed with finished panels on the ends, and some are not. Make sure there are no more panels to be added after the templates have been made.
- If the job includes a full height backsplash, the upper cabinets will need to be installed before templating, as well.
*“Does Atlanta Kitchen, Inc. provide services to remove my existing countertops?”
Yes. For a fee, staff will complete minor tear-out jobs. For more extensive projects, a number of reputable subcontractors are used. Ask the Project Manager for a quote for tear-out services.
“What are some things I should know about the tear-out of my existing countertops?”
The sink, faucets and dishwasher will need to be disconnected prior to removing the old countertops. Most homes have shut-off valves under the sink. If there are no shut-off valves, contact a plumber to have them installed. In rare cases, a countertop installation may take a few days to complete, shut-off valves for the kitchen faucets are needed to avoid having the water completely shut off to the home during this process.
The removal of existing countertops and the installation of new countertops is a major construction process. Some unavoidable minor damage may occur to surrounding walls, existing tiles, and possibly, cabinets during tear out. Countertop installers are not responsible for this damage. This type of minor damage and the creation of dust and debris occur with most installations, so be prepared to make touchups and repairs once the countertops are installed. Atlanta Kitchen will not discount, credit, or in any way reduce the price due to minor scratches or construction damage.
“Are my cabinets structurally sound to handle the weight of the stone?”
This is an important consideration. Most cabinets can easily handle the weight of natural stone countertops. It is often not possible to assess cabinet problems prior to the removal of existing countertops. If significant problems are detected after the removal of the existing tops, either because the structure is not sound or the cabinets are not level, the installation of the new countertops may be delayed. Cabinets will need to be repaired to acceptable standards of levelness and structure. If the installation must be rescheduled due to cabinet issues and a new appointment day is needed, return trip fees will apply. Countertops can be shimmed and installed with cabinets out of level and flat plane up to 1/4″. Beyond 1/4″ the cabinets must be repaired. Countertops sit directly on top of the cabinets and are held in place with an acrylic caulk. No wood sub-tops are required for 3 cm thick countertops.
“What are some things I should know about the installation of my new countertops?”
- The owner, or decision making authority, must be on site during the entire installation process. The representative must be able to make decisions on issues that may arise during the installation. A signature is required on the completion forms at the conclusion of the installation.
- All seams will be placed at the discretion of Atlanta Kitchen, Inc. Every effort will be made to indicate seam locations during the templating of your project. However, we reserve the right to move seam locations as needed to cut around inclusions, cracks or other major irregularities within the slab or to maximize slab usage. No financial compensation will be allowed for the movement of seams.
- Atlanta Kitchen’s standard procedure for undermount sinks is to have a negative reveal, which is a 1/8″ to ¼″ overhang into the bowl. These standard practices are in place for aesthetic, hygiene, and engineering considerations. A written request is required for any deviation from standard practices, including a request to follow the sink manufacturer’s specifications. Overhangs may vary, as sinks may vary slightly in size and shape.
- Overhangs at the cabinet are designed to cover or hide inconsistencies of the cabinets. Overhangs will vary slightly over the length of the top. Standard overhang for countertops is 1.5″.
- Standard backsplash height is 4″. Atlanta Kitchen, Inc. will not be responsible if the backsplash does not cover paint or wallpaper lines. Electrical outlets will have to be moved to miss the backsplash or to be included within the backsplash prior to the installation. If a backsplash of a height other than 4″ is desired, be sure to request it.
- Please install the dishwasher prior to our arrival. Many dishwasher models have removable clips. The clips can be moved from the top, or to the sides of the unit to attach the dishwasher to your cabinets. If assistance is needed with this, or if the dishwasher does not have this option, communicate with the Project Manager about a solution. Should a dishwasher clip become unattached at a later date, it is the responsibility of the owner to reattach it.
- Installers are not allowed to move or reinstall appliances.
- The plumbing for undermount sinks may be reattached no sooner than 24 hours after the installation of the new countertops. Reattaching the plumbing before the sink has had time to set may result in the sink’s moving or dropping. If this occurs, it will be the owner’s responsibility to correct.
- The tear-out and installation of countertops is a major construction process. Cooktops and surface-mounted sinks will be cut on site to reduce the risk of breakage. Dust will be generated during this process. Remove or protect any items in or under the cabinets. Turn off the heat and/or air conditioning. Draping or covering the area to contain dust is recommended. Installers will leave the site broom clean, but dust will settle for hours after the installation is over. Be prepared for additional clean up after the crew has left the site.
- Mirrors that are permanently affixed to the wall and rest on or within 1″ above the top of the existing backsplash or countertops must be removed before the tear-out of the existing bathroom countertops. Any damage to mirrors not removed will be the responsibility of the homeowner.
- Please provide a safe area for the installers to work. Many trips between the job site and the installation vehicle will be made, clear the pathway of debris and items value, such as statues, paintings or vases, which may be damaged. Natural stone pieces are very heavy and difficult to maneuver. Children and animals should not be allowed near the job site. Please indicate an area that is acceptable to use for cutting and staging of material.
- Atlanta Kitchen caulks stone-to-stone. If asked to caulk wall-to-stone, paintable latex caulk will be used. Color matched caulk is not provided.
- Back sides of raised bars will be 1/8″ rolled edge. Other profiles will interfere with faucets.