WHY DO I HAVE CRACK ON MY GRANITE COUNTERTOPS
ULTIMATE GRANITE CRACK GUIDE
Cracks in granite countertops exist or happen for various reasons. Let’s look into the different terms first.
Crack: A line on the surface of granite, marble or another natural stone along which has split without breaking into separate parts.
Fissure: a Natural crack in the stone. The difference between a crack and fissure is that cracks can happen after the stone is excavated. Even after it is cut into slabs, and fabricated as countertops cracks can occur. a Fissure is something that is strictly natural. It is not something developed afterwards by outside elements.
Chip: A small piece of stone removed in the course of chopping, cutting, or breaking something, especially a hard material. Chips in granite, marble and other natural stone are common especially along the edges and on the sink cut outs.
Natural Veining: This refers to the same thing as fissures. The only difference, is that natural veining in natural stone can sometimes create color or pattern difference in the natural stone. In other words, you cannot feel the veining by putting your hands on it, but you can see it. Some of the natural fissures cannot be felt by hand, if the slab fabricator did a good job filling and polishing it.
Hairline Cracks: This term is the same as crack, or fissure. It usually refers to much smaller natural cracks. Peacock Green granite is one of the stones that has this characteristic.
Cure: Using a fissure hider will eleminate or minimize the effect in look. Pectro is one of the best products in the market. Click here for more information on Pectro.
Nick: A small cut or notch in the stone. The term nick is often misused in place of chip.
As mentioned above, cracks, fissures or chips happen in natural stones for various reasons. Some of them are natural and unavoidable, whereas some are developed due to fabrication errors or other outside elements.
Granite, marble, and other natural stones hold up well when they are well supported underneath. Think of a thin marble floor not cracking even when we step on it. It would crack very easily if it was not supported underneath. The same is true with countertops. They need to have good support under the stone to prevent cracks.
Cracks can happen in different parts of countertops. Where the crack is located on your countertop is important in determining what has caused it. Let’s look at each specific area one by one.
CRACKS ON THE SINK, AND COOKTOP CUTOUT AREA
Sink cut out and cooktop cut out areas are the weakest parts of a countertop. Cracks in these areas are not uncommon.
CRACKS RUNNING FRONT TO BACK
Cracks running front to back usually happen because the stone is weak in that specific area, or because it is mishandled. Inspecting the stone to see if there are other similar lines would determine if it is natural, or if it is something developed after fabrication. If there are other similar lines in the stone, the crack can be filled, and polished in most cases.
Fabricators often place metal rods (or plastic materials in some cases) to reinforce the stone in these weak areas. This is especially a good practice for more exotic stones that have mesh backing behind them.
CRACKS RUNNING HORIZANTAL
Cracks running horizontally in these areas are either due to natural characteristics of the stone, or another common issue. We have mentioned before that fabricators place metal rods in the natural stone to reinforce it, in the sink and cooktop bridges. This has to be done carefully. The stone should not be cut too deep to place the rod. Also, the resin & hardener ratio needs to be adjusted carefully. Cutting the groove line too deep or mixing too hard may cause the granite to crack over time and in most cases months after installation.
CRACKS ON THE ISLAND OR PENINSULA OVERHANG
Island and peninsula overhangs are the risky parts when dealing with countertops. The amounts of overhang in these areas need to be carefully decided based on the following factors;
· Type of stone. Granite is a durable stone. Some other natural stones such as onyx and marble are not as durable. They need support even if you have shorter overhangs.
· Some granite types are more fragile than others. Exotic stones, having many fierce and natural lines in them, are more fragile than consistent granite colors such as Absolute Black Granite.
· Cutouts: sink and cooktop cutouts near the overhanging area, make the stone weaker and more prone to breakage points.
· Support brackets are not only used to prevent the stone from cracking but also to prevent the stone from tipping over. Overhangs on the raised bar counter tops need support if center of the top is on or close to the overhanging part.
There is no standard measurement for a maximum overhang without any support. The above mentioned factors need to be considered carefully. Some fabricators state that a maximum 12” of overhang without any support brackets is ideal, but then again, the above factors may reduce this number. Different support brackets and overhang are topics for another blog. We will not detail go into detail within this article.
Cracks are likely to occur when large overhangs are used without support. New cracks may develop in these areas. It is more likely, though, that a natural fissure was existing prior to the stone to being opened up. The stone can be fixed if natural fissures get bad in these areas. If a completely new crack occurs, the crack will be visible even when it is glued back together and polished.
CRACKS ON THE EDGE OF THE COUNTERTOPS
As we mentioned above, some natural stones already have fierce fissures in them. Sometimes these fissures, or new ones, may exist in the stone. Some of these natural veins will not be visible looking at the stone from the top. If the fissure happened to be where the edge of the stone is, it becomes more visible after the edge is cut and polished. This is a very common issue in some hard quartzite materials and in some slate products because they have layered characteristics. These fissures can be filled and polished carefully. They may still be visible, but they will not get worse with time. Such small fissures in natural stones are one of the many factors that make the stone look so beautiful.
CRACKS ON THE BACK SPLASHES
Backsplashes are usually only 3-4” tall so these pieces are very weak due to their size. Backsplashes usually get cracked during transportation and installation. They are even more prone to cracking if they are very long or if they are mishandled. You can inspect your stone to see if similar lines exist in other parts of the stone. This will help you to understand whether it is a natural fissure or a crack developed due to mishandling of the stone.
CRACKS UNDERSIDE (BACKSIDE) OF THE GRANITE COUNTERTOPS
As we mentioned before, some cracks in the stone are actually natural. They are very visible when they are in the form of blocks. Slab fabricators (usually overseas) fill these cracks, and polish them; they then place backer mesh on the back side of the slabs to reinforce them – only for fragile stones. They do not always apply the same filler or labor to the back side of the stone, therefore, cracks can be much more visible on the underside of your countertops. You can carefully inspect the surface of the stone to see if there are any similar lines, if so, it is natural. Most of these cracks do not get bad with time unless they are on the overhanging parts. It may be too late if you have this issue and your countertops are already installed. If they are not installed yet, you can ask your fabricator to place metal rods in the cracked area to prevent possible future deterioration.
CRACKS IN THE FAUCET HOLES, AND ELECTRICAL OUTLET AREAS
Some stones are hard to drill, and are extremely prone to cracking and chipping, especially when dry fabrication (drilling and cutting) is done at the job site. Cracks near faucet holes, cooktop cut out areas, and electrical outlet cut out areas may be caused because of this.
CRACKS ON OTHER PARTS OF THE STONE
Cracks can appear anywhere on countertops. We mentioned some specific areas. If cracks are visible in other areas of the countertops, it is very likely that they are natural. A natural crack, versus something that developed during transportation and installation, can be distinguished easily by taking the following steps;
· Check other parts of the stone to see if similar lines appear in the stone. Some of these similar lines may not be as bad, but still give you the impression that it is natural
· Natural cracks are usually not straight lines. The cracks which develop during installation, fabrication, or transportation of the countertops are usually straighter lines
· Natural fissures (cracks) in the stone are usually not as fierce as the ones developed artificially. Most of the natural fissures are already filled and polished by the slab fabricator.
· Recent cracks usually appear much more white, whereas natural fissures have similar coloring to the rest of the stone.
Granite Countertops, marble countertops and other natural stones do not get cracked easily if they have good support underneath. Not having cabinets leveled or stepping on the stone may also cause cracking. During the construction process, all contractors should understand that countertops are fragile (especially marble, quartzite, onyx) they should not place their tools on them which can cause scratches. Also they should not step on them while installing tile backsplashes or when installing electrical in the ceiling.
Most of the cracks in natural stone can be fixed. The only problem is how good of a result you will have at the end of the repair. Consistent colored granites do not crack easily and they are not easy to fix if they ever do. Cracks appear more visibly on inconsistent colored granite.
What can be done to Avoid Cracks?
Inspecting your slabs before fabrication is highly recommended. Furthermore, mapping out your slabs to have a visual of what is going to go where helps greatly. Some cracks exist in natural stones, but they can be avoided or minimized during the layout process. If at the end of the layout you are not okay with the general look and location of the natural cracks, you have the option to choose another stone having fewer or no cracks in them. It will be too late to change the color once fabrication and installation of your countertop have been completed.
Repairing Cracks on Granite, and Other Natural Stone Countertops
Repairing cracks in stone is a possibility. In most cases, some penetrating resin needs to be left on the stone and be left out to dry. The area needs to be re-polished once it is dry to give it a smooth look. Filling the cracks with a chip repair kit (also known as CH glue) and then polishing the area (or scraping with a razor blade) works for smaller sized cracks.
You can also consider hiring a stone restoration company to fix the crack for you. Surface link is a reputable company specializing in repairing natural stone countertops. They have technicians nationwide.
LIST OF NATURAL GRANITE, MARBLE AND QUARTZITE, and SOAPSTONE HAVING NATURAL FISSURES IN THEM
Granite Color List
Alaska White Granite
Typhoon Bordeaux Granite
Verde Borgonia Granite
Peacock Green Granite (hairline fissures)
Brown Antique Granite (hairline fissures)
Lemurian Blue Granite
Azul bahia Granite
Monte Bella Quartzite
River White Granite
Glacier White Granite
Ferro Imperialle Granite
Verde Karzai Granite
White Springs Granite
Netuno Bordeaux Granite
Cosmic Black Granite
Ivory chiffon Granite
MARBLE COLOR LIST
Crema Marfil Marble
White Carrara Marble (surface fittings)
Calacatta venato marble
QUARTZITE COLOR LIST
White Arebesque Quartzite
Quarzo bianco quartzite
White Macubas Quartzite
Taj mahal quartzite
Perla venato quartzite
Sea pearl quartzite
Ferrogamo Cream Quartzite
Brown fantasy quartzite