From the Forum – Advice on disappointment in countertop installed by contractor and designer

by Prince Of Petworth December 1, 2015 at 2:10 pm 23 Comments

Photo by PoPville flickr user Pablo Raw

Advice on disappointment in countertop installed by contractor and designer

“I had my kitchen completely redone by a contractor and designer. They chose all elements based on my expressed design style. My one request made over and over, including in writing in an email, was that the countertop material be low maintenance. Instead, I have a top that etches no matter what I do. 18 months after installation I have big and small water spots, glass and bottle rings, etc. I think it looks awful. It is apparently an expensive natural quartz countertop. I am told it will cost me $5,000 to replace with a different material with a similar look.

Any thoughts on what I should do? Options other than full replacement? Any way to cover etched spots? I am very sad every time I look at it.”

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  • Guillermo Brown

    Quartz is supposed to be one of the most durable and low maintenance countertop options available. Could it be that your expectations are too high? Water spots and bottle rings suggest that you don’t use coasters or clean up water. I don’t think any material except maybe corian or some other synthetic would be immune to those sorts of stains if left uncleaned. Just playing devil’s advocate here.

    • transplanted

      This is a possibility, but the other is that they’re lying to her about it being quartz. Even without wiping up spills, I don’t think quartz should ever show a stain from just water.

  • frank

    I understand the frustration, but is sounds like you took a pretty hands off approach to your renovation and its now starting to bite you back.

    You wouldn’t buy a car by telling the sales guy “I want something fast, and with blue paint”, and simply buy the first car he presents without driving it, or doing some research on it would you?

    Did you do any research on the counter top material they were presenting to you? “Low maintenance” means different things to different people.

    “They chose all elements based on my expressed design style. My one request made over and over, including in writing in an email, was that the counter top material be low maintenance”

    • Accountering

      I don’t agree with your comment at all. Plenty of people do this, and if you are dealing with a high end shop with a designer etc, this should be no problem at all. I think her complaint has some validity. If I was the designer here, I would have gone with a manufactured stone that would be zero maintenance. I would have her put something in writing if she pushed back (e-mail or whatever) and then we would proceed with a natural stone. I blame the contractor here.

  • petworther

    That shouldn’t be the case. Quartz is really durable and should not stain. You sure it’s not marble? From the this old house website: “Made from one of the hardest minerals on earth, quartz countertops are arguably the most durable option for kitchens.”
    That being the case you might consider the possibility that it’s what we call a “user” problem. Are you insanely messy? Do you know how to clean things? Maybe consider hiring a cleaning service.
    Before you do anything expensive I’d call your contractor /designer and discuss with them. Hopefully they will either help you with maintenance or give a discount on a new counter.

  • dat

    Was it properly sealed?

    • Agreed – could you clean and apply a sealant?

  • Laura

    By any chance was the contractor you used Milestone?

  • mark

    Quartz is essentially glass. It should be inert. I’m thinking some part of the picture is missing.

  • Dupont Resident

    18 months seems like a long time to be bringing it up just now, have you raised concerns before? Did you research the stone options they gave you? Is “quartz” on the product sheet as the material name?

  • Trinidad Resident

    This sounds like marble. When we were choosing countertops, I loved the look of marble but was repeatedly warned that it requires more maintenance. It needs regular re-sealing and you can’t leave water on it (not to mention wine, red sauce, etc.) or it leaves stains/spots. With multiple kids and my general desire to not spend time worrying about the counters, we went with granite and haven’t regretted it. I think quartz has a similar reputation for being low maintenance.

  • I beat the crap out of my Silestone counter top and it still looks great, two years in. I even left a cast iron pan in a puddle on the counter overnight by accident, and was able to pretty easily scrub the rust ring off. I push 6 gallon glass carboys full of water around on it and haven’t been able to scratch or ding it.
    Are you sure it’s quartz? Is there an overhang where you can see the brand marking on the bottom? I wonder if it’s possible you were sold a bill of goods.
    I don’t know what you can do, but I understand your frustration and hope there’s a reasonable solution.

    • The OP Anon

      It sounds like the contractor installed something else of lower quality. Quartz should be as tough as they come. If you’re very “hands off” with the renovation, contractors and vendors will take advantage of you. They just see deep pockets and someone without the right knowledge, unfortunately.

  • anon

    We have Caesarstone quartz that looks like white marble. I have never had it permanently stain in the two years since we installed it. There have been times it has looked like there is a stain, but I put a dab of Soft Scrub on it, let it sit a few seconds, and the “stain” wipes right away. This has worked with red wine drops left overnight, grease, cast iron rust, etc etc. Have you tried removing it with a cleaner like Soft Scrub?

  • DC

    You should go to the designer and contractor. And try to go in with a good attitude to show that you want to work with them to fix it. My guess is that they didn’t mean for you to get something you didn’t want. It could even be that they were duped by someone who sold it to them. We did a major renovation and we had a few issues like this and by working with my designer and/or contractor, we were able to remedy every one without spending any more money. Your designer likely has clout with the provider of the countertops and will be much more likely to get you a free replacement than going it alone.

    • HaileUnlikely

      Agreed completely. If you haven’t tried to clean it using readily available commercial cleaning products at all, please take a minute and do so first. If that doesn’t get it clean, then I suspect that your counter isn’t actually quartz, in which case you should definitely take this up with your contractor, and in which case I would haile recommend the approach that DC describes here.

      • Renee

        I would caution against using a commercial cleaning product until you are certain what your countertop material is. If it is in fact a natural stone, applying a product intended for quartz will leave you with a bigger mess than you have now.

        • HaileUnlikely

          Good point…though if it is not quartz, then it sounds like the contractor should be replacing her countertops. If you give me something that you say is quartz, and I clean it with something for quartz, but it damages the thing because the thing isn’t quartz, I think that strengthens my position of wanting the contractor to make it right.

  • lovessoldier

    Buff it, paint it, seal it. New counter top.

  • bws

    There is no “natural” quartz countertop. Quartz is manufactured with glass and epoxy. It doesn’t stain, and you don’t seal it. Any “natural” surface will stain and needs to be sealed. It sounds like you have a stone surface, rather than quartz. IF it is quartz, and it is just really dirty, try Mr. Clean magic eraser. That stuff can do wonders. Good luck.

  • kittycatbob

    Contact Chris McCarthy at HydroSheild DC and have him seal the counter to prevent any further damage. He came out and looked at our bathroom tile. Nice guy and was very customer service oriented.


  • Renee

    Been there. Here’s what we learned. There is Quartz and there is Quartzite. Quartz is synthetic and can take a beating. Quartzite is natural stone and, while harder than marble is still higher maintenance than Quartz. We discovered that many pros use the term interchangeably – some out of ignorance, some to be deceitful. To add to the confusion many slabs sold as quartzite are actually marble – again some knowingly, others not. The sellers rely on how their (generally) overseas suppliers classify the slabs. This is what happened to us.

    Even though our supposed quartzite countertop was professionally sealed, water would instantly leave an etch mark. It was crazy. We had a one year warranty and our installer, when they took a look at it did not hesitate to let us swap it out. Here are some suggestions:
    *even though it’s been 18 months, contact your designer and have him/her come out to give an assessment. I don’t believe you actually have a quartz product. A reputable designer/contractor will stand behind their product/services.
    *Check your receipts to see what they actually called your countertop. If it’s called quartz I would challenge that. You can also easily get a third party to give an opinion. There are many marble/granite/quartz suppliers around the area.
    *Rub you finger along the countertop around the sink edges. Is it smooth or can you feel tiny chips? If you feel small chips it’s marble/quartzite. The sink is where pot and pans are likely to hit the edges and the stone will chip – quartz should not.
    *Alternatively, if you like the stone but hate the etching you can have someone come out and hone the stone (assuming it’s a natural stone). Honing disguises the etches and gives the countertop a different look. It’s a bit messy for the day while they do the work but likely cheaper than full replacement and may be worth it to you. Sealants and other topical products do nothing for etching.
    Good luck. It’s frustrating, I know. Don’t be afraid to push the issue with your service providers.

  • Matt B

    You asked for suggestions, not criticism of your approach to the contractor (though the latter may have been anticipated…).

    Here’s my suggestions:

    1. Follow up with the person you paid. See if you were on the same page about what you asked. If so, ask for advice about the problems you’re encountering.
    2. Be aware of something called the implied warranty of fitness for a particular purpose. It’s a contract law doctrine that provides that if you, among other things, rely on the knowledge and expertise of a seller, you may have a legal remedy if they’ve not provided you with what you asked for. Based on your side of the story, you’ve made out a potential case. I’m not sure if you think $5k is worth fighting about, but it could be worth a consultation with a lawyer if option #1 doesn’t go as planned.

    Good luck!


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