Getting Perfect Seams

How to Get Perfect Seams On Your Stone Installations

When installing a countertop there are many specifics of which a fabricator must be conscious when it comes to getting perfect seams. Methods for cutting, polishing, grinding and bonding the stone all become important when installing a countertop in a kitchen or a workspace. However, it is perhaps more important at the seams. Sure, if a specific aspect of seam creation is a bit subpar, there are other ways to compensate for the deficiency in a technique. However, getting a perfect seam in your stone countertop is achievable with some guidelines on tools and tool usage.

Defining “Perfect” Seams

In order to get a perfect seam in a stone surface, there must be a definition that serves as the goal or destination for which the fabricator is reaching. In order to create seams that accomplish this goal, practices need to be followed. Yet, the definition of the “perfect seam” will vary form person to person.

One factor that many agree makes a “perfect seam” is its invisibility. The less noticeable that the seam is, the better. At least, that is what many people feel is a good feature for a seam to have. In fact, this is perhaps the most important aspect of getting a seam that customers view as “perfect”. So then the question becomes, “What techniques produce seam that is invisible?”

Getting the Best Seam Appearance Possible

Visible Countertop Seams

So how can fabricators improve the appearance of the seams they create? Well, according to Kris Jorgensen in an article in Stone World back in 2008, there are specific steps for improving a seam’s appearance. What steps can fabricators take?

  1. Match the patterns on each side of the seam that will result from cutting the stone. This first step is key to getting a less noticeable seam since all the others steps become much easier or harder based on this one.
  2. After you have the pattern matched on both sides of the seam, the next step is making sure that there are no chips or uneven places on the edge of each side of the seam. Some techniques for cutting can reduce the work needed in this step of the process. You can remove any uneven places by back-beveling the edge. The straighter the edges of the stone are, the tighter the seam will be and the less the adhesive will be visible.
  3. Cutting and dressing the edges of the two stone pieces you are bonding are followed by leveling the seam. This is so that there is no discernible (visually or otherwise) dips or peaks in the seam.
  4. Using good installation tools1 to bond and set the seam. A couple of tools in particular will help you get this last step as good as it can be.
  5. This step is optional, but in some cases can really top off the process so that your seam is as invisible as it can be.

Each of these steps will have an impact on the ones following it. But performing all of them very well is the best result using this series of techniques. Another key factor to getting good results is using quality tools. For example, using a high quality bridge saw for cutting can help you get a good square cut on the stone. Along those same lines, using the right diamond blades for the job is also important as well.

Some Stone Specific Seaming Requirements

Perfect Countertop Seams

Depending on the type of (or brand of) stone you are seaming, there may be some particular techniques that you will have to implement. These techniques will enhance one or more of the steps listed above. For example, if the stone that you are seaming has veining, it may require some additional lining up in step number one.

Or if you are seaming PolarStone you will want to use a specific kind of adhesive. Here is a quote from the fabrication requirements page of the PolarStone website:

Secure the countertop to the support structure with a flexible 100% silicone adhesive. DO NOT USE RIGID OR NON-FLEXIBLE ADHESIVE! The silicone adhesive will allow the top to expand or contract with temperature changes in the room.

So, as you can see, some materials will require specific techniques and/or processes when you do the install. Because of this, it is imperative that you are familiar with the materials that you are installing and whether they need additional care due to certain requirements of the material.

In the end, there are many techniques that go into the seaming process. The more of them that you are aware of and have mastered, the harder it will be for the seam to be noticed. Some materials are more forgiving than others are. But getting a perfect seam when fabricating stone requires patience, know how, and perhaps a little bit of elbow grease.

1Seam setters from Weha USA and color matched adhesives from Tenax can contribute to clean seams that are less visible.