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Quartz w/o laminated edge, scribe to cover plywood, Pro opinion needed

February 12, 2019
last modified: February 12, 2019

Our builder installed our quartz countertop (3cm) on top of plywood for our kitchen cabinets & island. We had no doubt we'll get the laminated edge finish but just found out they'll just cover the exposed plywood w/scribe molding (white). Their model homes had quartz countertop (2cm) w/laminated edge, didn't tell us we won't be getting that . Tried to explain how this is not only the UGLIEST finish, no one, not at Home Depot or any fabricators around here install the countertop this way not to mention any designers I see online. I'm so angry and depressed after investing a lot in cabinet upgrades but builder's attitude is very dismissive, told me "Nobody ever complained about this" and made me feel like I'm the crazy unreasonable one. I don't care if anyone complained or not, I believe you should inform your customer what's included and what's NOT specially their model homes had the laminated finish. I feel like I'm in a twilight zone, talking to a stone age people asking for something that should've been a standard practice. I wouldn't have minded if they had installed this 3cm directly on the cabinets like most do but they said they need to install over plywood for cabinet manufacturer's warranty. I seriously have not seen this kind of installation. What do you think? (they will install white scribe molding over the plywood)

Comments (72)

  • artistsharonva

    Bummer plywood looks horrible. Plywod is sometimes used for overhang for extra support like this

    But I haven't seen plywood on regular new base cabinets.

    The countertop usually rests on cabinets. I don't get why this was done like this.

    There is a suspicion the countertop was not cut right. I could be wrong,not a pro fabricator.

    In this photo

    It's hard to tell for sure,but is it cut too short? Is the overhang past the cabinet on right? How much? Looks short.

    On the front side is the countertop overhang pass the drawer fronts? It's suppose to be to prevent things from spilling down cabinets.

    Could it be they tried to lift it to disguise short cuts?


    They decided to raise it all to match the island height?

    Again I'm just guessing & trying to find logic of why, but it looks wrong.

    There's got to be a reason why & it should of been discussed with the client beforehand.

    I hope the builder fesses up & fixes it your liking.

    hipopo thanked artistsharonva
  • PRO
    Jeffrey R. Grenz, General Contractor

    It is actually normal to have plywood on top of cabinets in our region, as a substrate for most custom slab and other counters. Most 2cm custom slabs, whether stone or man made (quartz, Corian, etc.) are fabricated with a double layered edge that drops to cover the plywood.

    My first experience with 3cm surprised me as it was selected after cabinets went into production planning on the normal 2cm with a drop edge, so we rebuilt & preplanned our cantilever strategy to accommodate it. My custom cabinet maker precuts all the plywood substrate and builds steel reinforced overhangs delivered with the project. BUT.... factory cabinets do not come with any plywood and often exclude the overhang accommodates, leaving us to do the work.

    hipopo thanked Jeffrey R. Grenz, General Contractor
  • hipopo

    Mr. Grenz, how do you normally install your 3cm slab? Do you use the underlayment?? Our builder had this underlayment for their model homes w/2cm fabricated edges so you don't see the plywood, of course and I thought that's what we were going to get, without a shred of doubt. They use this 3cm so they save money doing edging (found out later). OK so I wish at least they had installed 3cm without the plywood if they are going to install 3cm as I'm finding out from talking to some fabricators, kitchen remodel places and Home Depot, they all told me brand new cabinets with 3cm won't require the underlayment. Is that the standard practice in your region as well??

  • hipopo

    artistsharonva, Thank you for pointing out that this particular cabinet is supposed to go next to the oven so it looks that way. Builder's explanation for this plywood is to satisfy the warranty requirement for the cabinet manufacturer but I contacted them and they are not aware of anything related to the underlayment. I'm waiting to hear back from them again to really make sure that statement is true. I think the builder said that to shut me up and didn't think I'll actually look it up. It's hard to believe it's such a big company in town but may be their installation practice is outdated??

  • PRO

    What an absolute load of crap. Unheard of here on even the crappiest cabinets, and to my knowledge no cabinet or quartz has caved in. I'd rip it out. Their reasoning is akin to saying we need a concrete slab under your fridge.

    hipopo thanked JAN MOYER
  • wannabath

    Ok it is fairly common to have plywood underlayment it is the installation and fabrication here that is the issue. Most installers screw sit brackets into the plywood. Then again some just epoxy and they fall out a couple months later.

    Usually the edge is built up doubling the thickness of the quartz which hides the plywood. What you have here is a lazy cheap installer who refused to pay for the built up edge. THAT IS NOT A FINISHED INSTALL AND ADDING THE MOLDING WILL MAKE IT WORSE.

    Call a local installer and ask if the can build up the edge on site. They will rip the quartz into 1" strips and epoxy to the edges. Yes you have a visible seam in the middle but that is acceptable.

    How are you letting someone that will cheap out of a counter edge build your home? Could you imagine what else they did like that??? RUN RUN RUN!!!!!!!

    You would be better off with a counter you can afford done right then having this fancy counter installed like crap. Look into marble look Formica that are now available without the brown edge. Cost effective.

    hipopo thanked wannabath
  • PRO
    Jeffrey R. Grenz, General Contractor
    When I said we replanned our strategy yes we pulled off all of the plywood underlayment and installed the 3cm directly onto the cabinets.

    It left us with having to find a new way to support the bar overhang.

    I paid for that out-of-pocket because this is the third home I've done for this family and I surely don't like to walk into a home I've built and see mistakes.
    hipopo thanked Jeffrey R. Grenz, General Contractor
  • PRO
    Patricia Colwell Consulting

    This is a mess and why do you have corbels for support on that overhang there is no way you need plywood under the quartz.. There are so many ways to support overhangs with no corbels .

    hipopo thanked Patricia Colwell Consulting
  • PRO
    Beth H. :

    since it's obvious the plywood isn't required, tell them it's not acceptable and you won't sign off on it. Advise them you've spoken to the cabinet manufacturer and they concur.

    i actually have plywood on my own cabs, but it was cut so that it doesn't hang over and the granite was also fabricated so that it fits right over it and the edge hides all of it. you can't even see it.

    Tell them you will sign off if they remove it and put it directly on the cabs. perhaps if you release their liability for it, they'll remove it? your last row of tile will have to be redone.

    i agree, it looks horrible. this is done w/o plywood and looks similar to your set-up

    hipopo thanked Beth H. :
  • PRO
    Filipe Custom Woodwork

    Do not stand for it. I don't know who they are selling these homes to but no this is no way a standard installation.

    My guess is they are trying to save money and in the end in volume make a lot of it. What I mean is that 2cm costs less than 3cm. You might want to check the contract to see if they charged you for 3cm and giving you the cheaper one to make a buck.

    I have never seen this type of installation. Not even Home Depot does this kind of lunacy.

    No, you are not being snotty.

    Never heard of cabinets needing a plywood substrate.

    I would not stand for it at all.

    "Nobody ever complained about this" ------ Yeah no. We professionals are screaming no here. We come from different areas and we yell "Hell no!". You did a shotty job and how dare you take advantage of people!

    If 20 people haven't complained oh freaking well, you complain and get the job done right!

    They are doing more work to cover up this mess than just doing it right the first time.

    I am IRATE!

    hipopo thanked Filipe Custom Woodwork
  • emilyam819

    Just curious - how high from the floor are the countertops? Seems like with the plywood they would be higher than 36”.

  • artistsharonva

    Good points & advise above.

    General standards is to have 18" from top of counter to bottom of back of cabinet.

    I would gather all the facts to find out why & what happen. Read the contracts ,emails,texts,etc.

    If possible get a neutral party,a pro countertop fabricator to inspect the install on site & get their pro opinion. Or at least take a lot of photos to them to get another opinion locally.

    Once you get all your facts & reasons why this unacceptable & must be fixed by doing whatever pros suggest,then present your case to builder. If he gives the run around send a certified notarized letter stating your case. That will show him to take you seriously & stop the bs excuses & start giving you solutions you want.

    I really hope some good news comes your way soon.

    hipopo thanked artistsharonva
  • hipopo

    Thank you all for your comments & knowledge! I'm learning a lot and truly appreciate your time.

    wannabath - Funny thing when they installed this countertop, I thought they were coming back to add the fabricated edges on site later. I didn't know anything about countertop installation so I waited, waited for maybe 2 months. Then I just found out last week how they are going to finish and just broke my heart then anger... I wonder if some skilled fabricator can add 1" overhang... I'll look into that if that is possible since swapping to 2" slab will lower the counter height as some of you mentioned, we'll have to redo the backsplash. Thank you for your suggestion!

  • hipopo

    Mr. Grenz, what a professional man you are! That is a strong statement I wish I could show it to our builder! The sad thing is, you look at that as a mistake but to our builder it's their standard installation. I'm planning to visit other semi-custom home builders in this area and ask how they install their countertops. So 3cm slab install is more cost effective than 2cm w/fab-edge so that must be the reason they use 3cm but I wish they installed it directly on the cabinet. I know better next time if we get to build our house in... 30 years?? (lol) Thank you so much again for your comments! Learning a lot.

  • hipopo

    Beth H. - That kitchen looks amazing! Beautiful countertop... I had no idea this what seems to be a simple thing called countertop could be such a pain in a butt (lol) I can only dream of "fabricated edge"... that is the magic word...

  • hipopo

    Filipe Custom Woodwork - Wow! Thank you for your comment! Now I feel even more confident that I wasn't crazy. This is a semi-custom home and they don't list each cost, so standard countertop is included and you pay extra for any upgrades you want within what they offer. We paid some extra for this upgraded quartz. We know they overcharge so we tried to upgrade only things we can't do after we get the keys and countertop was one of them. Thank god, we almost went with marble for extra $3,800! And to imagine the same installation with expensive marble would've been worse than a disaster... Someone would've been harmed by me for sure (lol) Thank you so much again!

  • hipopo

    emilyam819 - I'll have to check that. Floor hasn't been installed yet so not sure I can be accurate yet but I'll check. Thank you!

  • hipopo

    artistsharonva - Thank you for your suggestion! I know, I want to bring in some kind of inspector to assess their installation but they already do that for the building. Being structurally sound will probably pass the inspection so how do we assess something that is not esthetically pleasing? We need a design police!!! We have a suspect and needs to be arrested for being ugly. We are actually dealing with another kitchen issue (sink installation) with the builder and waiting to hear back from them and see what they are willing to do to correct but my husband thinks they won't correct it. I'd like to post about that for this community's opinions again. For that my husband is willing to go legal. Thank you so much again for your suggestion!

  • rantontoo

    Cabs went in before flooring? What kind of flooring are you planning?

  • hipopo

    Oh, is that not normal? We are installing the vinyl planks with cork backing.

  • Brenda Waggoner
    Do you have too much money invested to justify walking away? If that is the builder’s work that can be seen imagine what’s hidden. I’m so sorry.
    hipopo thanked Brenda Waggoner
  • artistsharonva

    Flooring can go in before & after. A lot of new builds do not install flooring under cabinets to save costs. I prefer flooring under especially on wooden subfloor,because if there is ever a water leak,it gives a little extra protection to catch it before it soaks too much into subfloor resulting in rot & future repair under. The other reason is years later if want to change layout of cabinets there's flooring under. But since it's already in now, I highly suggest buying extra flooring for patch work. products usually get discontinued & finding a perfect match can sometimes be difficult.

    hipopo thanked artistsharonva
  • Brenda Waggoner
    Changing subject from countertops to sink. Is that caulking around the sink/countertop?
    hipopo thanked Brenda Waggoner
  • Twosit4me

    Wow, that is horrendous and as others have said it sends up all sorts of red flags about the building quality. I would definitely be looking for a way out of the contract..easy for me to say ;) I also noticed the uneven edge on the cabinet that is supposed to be nest to the "oven" (I assume you mean range), no matter what it is going next to, you should still have an even edge. If not you will end up with a big gap..also uneven.

    As a side note, unless they did something to raise the cabinets from the bottom, the finished height of the cabinets will be the wrong height. The plywood would fix this, but it needs to have a laminated edge to hide the plywood. We had this problem in our kitchen and did not notice until the range went in and it was difficult to open the warming drawer.

    hipopo thanked Twosit4me
  • PRO
    Mackenzie Austin Design
    That looks ridiculous. Don’t let your builder mess with your mind like that. What a way to ruin what could be a beautiful kitchen. You need to be going over the rest of your home with a fine tooth comb, and have someone with a discerning eye do it with you. Red flag indeed!
    hipopo thanked Mackenzie Austin Design
  • PRO
    The Kitchen Place

    If I had to guess, they normally do the 2cm laminated edge w/ plywood, so they installed the plywood. Then..... I wonder if the countertop fabricator had some 3cm laying around and offered him a deal. But they were too lazy to take off the plywood first. If I were you, I would do everything I could to have them fix this. This is a really bad installation.

    Can you tell me what is the distance from the floor to the top of the cabinets. Your finished counter height should be at 36".

    It's unfortunate you didn't say anything prior to the backsplash going in. I know you're not a pro, but it's kind of obvious there's not a lot of room for addition material and the bottom edge is eased. Because you didn't say anything sooner, I think it would be a fair compromise to ask them to remove the stone and plywood and reinstall the tops ....and you would pay for any backsplash fixing or replacing.

    HOWEVER...a lot depends on how high the bases are installed from the "finished floor"!? That could be the key. With 3cm, the tops of the cabinets need to be at 34.8189 (36" less 3cm thickness). If not, then all the bases SHOULD be shimmed up to that level so the finished tops are 36". People have had issues with the fit of slide-in ranges and captured dishwashers in the past.

    hipopo thanked The Kitchen Place
  • PRO
    Creative Design Cabinetry

    That is not the industry standard. That if an f-up on behalf of the builder, granite guy and maybe the cabinet contractor. Your builder is going to deny anything in hope you accept it and back down.

    Probably a different granite contractor than the original who did the model. If the model has a 1.5" top, then that's what you should get unless it is an option that you didn't pay for in your option upgrade sheet in you contract.

    Installer said screw it and installed anyway KNOWING the plywood shouldn't be there for 3cm installation.

    No such thing as the cabinet manufacturer requires the plywood.

    Builder is trying to bully you into accepting. Please don't.

    hipopo thanked Creative Design Cabinetry
  • rantontoo

    Twosit4me’s points are why I asked about the type of flooring. You will lose cab height when the floors go in but not as much as with solid wood floors.

    hipopo thanked rantontoo
  • smileythecat

    I'm on Houzz everyday, for I dunno maybe five years, many countertop problems, tiling issues, never seen something like this, its bad, I can't believe its common where you are moving to. Your builder is full of it.

    hipopo thanked smileythecat
  • hipopo

    artistsharonva - What you said makes sense! Our floor is now a bare concrete slab they poured for the new construction and we'll be installing the vinyl plank called "Coretec". https://coretecfloors.com/products/coretec-plus-xl-enhanced/ It's a vinyl plank w/cork backing and supposed to be waterproof. We are installing the whole house w/this material. Yes, I'll make sure we keep some extra! Most residents in this community have tiles & carpet combo as it is included in the standard pricing. This was another big upgrade we added because we don't like carpet and I don't like hard tiles under my feet. I'm directly in touch with an installer on this one to make sure it gets done right!

  • skinhero

    2 cm is in style now for contemporary. I would make them take the plywood out and see if it is large enough for the overhang. They can redo the back splash, which never should have been done until the counter was placed properly. Been under construction here since August. They waste so much time/money with short cuts, then have to do it again, and again to get it right. My island had to be reinstalled 4 times.

    hipopo thanked skinhero
  • missybee13
    Wow! That looks like an amateur from a third world country did this. You would win in court.
    hipopo thanked missybee13
  • jpp221
    I’d put up a stink and then after they’re worn out, offer a compromise. Instead of a wood moulding to cover the plywood, consider a metal edge, in a finish that matches the cabinet hardware.
    hipopo thanked jpp221
  • hipopo

    Brenda Wagonner - SINK - Yes, that is caulking and this sink situation is another issue we are dealing with the builder. They installed the different sink, very ugly installation, another heartbreaker... I am planning to post a separate topic for it. I'll update you all when I do.

  • hipopo

    The Kitchen Place & Creative Design Cabinetry - Sadly, this is how our builder install their 3cm. I actually asked few neighbors to let me see their kitchen and it was installed the same way. I also checked out another development across the street today, also semi custom homes. Well, they had 3cm on plywood w/scribe on it in their model homes as well BUT at least they didn't misrepresent with fabricated edge!!! I guess this is how they install their 3cm in this region?? I also went to measure my cabinet height and it's 36 3/4" from the bare concrete, not sure how thick the floor materials will be but is this acceptable?? And yes, I wish I knew more about the countertop installation before! I thought they were coming back to add the fabricated edge (lol) I have learned a lot more since (a few weeks ago) and learning from all of you!

  • zimmer
    Wow I’m so sorry to see all this! if there is anyway you can either walk away (meaning run!) I would they are selling you a con job hoping you will blindly accept it.
    hipopo thanked zimmer
  • PRO
    Creative Design Cabinetry

    I agree with Missybee13 and Zimmer. This extremely low quality example is warning of more to follow. What city is this in? Who is the builder? I assure you this is not the industry standard in any kitchen I have ever seen anywhere(northeast, southeast, midwest, west,etc) Just because someone else got away with it, doest make it right.

    hipopo thanked Creative Design Cabinetry
  • artistsharonva

    In regards to the odd countertop install I think Creative Design Cabinetry is on to something.

    The upgrade from 2m to 3cm might of been miscommunicated. Looks like thick plywood was installed for the usual 2cm the builder uses for their homes.

    I'm guessing, the countertop installer showed up to do what they usually do for 2cm. Instead of pausing & calling to verify with everyone involved something does not add up, they just went ahead with installing the usual way for the 2cm instead of adjusting for the 3cm which throws it off. The countertop installers expects things to be ready when they get there.

    Someone missed the mark on the countertop thickness upgrade & adjusting properly for a correct install.

    We may never know exactly what sequences of events happen to get to this wrong install, but the builder is the organizer of the project, & should fix it to satisfy his client. That's 1 of the important reasons why we pay builders, it is to project manage.

    Someone missed the mark on the countertop thickness upgrade & adjusting properly for a correct install.

    Usual for this builder, but unusual & wrong, imo.

    hipopo thanked artistsharonva
  • artistsharonva

    Here's a good article about countertop height standards


    hipopo thanked artistsharonva
  • Daniel Parcells
    Yet another glaring example of poor workmanship. It’s good that these building practices are being exposed. Apparently the plywood is used to make up for the thickness of finish floor rather than raise the cabinet height. Otherwise there is no legitimate reason for using it under 3 mil stone. The scribe molding installation as pictured is very ugly. A better alternative would be a thin edge veneer.
    hipopo thanked Daniel Parcells
  • Sandra Martin


    hipopo thanked Sandra Martin
  • bbtrix / I Miss Sophie

    "Sadly, this is how our builder install their 3cm. I actually asked few
    neighbors to let me see their kitchen and it was installed the same way."
    Don't let them get away with this as others have done. They continue to make shoddy mistakes because no one calls them on it either because they don't know better or they just want to get the job done and them out of there. You have the right to receive what you contracted for and what was represented in the model home. Talk to a lawyer about this and the sink issue right away. Don't let them continue. A lawsuit and a social media blitz revealing their poor installation and business tactics can ruin a business quickly. You and your husband need to toughen up and not let the bully win.

    Do not ignore the expert advice you have received here and accept it as their way of doing it. That is why standards exist; to prevent shoddy workmanship and rip-off bullies. You really cannot delay with this. Call a lawyer tomorrow morning.

    hipopo thanked bbtrix / I Miss Sophie
  • chiflipper

    " Their model homes had quartz countertop (2cm) w/laminated edge, didn't tell us we won't be getting that . "

    Check your contract. IF the countertop is NOT mentioned as being different from the "model home"...or there was no selection spot on the "upgrade sheet" for countertop...you have recourse. Be sure to take photos of the countertops in the model homes for visual proof.

    Awful, unprofessional, totally unacceptable.

    hipopo thanked chiflipper
  • hipopo

    artistsharonva - Thank you so much for the article info! Very good info to keep for everyone.

    Thank you all so much again for your comments and support. I've realized this really is not a standard installation for sure and gave me the confidence but at the same time I just can't wrap my head around how our builder and another builder across the street installing 3cm this way?? They really don't know better or are they not telling something?? Other fabricators in town told me they don't install 3cm that way and all agreed this is a bad installation.

    Creative Design Cabinetry asked what city and what builder and I can only tell you now it's in Bakersfield, California (central California). This isn't the only issue we are dealing with the builder as I mentioned before. To be fair, people working for the builder are very nice individually and we enjoyed working with them. However we have noticed some communication problems and lack of organization and training/education. And probably they do not have enough manpower to oversee all constructions well. Although we probably shouldn't expect too much love & pride of their craftsmanship from a cookie cutter semi custom home builder and we are only one home out of thousand homes they built, this will be the only home for us and paying a pretty decent amount of money too so we'd like to try to make us feel good to move in.

    I truly appreciate you all who have shared the knowledge and opinions and given me so much support. We don't know what's going to happen but I'll keep you all updated as it progresses. In a meantime, we are dealing with another issue "sink". Hope you can follow me there and give me your opinions! https://www.houzz.com/discussions/5619569/sink-and-countertop-installation-pro-opinions-needed#n=0

  • hipopo

    Daniel Parcells & jpp211 - Thank you for the suggestions! I was at the site, looking at the exposed plywood, trying to figure out how to salvage this (builder already told us they won't fix it, we still don't know how all of this going to end) and I wondered if the cabinet manufacturer has something like veneer strip like you mentioned, to cover instead of scribe molding. I found a box of materials that came to install the cabinets that includes scribes, quarter round and veneer strip about 4" wide. I'd rather have this strip cut to size, glued on to the plywood to mimic the cabinet look and for the durability. Scribe molding is a softer material and I saw in model homes that it gets banged around and dented so easily and also has some decorative details on and will be nailed on which makes it really ugly, doesn't make it seamless w/cabinets either.

  • melle_sacto is hot and dry in CA Zone 9/

    Is this going to cause a potential problem for water damage around your sink?

  • hipopo

    Oh, because of the plywood being there?? I hope not!

  • melle_sacto is hot and dry in CA Zone 9/

    I was just thinking about how the typical edges function to guide water away from the cabinets, sort of. They aren't infallible. But with this counter you won't have have the extra edge to do that. Does it at least extend past the cabinet front?

    I'm with you this is really disappointing. I have a Corian counter over Ikea cabinets and the installers didn't use plywood; you can look at the underside of the counter from within the cabinets. It's really disappointing that your new build is being done with some unusual methods. I don't have advice to offer just sympathy and hoping you have the energy to deal with it.

    is it possible the plywood is there to provide more support to the stone in case the cabinets are not level? Not that it makes it acceptable, but maybe it's a sign of trying to compensate for other failings as well

    hipopo thanked melle_sacto is hot and dry in CA Zone 9/
  • cpartist

    3 cm stone does not need underlayment. Ever.

    hipopo thanked cpartist
  • hipopo

    melle_sacto is hot and dry in CA Zone 9/ & cpartist - I can only dream of countertop w/o plywood now. And yes, it extends enough to past the cabinet facing, thank god. I have heard from all of you that 3cm quartz installation on the brand new cabinets does NOT require underlayment. Now how do I convince my reputable & experienced builder?? I probably need some professional builders/fabricators to testify. They need to know.

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