Editor's Note: This is the second in a series of articles from Fred Vehorn on after-installation issues, with particular focus on common issues with cooktop cutouts and field seam importance. Read part one here.
The last article focused on the reasons for the quantity of incidents of after installation issues. This article will break it down and provide the details of what the main issues are in the field. There are basically four main areas to look at: cooktop cutouts, seam splits, inside corner cracks and sheet warping.
Although the majority of you have had many years of fabrication and installation training, and no doubt are very familiar with most of the manufacturers' manuals, guidelines and standards, our focus will be on the key areas that are getting overlooked and steps not being thoroughly completed, which cause the most issues we see in the field. Hopefully, this article can be used as a quick reference guide, and if necessary, be a catalyst for implementing changes for better quality countertops.
Although drastic improvements have been made since the days of jig saw cutouts, there are key details, after the smooth router cut. Below is a list of areas that are most commonly missed:
Corner blocks — The purpose of a corner block is to increase the strength of each corner of the cooktop cutout. Often shortcuts are taken, such as making the block too small, not beveling the block or not having full glue coverage. All of these issues lead to a weaker corner and a possible failure or crack in the future.
Completely sanding all sides — Let's illustrate this point with a piece of glass that has been cut but not sanded smooth; it still has small jagged edges, and these are places for cracks to start. The same principles apply when solid surface is cut, and even more so at a cooktop cutout! The use of the cooktop causes expansion and contraction of the countertop as the cooktop heats up and cools down. Mixing small jagged edges with expansion and contraction can again lead to a failure or crack.
Heat tape needs to extend to the outer edge of the flange — Heat tape is installed to protect the counter from the heat that a cooktop can transfer directly to the countertop. We have seen cases when cooktops are sending out extreme heat and the metal flange has burned or caused an impression of the flange right into the countertop. Extreme heat applied directly to any counter surface can cause problems, so protect your counters by making sure the heat tape extends to the outer edge of the flange.
Support not in the proper place — If the support is too close, it can trap in the heat and not let it flow away from the cook top as it should. If it is too far away, then the countertop may not have the structural support that it needs to hold the cooktop and heavy items that may be placed on it.
to the items just mentioned, here are other items that are often overlooked in commercial
hot well/cold well cutouts. Commercial situations will be discussed in more detail in a future
article, but for now here are some items to be thinking about:
• The use of residential cutout specs vs. commercialcut out specs.
• Cutouts that are too close to other cutouts in the same area.
• More weight requires more support to accommodate the additional weight of commercial equipment.
• Higher heat: Don't be stingy with the heat tape.