How can I determine the level of craftsmanship of the fabricator or installer?
Surface craftsmen use many of the same disciplines as wood craftsmen. The materials are crafted using similar methods and tools of the trade are common to many professional wood shop environments. While each surface manufacturer supplies relatively consistent high quality sheet goods, a surface application is only as good as the craftsman who built it.
Evidence of master craftsmanship can be seen in the details:
Check the seams. Solid surface materials are designed to be seamed together with virtually invisible seams. With the exception of certain textures, colors, and high polish finishes, seams should be nearly invisible to the naked eye. Seams that are obvious or separated are unacceptable.
Check the silicone. Set-on backsplashes and undermount sink finishes require the installer to rely on matching silicone to seal seams and conceal minor irregularities. However, under all circumstances, silicone should be used discreetly and sparingly. Excess silicone is often evidence of an inexperienced installer.
Check the edge. The edge overhang should be consistent throughout the perimeter of the counter.
Check the fit. Surface counters are most appropriately measured using a template. This insures that your counter will fit properly and will accommodate any imperfections in your walls, cabinets, or appliances. A sloppy fit generally indicates sloppy craftsmanship.