Q: Some time ago, the granite counter around the kitchen sink was assaulted by a frozen pack of chicken drumsticks, and the granite wound up cracked. I tried to repair the cracks with an epoxy recommended by a professional installer, but the repairs did not meet with approval from those in charge. In the interests of domestic tranquility, is there anything I can do now to make this look better?
A: Your options are limited. Although it is possible to repair cracked granite countertops with epoxy, there are several challenges with your situation.
First, the stone you have is dark. “Epoxy doesn’t work with dark colors. We usually recommend replacement,” said Kadir Ozdemir, sales manager for Granite System in Chantilly (202-956-9156; granitesystem.com). “You always see the cracks.” Granite System is mostly a fabricator and does repairs only on stone that it installs. But Ozdemir said the more repair-focused professionals he knows also shy away from working on dark granite. “I don’t think anybody would take that risk.”
Adding to the complications in your case, there’s the fact that you have already filled the gaps with epoxy. Barry Adkins, a technician for FixIt Countertop in Rockville (800-989-6604; fixitcountertop.com), which specializes in repairs to countertops installed by other companies, said he would not attempt a re-repair. “We don’t typically do jobs that have had repair attempts by other companies or homeowners, especially homeowners,” he said. He looked at the pictures you sent and said he would not take on the job. It takes too much time to get out the old epoxy, and it isn’t really possible to get it all out.
“That stuff isn’t meant to come off,” he said. “It’s not the money. It’s about us trying to give a certain result — not just for the client’s eye, but our eye, too. We don’t want to have them come in and spend more money and not get the quality results they deserve.”
Adkins said he doubts that your countertop cracked just because of the thermal shock from a package of frozen chicken drumsticks. “They may think it was from cold chicken, but the only way that would happen is if the countertop was really hot, and then they put cold chicken on it.” He noted that granite countertops typically stay rather cold.
More likely, he said, the real culprit is moisture getting under the countertop’s “bridge” — the thin strip of stone in front of the sink — because of a gap in the caulking around the sink. Because the bridge is fragile, fabricators often reinforce it by inserting a piece of steel into the bottom surface of the stone. If moisture gets to that, the steel starts to rust. Because rust takes up more space than bare steel, the expansion splits the stone. “A thermal crack would be a hairline,” Adkins said. “But rusting steel rod is what would make it wider.”
He suggested that short of replacing the countertop, you might investigate whether you could replace your sink with a farmhouse sink, perhaps one made of stainless steel. If the current sink cutout is small enough, you could have the bridge — and the cracks in it — cut out to accommodate the new sink. You would need to do some math first to make sure that the cost of the new sink, cutting out the countertop and installing the sink wouldn’t cost more than replacing the countertop section that includes the sink.
Replacing the countertop, or at least the sink section, definitely makes the most sense, said Matt Kucukkazdal, project manager for Granite Center in Sterling (703-439-1040; granitecenterva.com). His company would be willing to go to your house to try to make the existing repairs look better, but workers could only fill in remaining gaps and polish the surface to make it more smooth. “We can buff it up, but you will 100 percent see the cracks,” he said. It might cost $400 to $500, and you probably wouldn’t be happy with the result.
Instead, he recommended that you call the company for a free estimate. From the pictures you sent, he thinks your granite might be a type called Ubatuba, which he said was very popular about 20 years ago. He said his company still has pieces, although they might be slightly darker. If your kitchen is around 50 square feet, you could probably replace all of the countertops with this stone or one of the others that the company includes in its package deals. Removing and hauling away the old countertops, installing new countertops, and buying and installing a new undermount sink (which would look better than the drop-in type you have now) would probably be around $2,800, he said. Or, if the color match is acceptable to you, the company could replace just the sink section. Kucukkazdal would still recommend a new sink. Including that and the plumbing, this might be less than $1,200, depending on how your kitchen is laid out.
Would it be possible to use an artist brush and dab on bits of varying colors to try to mask the existing patches? Professional granite-repair companies don’t do that. They do mix colorants with epoxy to try to make patches blend in as well as possible, but this happens at the beginning — before the hardener is added. Touch-up painting might “look like paint-by-numbers on your countertop,” Adkins said.
But there’s no harm in trying — as long as you don’t expect much.
More from Lifestyle: