Polished undersides: Islands with overhangs
As mentioned in last week’s blog about island size, kitchen islands continue to grow in popularity. One reason for this is the multi-purpose space that kitchens have become, with room for breakfast, homework or socialising all being part of the mix. We picked that up in a blog by Naomi back in 2017, and the trend has only gone on. Check out our case-study of a granite worktop and island installation in Redhill.
It is that multi-purpose aspect that has led to so many kitchen islands having overhangs. Seating for 2, 4 or even more people has become a feature, and that means large areas without support. And that raises an interesting question – what is the underside like? Do we really need polished undersides?
Polished undersides: Why bother?
Granite slabs as used for worktops can be quite rough underneath. Some of that is from rough saw cuts on the crystalline rock surface, but some also have a plastic mesh glued to the underside which feels rough in its own right. Do NOT expect the underside to feel like that wonderfully polished top – not without some extra work, anyway!
Quartz slabs are smoother. They have been made in moulds, and you wouldn’t expect to feel the roughness of big saw teeth. But the feel certainly can be more chalky/blackboard than a smooth polish or shine. On top of that, many have printing on the lower surface. This can be a positive – showing off the big brand quartz you have invested in for your home – but I have known customers really bugged by the reflection of the print in the stainless steel bases of their kitchen stools!
For all these reasons, we find customers asking us to at least smooth the stone – and in some cases we end yup working until we get fully polished undersides.
Granite slabs can have really quite rough undersides
Quartz slabs are smooth – but some people don’t like touching the underside
The real worst-case scenario from a granite breakfast bar
Less damaging, but annoys some people – writing under the surface on quartz slabs
Polished undersides: When do you really need them?
There is one situation where underpolishing is really critical – and for visual reasons, not simply tactile. We see a growing trend to the “waterfall” downstand – a granite or quartz section at one or both ends of an island, running down to the floor. Sometimes these are made up with double layers of stone, in a boxed/cladding effect, such as in our Cambria Brittanicca case study. In that case there is no problem – the polished face is what shows anyway. But others only have a single layer of stone, and the underside is visible on the inside of the end panel. In those cases we have to not just get them smooth to the touch, but we have to achieve a polished underside at least similar to the finish of the outer surface.
Polished undersides: How do we do it?
For a long time we smoothed breakfast bar overhangs with hand tooling. More recently, we have bought a polishing machine which makes getting a good shine on the reverse side more quickly and easily. As our result, our new Jenny Lind has brought the cost of underpolishing down for our customers.
Jenny Lind was a Swedish singer of the 19th century, as legendary for her beauty as for her voice. So much so that she gave her name to a whole range of objects that were regarded as either beautiful in themselves, or good for creating beauty. This being the 19th century, age of big engineering, the name was used for two ships and a steam locomotive, as well as becoming synonymous with a stone polishing machine!
Our Jenny Lind at work – in the hands of the equally lovely Ben
Polished undersides: What can we offer?
It is obvious that there are two distinct needs when it comes to under-polishing. We can make rough (or black-boardy) stone smooth to the touch, so that it neither snags your tights nor annoys your fingernails. Or, where the stone is going to be visible, as in the case of the inside face of a waterfall downstand, we can polish to a higher shine, all but indistinguishable from the polish on the top surface.
We still charge for polished undersides, and we do not do it automatically, but we do try to ask every customer if it is a service they require. Occasionally we quote on an island without knowing if there is an overhang or not – so make sure you ask us when you enquire!
And remember – this job is 100 times easier in our workshop than after your island has been fitted!
We are Affordable Granite, the leading granite installer in Surrey, Sussex and across the South East. We are committed to constant investment and improvement in our machinery and in our technical ability and skill, so as to offer you an ever better product for your kitchen – in this case that means tooling up for polished undersides! For questions, queries and quotes connected with any aspect of worktop installation or kitchen design, please don’t hesitate to contact us on 01293 863992 or by email on firstname.lastname@example.org/ .