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Why

Check

Is the contractor licensed?
http://www.cslb.ca.gov/Consumers/HireAContractor/

Freelancers may not have the skills to do your project and/or take your deposit. They may disappear and may not follow California Building Code.

 

Does the Contractor have liability insurance?
Ask proof of his insurance

Customers can be sure that any harm caused from the work is covered.

 

Does the Contractor have Worker's Comp?
Ask proof of his insurance

Important to show that the employees are covered.  It is the law.

 

How did past customers talk about the Contractor?
http://www.yelp.com/, http://www.angieslist.com/

Word of Mouth and past experience is important.  Helps show type of customer service and quality work provided.

 

Does the Contractor provide workmanship warranties? What are covered and what are not?

Important to show that company stands behind their work, and that post-install issues will be resolved.

 

Natural Stone

Artistic Stone Products

Some pre-fab products in market

Issues for lower-grade products

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Grade A Granite, Marble and Limestone

Grade B or lower grade

Color is not that nice and may have cracks

 

¾” Thick

½”-5/8” thick

Warps easily and cannot cover the sub top underneath

 

We show Origin on the label

Does not show origin

They may use similar color instead for lower price        ( quality and color is not that good)

 

Counter tops match with Islands and back splashes. We show clients all the pieces.

Tops and Islands may be from different lot due to less waste.

Color does not match with tops, Islands and splashes in same kitchen.

 

We do carry long Islands 36x110;42x110 and 52x100

Only 96” long Islands and may only carry 36” or 39”.

May have seam for islands/ peninsula or may not be wide enough for island or bay window.

 

We offer 4” and 7” back splashes

Only carry 4” splashes

Maybe not cover rough area from tile demolition.

 

We offer TWO-YEAR Warranty on workmanship

Most of them don’t offer any warranty.

No coverage for breakage and workmanship issues.

 

We offer more edge options: Bullnose, Flat, Ogee

Most of them only have bullnose

Cannot fit all different cabinet style.

 

We offer different finish: honing or brushed

They only carry polished surface.

Cannot fit certain style.

 

Quartz Products

Artistic Stone Quartz Products

Some pre-fab in market

Issues for their products

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We do carry Caesar Stone, Sile Stone and Cambria

Most of pre-fab companies do not have.

Caesar Stone and other Quartz manufacture only sell slabs to certified dealer and fabrication. So other pre-fab quartz companies are not qualified for it. They have less choices and variation in colors;

 

Our Quartz got test in U.S.A.

Their products do not have test in U.S.A.

Not sure about quality, hardness, bacteria, mold and chemical resistance.

 

We carry more pre-fab quartz colors.

They do have some, not many.

Colors are not pure and nice.

 

Our counters have Miter edge

They only have flat eased.

The lamination seams show.

 

Residential TWO-YEAR Warranty

Don’t offer any warranty

No coverage for breakage, scratching and chips

 

Color consistency from same lot

Color is different even from same lot.

Troublesome for color matching around seam area.

 

We do carry long Islands 36x110;42x110 and 52x110

Only 96” x 36” Islands.

May have seam for Peninsula and Island.

 

We offer 4” and 7” back splashes

Only carry 4” splashes

Maybe not cover rough area from tile demolition.

 

Tile Products

Artistic Stone Tile Products

Some low quality tiles in market

Issues for their products

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Square and even

Corner is not square and even

The final installation is not even and straight.

 

Same Thickness

Some thinner and some thicker

The installed tiles are not even.

 

Water Absorption level is lower than 0.1%

Water Absorption level may be higher than standard 0.5%

The floor and base underneath may get damaged by water, especially in bathroom.

 

Breaking strength>2500N

Less than 1300N (standard)

The tile gets broken easily.

 

Scratch Resistance

Easily get scratched.

Not durable enough for longer period.

 

Frost Resistance

 

 

 

Acid and Alkali Resistance

 

 

 

Chemical Resistance

 

 

 

Stain Resistance

 

 

 

Free Two-year Warranty
We are so proud of our workmanship and confident that we can deliver the highest quality to our customers. As almost no one in this industry provides warranty, Artistic Stone Kitchen & Bath Inc. warranties all workmanship against manufacturers defect or workmanship flaws within two years of installation, such as

  • Split or Damaged Seams
  • Substantial Changes to Level ⁄ Grade
  • Loose Counter Tops or Backsplashes
  • Edge Delamination
  • Cracks During Installation
  • Any Visible Violations of California State Code
  • Should evidence warrant repair, Artistic Stone will guarantee repair to commence within 30 days of the first report of defect at no charge to the customer.

    The following is a very important message for any customer who is seeking granite installation:

    Stone Grades and Our Stone Quality
  • Artistic Stone slabs/countertops are always Grade A.
  • Artistic Stone slabs/countertops are ¾” thick ( some companies carry ½” thick material which warps more easily)
  • Artistic Stone counter tops always match our islands. We also allow all customers to view their slabs together to guarantee color match.
  • Artistic Stone laminated edges never come apart, and are booked-matched so that the seems are less noticeable and AS offer more edge options.
  • Stone Grades

    The following are the stone grades that are used by many industry professionals. The best way to check quality is by looking at the slabs yourself and making sure it looks good to you.

  • Grade A (or 1) This is the highest quality material. The finish should be consistent throughout the slab. There should be no visual defects in the slab, such as cracks or factory repairs. There should be very little waste from Grade A slabs.

    Note: there are some grade A granites that may still have some natural fissures and/or pits due to the natural composition of the stone.(i.e. Bella Verde, Cream Bordeaux, Delicatus Light, River Gold..)

    Also, the porosity of a stone does not affect its rating. (i.e. Kashmir White will always be very porous, no matter how good the stone quality is.

  • Grade B (or 2) Often referred to as Commercial Quality. The slab finish may not be as good or consistent as Grade A slabs. There may be some obvious defects such as small cracks and blotches in the stone. There is nothing wrong with Grade B stone, and most fabricators can use these slabs to the best advantage, by avoiding cracks and/or blemishes in the stone.
  • Grade C (or 3) These slabs will have many repaired, or repairable natural defects and blotches in the material. For these slabs there may be a high amount of waste due to avoiding these defects. These are typically used for more large-scale contracts where the slabs are to be cut into smaller pieces. These are not ideal for worktops or areas where larger pieces are required.
  • BUYER BEWARE

    Utilizing prefabricated granite slabs will save you thousands of dollars and dramatically shorten the duration of your kitchen remodel. As a pioneer of utilizing prefabricated granite and one of Northern California’s largest dealers, we are trying to educate the public about some of the benefits of utilizing prefabricated granite in your home remodeling project.

    However, if you elect to utilize prefabricated granite, vendor selection is paramount. Like any contracting job, there are a number of things that can go wrong. In fact, we are firm proponents of the Murphy’s Law Theory: Anything that can go wrong usually does go wrong. As a consumer, careful due diligence in terms of vendor selection can help you beat the odds.

    A few key items to watch out for:

    Material Quality: You should inspect material quality carefully before placing an order. Not all prefabricated granite (or regular slab granite) is created equal. Many vendors compete solely on price and as such, must cut corners to drive profits. The first place they cut corners is in material quality. Increasingly the market has become flooded with granite from developing countries. Some of these manufacturers have state of the art equipment, many decades of experience and make terrific products. Others have outdated or poor quality manufacturing equipment practices and non-skilled labor. There are a number of material problems or defects that can create headaches for you down the line:

     

    • The granite is not very attractive. It looks okay in the showroom or the sales person convinced you it would look better once installed but it just doesn’t look very attractive.
    • Granite is not cut to uniform thickness. This creates a nightmare scenario for your installer who has to level the countertops in order to get a perfect seam. Often poor seams result from poor material quality. Unfortunately this would be very difficult for a consumer to see because uneven thickness may occur away from the cut cross section (for instance in the middle of a slab).
    • The prefabricated lamination may not be laminated properly and may fall off later. (Again, this is a difficult thing to gauge)

     

    A couple of tips to identify the gems from the dross:

     

    • The look test. The granite should look shiny with vibrant colors. Many times your own eyes are your best friend. If the granite vendor has poorly lit premises, ask to see the granite in direct sunlight. Dull, lifeless granite can be a result of just ugly rock and poor polishing equipment.
    • Look only for granite vendors with warranties and materials and workmanship. The only thing more expensive for a vendor than installing granite is having to reinstall it. Vendors who put warranties on their product must believe in their own products. If a granite vendor does not have a formal warranty program in place, you have to question the quality of its products. Do not except personal verbal guarantees, get one in writing that is clearly defined in your purchase agreement or contract.

     

    Licensing: Proper licensing is perhaps the single most important factor in your contractor selection process. An unlicensed contractor is ineligible to buy bond, insurance and workers’ compensation insurance. We know what you are thinking, what’s the big deal? That stuff only affects the unlicensed contractor, right?

    It is actually illegal in state of California to hire unlicensed contractors for certain jobs. Granite countertops and tile setting happens to be one of them. By doing so, you not only acquiesce nearly any possible legal recourse if your job turns out satisfactory, but you also assume a considerable amount of financial and legal liability.

    Scenario 1: A contractor gets seriously injured on your premises. Granite slabs can weigh as much as 600 pounds. Broken fingers, legs, arms and more serious mishaps occur from time to time. If there is an emergency situation in your home and your contractor or his workers have no health insurance (which is probable), then you may be held financially responsible. Worse, unlicensed contractors typically have the least health and safety training and are more likely to hurt themselves on your premises.

    Scenario 2: There is major damage to your home (fire or water typically). If your homeowners insurance company discovers that you hired an unlicensed contractor (which is probable when the claims adjuster comes to your home), they may reject your claim for restitution.

    A storefront does not mean a vendor is licensed! Interestingly, there has been a rising number of unlicensed vendors that have retail locations and warehouses. Originally these vendors started off as wholesalers. As their business began to fail, they decided to offer low cost installation services. Their business strategy is simply. They round up the lowest cost labor possible and bundle them with their already poorly selling materials. Their wholesales businesses were failing because knowledgeable buyers such as contractors refused to buy their materials. This practice truly puzzles us as they are sitting ducks waiting to be arrested by state officials. Out of professional courtesy we will not say who they are but we know them well and we know that there are a lot of them.

    Remember to make sure the name on the license matches the business. Many unlicensed vendors with store fronts pay licensed contractors to borrow their license number. Hiring these folks offers the worst case scenario as you are unwittingly paying a premium and receiving none of the protections afforded by proper licensing. The California State Licensing Board is a terrific resource that helps keep licensed contractors honest and diligent. Violations to building code or generally acceptable work quality could result in stiff fines or suspension/loss of license.

    To check to see if your contractor is licensed you can follow the link below:

    Workmanship: The same qualities that make granite an excellent countertop surface – hard, durable, chip resistant, solid – also make granite very difficult to work with. Of all home remodeling projects, granite is perhaps the most unforgiving substance to work with. Very few granite cutters know how to make a perfect seam. Only very experienced fabricator installers with quality cutting equipment can create a quality fit and finish. The diagrams below illustrate typical problems with countertop seams. Our advice to you is to get it done right the first time!

    ARTISTIC STONES SEAM

    Questionable Behavior: We are ashamed to say this but we operate in an industry that is not particularly known for ethics. Contracting and construction is filled with shady characters and questionable behavior.

    The biggest problem most consumers face is job abandonment. Simply stated, the contractor takes your money and never shows up to the job site. In a better case scenario, he is slow to return your calls or simply does not reply at all. Contractors are very good at taking your deposits but not as good at fulfilling promises. NEVER take a job from an independent contractor unless he shows proof of a valid contractor’s license (C-54), insurance and bonding. These problems occur more often than you think. If you are still skeptical to the overwhelming prevalence of these problems, simply go onto a Google.com’s news search and type in “Contractor problems” and you will see what we are talking about.

    Always make sure that the contractor's name or business name, address, phone number match proof. Also check if the contractor's license is still valid. Many unlicensed contractors try to use other contractors’ license numbers and falsify documentation. For more information please visit http://www.cslb.ca.gov/.

    Never contract without clearly defined terms. This can also lead to a classic bait and switch. Contractors give you verbal confirmation that they can do your project for a certain price. After they have begun work, they change the terms of either price or timing. Often they try to hold you hostage by refusing to complete work unless you pay more. There are simple ways you can avoid this problem. First and foremost, you must specify the terms of a project in writing. A good contract must possess the following information in order to protect yourself.

     

    • The contractors license number, address and phone number. (Always validate this information)
    • The exact materials used (color and edges)
    • A clear break down between labor and materials
    • A detailed description of the work, the work address and the timing.
    • Detailed specification as to what work will be completed or not. Appliance hook ups, plumbing, sink cutouts, back splash, wall repair, etc.
    • The exact schedule of payment and amount.
    • A written confirmation of warranty/guarantee and terms

     

    Too Good to Be True: Never abandon reason when you are evaluating quotes and leads. Quotes or promises that are too good to be true are without failure are simply too good to be true. You may reason that you will potentially get a better deal from a freelance, unlicensed contractor. After all, they have no overhead. While they may in fact have little overhead, they also lack something far more critical, economies of scale. Large scale vendor installers such as Artistic Stone conduct many millions of dollars of business a year. We run our own factories overseas and import tens of thousands of pieces of granite a year. We can procure granite materials for just a fraction of the cost of a freelance contractor. Additionally we can get highly competitive rates on insurance products given our size and superior health and safety track record. What we incur in overhead is more than offset by efficiencies we gain from our size.

    We believe we have the best prices of any licensed and reputable dealer in Northern California, period.