How to unpack and fit your new kitchen worktops
Our recommendations for the safe handling of solid stone and composite stone worktops are based on a very simple fact: a 20mm thick, square metre of stone is heavy - approximately @ 70 kilos in weight.
These guidelines are designed to help you minimise the risk of injury to you or your colleagues when working with heavy materials. We strongly recommend that you observe recognised manual handling strategies when lifting and moving heavy worktops.
Before you start:
- Prepare the site by clearing obstacles and/or trip hazards, and create as much space as possible in which to work.
- Remove old worktops from kitchen units if applicable, and check that the underlying framework is sound and fit for purpose. Remember: stone is heavy and a weak, insecure framework may prove catastrophic for both you and the stone!
- Mark all steps or curbs with high visibility tape.
- Protect floors, walkways and door frames, being careful not to create new trip hazards.
- Have a selection of wooden blocks or chocks that can be used to rest the stone on during manoeuvres. Place these in strategic positions throughout the site.
- Wear strong, steel-capped safety boots.
- Wear grip-assisting gloves.
Required tools and equipment:
- A cross-head screwdriver.
- A spirit level.
- Packing material (to fill small spaces between the worktop and the unit) - cereal box cardboard is ideal.
- Masking tape.
- Low module silicon: a type of silicon that is durable, flexible and waterproof. It resists shrinkage, most chemicals and solvents, and retains its colour. Used widely in the building trade, its elastic properties make it well suited to the task of sealing stone/composite.
- A flat-edged, plastic scraper - the type used for grouting tiles is perfect.
- Ear-muffs - to deafen involuntary expressions of horror (often supported by popular expletives) upon finding out just how heavy your new worktops are when it comes to lifting them; or, for if it becomes apparent that some questionable measurements have been made.
- Tea, coffee and biscuits.
Unpacking and fitting your new worktops
Your new composite worktops will arrive in a wooden crate, and each piece of stone will have been carefully packed in a vertical position. Check the condition of the crate, which should be intact. The crate should be undamaged and secure. Should you have any concerns about its appearance, or suspect that the stone has been damaged or broken, please contact us immediately. Once you are satisfied with the condition of the crate, you can proceed with its unpacking.
Stage 1: unpacking your worktops
- Remove all the screws from the TOP of the crate, and lift off the lid.
- Lift out all the pieces of stone, maintaining their upright/vertical position, and carry them (upright) through to the site. If necessary, use the wooden blocks previously laid out to rest the stones on as you go.
- Resist the urge to lay the stones flat/horizontally as they may snap at weak points such as sink or hob cutouts, for example. Always keep the stones in a vertical position up to the moment of fitting.
Stage 2: fitting the worktops
- Fit the piece of stone that will form the corner of your work surface first. Carefully lift the worktops onto the carcass supports or framework.
- For larger worktops, rest the longest edge of the stone on the unit/carcass supports, but leave the stone's width in the vertical plane (upright), with the underside of the stone facing you.
- Keeping the stone in contact with the framework at all times (to reduce the risk of the stone breaking), gently lower the stone flat onto the framework.
- Push the stone into its final location and set the required overhang - usually about 20mm.
- Repeat with the second piece of stone (if applicable), using thin cardboard as packing against the connecting edge of the first piece, to protect against chipping or similar damage.
- Using a spirit level, check that the worktops are level and aligned correctly. Thin cardboard can be used as packers between the unit/carcass framework and the stone where necessary to adjust the height. Further adjustment can also be made using the cabinet legs. Once you are satisfied with the levels, you may need to readjust the door hinges on your cabinets.
Stage 3: sealing joints (if applicable)
- If two worktops butt up against each other (e.g. into a corner), prepare the jointing area for sealing by removing the cardboard packing and masking off the surface edges of the adjacent stones using masking tape.
- Run a bead of low-module silicon into the gap between the two edges.
- Carefully and evenly push the pieces together to close the gap.
- Drag a flat-edged plastic scraper along the top of the joint to remove excess silicon.
- Allow time for the silicon to cure (set) before removing the protective masking tape.
- Run a bead of silicon along the undersides of the worktop to seal the edges with the framework.
It is recommended that you allow time for the silicon to set completely before installing the upstands.