2cm vs. 3cm - Volar Design Marble and Granite

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2cm vs. 3cm

Things to know

Is 3cm material stronger than 2cm?

Our opinion on this matter:
Yes and no.
Yes, because of its increased thickness and more available crystal layers; 3cm material is in theory stronger.
No, because of its increased thickness the material gains 33% more weight (about 1,000 pounds on an average install) but loses almost completely its capability to flex. Because in the U.S. most houses are built on extreme lightweight foundations and with wooden subfloors, the combination of increased load stress and no flex to take floor movement makes 3cm installs way more prone for failure. These failures usually show up around sink cutouts, peninsulas extending out towards the center of floors, and interior walls connecting to outside walls. The problem gets worse because most installers neglect the need of substructures, glue the stone to the cabinets, and do not understand the concept of expansion seams.
On the other hand, we had installs where a complete corner of a house (with the kitchen in it) settled almost one inch, splitting the window, wall, and kitchen cabinets, but left our countertops intact (2cm install). Volar Design never had a warranty case since 1987 and we like to keep it this way. Therefore we only recommend 3 cm materials on structural sound concrete floors. On wooden floors we recommend 3cm only for very small or almost rectangular islands and stone segments.

If this is so, why has 3cm material become so popular in the Northwest?

Our opinion on this matter:
As the question already states, it is a local phenomenon sometimes driven by only a few big box companies resulting in a self–propelling spiral. The reason behind this phenomenon is a severe lack of a skilled labor force in the U.S. stone industry. Large scale companies try to solve this problem with increased automation, which by itself is a very good concept. Because 3cm material can be easily handled by CNC machines, it created the illusion of solving the problem by lowering fabrication cost and increasing turnaround. In reality, even fewer skilled laborers are now available and increased material cost and returns eating away the advantage of fully-automated stone fabrication. In fact, over 70% of all work created by Volar Design would be impossible to process and finish without the availability of human touch. On some projects, Volar Design is one of the only companies on the West Coast capable of processing them because of our unique approach of cutting edge technology in conjunction with human skills and responsibility.

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