Troubleshooting a Backsplash Gap

Floor framing shrinkage might cause cabinets to drop, opening a gap between the countertop and backsplash. August 7, 2006

A 1/4" gap has opened up between a 1-1/4" granite counter top and the granite backsplash in a new house. Backsplash is on exterior furred block wall. There is no evidence of floor movement. Is this a common problem? Know of any articles addressing it?

Forum Responses
(Cabinet and Millwork Installation Forum)
From contributor A:
Put a straight-edge on things. Something had to have moved.

From contributor B:
What is/was the backsplash attached to that the counter wasn't?

From contributor C:
I've had much experience with these gaps developing within a few months up to a year later. Our conclusion through researching this is that the framing material used in the floor system has shrunk across its width causing the cabinets to fall. The splash being attached to the wall stays pretty much in the same spot causing a gap to open up. Here in the south we have unbelievable humidity and this is a big problem. Another factor would be, how well was the floor system fastened together? Was it rained on a bunch before it was dried in? Then of course the obvious question is, did you secure the base cabs to the wall and shim the floor well enough? Solid stone tops are very heavy and something is going to settle under that much weight.

From contributor D:
I dont know if this will work for a stone counter top. I have been asked occasionally to remove a gap between a laminate top and wall mounted back splash and have done so by driving a tapered shim between the top of the cabinets back and the underside of the counter top directly under the gap.

From contributor E:
Shims will cause stress points and make stone tops snap. The framing shrank and the floor settled. Nothing can be done to fix that but the backsplash can be removed and replaced to fill the void. By any chance did they use radiant floor heating? Or was it forced air? I have something specifically written out in our contact pertaining to this in the warranty section:

All our work is stored and processed in a climate controlled environment to closely match the existing conditions of the average residence in our area. All new home construction with any type of heating and cooling system and any existing homes with forced air heat and/or central air conditioning must have an automatic humidification/dehumidification system to keep humidity and temperature at consistent levels before and after we deliver. We suggest running the heat and/or air conditioning along with your humidification/dehumidification system for a minimum of 4 weeks before new work is installed. Site conditions need to be 25%- 55% relative humidity and temperature range of 63-78 F for a minimum of one week before we deliver. Large changes in humidity and temperature will affect the residence and our woodwork. This may cause movement and settling of framed structures and woodwork, causing racking of woodwork or gaps to open between installed woodwork and existing home and within the woodwork itself. Problems caused by this are not covered under our warranty and repairs will be charged on a time and materials basis at a minimum rate of $75 an hour.