Saturday, January 08, 2005

Do-it-yourself countertop

My kitchen counters are yellow and warped. As a part of the kitchen’s update, I have been planning on replacing the countertop. My dream countertop is a blue and white speckled Corian model. However, at $75 - $77 a square foot, my 31 square foot countertop becomes prohibitively expensive. I’ve looked at laminate, but, although the price is right, I haven’t been able to find any I like. I am now seriously considering making my own countertops.

For a do it yourself project, I prefer tile, rather than laminate. Tile is very durable and I can get it in almost any color. On the downside, a glass dropped on it will shatter and it can be difficult to clean debris from the grout lines.

It looks like I can create a countertop from 3/4 inch plywood topped with concrete backerboard and then tile. My counter is L-shaped, so I won’t have to do any fancy cutting, except for the sink. I may have to add additional braces to support the weight of the tiles. I think the hardest part of this project will be removing the old countertop and disconnecting/connecting the sink.

Some questions I have:

1. How should I cut the two pieces of the “L”? With a mitered joint? Is a mitered joint necessary if it won’t show? Should the backerboard be cut along the same lines? How should I join the two legs of the “L”? Glue? A screwed-on brace below?

2. Should the backerboard be sealed before applying the adhesive and tile? I’ve read that sealant is recommended in moisture-prone areas, but I’ve also read that the sealant may prevent the adhesive from making a good bond between the tiles and the backerboard.

3. Can the backsplash tiles be applied directly to the wall, or should I put backerboard on the wall? I did read that backerboard should be applied to the counter edges, before tiling there.

Scott – I know you’ll have some words of advice!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

1. Not a clue. My first inclination is mitered joint with plenty of bracing and screwing down onto your cabinetry. Where does your sink go through? Does the L shape fit into a corner in the wall?

2. I wouldn't seal the cement board. Usually thats done to prevent moisture from seeping up from the ground - not an issue here. I've never sealed any of mine and haven't had to pay the piper on that decision.

3. No backerboard necessary for the backsplash unless you plan to play raquetball against it. We have tile appplied directly to the sheetrock wall in our house and my parents both. Its never been a problem.

4. I would definitely put cement board down on the entire counter surface with the cement board extending a quarter inch over the edge of the counter and then supported with a strip of it running along the counter face if you want the tile to extend to the edge of the counter. Another way to go would be to do a wood border that comes up the front of the cabinetry and extends up to maker a collar for the countertop. Kyle Gribskov did that on his counters and it looks really nice.

By the way, when he put in that border, he was in the process of ripping out tile and replacing with laminate for the same reasons you list. In addition to your concerns, the individual tiles run the risk of cracking or breaking themselves. Personally, I'd love to do a cut stone surface but will probably end up with laminate myself when we redo ours.


11:12 AM  
Blogger Kasmira said...

The corner of the counter (in fact the whole counter) abuts a wall. Is that good or bad?
In theory, another advantage of tile is that you can replace a damaged tile. I don't think you can (attractively) patch laminate. However, replacing a tile may be more difficult than I think...
In real estate, tile countertops seem to be a selling point. In my search for "tile countertop" on google, I was directed to a number of home listings. They all commented on the lovely tile countertops. What do you think? Selling point or not?

12:51 PM  
Blogger Scott in Washington said...

I don't know. I could see it going either way with the selling point issue. Its so hard to determine what looks to now and won't turn into the 1970's equivalent of avacado cabinetry or shag carpet. The more nuetral and subdued the better I guess.

I'd think abutting walls is good in that you'll have more studs to tie into.

5:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

why dont you search online for that? get more information about countertop

5:39 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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11:21 PM  

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