Take care of your countertops in the kitchen
If you are thinking about getting granite and picking from a selection of slabs, make it a point to mark the slab you want. Ask the person you are dealing with to mark the back and make sure that it will be enough for your kitchen. Remember that two different slabs may not properly match, and there could be noticeable differences at the seams.
The prices of countertops range from $95 per lineal foot for a plastic laminate top to over $100 per square foot for a stone or manufactured countertop. The range can be a thousand dollars to over five thousand for a 10′ long countertop. A thousand here and another thousand there and before you know it you have taken a hefty chunk out of your equity. Do your homework, take your time, and ask a bunch of questions to determine what will meet your needs, and in particular, your budget constraints.
If a countertop is complex and intricate in shape, expect to pay more than usual.
Seams are an important obstacle when it comes to countertops. Nobody likes to see them, but unfortunately, with most countertops, a seam may be necessary.
The type of countertop edge that you get also impacts its price. You can choose from several types. Here are a few common types:
3/8 bevel MATERIALS
Countertops come in many colors, styles, designs, and materials. Whether you are going for the commercial look of stainless steel, granite for its resilience, or plastic laminate for price there are other factors that also need to be considered. For example, your return on investment, durability, and the style of your kitchen. No matter which one you pick, a new countertop in any kitchen makes a big difference.
Here are the advantages and disadvantages of some of these materials:
Plastic Laminates: This is a plastic sheet glued to either plywood or flake board and susceptible to water damage at the seams and edges much easier than any of the others I will be mentioning. It is the least expensive of all countertops. Many choices of colors and styles are available and, if properly maintained, can last a long time. The worst thing is to leave water sitting on or near a seam without wiping it up immediately. The liquid can weaken the glue and swell the wood, delaminating the surface. Laminate also scratches much easier than the others do.
Marble: First, let me say that marble, unless you have someone who can constantly monitor and care for it, is totally out of the question. Why? Because it is so porous that water, soap, detergents, or other household foods or items that are placed on it can easily cause stains; and with a house full of children, I would definitely not recommend it. True, marble is beautiful but unless you are ready to properly and continuously care for it, don’t consider it.
Corian: When Corian was first introduced to the market, I had it installed in my new kitchen. I found it to be durable to a degree, but since they only had solid colors at the time, stains or burns were not as easy to remove as they said they would be. However, since then the product has developed a wide selection of colors and blends making it easier for the homeowner to maintain and harder for one to notice any imperfections, blemishes, or burns.
Stainless Steel: This is a more commercial- and professional-looking countertop. These are not usually utilized in someone’s residence, but as of late with the trend of “gourmet kitchens” on the rise, you will see more and more of these in higher-end kitchens. I have seen a combination of stainless steel and granite and the look was fantastic. The problem with stainless steel is that it can scratch, dent, and show fingerprints. The dents and scratches are impossible to remove, but do give some character to the kitchen.
Ceramic Tile: I am not personally fond of tile countertops. The grout, if not sealed properly, can accumulate bacteria, discolor, and if you want to throw some flour on the counter to roll out some dough, it isn’t so easy or sanitary. Ceramic tile can be very decorative as a backsplash but not for food preparation.
Granite: In my opinion, nothing beats the durability, natural beauty, available choices, density, and classiness of granite. The colors, blends, and natural patterns can enhance any cabinet style.
There are other countertops like Silestone, quartz, or concrete, which are quite popular, and, which you can see at your local kitchen design store.
Remove an Existing Countertop
A number of countertops are vulnerable to burns, chipping, gouges, and, at some point, swelling from water penetration and may need to be replaced. It may sound like a tough task, but once you begin, it all comes together like a simple puzzle.
Remove all the items you have in the lower base cabinets.
Thoroughly check the backsplash to see if it is attached to the countertop or if it is independent from it.
If the countertop has tile applied to it, remove as much of the tile as possible to reduce the weight and make it easier to lift out of place.
Make sure to remove drawers from the cabinets before beginning to do any work.
Protect the areas adjacent to where you are working, especially the floor.
Turn off the hot and cold water lines and disconnect them from the faucet.
Detach the waste line from the sink at the P-trap. The P-trap is the U-shaped drain line under the sink.
If you have a cooktop, turn off the gas before disconnecting the gas line.
Turn off the circuit breaker to the cooktop and unplug or disconnect the electric.
Disconnect the waste line and electric to the dishwasher.
Remove the sink, look underneath the countertop and disconnect the mounting screws.
Next, remove any screws holding the countertop in place. They can be found holding the counter to the cabinets. If it is difficult, it could be that the countertop was glued down as well.
Once all the screws are removed, gently try to lift the countertop off the base cabinets.
For a countertop that is glued down, get a pry bar into an area between the countertop and the base cabinets. Without cracking the cabinet, pry up an area into which you can fit a reciprocating saw blade.
Using the reciprocating saw, slowly and carefully cut between the countertop and base cabinets. Be very careful not to damage the base cabinets. Use a metal cutting blade in case there are nails or other screws that may be holding it in place.
Carefully lift the countertop out from under the tile backsplash, if there is one, and away from the base cabinets.
Depending on the size of the countertop, you may need two people when removing and replacing it with the new one.
Get the Countertop Right
When measuring a countertop, make a diagram and note the dimensions on it. Show reference points from where you are taking the measurements so that you can refer to it when needed.
If you are a novice, take a picture of the existing countertop while it is in place, and bring it along when you are ordering the new one. It may make it easier for you when ordering the new top, should any questions arise.
Measure the length of the existing countertop(s).
Measure from one edge of the countertop to the centerline of the cut-outs and make note of what side you are measuring from. Remember any holes that need to be cut have to be measured to the center of the cut-out, not the edge.
Be uniform and clear when marking down the measurements. You will need to refer to the drawing at a later date and don’t want numbers all over the countertop butts against appliances
If you are purchasing a new sink, faucet, or cooktop, have their dimensions on hand when ordering the new countertop. Whoever is making the cut-outs will need to know how many cutouts, where to locate them, and the dimensions of the cut-outs.
Install a New Laminate Countertop
Plastic laminate is the most common material used for countertops in the kitchen and bathroom. The benefits of plastic laminate are its low cost and durability. While it doesn’t have the durability of some of the more expensive materials, it also doesn’t have the hefty price tag. It’s a smart choice because of the variety of colors, shades, designs, and edges available.
Place the new countertop on the base cabinets. When handling the countertop be careful not to damage the walls.
Check to see how the countertop sits on the cabinets and that it is level. If it is not level, the base cabinets will need to be shimmed and leveled prior to installing the top.
If there are two countertops that meet at 90 degrees, they will need to be flush on top and aligned evenly.
Pull the two tops apart, apply silicone caulk to one of the tops, and push them together, making sure not to have it come out through the top.
Purchase the caulk to match the plastic laminate applied to the top of the countertop. If you cannot find the same color, use a clear silicone.
Using the fastening bolts, connect the two tops. Do not tighten the bolts too much.
Use a small 2″ × 4″ on edge and gently tap it until the two tops are flush with each other.
Tighten the bolts once the sides and top are flush.
Insert shims approximately every 2′ between the countertop and base cabinetry and apply a bead of construction adhesive.
Before removing the shims, check the level of the countertop and adjust the shims or remove them as appropriate.
Remove the shims and gently set the counter down. Allow the adhesive to dry.
Horizontally caulk the top of the backsplash where it meets the wall, if it was connected to the countertop or the back edge of the countertop, where it meets the wall.