Kitchen Countertop Replacement


    We have been in our house for over 8 years; it came with a tile countertop in the kitchen that seemed like a nice idea since one can put hot pots on the top without ruining it.  However, the grout and general un-evenness of the tile make it less than ideal for food preparation.  As a matter of fact, we question the intelligence and wisdom of whoever thought that tile was a good candidate for kitchen countertops.

    Our plans are to replace the countertop with a solid surface material such as granite or Silestone.  However, if we do that, we want to replace the cabinets since they are now almost 20 years old and the hardware is starting to show its age and the cabinets themselves are not of the highest quality.  If we replace the cabinets, we want to consider opening the kitchen up more to the living room and thus relocate the cabinets.  Opening up the living room would be improved by removing the fireplace and replacing it with a patio door and alcove.  Doing all of those things will require that the tile floor be replaced since the cabinets will be moved.  Since all of this has now become a major re-model, we need to seriously consider exactly what we want to do, so some amount of planning and considerable thought is required for something  of this magnitude.

    However, that still leaves us with these ugly, hard to clean tile countertops.  In order to promote domestic harmony and provide a bit of breathing room while we evaluate design options for the major remodel, I offered to replace the tile counters with laminate countertops.

Tile Counter-top Before Pictures

    By the way, did I mention that the tile is pink?   Well, really beige-pink, but definitely tending to pink.  The good news is that this is not unusual in a Southwestern setting



  The broken corners were removed to permit measuring for the new countertop, they were intact before the project started.  After removal, there was kind of a neat effect: the removed area looked like a giant version of one of those vanilla-creme filled wafer cookies.


In-Progress Photos

     The plan is to do the small "L" before the penninsula, providing the opportunity to get the process down before tackling the larger part of the project

    L-shaped countertop under construction.  Materials are Wilsonart® Bella Venito laminate with cherry trim


Old Counter-top Tear-out

    Our 12-year old helped tear off the countertop material and was quite helpful.  Finding all of the drywall screws under the tile adhesive was a challenge.    



  Installation did not go as smoothly as I would have liked; apparently tile grout can cover up a multitude of construction evils.  The dimensions didn't work out due to variations in the wall, wound up having to shorten both pieces and reduce the width of the long piece.  In addition, the seam did not come out as smoothly as I would have liked.  Part of the problem is that the countertop is captured on two ends, so with a non-square wall, being able to adjust for square became difficult.  Will need to take a different approach next time.  Installation day was a very long and frustrating day (educational, but frustrating).

  Prior to installation of backsplash to cover up the backsplash joint


  With backsplash (braces are holding backsplash in place while adhesive dries)


Finished. Backsplash finished with Watco Wipe-on Poly and sealed


  So, that leaves the project somewhere between 1/4 and 1/3 complete.  The remainder will be a challenge due to its size and the fact that the dishwasher and sink are installed in that countertop.  The good news is that the assembly won't be fully constrained on all sides as was the section just completed.

Next, the peninsula project:


Prior to tear-out, the hammer and trash can are waiting ... :

Peninsula Tear-out.  I had good help with the tear-out part:

Installed, prior to sink installation.  I thought the counter looked pretty good without a sink, but was over-ruled.

With the sink installed and prior to installation of backsplash against back wall:

In use, even before the backslash adhesive has set:

Final project: Installation of matching microwave shelf base.  The original microwave was more shallow than the new one, so an extension is required.  In the previous pictures, you can see the carefully crafted melamine-coated particle board scrap that has been performing that duty for the past several years.  The new shelf base carries the same theme as the countertop design:

With the microwave installed:



Progress Log
  Time:  103.1 Hours Total cost is less than $1050 which includes a new garbage disposal and help installing the peninsula and installing the kitchen sink and disposal.  (thanks Bruce!)

  For those interested in a chronological use of that time, the following Excel spreadsheet tracks the time required from design through current status:
  Progress Log File

Last Update 06/13/2008  mkl