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Old 10-26-2012, 10:04 AM   #1
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Countertop Updating


We remodeled our kitchen a few years back. At the time, to save money, we went with a standard laminate countertop. However the walls are beadboard, and i hate the way the built-in backsplash looks against my beautiful walls. We cant justify the expense of natural stone slabs and laminate is really expensive to have it custom made without backsplash. What are some other options to have a nice countertop that comes without a backsplash? I would like to try some different things with the backsplash, but i dont want it attached to the countertop. All suggestions welcome.

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Old 10-26-2012, 10:22 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by Texas Couple View Post
We remodeled our kitchen a few years back. At the time, to save money, we went with a standard laminate countertop. However the walls are beadboard, and i hate the way the built-in backsplash looks against my beautiful walls. We cant justify the expense of natural stone slabs and laminate is really expensive to have it custom made without backsplash. What are some other options to have a nice countertop that comes without a backsplash? I would like to try some different things with the backsplash, but i dont want it attached to the countertop. All suggestions welcome.
If you have a router and a few other tools, building your own tops isn't that hard. Do you have any experience with a router and table saw? If you like we will walk you through building your own tops, it isn't that expensive doing it yourself.

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Old 10-26-2012, 10:28 AM   #3
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Yes i have a router and a table saw, i also have a sander and circular saw, saber saw, and a drill, so i think i can do it, if i cant then my husband can
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Old 10-26-2012, 10:37 AM   #4
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Well then, get to work!
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Old 10-26-2012, 12:35 PM   #5
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When you get ready to tear out and replace just let us know and we will be happy to help you. You will need to get your supplies before tearing out, that will save time that your kitchen will be out of service.

Is your counter straight or does it have an L shape? Do you want a wooden edge on your top or do you want the laminate edge. There are several ways to do the front edge, some are a little more involved than others.

The basics of building a counter top is build in place, a top out of plywood or MDF (which I hate), Install the edging and glue the HPL to the plywood/MDF. Most of manufactured counter tops are made of particle board or MDF. The reason I don't like either is when they get wet they will swell and fall apart.

If you can find a cabinet supply they will have more HPL selections that the big boxes will and usually a lot cheaper.
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Old 10-26-2012, 12:55 PM   #6
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Yup, will get lots of ideas. I do not blame you for wanting to get rid of the pre formed back splash.
I see where BigJim is going with the wood trim edge, is a nice look and worth the few extra min to do.
I like to use tile... luv granite but cant afford it. So tile it is for me.
And tile can also be easy to install instead of laminate.

Last house I sold, I used white 4x4 tile with mallard green grout
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Old 12-04-2012, 11:40 AM   #7
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i love the look of tile but ive been told it is not waterproof. Any truth to that claim?
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Old 12-05-2012, 05:02 PM   #8
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@Texas - Laminate is pretty cheap from Big Orange or Little blue to have made without backsplash. I had mine custom ordered without backsplash, two special offcenter corner cuts, and one small area only 18" deep and it was only $9 per foot. It's barely more expensive then the stuff already in the store. Just take a moment and talk to the kitchen guys. Another hint is to buy a 10% off single item coupon, or use a military discount for this. 10% off coupons are only a few bucks of ebay, but for me they save me like $80 bucks.
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Old 12-05-2012, 05:13 PM   #9
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Tile sucks for a counter top. Not easy to wipe off, prone to leaks, so hard you will get more glass brakage.
Go to Home Depot and check out the new counter tops there stocking. Look just like stone. There's Roman ogee edges on the front and back. Best part there cheap to buy.
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Old 12-05-2012, 08:56 PM   #10
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I'm a tile fan.

Not sure how to respond when people say you can break glasses on it.

It is waterproof and stainproof with epoxy or urethane grout.

I go with a wood edge. You can look at the Schlueter profiles available. Price them and you'll probably go with wood as well.
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Old 12-06-2012, 08:25 AM   #11
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i did talk to the guys at Home Depot, the laminate countertop without the backsplash is $20/sq ft. Since i need about 20 sq ft, that comes out to $400 for countertops, and that is just too expensive for me. If it was $9/sq ft that would be awesome but its not. And the laminate with the Roman Ogee edges still has an attached backsplash.
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Old 12-06-2012, 09:08 AM   #12
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I just use some 3x3 porcelain usually, which costs about $2.25/square foot, then lately I've been using urethane grout. A big tub of that is $100, but I'll have that left over from a shower job. Then you've got your incidentals like wood edging (in shop) and tilebacker, screws.
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Old 12-12-2012, 12:42 AM   #13
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@texas - what kind of laminate are you wanting? I'll get a picture of mine and post it tomorrow, but mine was just over $9 a sqft special ordered, no backsplash, two miter specialty miter cuts for the corners. I got the no drip edge in 3465 Golden Mascarello. Seriously go back and talk to that guy, or maybe I got the guy who messed up the order haha.
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Old 12-12-2012, 09:34 AM   #14
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its probably different prices in different areas. Im in texas so store-bought things tend to be more expensive here than they would be in some other places. im wanting a counter exactly like this one, i found it online and it looks really nice but you just cant get this look from preformed laminate
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Old 12-12-2012, 03:03 PM   #15
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If you want to build your own counter tops like in the picture here is how I do it.

Installing HPL (High Pressure Laminate)


The surface where the hpl is to be applied should be thoroughly sanded and cleaned. Any paint or varnish should be removed before the laminated plastic is applied. Plywood and fiber board or particle board can be used as a substrate, but fiber board and particle board will swell very easy if allowed to get wet.

Cutting Laminated Plastic

Plastic laminate material can be cut with a regular circular saw, table saw or you can use a carbon tipped scoring tool. If you use a circular saw, always cut from the back side of the laminated sheet, if using a table saw cut with the good side up. Important: Always cut the sheets of laminated plastic slightly oversize to allow for trimming, I usually allow 1/2 inch or more.

Special laminate cutting blades are available for cutting laminated plastic such as the carbon tip scoring tool. A straight edge or a steel square can be used to guide the knife for a smooth and even cut. After the sheet of laminated plastic has been scored, it can be snapped on the scored line by lifting the shorter end and applying a slight amount of pressure, be very careful, hpl usually has a razor sharp edge when broken or cut.

Seaming

If it is necessary to make a seam, a clean joint can be made by overlapping the two sheets by approximately 3/4". Cut completely through the thickness of both sheets at this point of overlap. Lift and remove the waste strip underneath the cut and the two sheets will align perfectly, but this must be done when dry fitting the hpl before any glue is applied. Be sure to clamp the hpl so it won't move while cutting. Another way is to use a seaming router and this can be done after glued in place, but for DIY this would not be cost efficient as they are a little pricy.


Applying HPL

If you wish to apply a self edge, the edging should be applied before the top hpl is applied. The top hpl should overlap the edging even if you wish to have a wooden edging. If you have a radius corner on the top you will need to heat the hpl at the point of the radius and secure it in a radius fashion and allow it to cool, once cool it should hold the radius shape. You can also sand the back of the edging at the radius, with a belt sander, to make the hpl thinner and make it easier to apply around the radius. Be careful not to sand too thin or the hpl could crack or break.

You will need to apply two or three coats of contact cement to the edge of the substrate, and the back of the hpl.. Let the glue dry to the touch, about 15-20 minutes, (depending on the temperature) on the substrate and the back of the hpl before applying to edge of substrate. Do not allow to let dry too long or the glue will not hold.

Be sure to have the hpl exactly where you want it, when the glued hpl touches the substrate it is there, no moving it around. Let the top edge of the hpl stick up above the top surface of the substrate by 1/8 inch or so, this is important, as you will need to sand the top edge back down flush with the top of the substrate. If you are unfamiliar with this process I recommend making pencil marks on the top of the substrate from the edging back about two or three inches all the way around where the edging is being glued. The reason for this is when sanding the edging with a belt sander it is much easier to see the pencil marks disappear when sanded enough. Once the pencil marks are sanded off, do not sand that area any more or you will not have a professional looking top.

Another tip for sanding the edging, hold the belt sander where the sander doesn't pull the edging loose, sand away from the edge with the sander pulling back onto the top, be careful not to dig in with the sander also. I use a 80 grit belt, anything finer will clog too quickly.

Use coarse sandpaper (80 grit) to roughen the surface to be covered. Clean away the residue left by sanding by brushing with a light brush or by blowing away with compressed air.

Brush the contact cement onto the counter surface after it is sanded. Also apply a smooth and even layer of contact cement to the back of the clean laminate sheet which is to be applied to the cemented area. Let both surfaces dry for approximately 15 -20 minutes before attempting to install the laminated sheet.

Extreme care must be used when laying the sheets after contact cement is applied. Remember, 50% to 75% of the bonding strength of contact cement is present in the first contact. This means the pieces which are to be glued together must be accurately positioned before the glued areas touch each other.

Usually one coat of cement on both the surface to be covered and the back of the laminated sheet is usually adequate for flat surface application.

A regular paint brush can normally be used for applying the contact cement to both the back of the laminated sheet and the flat surfaces. However, in some cases a hand-made paddle of wood may be more desirable for spreading the cement. If a large area is to be covered I use a solvent resistant paint roller.

After the 15-20 minute drying period, you are ready to place the laminated sheets into position. However, you must keep the laminated sheet and the cemented substrate apart, don't let them touch until they are correctly positioned. Narrow strips can usually be used, lay the strips of wood across the top, from front to back, about 15 inches or so apart leaving enough of the strips hanging out the front to be able to remove them. Once the hpl is properly positioned on the sticks and with enough of the hpl overhanging all edges to allow for trimming, the sticks can be removed. Start in the middle remove the first stick and press the hpl down onto the substrate from front to back. Continue removing the sticks one at a time and pressing the hpl from the middle toward the ends keeping all air from being trapped causing air pockets.

Once all the sticks are removed and the hpl is pressed into place, you can use a roller made for hpl, or you can use a rolling pen, or you can use a piece of wood and mallet to make sure you have no air pockets under the hpl.

Finishing

After the hpl is pressed in place with all the air pockets removed, the edges must be trimmed. You can use a router with a flush cutting bit with a bearing on the end of the cutter. You can use a full size router or a small trim router, either will work. If you chose to use a router bit for hpl without a bearing, you must be very careful to not allow the bit to get hot as it will damage the edging. With this type bit it is recommended to use some type of petroleum jelly applied where the bit will ride against the hpl edging, even then be very careful not to let the bit heat up.

Once all is trimmed, once again, be careful the hpl edges will be very sharp. Using a good file, (preferably an hpl file) file the edges holding the file almost straight up but back about 10 or 15, hold at about 45 from side to side. Hmmm kinda confusing here. OK hold the file flat against the front of the edging so the file is standing straight up. Now lean the file to the right to about 45, now lean the file back on toward the top about 10 or 15. that is about the compound angle that works best for me. Be sure the File is cutting on the down stroke not upward. Keep watching the glue right at the very edge where the top hpl meets the edging. When filing and you see the glue is removed by filing at that edge, that area is done, don't file that spot any more or you will file through the finish of the hpl and it will look really bad.

Clean up

Acetone or lacquer thinner works best for me. I would suggest using gloves as this solvent will dry out your skin especially in the winter. Do not flood the hpl with solvent as it could get under the hpl to the glue and loosen the glue up.

Another tip, if you get a black streak on hpl, it can be removed by rubbing with a little bit of latex caulk.

BEWARE SOLVENTS AND SOLVENT BASED CEMENT ARE FLAMMABLE

If I have over looked something here, some of you more experienced fellows please let me know.


If you have any questions we will try to answer them.






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