DIY DIVA
DIY diva

Countertop Adventures

August 18, 2013 | 20 Comments | Uncategorized
DIY diva

A few weeks ago I mentioned that Wilsonart was trying to goad me into a kitchen renovation when clearly I’ve got haylofts to build and bathrooms to tear out. They are a company that loves all things kitchen, so I can’t blame them, but a girl’s got to have priorities. Still, with an in-progress bathroom rebuild, and the inevitable moment where I take a paintbrush to the kitchen creeping closer every time I walk through that room, I’ve been thinking a lot about some of my previous kitchen and bath projects.

To date, I’ve renovated three kitchens and four full bathrooms, and that was before I bought this 3000 square foot project.

Untitled

Right?

I’ve still got one kitchen and three baths to go in this house. I am in renovation heaven.

Since it’s in my nature to want to try new things when building stuff, I’ve used different materials in almost all of those projects. If we look at the countertops alone, I’m all across the board. Check this out…

The kitchen in my first house started out like this…

kitchen before

That’s an old, yellowing laminate countertop that had to go. As it turned out, the house sprung a leak in the middle of winter and the entire kitchen had to go, which is how I ended up with this…

kitchen_3

Same kitchen, fifty gray hairs later. (At that point in my life I thought it would be my first and last kitchen renovation. Ha. Ha ha. Joke is definitely on me.)

The blue tile countertops are still one of my favorite features of that house. Not only did it satisfy my need to DIY, but the ceramic was both heat and stain resistant. The downside here is that the countertops aren’t one smooth, solid surface, and there are a lot of grout lines that need to be sealed.

While I’ll definitely use tile for bathroom countertops in the future, I’m not sure I’d go that way again in a larger kitchen.

At Memorial, I also went tiles on the counter in the garage “kitchenette” that we used for a year, but these were huge 24” long behemoths, which, one they were installed, were pretty much indestructible.

40_done

This was my first taste of the benefits of a smooth, solid-surface kitchen countertop. (Even though there wasn’t much of it.

And, speaking of things that were pretty much indestructible, I went with concrete counters in the master bath at Memorial.

DSC_0606

I love the look of these things. Love. Let me tell you though, they were an exceptionally large pain in the ass to pour and stain. Of all the surfaces I’ve worked with, I’d probably be least likely to do this again.

For the Memorial kitchen, however, I went to the other end of the indestructible scale.

DSC_0098

Hello, butcher block. You are gorgeous, but require more coddling than a  chicken with anxiety issues (ask me how I know.)

Installation on the butcher block wasn’t too bad, actually. It was as easy to cut as any other type of 2” thick wood, it was just nerve-wracking as hell. The real challenge with these are keeping the wood looking good. Maybe you’ve noticed this before, but I’m kind of a walking disaster. That means either accepting the counters are going to be scratched and stain, or wrapping them in Kevlar.

So that, my friends, is where my legitimate countertop experience ends. You’ll notice that even after coming up with some good ideas last time I wrote about the kitchen I haven’t actually started tearing into it. You may also notice I rolled my trusty SUV a few weeks ago and have since had to buy two vehicles to replace it… as you can imagine, my kitchen renovation budget has dwindled significantly.

At times like this I wonder how it is we’ve managed to put a man on the moon and a computer in our pockets, and yet haven’t been able to come up with an option for awesome-looking counters without having to sell a kidney on the black market to afford them.

Oh, wait, look at this…

Wilsonart clearly loves your kidneys and wants you to keep them intact because these HD countertops are definitely not your grandmothers avocado green laminate. I mean, that looks like granite. (According to Wilsonart, you also don’t have to worry about the whole staining-scratching-chipping issues that come with natural stone,  and … what’s that sound I hear? I think my wallet just sighed with relief.)

So the good news is that those of us who are keeping an eye on our budget can still tear into our kitchens when the mood strikes. Which, around here could be pretty much any second. I’m super planful like that.

Disclaimer: Wilsonart is at it again. They totally sponsored this post, and I kind of feel like they are going to keep goading me to talk about kitchens until I break down and start painting mine. But I’ve got way more self-control than that, guys. Way more.

DIY diva

    Comments

  • John @ AZ DIY Guy


    Interesting. We’re struggling with countertops for our eventual kitchen remodel. Finances definitely are a factor, so maybe we’ll look into this stuff. We’re currently enjoying someone’s grandma’s burnt umber (?) smoked pumpkin (?) laminate.

    I like your large tile look in the kitchenette. I’d not seen that before.

  • Courtney


    I was getting so twitchy having to see our retina burning yellow, burn marked up, stained and chipped counters. I finally caved and resurfaced them. We couldn’t afford a complete remodel, but did a face lift and the resurfacing seemed to work well. It’s a kit sold by Rust-oleum. They have the big kit that looks like granite when your done, or you can buy just a single can of colored resurfacing “paint”.

    Those Wilsonart counters look really nice though. Maybe after the holidays we’ll look into something a bit more durable like that.

  • MJK


    It’s amazing how good laminates look now a days. I think I’ve talked a few friends into it when they were looking for something nice looking that didn’t hurt the pocketbook. I think everyone thinks “yellowing counter tops from grandma’s house” when the word laminate is said. If I ever need an inexpensive, good looking option, I would totally consider it.

    And hopefully they’ll keep pushing you to get working on that kitchen. I’m definitely curious to see what you are going to do in there!

  • Adrianne


    We actually have these in our kitchen – did a whole guy and remodel thing when we moved in. They look great and are very durable and awesome! Plus they didn’t bust our reno budget which meant more fun elsewhere. I highly recommend these babies!!

  • Kathie M


    If I blogged you could send them our way to help redo our kitchen. It’s hideous and needs LOTS of help. I have painted and torn down the wood shingles that covered the soffit. (don’t ask) I have a wall I want to take out, but don’t know where to start! Wanna road trip to Chicago? :D

  • stephieZ


    Just redid my kitchen and put in Corian, which is apparently on it’s way out or so says all the different stores when I was trying to hunt some down. It was also more exepnsive than I would have thought.

    I kind of wish little green notebook lady would have redone her laundry laminate countertops before I had redone my kitchen because I would have loved to have done an easy concrete countertop version. link: http://karapaslaydesigns.com/diy-ardex-concrete-countertops/

  • Karen Cutler


    Not sure how quartz compares price wise…buy there are some amazing colors. Some even look like marble…good look for historic homes. There’s also an anti-bacterial element to them. In California, granite is out…quartz is in with a ceramic or marble tile back splash.

  • trudy


    I tried two of the Wilsonart links to read about that countertop and both got Page Not Found.

    • Kit


      Well, hell. Thanks for letting me know. The links have been fixed!

  • Gaile


    It’s nice to have something that you don’t need to worry about as much as granite but still looks as good.

  • el katz


    Corian has been considered “out” for awhile. We have it and love it because it can be fixed when Captain Destructo gets done “cooking” on it. I have no idea how she does what she does to counter tops (or how she manages to put little chips in the porcelain floor). Repairs to Corian are easy as pieces can be cut out and replaced, scratches can be sanded out with an orbital sander and Abralon sanding disks, and a spray bottle of water to keep the dust down and lubricate the surface to keep the swirl marks down.

    Friends have granite and virtually every granite counter top I look at has some form of damage on it. Chips, oil spots, acid (vinegar, lemon juice, wine) spots…. Not for me.

    We have quartz in the bathrooms (last winter’s remodeling project) and so far so good. Put down Cesarstone in a Carrara marble look alike with white rectangular undermount sinks.

    Would never go back to tile. Too much work keeping the grout clean and sanitary (with emphasis on the sanitary).

  • Joseph


    Because of my own contacts with them, et cetera, I am strictly a Formica man, but I honestly do not see an appreciable difference between Formica plastic laminate and Wilsonart plastic laminate. Both are excellent products, easy to install, and, as you pointed out, easy on the budget. My wife and I had Formica countertops when we were first married. We lived in that place five years and never had a problem. Use hot pads and don’t clean the countertops with cleanser or anything that scratches. That’s pretty much the rules for keeping it looking good. I actually got along quite well with Soft Scrub.

    If you decide to do this (and you know they’ll give you a roll of it, so what the hell, right?), you should definitely do one of your how-do-do-its. More do-it-yourselfers would use the product if they knew how easy it is to install.

  • David


    I had never thought of using tile for a countertop before, that’s actually a great idea. Is it cheaper than butcher block or concrete? Those are currently my two favourite types of countertops.

  • Henry


    I really like the last picture, the color combination between counter tops to the bottom counter and the background cabinet are perfect.

  • Aimee


    They sponsored our counters, and we got the HD laminate. It is AWESOME! Seriously most people think it is stone when they first come in to our kitchen. And, I love the smooth surface. So nice for cleaning.

  • evan


    Nice Post. It’s really a great article. I noticed your important points. Thanks

  • Gary DeWitt


    For your butcher block counters, when they need refreshed, skip the sanders (too darn messy) and use a card scraper, also known as a cabinet scraper. Takes out scratches and most stains fast. Then oil with Mahoney’s boiled walnut oil.

  • Roy


    The counter and colours in the last photo are absolutely lovely. It is reassuring to hear that you can have a great looking kitchen without going over budget! Great job on all of your renovations.

  • Pascal


    The laminate counters look clean and refreshing, I especially like them combined with the cabinet colours, gives off a nice contrast.

  • Jordan


    Granite, marble and quartz are so hot right now! Seriously though, if you want to update your kitchen, these choices are the best for longevity.

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