Kitchen renovation can be a intimidating and expensive task. However, if you learn to do some of the maintenance and installation yourself, then it can really cut down on the costs. You do not have to be Mr. or Mrs. Fix-It either, all you need are a few power tools and perhaps a little advice from your local hardware store.
If you can get your hands the materials you need to install a kitchen countertop yourself, then the cost will be fairly low. Most countertop companies will try to pull the wool over your eyes and sell you supposed "top grade" materials and charge you for the installation. They make a good portion of their profits from installing countertops, not off the materials, so it is a fiscally friendly idea to learn how to do it yourself. You can get your materials, whether it be granite, corian, or laminate, cut for your specifications and save by doing it yourself.
How to Install your Kitchen Countertop
For the purposes of the following tutorial, I am going to assume that you have measured the 'base' of your countertop. Whether it is placed on a solid surface or on top of a cabinet. Once you have the measurements, you should have had your materials cut to the appropriate size. You can do this yourself if you have the knowhow or have a professional do it when you order the material. Make sure when measuring for the materials, you also factor in any kind of overhang you want.
After you have had those two things done, you are ready for this guide on installation.
- First, dry place your countertop material. This means carefully bring it in and setting it on top of the surface you will be placing it on. This will help you tell if everything has been cut right and fits properly before applying the adhesive to permanently place it. Be sure to use a level to tell if the surface is even. It if is not even, you may need to do some sanding on your base.
- Now it is time to adhere the countertop. Most manufactures of the material will give you a recommended adhesive to use depending on what material your are using. For stone countertops, you will need to use a silicone adhesive, so keep that in mind. Before applying adhesive, it is best if you remove the doors and drawers to any cabinets you have in the base. It will make maneuvering much easier.
- Brush or squeeze (depending on the adhesive) onto the base of your countertop and lay your material on top of it. Make sure it is not crooked and check if it is level. You have a small amount of wiggle room between placing the material and it adhering to the surface, so check straight away.
- Beat around the back with a rubber hammer so that it presses the material down and works out any air bubbles in the adhesive.
- Now it is time to seal the seams. Once your countertop is in place, seal the seams with a color matching silicone sealant. This will make sure no liquid seeps in there and rots anything or creates mildew. Seal where ever your countertop material meets the base and against the wall.
- If you are using stone, such as granite, you will need to use a spray on sealant. Some other stones require this too, however laminate does not need spray on sealant. After the sealant has dried around the edges, you can trim off any edges that are sticking out with an exacto knife, you do not have to worry if a little sticks up after you apply it.
- And presto! Your kitchen countertop is installed. Replaces the drawers and cabinet doors in the base and celebrate.
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Maintaining your New Countertop
So you have your spiffy new countertop, it would be a shame if something happened to it. No, that is not me making a mafia-esque threat to your new kitchen countertop. Without regular maintenance, you will have to replace that countertop before you know it. Why have to repeat all that work in a few years, when you can make your countertops last a lifetime with these simple tips.
- Clean and re-seal your countertops regularly. Make sure you clean your countertop regularly and re-seal it to keep it looking nice and sharp. Granite that endures regular use will need to be resealed every year. Granite is a porous stone and lots of things like to get stuck in those pores. The only thing that stops that is being sealed. Other less porous stones will be able to withstand less sealing, however it never hurts.
- Sealing also prevents staining. So if you have marble or granite that are very susceptible to stains, make sure to seal them. You will also need to clean these stones with a pH neutral cleaner as acidic cleaners will stain the stone as well.
- Avoid scratching by using cutting boards. A lot of people are under the misconception that countertops ARE cutting boards. Sure, they can be if you do not mind scratches. Soft stone scratches easily, and laminate can chip under pressure of knife. So do not abuse your nice pretty countertops by cutting them, use a wooden cutting board or paper plate. If you do not want to fiddle with those things, consider installing a butchers block. They are a nice old fashioned addition to any kitchen and serve a good use!
- Another popular misconception is that countertops are all heat proof. Some of the stone countertops are pretty heat proof, however manufactured materials like laminate and corian are very prone to scorch marks. Avoid scorch marks on your countertops by using hot pads under any hot pot or pan you place on the countertop.
- Some stone countertops, namely soapstone, require a regular application of mineral oil to keep them looking snazzy. You should research up on maintenance for your countertop before installation to see what it needs before you get it. I have known many a family that went for pretty granite countertops only to learn later that it was really not worth the hassle of maintenance that came with it.