Home and Projects

Inexpensive Counter Top Renovation

I am in love with my new counter tops. Absolutely in love. I know they aren’t the best counter tops ever, but in my world, they are it! There is no way that we could afford granite, marble, or anything in between. I knew that I would have to go for another laminate–but anything just to get rid of the old tan, blah counter tops. I desperately needed to lighten up the kitchen space, and I did a pretty good job of that when I painted my cabinets white and replaced the brass hardware very soon after moving in. But ever since we bought the house, one of the main things on my to-do list was updating the counter tops *dreamy sigh.* It was just going to be too expensive to do anytime soon.

…Until I discovered that you could laminate your own particle board. Definitely more time consuming and hands-on than hiring someone to install counter tops. But, hey, if I read that it can be done DIY style, I’m going to find a way to make it work. We have a fairly large space worth of counter tops to work with, so the cost for all of the supplies came to a little under $600. This was a price that we could work with after some planning and saving. This price included all of the necessary tools that we didn’t already have. I did end up spending a little more because I wanted to replace the sink and add a subway tile back splash as well.

We ended up stumbling upon a very welcomed surprise (one that all of the blogs and videos were telling us couldn’t be done)–we were able to fairly easily replace all of the counter tops without even removing the entire existing counter tops. This discovery cut our cost by about 50%, bringing us to a total of approximately $300 rather than $600, plus the few tools that we needed. To make this possible, we just needed to strip the existing laminate before laying new laminate. We did this with putty knives and hammers. It was time consuming, but we removed them all within the day. Even our 7 year old son was able to do that job. Don’t forget that you will need to remove your sink to do this job, whether you will be replacing the sink or not.

*Keep in mind that you may have to completely remove the existing counter tops, rather than just the laminate sheet. This means that you will need to purchase particle board (and get twice the amount of what you measure because they will be double-stacked per surface). You will also need a circular saw to cut your particle board. I can’t give you an experienced step-by-step on this method since we did not have to use it, but there are numerous blogs and videos covering this process. It is still doable, as we initially planned on doing it this way, and even had our boards cut before finding out that we didn’t need them.

Tools and supplies that we used:

  • Laminate Sheets
  • Contact Cement
  • Foam Paint Rollers
  • Router
  • Flush and Bevel Laminate Trim Bit
  • Laminate Shears
  • Dowels
  • Roller (we used a carpet seam roller and it worked fine)
  • File
  • Silicone caulking and caulking gun

After the original laminate was removed, we decided on how we would break up the cabinet sections, and took measurements. We transcribed those measurements onto the new laminate sheets. I went with Travertine Silver Scovato laminate sheets that I found on Lowe’s website. On an oddly-angled space around the sink, we found it easier to lay the full sheet directly on the counter and trace with a dry erase marker. Next, tape off all of your cutting lines. Make sure that you get a router with a laminate trim bit–it is going to make the entire job so much easier, neater, and more precise. Cut all of the sheets according to your measurements and lines. You will have to spend a little more time cutting around the sink (and believe me, you will be happy that you bought the router, rather than solely relying on laminate shears). You may also find that anywhere requiring a seam will need to be very precise as well–again, the router is going to make this seam much more “seamless.” Be aware that when or if you use shears, you’ll likely find a bit of a learning curve. They definitely took some getting used to.

Next, you are going to apply the contact cement. Roll it all over the backs of your laminate sheets, and then on the counter top surfaces. Make sure to crack some windows for this task. After 30 minutes, lay dowels across the surfaces where you will be applying your sheets. This prevents the sheets from making contact with the surface before you have set them exactly where they need to be. We discovered that the cement wasn’t quite as unforgiving as videos originally led us to believe, but you still want to try not to make contact between the two surfaces until you are absolutely ready. Line up and place the sheets on top of the dowels. Remove the dowels one at a time–taking your time and being sure to smooth the sheets down as you go. Once you have the sheet completely in place, use a roller to make sure that it firmly adheres to the surface.

After everything has been placed and settled, trim the edges with your router. File the trimmed edges, making sure that they are smooth to touch. One of the final steps is to apply laminate strips across the counter fronts. This step will be nearly identical to the previous process: measure, cut, cement, etc. Prior to placing and trimming this section with the router, be sure to apply tape across the edges of the counter tops to avoid scuffing your new counter tops. File these edges as well. Alternatively, you may opt to purchase bevel edges instead of having the flat edges. While the bevel edges look more sophisticated, we stuck with the original trim. Maybe we’ll replace these in the future, but for now, I am more than satisfied. Finally, complete your project by sealing around the sink (that you have reinstalled by now 🀞), and filling any seams or gaps with silicone caulking.

I am so happy with the results that we achieved through this replacement process. It was totally worth it in my opinion. The kitchen looks like a new kitchen. It is so fresh and clean looking, and it actually inspires me to want to be in there cooking and cleaning. Yep, cleaning. It’s amazing what some new brightness can make you want to do!

3 thoughts on “Inexpensive Counter Top Renovation

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s