Saturday, December 5, 2015

Putting In Your Own Laminate Kitchen Counter

What with the walls not being exactly square and me being cheap, I decided it would be more economical and give me a better fit if I did the countertop myself.

First of all Donna and I measured what we thought the counter should be.  We arrived at 66 inches along the east wall, and 57 inches along the south wall.  Of course, this adds up to 123 inches, or ten feet, three inches.  Sigh.

I hummed and hawed at the Home Depot, juggling the value in purchasing two six foot countertops, or a single ten foot countertop.  I opted for the ten footer, feeling that I could shave off a couple of inches from each direction as we had generous overlaps at the edges of the cabinets.

Once at home though, it dawned on me that in the corner, I didn't really need the counters to meet - I had three 1" pipes heading through the cabinet and up to the water tank there, so I was already in need of that space.

In the end, I pulled the counters out about six inches from the corner in each direction, thus giving me almost nine inches of extra material - my decision to purchase the ten footer was optimal!  Awesome!

To cut my teeth, I first cut off the 51" section of counter.  I carefully taped the laminate side, and then installed a 100 tooth sawblade in my circular saw.
100 Teeth!  This should hopefully make a smooth cut.

Testing, will this work as a fence?
Working slowly and using a level clamped to the counter as a fence, I made what I thought was an awesome cut!  No chips out of the laminate, and it looked pretty straight to me!

Next I cut the other length to 58" - astute readers will realize that this doesn't add up to my original 66" when I add on the 6" of space afforded me by not extending to the corner.  This is because I decided to go 2" less on the overhang on the east wall, as we are planning on replacing the Panda washing machine soon with a larger machine, and I didn't want there to be a chance that the counter would overhang the lid of any future washing machines.

I taped up the two mitre angles and cut them very carefully.
Looking good so far!
Can hardly wait to see how it looks inside!
Bringing them inside and setting them down, I was shocked at how wavy they looked.  I could have probably cut them straighter just by eyeballing it!

I took them both outside, reset the fence and cut carefully again.  This time was better, but still not straight enough for my eye.  So I trimmed the worst one down a third time, and then decided that because it met acceptably at the front and rear of the mitre, it would be acceptable.  The gap in the middle would be of little consequence after I removed most of that area for the installation of the sink.

Actually, this time I cut from above with no consequences.  I would suggest doing it this way in the future.

Now I wanted to install some mitre bolts - so I pressed my cordless "router" into service and routed out some clover shapes under the mitre cut to accomodate the bolts.

Checked the depth twice, and then really tightened down the nuts - this isn't the time when you want to cut right through the whole counterop!
Need to fit this bolt in place.

And my freehand mitre bolt insets.
I schmutzed up the two halves of the joint with clear silicone, and pressed them together.  Then I installed the bolts from underneath and worked hard at keeping them in the insets while tightening them up.

Once they were tight, I came up top and wiped off the excess silicone and tried to ensure a nice, flat seam.
It'll have to do.
Then I went back underneath and drove in a number of screws to hold the countertop down onto the cabinets.

That was enough for the day, but it gave me a great work surface to set up to do a load of dishes in our basins.
That's enough for today.

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