A countertop can make a big impact when it comes to updating your kitchen. If you’re doing kitchen renovations, you’ll find that replacing your countertop can be one of the best investments you can make.
Current trends point toward high-end materials, like solid stone granite, marble, or soapstone. Engineered composite materials are also popular. Other high-ticket choices are concrete and stainless steel. On the more economical end, laminate and tile countertops are still being used. Tile, in particular, offers a wide range of custom looks with a reasonable price tag. That is, if you’re willing to do the work yourself.
It’s hard to believe that something as simple as your kitchen and bath countertop choices can make such a big difference in your home’s value. But, since it does, it pays to renovate with the best materials you can afford.
A lot of homeowners just want a better-looking kitchen right now. They don’t have thousands to invest in a renovation, but they’re tired of their dated kitchen. If you’re simply looking for a better-looking kitchen right now, you may want to try a few DIY techniques on your countertops. Get a quick, cheap DIY pickup with one of these tips.
DIY Concrete Countertop
If you’ve got dreadful laminate that hasn’t seen its best years in well, years, you can update them with a concrete overlay.
Real custom concrete countertops are very expensive. The good news is that you can purchase concrete overlay mix that you can apply right over your current countertop. You can apply concrete overlay on top of laminate or tile.
For laminate, you can rough up the surface with sandpaper and a wire brush to prep it. You can also remove the laminate and apply the concrete over the pressboard underneath after cleaning off any adhesive.
Some homeowners like the industrial look of concrete as is. Others have come up with creative staining techniques to create an artistic, custom look to their new countertop.
One very popular concrete overlay product is Ardex Feather Finish, featured on several instructional DIY websites.
You can apply concrete overlay directly on laminate.
1. After prepping and priming the surface, mix the Ardex and apply in think layers with a putty knife. Use a plastic scraper to smooth surface and allow to dry.
2. After drying, sand your countertops with 60-grit sandpaper and remove any dust with a damp cloth. Then repeat the application of the concrete overcoat.
3. You’ll need to repeat the process several times, building up the layers of concrete one at a time. You’ll need to apply at least three to four coats.
4. After your final coat, use a finer sandpaper (220 grit) to create a smooth, finished surface.
Stain if desired, then seal. Use five coats of satin finish concrete sealer.
DIY Stone Countertop
Similar to concrete, several brilliant companies have created stone-like coating products. These come in two types: spreadable stone, and stone-look effects. You can apply both with the countertop in place, so it’s not just cheap, it’s also easy.
Daich SpreadStone is an excellent product that produces a solid, clean finish. It adheres well to household surfaces and finishes up like real stone.
For countertops that are in better shape, you can try Rust-Oleum Countertop Transformations. The kit comes with a base paint coat, textured decorative stone chips covered, and a protective coating that is applied overall and provides a hard, glossy finish.
DIY Tile Countertop Facelift
Not all homeowners are into the sleek, modern look of concrete and stone. You might be one of the lucky ones with a lovely Craftsman style house. You may be a fan of the current farmhouse/country kitchen trend. Either way, you can update your old laminate countertops with tile.
Tile counters have some disadvantages, but there is no denying their old-fashioned charm. There’s also a lot of room for customizing them, as well. Another benefit? You can update your backsplash at the same time for even more drama.
The choices for tile are nearly endless, from sleek subway tile to intricate painted Italian tile. In fact, one of the strongest arguments for updating your countertop with tile is that you take your aesthetic in any direction.
If your laminate countertops are squared off, it’s easy to tile over it. However, you may prefer to take it down to the board for better durability. If you plan to tile over the laminate, you’ll need to rough the surface with 100 grit sandpaper first to provide grip for the adhesive. You’ll also need a special adhesive for the laminate. Professionals suggest taking the laminate off to the raw wood, which will give it the rough, scored surface necessary.
You can also screw down a cement backer board, like Durock, right over the laminate. You can then install the toile over that layer. Cut and screw in strips of Durock over the sides, and close the seams with fiberglass mesh tape. This will give you a fresh surface to work with that will resist water damage and retain tiles.
You can also use Tavy Thin Skin, which is a fiberglass sheet that allows you to tile over other surfaces without all the prep.
DIY Soapstone Countertop
You can give your countertop the rich, luxurious look of soapstone with chalk paint. Really. This brilliant method uses standard chalk paint to give an old laminate counter the appearance of soapstone or slate:
1. Remove laminate with hammer and chisel until all is removed.
2. Clean all adhesive residue from the surface of the remaining wood with a vinegar and water solution
3. Check the raw surface of the wood to ensure that it has enough dents and nicks to look like stone.
4. Add any needed texture by banging the wood with a hammer, crowbar, or other tools.
5. Sand down any obvious splinters.
6. Apply two to three coats of chalk paint.
7. Seal with a matte/flat polyurethane coat
You can check out the results on the Rain on a Tin Roof blog.
There’s no reason to live with ugly and embarrassing countertops while you save for that full kitchen renovation. These inexpensive DIY projects will give your kitchen a fresh look without spending thousands of dollars. Whether you want a sleek, modern look or farmhouse charm, there are several finishes and style you can do yourself on a budget.
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