14 Feb

New Countertop Installation

Install new counter

Sometimes, I give credit where it is not due.

When I was hanging out in the Kitchen Design Center at Menards, ordering a new bathroom countertop, I opted out of the pricey ‘installation kit’. Thirty dollars for a bag of super glue, caulk and screws did not seem like a wise way to spend my money. Instead, I picked up a sleeve of Power Grab. I always have caulk on hand and figured I’d just reuse the anchor bolts already holding the existing countertop in place.

I should have known better.  There were no anchor bolts installed.

how to remove a countertop

On the bright side, I recoup’ed the time wasted waiting for the kids to pitch in to remove the mirror and moved right along with the countertop demolition. It took one solid whack underneath the counter’s lip to lift it up.

You’d think I would be pleased with the builder’s thriftiness; with their opting to repurpose rouge pieces of particle board as bracing. But you’d be wrong. There’s a fine line between being resourceful and being cheap.

Before I worked out a suitable solution, I wanted to be sure the new countertop fit.

measure countertop

As per usual, it didn’t. It wasn’t so much that my measurements were off as it was that the walls were no longer plumb and square (assuming they ever were). Along the left side a good 1/4″ difference grew from the front to the back of the countertop.

It was at this point that I was thankful I’d also opted out of the $30.00 ‘template fee’. Yeah, taking my measurements, plotting them in CAD and mailing me a printout to place over my existing set up to confirm I’d measured correctly just seemed haphazardly spendy. Even if the pre-cut sink holes did line up perfectly, it still wouldn’t have addressed the skewed angle required on the edge (something I couldn’t spring for as an option).

Five bucks for a laminate jig saw blade was obviously the right decision.

measure support shims

In the midst of this project, my girlfriend’s king sized bed collapsed. Turns out shoddy workmanship runs rampant in these parts. After fitting proper frame supports under her mattress and boxspring, I hung on to the broken plywood pieces. They proved perfect bracing for the cabinet base.

check level

I double checked that the countertop would sit level and took to the bedroom floor.

secure supports

I glued and screwed the plywood to the counter’s backside after pre-drilling to avoid splitting the wood. A word of caution: tape off your drill bit to keep from punching through the face of the laminate top.

secure countertop

Now here is where my builders could learn a lesson. Once you have the countertop in place and have confirmed it’s level, secure it to the base by screwing up through the corner bracing into the wood supports. They were halfway there by tacking adhesive sparingly to the cabinet base. Life is short, live recklessly and use more glue.

set countertop glue

Load heavy items on top to help the glue set up overnight. If you’re working with a solid surface top, remember to cover it to prevent scratches.

layout sink hole

Remember that expensive template I decided to forgo? You can accomplish the same results with a grocery bag, pencil and ruler. I cheated and traced out the sink hole from the old countertop. Then I eyeballed where I wanted it to go on the new one (lining it up with the center of the cabinet doors below), made sure it was straight and taped it down. (Later, when I was fighting with my plumbing I realized I could have downloaded the schematic from Kohler’s website. Good to know for future reference.)

score countertop for sink

I scored the outline with a utility knife. Because I had to do this twice with one template, I left gaps in the paper cut-out at the top/bottom/sides. That way, I could lift and move it to the second sink area without destroying my template. Smarter, not harder, that’s how I work.

chalkline

I couldn’t really see the line I’d scored so I grabbed a piece of chalk and traced it around a few times. That made it simple to follow with the jig saw (and easier to clean up than pencil would have been.)

countertop cutting tools

Now, here is the hidden gem in this tutorial. Before you set to cutting out your sink holes, grab a piece of scrap wood (it should measure longer than the sink radius). Pre-drill it right into the countertop making sure you’re attaching it to the waste. Do not drill outside your chalkline unless you want to drop another chunk of change on a new, new countertop.

cut laminate countertop

Drill a 1/4″ pilot hole inside the line to start your saw cut. Grab your jig saw and follow the line halfway around before securing the scrap wood.

sink cutout trick

Since gravity will work against you, this trick provides top-up support and eliminates having a helper hold up the countertop from below. You can single-handedly complete the sink hole cut without worry that you’ll damage the new top. (it won’t fall through!)

easy cut laminate sink

I easily lifted the scrap piece out and moved on to repeat the process on Sink #2.

Feeling pretty proud of myself for having done the entire project on my own to this point, I heaved the sink into place and reattached the plumbing pipes.

insert sink

And then this happened.

plumbing gasket leak

Because, apparently, I can’t come up with enough reasons to drink on my own.

~dee

This post is part of a series. Click to read the other parts:

operation demolition    How to Install Tile

13 thoughts on “New Countertop Installation

  1. That is so clever! using the wood to hold in place while you cut. that is the best tip I've seen today! thanks so much for sharing. Have a fabulous weekend! 🙂

      • Good bless you Dee!

        I’m preparing the kitchen to replace the counter-tops and also install a brand new sink. When the big box “designer” told me the fee for installation and the cost for sink cut out, I laughed out loud. These are the guys who scratched up my vehicle’s interior, just trying to load the sink. I was going to trust these goofs to install? NAH!!!

        Thanks for reminding me about the board to hold the cut out in place. It’s been a couple of decades since I installed the last sink, and had forgotten all about that part.

  2. I am so bedazzled by you. Clever how you used the piece of wood to be able to lift out the circle. Going to show this to hubby and am sharing you all about the social media. Have a nice weekend Dee.

  3. Okay. This only further proves your extensive level of badassery. I'm looking into laminate for the kitchen counters, but I was thinking we'd need to hire someone to make the counters and install…? I was looking into alternatives to ordering them from big box stores because I didn't get the impression that the associates knew squat about the product or installation. I may still hire the construction out (or just order them from the big box stores) because I think I want a "fancy" edge, but maybe we can tackle installation ourselves…?

    • The 'fancy edge' comes from the factory. You just opt for it at the store. There's no reason to hire it out. Save that money. It's not hard at all to do yourself. And there are some gorgeous options in the higher end of laminate. Don't fall for the 'must have granite' lie. {I know you hate it already though.}

  4. I have done the screw through the counter top thing. My husband backed the screw out and I glued the chip in place. Thankfully we have learned a lot since then.
    Can't wait to see your finished bath.
    Traci

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