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.
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.
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.
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.
I double checked that the countertop would sit level and took to the bedroom floor.
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.
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.
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.
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.)
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.
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.)
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.
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.
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!)
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.
And then this happened.
Because, apparently, I can’t come up with enough reasons to drink on my own.
This post is part of a series. Click to read the other parts: