We have been busy with our new factory and machinery for the last few months. It’s right time for me to post more newly built custom kitchens. We are able to cut and install counter tops now. They were contracted to other business but we finally decided to invest more on counter tops because constantly we found that the counter top installations were not delivered timely. With our own stuff to do the cutting, in the same factory of kitchen cabinets, we can do more accurate cutting and coordination so we offer customers faster kitchen making and installations than most of the other kitchen makers in Auckland.
At one time, a kitchen countertop was simply a piece of plywood with square edges covered with laminate. I’m sure most of you will remember the imitation “butcher block” design that was so popular in the old days. Fortunately, we’ve realized that countertop material is more than just a covering for the base cabinets. Its understood now that it must be functional, able to stand up to years of use and add design as well as interest to the kitchen.
CONVENTIONAL ROLL TOPS
The simplest and least expensive approach in a renovation project is to use one of the many styles of roll or post-formed laminate counter-tops that are readily available. Laminate is applied under pressure over a particle core board form that has a curved, molded backsplash and front edge. They are relatively inexpensive and available at countertop specialty companies in most major cities. There are some problems with post-formed tops if a great deal of custom cabinetry is being built, as they are fairly standard in size and design. However, this style can be used in the major portion of most projects.
Post-formed countertops are usually sold by the running foot in three or four widths. You can get bartop countertops, island tops, and preassembled or assemble-yourself angled tops. Most countertop suppliers will cut and assemble right-angled countertops, including ones that go from a standard countertop to a bartop on a peninsula. If possible, have the supplier assemble the right-angle runs, as they seem to produce a better joint in their shop than can be achieved on the job site.
Suppliers have roll countertop designs called Bull Nose, Flat Top, Tradition, Innovation, etc., and countertop styles such as bar top, regular and island. Finish materials are numerous and varied from manufacturers such as Wilsonart, Formica and Arborite. Costs are reasonable and they can supply countertops for most of your needs.
Other Countertop Materials
Another popular material that has recently entered the marketplace is the so-called solid-surface countertop with product names such as DuPont Corian and Wilsonart International Gibraltar. This is an expensive alternative, and installation is normally done by specialists trained by the manufacturers. Not everyone can afford the luxury of this material, but you may find it fits in with your budget. There seems to be an increasing demand and the cost is getting lower as more manufacturers enter the marketplace. Contact local countertop suppliers and speak to them about their pricing schedule, product supply, sample material and literature.
Ceramic tile is used as a counter top material in some kitchen renovation projects. It is one of the oldest and most versatile materials. Available in many sizes, shapes and styles, its a long-lasting and durable product that lends itself to many design applications. Ceramic tile is resistant to stains and is heat proof. However, the grout lines require constant maintenance due to the possibility of staining from food juices. Its best to seal the grout with a high-quality silicone sealer prior to use.
Ceramics are often used on the wall between the upper and lower cabinets because they are easy to clean. Application on the walls is a very straightforward process and fairly simple, as there are normally only three or four rows of tile to apply. Information on wall tile application is available at most tile specialty stores and is quite often a do-it-yourself procedure.
Countertop ceramic tile installation is also a relatively simple operation that requires a bit of skill and a lot of patience. Tile application over water-resistant plywood seems to work well, with the proper glue and grout. Ask the experts at the tile center for the right combination with the product you purchase. Choose the tile and calculate the width of tiles and tile spacing before cutting your plywood to size. With this method you can avoid a lot of unnecessary tile cutting. Band the counter top edge, following tile installation, with a 1″ x 2″ hardwood strip to match the wood on your cabinets for a professional-looking finish. If you want to avoid a wood edge, you can purchase special edge tiles with a raised lip to complete the installation.
BUILDING CUSTOM WOOD-EDGED COUNTERTOPS
I have seen many, many custom countertop designs and have decided on a style that I use in my business. Basically the design involves using 3/4″ high-density particle core board that has been banded with 1″ x 2″ hardwood of the same type used on the cabinets.
- Attach the Edge Molding: Fasten the hardwood banding to the edge of the particle core board withPCB screws and glue. Drill a pilot hole with a ‘A” countersink bit assembly. Drill the pilot holes as close to the center of the PCB material as possible.
- Cover the Screw HolesPlug the Vs” holes with wood plugs and sand smooth.
- Apply the Laminate: Apply high-pressure laminate to the surface making sure all edges are fully covered, including the top of the wood edge molding.
- Trim the Laminate: Trim the laminate with a flush-trim bit in a router.
- Router the Wood Edge: Use a round-over router bit and cut just to the depth of the laminate. The bottom edge of the wood banding should be rounded over as well, to remove the hard edge and soften the look of the counter top.
The system of cabinetry described in this book lends itself perfectly to a standard 251/2″-deep countertop. There are three or four standard widths but, from experience, I’ve found the 251/2″ size works best.
When designing the kitchen with custom countertops, remember that laminate material is normally only available in 4′ X 8′ and 5′ X 12′ sheets. If possible, avoid countertops that are longer than 12′ to eliminate the need for seams. If you cannot avoid a seam in the countertop, you can buy matching “seam filler” paste from the laminate material supplier.
- Angled countertop corners: If you have children running around or desire a softer look, the corners of the countertop can be angle cut, fitted with wood banding and sanded round prior to laminate installation and routering.
- Installing a Backsplash. Backsplash material is normally hard-wood of the same type as the cabinet wood. Attach the backsplash material to the wall with screws in countersunk holes and cover the holes with wooden buttons.
- Bartops are nothing more than wide countertops that are finished on the front and back edges. They can be ordered from any countertop supplier or you can make a custom wood-edged countertop. Simply follow the method for the custom countertop style and finish all exposed edges with hardwood. Normally, bartops butt against a wall at one end, so don’t finish that end with a wood edge.
- Island Countertops have four exposed counter edges and are usually a custom width. These top styles can be ordered from the supplier, or you can use the custom wood-edge style. Bartop, island and peninsula cabinet systems are becoming more and more popular as people tear down walls to create open-concept homes. Base cabinets with fancy tops are created as room dividers, providing workspace but maintaining that open-space feeling. Many of my new kitchen projects use the island and peninsula concepts to add excitement to newly created spaces simply by removing a wall.