Friday, August 17, 2012

Bathroom Redo | Part Six - DIY Solid Surface Countertops

As I mentioned last week we bought a surplus solid surface slab over the internet after numerous quotes of $1,000 and more.  That sounds just as scary as it actually was.

After picking up the slab it sat in our garage for maybe a day and a half before Mike attacked it with the circular saw.  Before he made any cuts though, he meticulously laid out the cuts he would make to get all the pieces he needed.  Here's a little diagram that shows the cuts he made and all the pieces he needed.  Remember, not only did we need the actual counter piece and back (and side) splashes, we also needed small slivers, (the pink pieces), to add to each edge to beef it up from 1/2" thickness to 1".  


Since everyone knows how Mike works, (and how much he loves waiting to do things for me to take pictures), he had already cut the pieces up and glued everything together, (we're talking a max of 2 hours while I was inside working).


The top and right side pieces are the ones that will be exposed hence the added pieces to beef up the edge.  The wood pieces were glued on for supports where the cabinet bases were so that it laid flat along the base.


Mike used the extra solid surface pieces to clamp everything down to ensure even pressure.

This close-up shows how the original slab was 1/2" thick, but by gluing on another piece, it's now 1" and looks a lot beefier.  (You can barely see the light line along the seam where the two pieces were joined (mostly due to the shadows), and Mike didn't even do anything special except line it up with his hands, and after sanding the seam was invisible).


This is another example of the invisible seam.  I'm not even sure where it is, but I think the top piece extends out to the edge.  Even with the slight beige piece and white glue, I was surprised at how seamless it looks. 


And, in the spirit of keeping it real, I want to zoom out a little and show you what happens after you cut up solid surface - a giant mess.


It was like shaved ice, but plastic.  Everywhere.  I'm glad I didn't come out until after it was over, I can only imagine the cloud of shaved plastic that was generated during the cutting process.  I'm sure goggles and a mask were worn.  I'm sure.

After flipping the countertop over, the next task, (a little less messy, although obviously loud enough to warrant ear muffs), was routing the edge to get the nice edge profile.

After cutting a couple options for me to choose from, I picked small a curved edge on the top and left the bottom edge square.  We have both rounded and angular pieces in the room, so we thought having both would be one more way to tie everything together. 


Here's a close-up of the corner profile that Mike first did to make sure I liked it, (I still could have gone with a larger rounded corner or beveled corner at this point), but I loved it and gave him the go-ahead. In case your wondering the slightly darker lines about an inch in are just dirt left over from the router.


Mike had kept the protective plastic on the slab up until this point and I've always had this thing about the plastic covering.  I always leave it on until it's absolutely necessary to remove it, and if it doesn't need to be removed, I'll leave it until it starts getting dirty on the edges or something.  It drives my family crazy, (I once left the plastic on my laptop for a year), but I feel like it's officially not new anymore once that plastic comes off.  So, of course, I took a picture of Mike ceremoniously removing the plastic for me.


After the plastic was gone it was time to start sanding.  Like I mentioned before, we bought a sanding kit that including all the pads needed for matte, satin, or semi-gloss finishes.  I decided to go with a satin finish so that it was easy to clean, but had a more matte finish than the high gloss sinks.

via

The pink pads above are various grit pads for getting the slab to a smooth finish, and the ones above are for achieving the desired finishes, (gold for semi-gloss, gray for satin, and maroon for matte).

The kit included a guide on the different finishes and Mike went in order as specified, for the satin finish it required sanding with 4 different grit pads, then the gray pad, more specifically: 120-grit (120 micron), 180-grit (100 micron), 280-grit (60 micron), 400-grit (30 micron), then the Gray Scuffbrite pad.

Mike first sanded the edges being extra careful to maintain the profiles he just routed.


Then he started at the lowest grit pads and worked his way through the sequence one-by-one.


Since all the sanding looks the same regardless of what grit pad you're using, I'll spare you the photos.  Which is good, since after this I stopped taking pictures and went inside to do some other projects.

Once Mike finished sanding everything, (including the backsplashes), he brought everything in to do a dry fit.  Thankfully everything fit and we didn't have to scribe the walls, (if the walls were wavy at all we would - here's a step-by-step in case anyone's wondering what the heck I'm talking about).


The cabinets were already level and didn't require any prep, but we did add extra blocking on the left side since we added a spacer to move the vanity a couple inches from the wall.


To install, Mike just globed on some sealant on all the cabinet edges and the blocking on the wall.


We then manhandled it into place and set it carefully on the cabinets.  We waited a couple hours and then measured for the sink and faucet holes.  We figured this would be easier without the backsplash in place.


After double and triple checking our layout, Mike cut the holes.  He used a regular hole bit and cutting the solid surface is a lot like cutting hard PVC, complete with the mess, (which was fortunately contained in the cabinet below).


After the holes were cut, Mike said he was going to install the backsplash, so I found some other stuff to do downstairs.  About a half an hour later Mike casually walks by and says don't go in the bathroom tonight.

Now, we're always doing some sort of project in one room or the other and we always just step over the {insert drying project here} ie. newly stained spot on the floor, or work around the wet paint on the trim, so I was intrigued as to what would render the bathroom completely unusable for the entire evening.

Then I figured it out.




To hold the backsplash to the wall, Mike jimmy rigged some supports out of long pieces of trim that he had lying around.  He propped them across the room, one against the new built in, (which I'll talk more about in a future post), and the other against the half wall.

Obviously, with a bathroom downstairs I'm not willing to play triple limbo just to use the restroom.  Well played, Michael.

After the counters and splashes set up, (overnight), we immediately set the sinks and faucets, and sealed the corner between the splashes and countertop with some clear waterproof sealant.  Since this pretty much brings us right up to the finish line I'll save the complete after photos for the big reveal!  I have some styling and some painting to finish up, but we're calling the project almost done!

8 comments:

  1. An integral part of your home is the bathroom and it is also called as rest room probably because you we do spend a lot of time there. It is good feeling when it has been well built. Although a good bathroom comes at a price and it is worthed to invest however there are many ways with which you can reduce the cost of building. The vanity is a very important part of the bathroom. In fact, in many bathrooms it is the focal point.

    ReplyDelete
  2. What a very informative article you have written here! The images are just so helpful! Good luck with the project and please do post the look of your new bathroom once everything is set! :)

    ReplyDelete
  3. Hi Mallory! Thanks for the great article! What kind of saw(s) did Mike use to cut the solid surface material? And what kind of blade did he use on his circular saw? We are getting ready to embark on a similiar project and I don't know which carbide blade to buy for my saw (how many teeth, etc). -Cindy D.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. According to Mike, he used a Freud Finish blade, (found at Home Depot), on our circular saw. He said there are specialty blades for solid surface, but they're expensive, and if you're not doing it commercially, then the HD one will be fine for a couple cuts. He said the tooth count doesn't really matter, but make sure to go slow and steady. The cut is a little rough, so he cut a little short of the line, then used a flush router bit using a guide to clean up the edge. Hope this helps and good luck! If you have anymore questions, just let me know, and I'll let the resident expert explain it more!

      Delete
  4. Fantastic job Mallory. I must say great efforts. IT is very easy to see in picture but I can understand how difficult it is to cut Natural Stone in proper measurement. Well done and thanks for sharing your experience with us.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Thanks for the great tutorial. I placed an order through solidsurface.com but had a terrible experience with them. I ended up canceling order and ordering through domain industries instead. Domain and woodstocksupply.com both had better responsiveness and cheaper prices than solidsurface.com. Just wanted to let you know that there were more than one option out there. Thanks.

    ReplyDelete
  6. This came out fantastic!!! Can you tell me what epoxy or adhesive you used for the stacked edge?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Lauren! It's been almost 3 years since we installed the counters, and I still love them.

      All the equipment and materials we used are outlined in this post (http://www.danksandhoney.com/2012/08/how-to-save-500-on-vanity-countertops.html) and SolidSurface.com has a tool that helps you figure what color you need based on the manufacturer and color selected.

      Delete