Wednesday, August 8, 2012

How to Save $500 on Vanity Countertops

We finally pulled the trigger on the countertops for the bathroom.  We've been waiting to decide mostly because it didn't affect the renovation since we were too busy working on tiling and painting and also because we couldn't figure out how much we were willing to spend.

We had already decided against granite or quartz and didn't like the look of cultured marble, so we were left with solid surface or laminate.  We wanted solid surface, but on a laminate budget.  I knew I wanted a light/almost white color so I thought it would be pretty easy to find a basic color for cheap.  Famous last words

We started at the box stores, (Home Depot and Lowes), and then the smaller local shops.  Even though we didn't need sink holes cut and choosing the free edge profiles, we were quoted over $1,000 every time.

A little secret of ours is that during high school, Mike worked in a countertop shop, so he knows how to make laminate and solid surface counters.  And, even if he didn't it's actually pretty easy, (easy for the skilled DIY'er, like Mike, I wouldn't be able to do it myself, but thank god my man has skills!).  So, to save us even more money, we thought about just buying a pre-cut countertop and installing it ourselves.  The problem with that is everywhere including Home Depot and Lowe's includes all labor in their prices.  And believe us, there is no way to get it removed - we asked, numerous times.       

So, in the same fashion I jumped started this bathroom renovation months before we had planned to, (read about that here), I started perusing the internet to see if anyone sold just slabs of solid surface.  I have to tell you there isn't much out there, but I did stumble across SolidSurface.com (go figure), which not only offered full slabs of most popular brands and colors, but also had overstock material for deeply discounted prices.  Obviously that's where I went first.


I first searched by size, knowing that our countertop was 22" x 70" (this included the 1" overhang in the front and on the left hand side) and we needed enough to cut out a backsplash and a sidesplash on the right hand side, (3 1/4" x 70" and 3 1/4" x 22").  Also, since slabs of solid surface are only usually 1/2" thick, it's important not to forget the additional pieces that are needed to glue together around the exposed edges to get 1" thickness.  We figured we would need something at least 71" long (to have some extra wiggle room) and at least 30" wide (to get all the cut pieces out of it).  Also, the website notes that the pieces may have chips and we found one on the corner of ours when it arrived, so I would suggest always getting a couple inches bigger than needed so if there's a chip, you can cut it off.

I then searched by color, knowing that I wanted a white/light color I did a search of the white color family.

With those perimeters, I narrowed it down to a couple colors I liked, at least based on the computer colors.  I had about 3-4 that I picked and sent off to Mike, and together we narrowed it down to Formica's Luna Sand.

via

It had the light color I was looking for plus gray speckles which would tie into the gray walls and floor grout.  The beigy color would also offset the white sinks.

We found a piece - 30" x 71.25" x 0.5" for $244.35.  We knew we would have to buy the equipment glue, and miscellaneous stuff, but we were still well under the $1,000 quote we were getting.

At this point we were hesitant to pull the trigger and so we sat on it for the weekend.  During that time I drove over to Carter Lumber (the only place nearby that had a physical sample of Formica Luna Sand (it is a new color so even Lowe's didn't have a sample yet)) and was very happy with the color:

Formica Samples: Luna Sand, Silk, Glacier Ore

Just for giggles, I had the guy at Carter Lumber give me a quote for the price of what we needed.  He said he would get it to us on Monday.

We were busy over the weekend, (imagine that), and didn't think about the counters until Monday morning.  Mike put together everything we would need if we were to install the counter ourselves.  First the slab, then the glue which would be to glue the front and side pieces together for the seamless look.  SolidSurface.com has a tool that helps you figure what color you need based on the manufacturer and color selected, since the glue is from a separate manufacture (Integra) and has over 200 colors to match up to the selected solid surface color.  Ours was Glacier White.

via

The glue comes with 2 of the fancy mixing tips that are required.  Also needed for the gluing is the adhesive dispensing gun, which at $79 was the most expensive tool we needed to do the countertops ourselves, but we figured if we want to add solid surface in the basement bath, or if we were bad asses and wanted to try to tackle the kitchen counters, we would already have the adhesive gun.

via

The last piece of equipment/material needed was a sanding kit.  Once you've glued everything together and cut and routered the edges, you need to sand it down to the desired finish.  The kit comes with everything needed to sand anything from a matte to a semi-gloss finish, so we didn't have to chose which finish we wanted yet.

via

After adding all of these together our cost was almost $500.  We were still hesitant, but after getting the quote from Carter Lumber for $1,000, we were sold.

We added everything into the shopping cart and here's the final cost with shipping:
  
Item

Qty
Subtotal
Albion 250ml Standard Adhesive Dispensing Gun B26T200x10

1
$79.00
Integra 7.4/18 Bell End Mixing Tips

4
$7.40
Luna Sand, Formica - 30" x 71.75" x 0.5" (overstock)

1
$244.35
Integra Adhesives, Glacier White

1
$44.00
Finishing Kit 5" (sandpaper) - Matte to Semi-Gloss Finish (large pack, 60pcs)

1
$69.00
Ship To Nearest Freight Terminal

1
$0.00
Subtotal
$443.75
Shipping & Handling
$63.00
Grand Total
$506.75

To compare, the slab we bought is 15 sq.ft.  Using our grand total, (since all the other quotes included installation), we paid $33.78/sq.ft.

Lowe's price was $45/sq.ft., but a minimum of 25 sq.ft. is required so the total would be $1,125.

And, Home Depot didn't carry Formica solid surface, but for the pricing was comparable to Lowe's (and also had minimum purchases) for similar colors in Corian.  

The only thing we skimped on was shipping and instead of paying extra, we chose to pick it up from the nearest freight terminal, which ended up being right near my office and one of Mike's jobsites, so it wasn't far at all.  The only weird thing was it's a freight terminal.  Mike and I had no idea what to do and where to go and ended up driving through a lot of areas that said "No Cars Allowed", or "Do Not Enter".  It's just a bunch of truck drivers so no one stopped us, but that also meant no one came to our help either.  After about 20 minutes of standing around near the specified ramp, Mike was able to get a fork lift operator and another guy to help load into the truck.  Mike and I didn't have a problem unloading it ourselves when we were at home, and I got a sushi dinner since we were right down the road from our favorite place.  All in all, I'd say it was worth it!

So, that's our story of how we saved at least $500 on our vanity countertops.  Next up I'll explain how we installed them ourselves!

No comments:

Post a Comment