Uncle Bobs Tips

Kitchen Design Options: Countertops

Kitchen Design Options: Countertops

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Last time we discussed the ten biggest kitchen design mistakes. But let's say you don't have the money or aren't really interested in spending it for a great kitchen designer. Are you stuck with your 1964 parkai countertops and cabinets that, I'm sure, were highly fashionable when granddad was picking them out? Absolutely not. Kitchen design is an inexpensive do it yourself project, and, while it's not the easiest job, it is certainly rewarding in the end.

We'll focus on the two biggest projects for renovating your old kitchen design; countertops and cabinets. First a quick look at planning and materials, and then on to installation.


This is probably the most important step in all of your kitchen design endeavors. Layout needs to be planned, measurements need to be taken, and proper equipment needs to be acquired. I know what you're thinking. C'mon buddy, this isn't exactly the Super Dome over here. But we all know, most unfortunately through experience, that a miscalculation by even one inch can ruin hours of work and cost thousands of dollars. Take the time to do it right. Sketch out a diagram, and mark down all the measurements you've taken. Also make sure you've got everything you need before you start working.


Granite is a popular choice for countertops because it is solid, attractive and heat resistant. Granite is expensive though, and sensitive. It requires frequent sealant jobs and can absorb stains easily.

Wood or butcher block countertops have the familiar feeling of wood that we all love. Wood countertops are durable and fairly easy to maintain. For deep scratches or stains, a simple sanding or sealing job will do the trick. However, over time water damage can become a problem.

Quartz or engineered stone is great for carefree maintenance. Scratch and stain resistant, quartz is highly durable. If money is a thought, however, quartz should not be.

Solid surface comes in a large array of colors and are custom made to fit your kitchen for a seamless appearance. Scratches to this material can be sanded down easily, but heat and stainable liquids will do damage.

Stainless steel has a contemporary, cool, and sleek look and feel. Stainless steel is also heat resistant and extremely easy to clean. The cons are no cutting surface, noisy material, and it can get expensive.

Ceramic tiles are one of the most cost-efficient choices in countertops. There is a large variety and they are fairly easy to clean. Tiles are vulnerable to chipping, and the grout can become discolored by foods. Also, you have to deal with an uneven work surface, which is a problem for some people.

Marble is waterproof, heat resistant, and classy. Oh yeah, and extremely expensive. A good trick if you are bent on this style is to use marble on small areas of the kitchen, an island or backsplash for example.

Laminates are the familiar Formica countertops. People enjoy the easy maintenance and affordable price of laminates. This is not the best option if you are particular about details. Seams will show through on laminates, and elaborate finishing and edges can be expensive.


Installation will vary depending on material and shape of your kitchen layout. Unfortunately, there aren't too many general rules, but I will give a few basic steps, and the rest will have to be determined by your particulars.

We'll deal with cabinets next week. Assuming the cabinets are already taken care of, the first step is to shut off the plumbing that runs to your sink, dishwasher, or any other water source under the counter top. Be sure to close both hot and cold water taps.

Remove any screws that are connecting the countertop to the cabinet. With an exact-o-knife or straight edge blade, loosen the silicone or calk lining around the wall and edges.

Reinforcing your countertops with ¾ blocks of wood gives extra support and ability to maneuver more easily.

Spread a small amount of silicone caulk or other strong adhesive to the cabinet tops. Place the countertops onto the adhesive and press firmly all around.

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