Kitchen counters can be constructed of press board or MDF (medium density fiberboard), then covered with tile, stone or laminate. The counter is then installed over a cabinet framework that creates a level surface and supports the counter. The simplest form of kitchen counter project to attempt is a laminate-covered one. Laminate kitchen counters can be custom cut and fit to any size or shape required, and the laminate covering can be selected to match a growing number of colors and styles. The process of building your own 2-by-4 foot kitchen counter demands a bit of carpentry skill and some basic tools.
Things You'll Need
- Straight edge
- Circular saw
- Press board
- Wood glue
- Power drill
- Countersink bit
- Screw gun
- Drywall screws
- Laminate sheeting
- Carbide tipped scoring knife
- Paint brush
- Contact cement
- Rubber roller
- Electric laminate trimmer
- L-shaped counter mounting brackets
- 1/4 inch thick scrap wood
- Work gloves
- Eye goggles
Use a straight edge and pencil to mark your sheet of press board or MDF to 24-by-48 inches. Use your circular saw to cut along the pencil marks and create the base for your kitchen counter. (Exercise caution whenever working with a circular saw.)
Cut a 4-inch-wide strip of MDF to the same length as the front edge of your counter. Apply a bead of wood glue to the strip, and lay it onto the counter so it sits flush with the front edge and side edges. Use your power drill to make pilot holes through the strip and into the counter material behind it. Use your power drill and countersink bit to make small indentations over each pilot hole, then use your screw gun to drive drywall screws into the holes so the strip is fastened in place.
Cut your laminate coating to 26 by 50 inches. An extra inch is included on each side to provide room for error. Use your straight edge and pencil to mark the laminate on its underside, then use a carbide tipped scoring knife to make the cut. Score the line several times, using your straight edge as a guide, then bend the laminate along the groove until it snaps off. The process is similar to cutting drywall.
Measure and cut laminate to fit the edges of your counter as well. Add 1 inch of extra to each end, top and bottom here as well.
Use your paint brush to apply a coating of contact cement to the edges of the counter material. Apply a coat to the underside of the laminate you cut to fit the counter edges as well. Allow the cement to dry according to the manufacturer's instructions, then place the laminate onto the counter edges. Use a rubber roller to press the laminate into position so it adheres tightly.
Use your electric laminate trimmer to cut the excess laminate off the counter edges. Slide the trimmer down the length of the laminate edges, using the counter surface as a guide. The extra material will be cut away, leaving an even finish. Install laminate sheeting to the top of the counter in the same you did the edges, and use your trimmer to remove the excess.
Install L-shaped counter top brackets inside the cabinet framework. Place one bracket every 8 inches or so, and use your screw gun to fasten them in place so the top arm is level with the top edge of the cabinet frame. Place your counter onto the brackets, and use your power drill to make pilot holes into the underside of the counter, through the bracket screw holes. Use your screw gun to drive screws into the holes.
Tips & Warnings
- Add a back splash to your counter after it is already installed. Cut a strip of MDF the same length as the back edge of the counter, and to the height your prefer. Glue and nail a strip of 1/4-inch-thick scrap wood along the top edge of the back splash to serve as seal which will fit the upright back splash to the kitchen wall. Cover the back splash with laminate, and clamp it in position along the back edge. Drill pilot holes up through the counter and into the back splash, then drive screws to fasten it in place. Seal the joints where the counter and back splash, and the back splash and wall meet with caulk.
- Should your laminate coating ever begin to separate from the counter, reapply contact cement beneath it and place a weight on top so it dries tight.
- Use caution when working with dangerous tools like saws. Serious injury can occur. Wear work gloves and eye goggles for protection.
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