Bathroom and kitchens are the most expensive rooms to remodel, in no small part due to pricey countertop materials and installation prices. Keep the costs of your remodeling project down by changing your countertops yourself. Even if you can't make any lasting changes, you can still create an entirely new look by covering your outdated or unwanted kitchen or bathroom surfaces.
DIY Ideas for Building Your Countertops
Superstore home improvement stores sell their prefab countertops in sections, which you can cut yourself to save some money. Similarly, you can make completely DIY countertops from materials like butcher block or poured concrete. Before you head out to the lumberyard, concrete center or home improvement store, carefully measure your existing countertops and create a life-size cardboard or thin plywood template that includes appliance and plumbing gaps. Instead of building a completely new countertop, you can tile over an inexpensive plywood base with ceramic tiles, or get the look of granite without the price by using granite tiles on your base.
DIY Ideas for Countertop Makeovers for Homeowners
Don't let your construction phobia or tight budget stand between you and a like-new kitchen or bathroom. Since you can make permanent changes, you can alter or build off your existing sold-surface countertop to create a more up-to-date, attractive surface. Paint, decoupage or add a layer of material to your old countertops. Regardless of which you choose, your first two steps are to sand your countertops and paint them. Choose a paint color that matches your kitchen or the material you'll use, if you're adding a material. Look for flat materials that match your kitchen's style, such as mosaic glass pieces or coins. After painting, either seal your work with a two-part epoxy, or add your artwork or glue your materials to your countertop, and then cover with the super-shiny epoxy. Alternative: for a DIY faux butcher block countertop, buy a length of thin, veneer plywood that matches your current countertop's measurements and glue it to your countertop after sanding. Trim all your countertop edges with real wood. Stain the plywood and cover with beeswax polish.
DIY Ideas for Countertop Makeovers for Renters
Even renters can make big, if impermanent, changes to their countertops. The most flexible, rental-friendly countertop solution: covering your countertops with glass, the more expensive option, or a clear acrylic sheet. Beneath the clear covering, place fabric, contact paper, unpasted wallpaper or even photographs or original art. As you would for other countertop makeovers, take your measurements and make a template. Bring your template to a glass or acrylic outlet, where you can order a piece cut to your exact specifications; acrylic users can order a large sheet and cut it themselves with a jigsaw. To get the butcher-block look with this DIY idea, use wood grain contact paper beneath your clear covering.
DIY Countertop Cleaning Considerations
While your DIY countertops will save you money, many of them will also require an additional, long-term maintenance investment. Unfinished butcher-block countertops require a coat of linseed oil every few months to stave off mildew problems. Likewise, you should reseal concrete countertops at least once a year to keep the surface from becoming overly porous, a quality that attracts bacteria. To save yourself from an ongoing cleaning headache, seal grout lines on tile countertops, and use matching grout where possible for a more seamless appearance.
- This Old House; The Quickest and Cheapest Kitchen Counter Upgrade; Mark Powers; June 21, 2008
- "First Digs: The Quasi-Adult's Guide to Decorating with Style..."; Yee-Fan Sun; 2006
- "Black & Decker: The Complete Guide to Ceramic Tile, Third Edition"; Carter Glass ; 2010
- "Everything and the Kitchen Sink..."; Janice Anne Costa, Daina Manning, Janice Costa; 2005
- This Old House: Kitchen Template; Tom Silva
- Photo Credit Photos.com/Photos.com/Getty Images
- Apartment Therapy: Pouring Your Own Concrete Countertops; Sarah Rae Trover; Jan. 9, 2009
- Make: Install a Penny Countertop; Shane Selman
- Apartment Therapy; The Under $400 Kitchen Makeover... In a Box; Janel Laban; February 15, 2001
- Apartment Therapy; How to Resurface Your Butcher...; Maxwell Gillingham-Ryan; March 18, 2010
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