Category: Kitchen


How To: Make a Mosaic Countertop

For an out-of-the-ordinary effect to catch the eye in your kitchen, consider installing a mosaic tile countertop.

Here’s a unique way to use ceramic tile for a very unusual countertop. Just break up the tiles into random pieces, use thin-set mortar and create the pattern of your choice. Let the tiles set overnight, and then use ceramic-grade grout with an additive to prevent wide joints from cracking. Let set for ten minutes and wipe with a dry synthetic pad (a wet pad would wash the joints out).

For more on kitchen countertops, consider:

How To: Work with Mosaic Tile
Bob Vila’s Guide to Kitchen Countertops
One-of-a-Kind Countertops: 6 Ways to Make Yours Unique


Quick Tip: Butcher Block

Beloved by many homeowners, hardwearing butcher block kitchen countertops enable you to prepare food without cutting boards.

A butcher block table can help make your kitchen much more efficient. Built to take a beating, butcher block doubles as a functional chopping surface as well as an eating or serving table. Butcher block is often made of hard maple—a dense, strong wood that doesn’t add flavor to what you’re chopping on it. It’s cut across the grain, so it’ll wear evenly without warping. Just keep it clean and oil it occasionally.

For more on kitchen countertops, consider:

Kitchen Countertops 101
12 Wow-Worthy Woods for Kitchen Countertops
Counter Intelligence: Choosing the Right Kitchen Countertop


Bob Vila Radio: Second Refrigerators

You might be surprised at how much energy it takes to keep a second refrigerator running in the garage or basement.

One out of four American homes has a second refrigerator in it, according to the Department of Energy—that’s 30 million extra refrigerators. That second fridge is often an old one that was supposedly replaced by an efficient new model but is still running in the basement or garage.

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Listen to BOB VILA ON SECOND REFRIGERATORS or read the text below:

Second Refrigerators

Photo: sossolutions.webstarts.com

That’s bad news, because a refrigerator is the single biggest consumer of electricity in most homes. Having two of them adds substantially to your energy use, and your costs. Plus, any efficiency gains you achieved by buying a new Energy Star appliance are going right down the drain if you keep the old one plugged in.

If you really need extra cold storage, consider buying a small new one with an Energy Star rating instead of keeping the old full-sized one. And if you kept the old one, so you could take advantage of buying in bulk, consider this: The Department of Energy estimates that it costs up to $750 a year to run your old energy hog, which is probably a lot more than you’re saving by buying those family packs. Need another reason to unplug? Those 30 million  extra refrigerators are using 25 million megawatt hours of power a year. That’s a lot of electricity we could save just by pulling the plug.

Bob Vila Radio is a newly launched daily radio spot carried on more than 75 stations around the country (and growing). You can get your daily dose here, by listening to—or reading—Bob’s 60-second home improvement radio tip of the day.


How To: Install Base Cabinets

Careful measurement, adequate shimming, and secure fastening are key to a high-quality, professional-looking cabinet installation.

How to Install Base Cabinets

Photo: shutterstock.com

One fundamental rule applies to the installation of just about anything: If you get the first piece right, the others fall into position. Misplace the first piece, however, and you’re likely to experience a series of headaches as you work towards completing the job. This is as true for hanging wallpaper as it is for laying brick. And it’s a lesson that deserves special attention from DIYers trying to install base cabinets in the kitchen.

Related: 5 Creative Alternatives to Kitchen Cabinetry

Start off by identifying the highest point on the floor over which you plan to install the base cabinets. Do so by drawing or snapping a level line along the adjacent wall, then measure down to the floor in several places. The spot where you measure the shortest distance is where the floor is highest. Later in the process, you are going to shim cabinets up to this height because that’s easier than subtracting height from a cabinet.

Draw a level line on the wall at a height of 34 1/2 inches; this height assumes that it’s a finished floor and that you want a standard 36-inch-high countertop. Next, mark vertical lines to the floor to denote the locations of the different cabinet units. Meanwhile, find and mark the studs along the cabinet wall; even after the base cabinets are in place, you must still be able to see the marks, so make them plainly visible.

Now you’re ready to install the first cabinet, typically a corner unit. Add shims beneath the cabinet so that its top edge hits the initial horizontal line that you drew. In situations where the wall is not plumb, it may be necessary to shim behind the base cabinets as well. Shim also between the cabinet and the wall at stud locations. Use 2 1/2-inch screws to anchor the cabinets (through the shims) into the studs.

Having installed the initial cabinet, move on to the next one. Shim as necessary, and to ensure a flush fit between this unit and its neighbor, join the two with a clamp before screwing the pair together. Proceed to install the other base cabinets along the wall in this way.

How to Install Base Cabinets - Detail

Photo: shutterstock.com

Further Considerations

• Repair any damage to the walls before installing the base cabinets against them. Likewise, complete all plumbing and electrical work in the kitchen prior to cabinet installation.

• At the rear of the cabinets, mark the location of plumbing pipes and electrical boxes, then bore holes or make appropriate-size cutouts so the units fit snugly against the wall.

• It’s usually wise to install kitchen flooring before the base cabinets. For one thing, working in this sequence means you don’t have to modify the floor material to achieve a seamless look.

• When inserting a filler strip between a cabinet and a wall, you can expect to have to do some fitting, because walls are not always plumb. Measure the gap at both the top and the bottom, adding 1/16 inch to each measurement. Use a plane or sander to trim the filler piece to the correct size, slightly beveling its angled edge so that the finished surface is wider than the unfinished surface.

• Putting in peninsula or island cabinets? First install two 2 x 2 cleats on the floor. Distance the cleats so that cabinets can slip over them, then finish by securing the cabinets to the cleats.


Bob Vila’s Guide to Kitchen Appliance Care

Your kitchen appliances work hard for you—they wash, chill, grind, freeze, heat, broil and bake—so do your part keep them in good working order.

Appliance Care

Photo: shutterstock.com

Your kitchen contains more appliances than any other room in the house. When the units are in good condition, there’s not a single meal that can’t be mixed, baked, fried, frozen, or disposed of. But keeping your appliances humming along requires know-how—and some care and maintenance. Familiarize yourself with the ins and outs of these crucial kitchen helpers to keep them in ideal working condition throughout their lifespans.

Dishwashers

Refrigerators

Garbage Disposals

Ovens and Cooktops

Range Hoods

 

DISHWASHERS
Dishwashers are not only a great modern convenience, but it also turns out that they can use less water than it takes to wash dishes by hand. To get this eco-benefit, however, you need to run your dishwasher only when it’s full and make sure to maintain it properly. Here are the basics of routine dishwasher maintenance (for unit-specific repairs, consult your owner’s manual):

  • Check hoses for loose connections, clogs, or leaks, and replace if needed.
  • Remove buildup inside the spinning arms using a slender tool, such as needle-nose pliers or a toothpick.
  • Regularly wipe the gasket (the rubber or plastic seal around the door), edges, and underside of the door to ensure a clean seal.
  • Inspect the inside bottom of the washer, where wastewater exits the appliance. If you suspect there is buildup inside the drain, consult your manual to disassemble the cover and clean inside the drain.

REFRIGERATORS
The average lifespan of a fridge is 10 to 15 years, but that number can vary widely depending on how well the appliance is taken care of. If you must buy a new fridge, it’s important to consider the depth, door swing, style (for example, French door, bottom freezer, or top freezer), and special features that you might want, in addition to aesthetic choices like color. Follow these tips to promote the longevity of this valuable appliance:

  • Clean the interior shelves and shell of your refrigerator every few months.
  • Regularly remove debris from the drain hole and drip tray of your fridge; check the owner’s manual for instructions.
  • Once or twice a year, unplug the fridge, pull it away from the wall, and clean the coils with a vacuum cleaner.
  • Check the gaskets (door seals) regularly, wipe them down, and give them the “dollar bill test”: Close the door on a dollar bill; if you can easily remove it, the seal isn’t tight enough. If this is the case, call a professional to repair the gasket.

GARBAGE DISPOSALS
Installing a garbage disposal is not so difficult for a moderately skilled DIYer, and you can expect that the average disposal will last 10 to 12 years. Ensure a long life by running the garbage disposal frequently and heeding these tips:

  • Run water during use and for at least 20 seconds after you finish. Cold water causes grease and oils to solidify so they can be chopped up before reaching the trap.
  • Items like chicken bones and coffee grounds will dull the blades quickly and shorten the lifespan of your appliance, so take care not to put any hard materials (or corrosive chemicals) down the disposal. For a more complete list of the dos and don’ts, consult these guidelines and your owner’s manual.

OVENS AND COOKTOPS
Ovens come in a variety of options, such as gas or electric, conventional or convection, freestanding or built-in, as do cooktops—think gas, electric, or induction; smoothtop or coils. Because of this variation, always consult your owner’s manual before attempting any maintenance or repairs, and always unplug the unit or cut off power at the service panel.

  • If your oven is a standard, non-self-cleaning model, you’ll need to ventilate well, protect your skin and eyes, and spend some quality time with a scrub brush and a heavy-duty oven cleaner.
  • If your oven is a self-cleaning model, you just need to run it through the cleaning cycle and wipe up the resulting ash with a damp cloth. Manufacturers often recommend removing the racks first to keep them from discoloring; consult your manual. Do not clean a self-cleaning oven the old-fashioned way.

RANGE HOODS
Range hoods prevent smells, smoke, heat, and grease from floating around the kitchen. There are several types available, each one with its own benefits and drawbacks.

  • Vented hoods are ducted to the outside to completely remove smells, smoke, and heat from the room. The length of your exhaust duct will affect your choice of hood. If your hood will be mounted to an exterior wall, your duct can be short; if it will be mounted to an interior wall, the duct will probably be longer and you’ll need a more powerful hood. Vent hoods use aluminum filters to trap grease, which need to be washed (in a dishwasher or by hand) once a month, on average.
  • Non-vented hoods (also known as ductless or recirculating hoods) pull air through a charcoal filter before pumping it back into the kitchen. It’s important to change these filters every few months.
  • Hoods come in a variety of installation styles, including undercabinet, chimney, pro, island, downdraft, and power packs (inserts). Conduct thorough research before deciding which style is the right fit for your kitchen.

Bob Vila’s Guide to Kitchen Countertops

The countertop you choose has a big impact on your kitchen's appearance and functionality. Let our handy guide help you pick the right countertop material for your needs.

Kitchen Countertop Materials - Corian

Photo: 1stchoicecabinets.com

Kitchen makeovers are among the most popular of home improvements. They can be costly—a mid-range minor kitchen remodel that includes new countertops, appliances, cabinet fronts, and hardware runs close to $20,000, according to Remodeling magazine’s 2011-2012 Cost vs. Value Report. But the expense has a payoff—upon resale, kitchen renovations can reap a return on investment upwards of 50 percent.

With so much at stake, it’s important to choose materials wisely. This is particularly true of the countertop, one of the most prominent features in any kitchen. There are a dizzying array of materials to consider; each material has its own features and benefits, as well as drawbacks and maintenance requirements. Use our kitchen countertop guide to help you find the material that best suits your home’s needs—and gets you one step further down the road to a successful renovation.

MATERIALS

Solid Surface

Marble

Granite

Hardwood

Soapstone

Quartz

Concrete

Tile

Stainless Steel

Laminate

SOLID SURFACE countertops are designed to withstand years of wear. They resist stains, moisture, sunlight, and heat, and come in a full range of colors to complement any kitchen design.

  • Solid surface countertops can be made with an integrated sink.
  • Fine scratches or stains can be buffed out of solid surface countertops with a mild abrasive.
  • Although a plastic-like patina may develop on the surface over time, this can easily be removed by a professional.

MARBLE appeals to serious cooks because it is durable and scorch resistant.

  • Naturally porous, the material is susceptible to etching. Chemical corrosion can be buffed out with marble polish. Oil stains can be removed with ammonia, hydrogen peroxide, or mineral spirits, and food stains can be lifted with a water-based paste of baking soda and dish soap.

GRANITE offers natural beauty and near diamond-hard durability, making it an ideal material for countertops.

  • It resists heat, scratches, and stains—and most granites require no sealing.
  • Because it is nonporous, granite also protects against mold and mildew.
  • To find out if your granite is adequately sealed, splash some water on the surface. If the water is still beaded up 10 or 15 minutes later, your granite is properly sealed. If the water has absorbed, head to the hardware store; sealing is quick and inexpensive.
Kitchen Countertop Materials - Butcher Block

Photo: hgtvremodels.com / Grothouse Lumber Company

HARDWOODS like maple, mahogany, and cherry, as well as current popular choices like madrone, add warmth to any kitchen and can be refinished numerous times, aging beautifully.

  • For long-lasting butcher block wood countertops, apply mineral oil monthly. Non-butcher block wood countertops do best with marine oil, which keeps the stain from fading.
  • Marks and burns can be sanded out of wood, and stains are easily removable with lemon juice or hydrogen peroxide.

SOAPSTONE is extremely durable and impervious to virtually all chemicals.

  • Because it is nonporous and does not react to chemicals or temperature variations, it is resistant to staining and scorching, and does not require sealing.
  • It can be left to age naturally or sealed for a darker, richer look.
  • Nicks and scratches are common, adding to the countertop’s rugged patina. Slight discoloration from contact with oil can be rubbed out with mineral oil.

QUARTZ SURFACING countertops are made of crushed natural quartz blended with color pigments and plastic resins.

  • The nonporous material offers hygienic antibacterial benefits and does not need to be sealed.
  • Quartz countertops are heat, stain, and scratch resistant.
  • If stains do occur, a paste of hydrogen peroxide and flour, applied and left to sit for 24 hours, will lift a spot right out.

CONCRETE is a favorite of those who want an industrial look. It is extremely versatile and can take on many different colors, shadings, patterns, and sheens.

  • Concrete countertops can be poured in place or fabricated off-site and installed later. Dedicated DIYers can construct their own fairly easily, as well.
  • Concrete countertops should be specially sealed to avoid staining. Applying tung oil a few times a year can keep them stain resistant, and wax can be applied for a glossier look.

TILE is favored for its durability and affordability. It comes in various colors, sizes, and textures, and can be made of porcelain, ceramic, or stone.

  • Tiling is an attainable DIY project—just be sure to seal the grout used between the tiles to ward off bacteria.

STAINLESS STEEL countertops are particularly well suited to the areas around cooktops and ranges where hot pots and pans are placed, or center islands where food prep and serving are the main focus.

  • Scratches are inevitable with a stainless steel surface, but they can be buffed out with an abrasive pad.
  • Prevent rusting by keeping cast iron pans away from the counter. Any rust stains that do occur may be eliminated with a paste of lemon juice and baking soda.

LAMINATE provides a budget-friendly countertop with a retro look.

  • The material is fairly durable but not heat resistant.
  • Installation is relatively quick, which helps to keep costs down.
  • A simple paste of baking soda and water left on a laminate surface for three to five minutes will remove most stains, while difficult stains may be fought using household bleach rubbed in gently with a cotton ball.

5 Questions to Ask Yourself Before a Kitchen Renovation

Before beginning the project, ask yourself some basic questions in order to make sure you end up with the kitchen of your dreams.

Photo: sabineshome.com

Can it be that updating your kitchen changes life for the better? For Sabine Schoenberg, there’s no doubt about it. “Kitchens are nurturing spaces for the body and soul,” says Schoenberg, founder of SabinesHome.com and author of Kitchen Magic: Secrets to Successful Kitchens. “Even small improvements in your kitchen can have a profound impact on your quality of life.”

Before any work can begin, however, Schoenberg advises that you ask yourself a series of questions. The exercise can help you pinpoint and (just as important) articulate the goals of your project. “Don’t rush through this fun discovery phase,” she says. “Enjoy the opportunity to think through what’s important to you and your family to create your perfect kitchen.”

 

1. KITCHENS PAST

Kitchen Remodeling Design Tips - Inspiration

Photo: kentinteriors.com

In your most fond memories of the kitchen where you grew up, which features of the room usually stand out? It might be the paint color on the walls, the material of the countertop, a particular type of table, or the presence of a sunny window. Should fresh inspiration fail, let those recollections guide your choices.

 

2. PRIMARY MOTIVATION

Kitchen Remodeling Design Tips - Banquette

Photo: streeterhomes.com

What’s the main reason you’re remodeling the kitchen? Don’t lose sight of your primary motivation, be it more light, more storage, or a more efficient workflow. Taking the time now to develop a firm grasp of your priorities will help you make some tough decisions at later stages of the process.

 

3. SENSE OF STYLE 

Kitchen Remodeling Design Tips - Style

Photo: apdarchitects.com

When you envision your dream kitchen, what are its design characteristics? Is it ultramodern or quaintly country? Does stainless steel or natural wood appear on the finishes? Browse shelter magazines and websites, identifying the commonalities that exist between those images you find most appealing.

 

4. JUST ONE THING

Kitchen Remodeling Design Tips - One Thing

Photo: klaffs.com

What is the one feature you wouldn’t be able to forgive yourself for not including in your kitchen renovation? Whether it’s a splurge item—a commercial oven, for instance—or simply cookbook storage space, adjust the budget of your project so that once completed, your new kitchen perfectly fits your ongoing lifestyle.

 

5. KITCHENS FUTURE

Kitchen Remodeling Design Tips - Future

Photo: jackrosen.com

Close your eyes and imagine yourself in the finished space. Do you feel happy because the sun is streaming in, organized because there is a place for everything (and everything is in its place), or social because you can entertain guests while cooking? Be sure to discuss your vision with your architect or contractor.


Bob Vila Radio: Reface or Replace?

Before ripping out your existing cabinets, think about keeping the frames intact and refacing the cabinet and drawer fronts.

Are your kitchen cabinets dated and worn? Or maybe they’re just too dark for your taste. New cabinets can be a costly proposition, so you may first want to consider refacing.

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Listen to BOB VILA ON REFACING CABINETS or read the text below:

Refacing Cabinets

Photo: shutterstock.com

When you reface cabinets, you replace the cabinet and drawer fronts but keep the frames (the overall cabinet structure). You then typically refinish the cabinet’s front and end pieces to match the new faces.

Refacing is quicker and less disruptive than replacing, and it’s significantly less expensive. But mind you, nothing is truly cheap: You may be surprised at the quotes you get, so shop around.

Particularly if color is your only beef with the current cabinets, a cheaper, easier, and DIY-friendly option may be to simply refinish the existing cabinetry yourself. But beware: Doing it yourself can be a messy, time-consuming project.

Refacing isn’t always the right choice. If you hate your cabinets’ layout or functionality, you may find yourself going through the expense of refacing only to rip it all out in a few years. And if your cabinets are poorly constructed or in any way compromised, don’t reface. Why throw good money after bad?

Bob Vila Radio is a newly launched daily radio spot carried on more than 75 stations around the country (and growing). You can get your daily dose here, by listening to—or reading—Bob’s 60-second home improvement radio tip of the day.


Pro Tips: How to Save $ on Kitchen Remodeling

A budget-friendly kitchen remodel can be in your future, says architect Mark LePage, if you plan well, shop smart—and resist temptation.

Budget Kitchen Renovation Tips

Photo: ikea.com

Anyone with a kitchen that’s older than this century has probably entertained thoughts of a redo, although just mentally adding up the potential cash outlay may be enough to send the project straight to the back burner. But never fear: Careful shopping and creative money-saving strategies can help move a kitchen update from the to-do list to reality.

As you might expect, careful shopping for the big-ticket items will yield the most significant savings. Paring ten percent or more off the cost of cabinets and appliances will leave a lot more cash in your wallet than purchasing, say, a discounted light fixture or faucet—though small savings can add up, too.

To get your shopping off to a good start, step away from the professional appliances. They can be real budget-busters. The good news is that quite a few of the major home appliance manufacturers have mimicked the pro look, delivering robust styling in sleek stainless steel at steep savings. Since these appliances are designed for the home market, they may even have amenities that some pro versions lack, such as easy-care sealed-unit gas burners and self-cleaning ovens.

Consider Your Needs
Moving beyond appearance, keeping your lifestyle and culinary needs in mind when shopping for appliances can help save some bucks. If most of your meal preparation consists of plating takeout or heating prepared foods, a multi-burner, high-BTU cooktop or double oven will likely offer way more firepower then required. This could be a good place to scale back.

Related: 7 Budget-Friendly Kitchen Makeover Tips

Keep an eye out for appliance options and extras, and skip the ones you won’t use or don’t need. For example, a lot of refrigerators come equipped with external water dispensers—some even offer a choice of cubed or crushed ice. It’s a neat feature, but one that wouldn’t get a daily or even weekly workout in some households. Finding a model without these goodies would benefit your bottom line.

Budget Kitchen Renovation Tips - Plywood Cabinets

Maple Plywood Kitchen Cabinets. Photo: cltad.arts.ac.uk

Mix it Up with High-Low
When it comes to cabinetry, home remodelers can learn a lesson from clothes-conscious fashionistas, who have always found ways of making a statement with a kind-to-the-budget blend of high and low. Just as the well dressed and the beautiful can make headlines by pairing a Gap T-shirt with a couture skirt, savvy kitchen remodelers can create a stir at home by mixing and matching items from big box stores and boutiques.

Architect Mark R. LePage, AIA, president and partner in charge of operations at Fivecat Studio in Pleasantville, NY, recommends dressing up simple, budget-conscious IKEA cabinets with decorative high-end knobs and pulls.

Pairing IKEA cabinet boxes with custom wood doors and drawers is another of his money-saving strategies, as is using open wooden shelving in place of the lower cabinets. LePage likes to shop at commercial kitchen supply houses for open stainless steel shelving and rolling carts, which make versatile and smart-looking storage units. Though low cost, they tend to play nicely with upscale kitchen elements.

Plywood Can Be Beautiful
Sealed plywood cabinets are an affordable option, according to LePage. Made of wood veneer layers from trees like spruce, birch, or tropical hardwood, plywood often has a bold, distinctive grain and can be decorative as well as durable.

Related: 10 New Ways to Store Kitchen Necessities

Cabinet savings can go more than skin deep. Instead of ordering units equipped with built-in rollouts and dividers, consider retrofitting them from the array of less-expensive ready-made items available through storage specialty shops, catalogs, and big box stores. It’s also fun to improvise your own in-cabinet storage solutions: Stamp your kitchen with personal style by combining storage bins, boxes, and baskets in a mix of sizes, colors, textures and materials.

Budget Kitchen Renovation Tips - Laminate Countertops

Photo: formica.com

Resist Temptations
Cutting cabinetry costs may make it tempting, and possible, to splurge on an extravagant countertop. Resist the temptation. There are lots of ways to get good-looking and well-functioning counters at a smart price, especially by aiming for that high-low blend. Use pricey materials such as stone or wood sparingly; focus them on specific workstations for tasks like baking or chopping. Topping the remainder of your counter space with less expensive surfaces (e.g., laminates).

LePage suggests dressing up laminate countertops with wood or stainless steel edging for a custom look. He also likes to create counters by repurposing salvaged materials such as stone, stainless steel or wood.

Consider Tiles over Slabs
For those who love the look of natural stone like granite, marble, and even alabaster, tiles are typically more affordable than the bigger, thicker slabs that must be custom cut to fit. Ranging in size from petite mosaics to 12-inch squares to even larger rectangles, and available in a seemingly unlimited variety of colors and patterns, stone tiles are a versatile option for counters, floors, backsplashes and elsewhere. Again, there are almost endless mixing and matching options, with the luxe-looking natural stone employed sparingly as accents, borders, or to create a pattern in a surface otherwise dominated by wood, ceramic tile, or another less expensive material.

DIY Your Backsplash
The backsplash can be a place to let your imagination—and your do-it-yourself chops—run wild. Applied to the walls, sheet metal such as copper, galvanized aluminum, stainless steel or traditional tin ceiling panels can add a touch of bling to the room. LePage likes using broken colored glass for a lively and nontraditional backsplash mosaic. Or recycle your broken pottery shards, tile scraps, and other ceramic odds and ends into a pique assiette pattern, reminiscent of the playful works of the Catalan architect Antoni Gaudi.

With a combination of careful shopping, imagination, flexibility and creativity, you can plan your way to an affordable new kitchen.


Weekend Projects: Kitchen Countertops the DIY Way

Subject to wear and tear day in and day out, kitchen countertops must be updated eventually. With DIY countertops, homeowners enjoy not only savings, but one-of-a-kind results.

No matter where you live, a Chicago apartment or a rural Montana ranch, kitchen counters see a great deal of wear and tear. It’s only a matter of time before they must be refurbished or replaced. While even experienced remodelers have been known to shy away from countertop installation, we can think of at least two reasons to try tackling this project yourself: money savings and one-of-a-kind results. Scroll down to see five affordable and creative ways in which homeowners like you have handled DIY countertops successfully, and with flair.

 

1. OPT FOR AN OLD DOOR

DIY Countertops - Door Counter

Photo: themustardceilingblog.com

Have you heard the one about The Mustard Ceiling turning three oak doors into a gorgeous countertop for $100? There’s no punchline—they actually did it. Using the preexisting laminate as a template, the couple cut the doors to shape, before sanding and staining them for a rough-hewn yet refined look.

 

2. GO STAINLESS

DIY Countertops - Stainless Steel

Photo: christonium.com

Opinions are divided over stainless steel. Some say it’s chic and easy to clean; others insist that it scratches too easily and is appropriate only for utility spaces like the laundry room. One thing is for certain: it’s not cheap. That said, The Home Project managed to install stainless steel DIY countertops for under $500!

 

3. CHOOSE CONCRETE

DIY Countertops - Concrete

Photo: imperfectlypolished.com

For good reason—it’s affordable, durable, and pretty darn cool-looking—concrete is becoming ever more popular in DIY countertops. Thank goodness that Imperfectly Polished makes it oh-so-simple with a trio of step-by-step tutorials: prep and planningpouring and curing, and sand, seal, wax and enjoy.

 

4. PICK PENNIES

DIY Countertops - Pennies

Photo: domesticimperfection.com

In the past, we’ve seen pennies used to surface backsplashes and flooring. Now Domestic Imperfection demonstrates how they can look like a million bucks in DIY countertops. The cost? Literally pennies! Other unlikely countertop materials include pebbles, vase gems, coasters and license plates.

 

5. REHAB RIGHT

DIY Countertops - Distressed Wood

Photo: buckhouseblog.wordpress.com

No time? No energy? No money? Rather than replace them, make the very best of your existing countertops. If yours are laminate, a low-cost yet high-impact option is resurfacing. For wood, either apply a new stain or experiment with a distressed finish, following in the footsteps of the Buckhouse blog.