This week in the ongoing kitchen renovation chronicles: new counters! This spring I wrote a post about what we were thinking for counters, and asked for your feedback. We ultimately decided to go with what I’d had in mind all along, which is white corian counters. Corian is solid surface, which means that stains and scratches can be sanded away if needed. It has a reputation for being very durable and low maintenance, and it’s also quite affordable as far as counters go — we paid $1,033 for 30 square feet, taking advantage of a 10% off sale.
We bought the counter through Home Depot, and then they contracted with a local company to do the fabrication and install. (Update: I should have mentioned that I started by using Home Depot’s countertop estimator tool to get an estimate for the work, and then I went into a Home Depot in person to buy it. They required me to draw a picture of the counter with dimensions in more detail than the online estimator tool ever asked for, so I was glad I came prepared with my own sketch –that’s definitely a tip if you go this route too! Also the estimator said that the cutout for a top mount sink was free while in the store they had a fee associated with that, so I had to argue for them to honor the online information, which eventually they did.)
A month ago I posted about the templating process, which involved taking precise measurements:
The counter was ready for install 12 days later, but they could only install on a weekday so we needed to wait some time before I was able to take a day to work from home.
Before installation, though, we had to prep the room by taking out all the drawers and removing the old counter and sink ourselves (we could have paid for them to do this, but we wanted to save some money). Let me be clear: this was our first foray into plumbing of any kind, and neither of us had any idea what we were doing. First we turned off the water, and then the power to the garbage disposal.
We really didn’t know how to remove the garbage disposal, but we ended up following the process laid out in this video. I disconnected the wires from the disposal switch, and then we worked on the plumbing. It was a little more complicated than we expected because we couldn’t get the coupling off of the pvc drain pipe connected to our garbage disposal, so I ended up having to saw it off with a hand saw…not exactly best practices, but there didn’t seem to be any other way.
Here’s a dramatic reenactment (the expression on Sam’s face when he walked into the room and saw me sawing was horrified enough that I didn’t feel like asking him to take a photo at that moment was a great idea).
And here’s the fruits of my sawing:
Once the garbage disposal was out, we were able to undo the clips holding the sink to the counter. We were sure to salvage the garbage disposal drain from the sink so we can reuse it in our new sink.
With the sink out, we were able to remove the counter. First we pried the backsplash portion off with a hammer and screwdriver.
It was screwed in from below, so we just took out the screws with a screwdriver and then carried the counter out to our bagster.
Even though I scored the caulk along the edge of the counter with a utility knife, I obviously didn’t do a good enough job since some of the sheetrock ripped as we removed the counter:
We’ll be tiling along here, so it’s a pain but not the end of the world.
We made a really strange discovery in the corner space that’s only accessible with the counter off:
Why someone would throw a little plastic stool in there before sealing up the counters is beyond me.
A few days later, the counters were delivered and installed! It only took about 30 minutes and the guys were great.
They screwed the counter in from below, and dry fit our new sink just to be sure it fit in the opening (the task of installing the sink was all ours).
The new sink we got is the same dimensions as the old sink, but single basin — we never used the second basin in our old sink because we dry our dishes in a dish rack next to the sink, and the garbage disposal was connected to only one basin so that’s the one we relied on for washing dishes. It was impossible to soak large pans because they didn’t fit in either basin, and so the idea of a single large basin seemed like heaven. I picked out an affordable one with faucet included from Home Depot:
It’s not exactly the most beautiful, but this renovation has gone over budget in other areas and we need to choose where to invest. We can always upgrade the faucet or sink down the road if I really want to, but really it’s just fine and for $199 it was hard to beat the price.
Installation was harder than I had hoped, but ultimately successful. First I installed the garbage disposal drain in the sink (rather than the drain kit that the sink came with), which I secured down with some plumber’s putty.
Once I put the drain apparatus on from below (just reverse engineering what I had removed from the old sink), the excess putty squeezed out — it was pretty cool.
I just scraped that away with a flathead screwdriver. After that I just followed the instructions that came with the sink, but the clips to hold the sink down to the counter from below proved to be extremely difficult to use. Cramming yourself inside a sink cabinet and then trying to operate tiny little hardware up in the narrow crevices around the sink just isn’t easy. We got 6 of them in, though, and then called it quits.
It was easy to get the water hooked back up. The garbage disposal was a little tricky because of my drain-cutting decision. First I needed to cap off the part of the drain that had connected to the second sink basin, since our new sink only has one drain. I used the saw to remove the bend in the pipe:
And then used a cap that I’d gotten at Home Depot, secured with some pvc cement.
To connect the second line back to the garbage disposal, first I had to remove the portion still attached to the disposal:
I did that with a complex configuration of wrenches and clamps to apply pressure in opposite directions and get just the coupling ring to turn:
Eventually it loosened, and I was able to remove it. Whew! To prepare the drain pipe for the disposal, I had to make a clean cut with the saw right before the elbow piece, then attach a new elbow piece, a short straight length, and then a new coupling to attach to the garbage disposal. I secured it all with pvc cement.
I really have no idea what I’m doing, but nothing seems to be leaking so hopefully that was an acceptable method.
The last step was to rewire the disposal to its switch, turn back on the power and water, and give it a try! Everything seems to be working well for now, at least!
Unfortunately I don’t have that many great photos to show you, as our kitchen is currently a disaster zone — I moved everything out of the dining room to start installing the floor, and now we are living with this:
The floor installation is a harrowing and depressing story for another day, but in the meantime here are some counter/sink photos to tide you over:
As you can see, we still have the blue counter on the island — we’ll be doing butcher block there eventually. But the room already looks to much brighter with the new corian counters, and a week into having them I’m still really liking the material (obviously time will tell).