Kitchen Design/Remodeling/Kitchen Upgrade


QUESTION: I am planning to replace the kitchen countertop which is rotten from water leakage and burn but not the cabinets.  I may change the cabinet doors at a later stage.  Some say the old areas around the new cabinet doors can be touched up/painted while the others say no way.  What is your take?  If I change the entire bottom cabinets, my new countertop will be damaged and must be replaced.  True?  I really don't want to change the cabinets now because of my budget and the hassle.  Any creative ideas?
Also, is it mandatory that TWO people are needed to assemble the mitre of the countertop?  Can one person do it?  Thanks.

You are buying one of those ready made laminate tops from the big orange store with one end mitered and the open end you will have to iron on the end caps. They are very inexpensive so in the future if someone ruins the tops while removing them to replace the bases, it's really not a big deal. Besides, should you be blessed with the finances in the future to remodel your kitchen completely, you will not even want those laminate tops. They are way out of style but still around due to their low cost and easy fix.

But.......these tops are screwed in from under so to remove them in the future is simple and pain free. Just unscrew and remove. The miter bolts are easy to do with one person and a half inch or three eights open end wrench. The need for 2 people comes with the extreme difficulty of lifting a big L shaped top. And the difficulty gets worse if it has to fit between walls where now it will have to be lifted on one end and wiggled in. Ideally if you can put one end on first, then the other, and get underneath to put the bolts on would be great but is rarely possible cause you can't get under it.

Who said you can't touch up or paint the damaged areas? I am no fan of painting cabinets. It just looks horrific so I won't even go there. You can buy touch up kits or at least touch up stain pens in the big box stores. Problem is whatever color your cabinets are would likely be very old and obsolete, now have to simply find a small can of stain that matches. You can apply the stain to bad areas with a Q-tip. If there is a whole lot of damage then your only option might be to completely paint the area. I can tell you it won't last, it will peal in short order. You can sand the doors and then paint but that is a whole lot of work that I'm sure you don't want to do.

They sell toner stain spray cans. I don't know that they are available to the public in Canada, they are not here. I of course have them cause I'm in the business. Now these toner sprays will do the job. It will stick as you spray over the damaged and ugly areas. Look into this if possible. After all, I get the idea this is a temporary fix for you just to make it look nicer for awhile.

Those inexpensive counter tops are nice but only come in maybe 7 colors. Rarely can you or should you try and salvage the sink already there. If your old top has water damage then under the sink will also be. The screws that hold it will rust out and usually have to be broken to get the old sink out.

One last idea, apartments and hotels hire these people who put a fake plastic like finish over old laminate tops. It kinda does look fake but looks pretty good and makes a nice new clean counter top finish. Look into this also. In the states many of those companies won't go to private homes, only apartments and hotels. Check on that.

Hope I got all your answers covered.

Take care

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Thank you so much, Sir, for your detailed answer.  Much appreciated.  Forgive me for not being clear previously.  My countertop is L-shaped and is 116*61(inches) and is between walls.  So, I guess no choice but have it custom-made and assembled by TWO people.  Correct?  I am still confused if the two sides are assembled first in the kitchen and then placed on top of the cabinets or the two sides are put on the cabinets first and then assembled.  The top cannot be reused when I change the bottom cabinets later.  Right?  Is it possible that glue is not used to join the two sides together at the mitre but just bolts, screws etc. so it can be reused?  Forgive me if I don't make sense.  I don't know the business.  I don't plan to paint the cabinet doors.  I am wondering if I can just change the doors and paint THE OLD AREAS AROUND THE DOORS.  Maybe I can use those plastic stuff which you suggested for covering the laminate countertop around the new doors???  Just a thought.  Maybe wallpaper??  The condo is old and I don't plan to invest too much in it even if I have the money.  Thanks again.  Your info is precious.
One crazy idea:  Buy two separate ready-made countertops from the store, place them on top of the cabinets.  Don't bother joining them.  Use a big piece of glass (opaque) or a few ceramic tiles to cover up the gap.  When selling the condo just specify: countertop as is.  :>)  Custom-made countertop is about C$300.  It is the installation cost that is high.

I talked about how the installation of the L shaped tops go together but I did a poor job of it. I know it's a lot to worry about, there is a lot involved, all with the fear of cost lingering. Ok..........Yes the pre-fab laminate tops come straight or with a left and right miter and the relief for the lag bolts are also cut for the consumer. Sold separately and necessary to purchase is the bag of lag bolts, if there is an open end you will have to buy the iron laminate ends, if the top goes to the wall/s as you have, you will need side splashes to match the color top you chose. They are all precut.

Honestly I would not like to see someone with little or no experience put these tops in. Especially between walls and REALLY ESPECIALLY between 2 walls with a miter.

Since both ends die into a wall, you will need to cut each end about a quarter to three eights short on both ends. It's ok because the side splash will cover the gap. I don't know if you can get a body in the inside corner underneath the tops to put one length at a time in. If so then that is the very easy way. One person can do it. Just put one side on at a time after cutting it to size, then crawl under the cabinet and do the 4 lag bolts. Rarely is this possible though.

Likely the way you have to do this is assemble the top upside down on the floor with those lag bolts. Then with 2 people, upright the top as one piece and turn and wiggle it into position over the cabs. You will have to put this entire unit with one long end down and the short end up so it goes in on an angle. This is difficult to explain better so I hope I'm saying it so you can understand. Once the long end is in place, just lower the short end down. You can put a strip of glue or clear silicone in that seam before tightening the lag bolts while it's on the floor.

All cabinets have these little angle corner pieces at the top. Some are plastic and some wood. It's under these you screw upward into the top to secure it. Make double sure the screws are not too long to go through the top. Usually an inch and a quarter to an inch and a half long.

The side splashes are precut and most of us just put some gobs of glue, caulk or liquid nails behind them and just stick them in place on each end. Ideally a bead of clear silicone in the seems on each end at the side splash and the miter seam.

The sink. It's rare to be able to reuse the old sink. It's cheap insurance to replace it and the faucet. When you buy a sink, on the box is a dotted line. Sometimes a paper inside has the dotted line. This is your template. This you place in the desired place and draw your pencil line to cut the sink.

Tip. Place blue painters tape where the sink will be cut so when you place the template on it, the pencil marks should be on the blue tape. When you cut from the top, the saw blades pull upward so the tape prevents chipping. Most of us use a circular saw for the sink cut out and stop short of the curve corners. Here we use a jig saw to make the round corners.

Yes you can reuse the tops should you ever change the cabs. But today with all the craze for granite, you might not want to put inexpensive laminate on nice new cabinets. I tried to google countertop refinishing but all the links were in the states. Try that for your area. This link   will give you an idea what can be done with no mess or no fuss at all. It will cost a tad more then a new top but think of the time, the mess, and all the disruption in your house if you put in a new top compared to what these guys do. I really don't what it cost but I just looked it up and it claims to be cheaper to refinish rather then replace. Check out these guys in your area. That link is a franchise who are all over.

I hope I got it all covered.

Thanks my friend.

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Jim Fulloon


Dedicated professional in cabinet sales, design, installation and product knowledge for 30 years ! Extensive experience in every single area of kitchens & baths, TV entertainment centers and home office design. Working with Homeowners, Builders, and managing large new home tracts, product knowledge from wood species to box construction, plumbing, electrical and every part of home construction. Kitchen design, kitchen products, product choices, cabinet brands and levels of quality, 20/20 Vision CAD kitchen design, industry standards, well educated on wood species, wood stains and other finishing products. Familiar with and experience with about 14 major cabinet brands.


Master Cabinet Craftsman Master Kitchen Designer Kitchen Designer for famous movie stars and sports figures More then 6000 kitchens sold and installed over 28 years Thousands of photos to show off with pride Beyond expert in design, box construction and product knowledge Proud member of NKBA (National Kitchen and Bath Assn) Familiar with local codes and requirements. Volunteer with several construction related services/organizations to aid the poor. Previously elected Shop Steward and Safety Officer. Experience working with HUD and City Officials with providing cabinets for Community Redevelopment Block Grant Programs.


My book coming out soon on kitchen designs. Self published.

Ongoing educational classes by the NKBA to maintain and/or earn certifications. Volunteer my valuable free advice in other public forums. 30 years experience in the construction trades with focus on my first love....fine cabinetry.

Awards and Honors
Kitchen Designer for famous movie stars and sports figures Chosen Kitchen Designer for The Las Vegas Parade of Homes 2007

Past/Present Clients
Celine Dion Mike Tyson Robin Givins Tiger Woods 3 players from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 5 MLB baseball players 2 famous rock Musicians 1 famous Politician

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