A kitchen’s countertop is one of those things that’s almost impossible to overlook, precisely why there’s so much attention paid to them in home improvement shows. There are a wide range of material options available to homeowners, from wood to concrete, from recycled glass to acrylic, and given the tools at your disposal and your own willingness to get your hands dirty, you might be surprised which countertops you can manage to install yourself.
Let’s review a few of my faves:
Concrete countertops suit modern and rustic kitchens alike, are pretty when sealed, and the common materials needed to make them make them a popular DIY project for many homeowners. Before you get started, keep in mind that concrete countertops, even when just 1-2″ thick, are really heavy, so you’ll want to make sure that your home’s structure can support the weight. If you’re going to bring in any pros for this project, I’d recommend an engineer or contractor to give you the thumbs up before you get started.
From learning how to mix and pour the concrete to form your countertops, to learning more about creating supporting braces to carry the weight of concrete countertops, there’s lots of information available online to help DIYers. If you’re looking for a single video tutorial, this one is my favorite.
For a concrete look, many homeowners have tried the Ardex Self-Drying Cement product on for looks in their kitchens, covering undesirable countertops with a coat of the mixture to achieve the look of concrete faster, with less mess, and less weight. Kara’s kitchen makeover is an inspiring one, check it out here.
While acrylic is an affordable option, you’ll need to have it installed unless you have the heavy duty epoxies and machinery that binds the sections together (I did this in my last home, if you want to see some photos for reference). An easier DIY solution comes by way of laminate countertops, which you can customize and install easily using just a few tools. You can buy these countertops prefab at many home improvement stores, or install sheets of laminate on a hardwood or MDF base to make your own shape.
These days, there are hundreds of coloring and texture options for laminate – it’s not just your grandma’s flat matte surface anymore. Be sure to look for stone-like finishes with real sheen, as well as wooden-like, concrete-like, and marble-like finishes.
I actually have a secret goal of applying laminate sheets over the existing laminate countertop as part of my in-progress kitchen makeover, but shhh, more to come on that project. Alternatively, I could also install tile over the existing laminate countertop for a totally new look.
Wooden countertops are also a great option if you’re looking to install yourself. Butcher block is classic, with beautiful grain, a popular option both as a center island countertop or fit for the entire kitchen. There are lots of different varieties as well, including eco-friendly bamboo countertops.
Wooden countertops are convenient, because you can chop up your veggies right on it, and easy to maintain too. In the 2012 Blog Cabin house, the crews installed a magnificent cherry butcher block countertop: