“Counter” Productive

I made good progress on the counter. Actually the counter part is done. It’s just finishing up the tile.

I have never worked with laminate sheets before and I was really nervous about it.  I was saying to John that it is ridiculous to be so scared because I have gutted any entire kitchen, for goodness sake! Any other project like painting or tiling if you break a tile or screw up paint line, those are easy to fix and don’t really delay stuff. I knew if I made a mistake on the laminate that I would have to order another sheet and wait another week. But, I worked out and gym in the morning and then just put on my big girl pants and got to work.

The sheets were 30 inches by 8 feet, so a little awkward to work with, especially by myself.  I borrowed a router from my dad so I could trim the edges of the laminate.  It took me a long time to cut the laminate because I was trying to figure out the best method for cutting since I had a couple seams in the counter top itself because it is too long for a single sheet, plus it is an L.  I ended up with the best cut with a circular saw.  I really don’t like power saws. They just make me nervous. Anyway, a  new blade with lots of teeth and that did the job!


Once the pieces were cut, you layer the counter and the back of the laminate with contact cement.


PEEE -EWWWW!  This stuff stinks to high heaven. This would have been a better summer project.  Anyway, contact cement doesn’t stick to anything but itself, but once it sticks, it is stuck. Once the surface is dry to the touch (about 15 minutes), you separate the 2 pieces with dowels or scrap wood. This way you can get it lined up perfect before pressing the pieces together. It’s cool how the wood doesn’t stick to the contact cement, but as soon as the 2 surfaces touch, boom – stuck together. I pulled the piece out from the middle and worked towards each end, rolling with a rolling pin to adhere and push any bubbles towards the ends. Worked like a charm!


I did have an accident, though.  I wore gloves pretty much all the time, but I don’t when using the saw because I don’t want anything to possibly get in the way. Besides, gloves won’t save your digits. Anyway, after I was done cutting, I forgot to put my gloves back on and was carrying the 2nd big sheet of laminate inside. Guess what? Cut laminate is razor sharp. I got a deep gash on the pad of my ring finger.  That delayed the project for a bit as I had to get it to stop bleeding, which took forever. Safety first, always! Look what happens with a small lapse. I probably could have used a couple stitches in it, but the last time I had stitches they hurt more than the cut itself – and who wants to pay for that? Anyway, it sucks because typing is my job and it is mildly sore for that, but I can’t play guitar for a few days because of the pressure. Boo!

After I got the countertops done, I tried routing to get a clean edge. It was not working. The router was moving so slow and then it would start burning the edge of the laminate (good thing I left a lot of overhang).   I fussed and fiddling with this for a while and got quite frustrated. When things don’t work right, 95% of the time it is user error, so I knew I had to be doing something wrong. I finally figured out that I needed to set the depth of the router so it actually trimmed the laminate. The blade was barely touching, which was the problem. Triple d’uh.  I wasted a couple hours messing with that.  Of course, it dawned on me later that I should have just called my dad and asked him and had the problem solved in 5 minutes. 🙄



Then it was tile time. I tried a new product for tiling called SimpleMat and let me tell you – this stuff is great! 


Normally tiling is laying down the adhesive, setting tile, letting it dry for a day and then grouting.  This stuff is sticky on the back of the mat and had adhesive for the tile on it. You cut it to size and peel the backing off and stick to your surface.


Then you peel off the clear plastic and stick the tile on. Example of this not on the wall. 


This was so, so easy! And not messy. I laid all the tile (minus the cut pieces) in about 30 minutes.  It took about 15 or 20 minutes to put all the adhesive strips on, which I did last night before going to bed.


Pixie had to help, of course.  She liked the little tile spacers because she can bat them around.


 I sort of semi finished stuff today to get the sink back in action. I grouted and caulked behind the sink and reinstalled that and will have to finish off the grouting and wood trim this week.


I have to say that I am liking this new surface!  That’s it for today’s installment of Handy Ma’am!

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34 thoughts on ““Counter” Productive

  1. debby

    Well, I admire you, and it looks great, but I had the opposite reaction of deb–NO WAY am I going to do that stuff myself. Now if I could make a quilted countertop….
    debby´s last blog post ..The Weekend

  2. Shelley B

    Oh wow, that looks really great! The tile backsplash really pops, too. I’m with Debby, though – I will watch you do this, but no way would I try it myself. However, I do need to get Jeff relaminating the counter in our laundry room. Wonder if I could talk him into doing tile, too?
    Shelley B´s last blog post ..Friday Mishmash

  3. Kathy W.

    I’ve done things like that with the razor-sharp edges. It’s like a paper cut on steroids!

    The counter and tile look beautiful!! I’m sure you added to the resale value of your house, too (as they say on HGTV). 🙂

  4. Satu

    My kitchen counter so needs your touch! I could send you a picture… 🙂 Well, if I had extra money I could maybe do something like that myself.

    Pixie looks very frisky participating in the project.
    Satu´s last blog post ..Why journal your food?

  5. Helen

    I had to go to Home Depot yesterday to get a new CO detector and there was a big sign for a free women only workshop for making a backsplash using that tile! I am seriously considering going. I am so not good at stuff like this but I think it’s more fear based than anything else.

    Your finished work looks GREAT!
    Helen´s last blog post ..Visionary Friday Five

  6. Linda E.

    Simply beautiful. We also used that simple mat stuff in our bathroom remodel, so easy! We were very worried about doing tile work, and it turns out with that stuff it’s so simple. We however, did not attempt to re-surface the counters and just ordered a new one then installed it. One was 72″ the other 30″ and the cost was still relatively low at $1000. Some liquid nails and presto chango and new bathroom. Good work! I really can’t wait to see pictures and projects from Casa Radiance when you finally get in there.

    1. Lori Post author

      That stuff is crazy easy! So much better than adhering tile and getting the mastic even. I am totally sold on it. I would have loved new counters all together, but it would be too much $$ to put into it.

  7. Ali @ Peaches and Football

    I’m glad you didn’t show a picture of the finger gash. It probably would have made me a bit woozy! I love, love, love the backsplash colors. I can’t believe how easy that sticky backing looks for applying it. I think, maybe, that’s something I could manage. I definitely wouldn’t have been able to tackle the sawing, etc though. You are SO handy. It always amazes me!
    Ali @ Peaches and Football´s last blog post ..Wii Weigh-In

    1. Lori Post author

      I wouldn’t show that nasty cut LOL! You could totally do the tile. They make stuff so easy for DIY now.

  8. sandi

    I love your home improvement blog posts! You are amazing. I’m usually just the assistant. My husband is a total perfectionist when it comes to this stuff and I’m so afraid I will mess it up. I’m determined to learn how to tile though. The floors and shower walls in our bathrooms are in bad shape. Is the peel and stick for the tile meant for bathrooms too?

    1. Lori Post author

      The simplemat isn’t for showers or wet surfaces like that. You would need the waterproof backer and thinset to do those tiles. But – you can do it! Get a couple books on tiling from the library and it will explain exactly how to do a tub surround.

    2. Lori Post author

      I also realized that I misread the directions. You can use the simplemat on shower walls, but not the shower floors.

  9. emmaclaire

    Love the look of the laminate and the backsplash! You do such good work. I have been procrastinating on a tiling job on the wall behind our wood stove – do you think the simple mat would stand up to heat?

    1. Lori Post author

      I am not sure. I know it isn’t for submerged applications, but it doesn’t say anything about heat.

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