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“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!

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

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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!

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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. :roll:

Done!

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

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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.

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

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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.

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

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 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.

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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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