Monday, April 20, 2015

Don't do this: a Pinterest fail story

I've made no secret of the fact that I don't like my kitchen. It's a typical midcentury modest kitchen, except with no redeeming features to make it cool or worth saving. The cabinets were ugly and dirty with faded and scratched stain when we moved in, and the countertops weren't too aesthetically offensive except that the previous owners screwed something into them, plus they're chipped and scratched and they stain when you look at them wrong. The avocado sink had no redeeming features even before it chipped. The whole thing was just worn out. A gut remodel is not within a thousand miles of my budget, though, so I'm constantly on the lookout for some sort of miracle DIY that will improve the kitchen even a little bit. I painted the cabinets and the laminate backsplash, which improved things a little bit, but when I saw this on Pinterest my interest was piqued. I've tried to stay away from countertop DIYs because, as someone who's tried a lot of them, they always look like DIYs to me. But I kind of figured it was a win-win: if it worked, it would be cute. If it didn't work, well, I have to replace the countertops anyway, right? And maybe if the project failed but the substrate still looked OK I could get a sheet of laminate and just re-laminate the counters. What I failed to take into account was that I wasn't planning on replacing the countertops, in any form, right this second, nor was there money to do that. But you know how these things go. I was eager to get started. Maybe I could even get it done before B got home from work and surprise him! Ha.

So here we go on a photo journey through my failure. Oh, and a note about the pictures: some of these are from my camera, but once I got going I forgot to take pictures except the few times I took cell phone pictures to send to my mom to keep her up to date on how big of a mistake this was. I am not a good blogger.

First up, the backsplash had to go.

No turning back now! Well, I mean, I could still keep the countertops, but...

Nope, no turning back. Setback number one: this is not particleboard or MDF or whatever the hell the underlayment in the Pinterest project was. It was wood. Stupid 1960s construction. But maybe it's planks! I mean, plywood existed well before 1968 so it's probably not, but it might be, right?

Shocker.

So at this point, I was still confident. I mean, the plywood was very dry and splintery and, not to put too fine a point on it, shitty. But I persevered because what choice did I have?

I had to stop because that counter is in the darkest area of the kitchen and it was getting dark, so I decided to use the evening to do some research. The general consensus on the internet is that you should just rip out laminate countertops rather than try and restrip and replace the laminate, unless you very recently applied the laminate. If that's the case, you can use heat or acetone to get the laminate off. Well, 47 years ago isn't recent, but I decided to give acetone a shot. It worked, kind of. I mean, the laminate did come up easier. But it also came up in smaller pieces, and the front was flaking apart from the back. I kept on, though, until I tore a huge chunk of plywood out. Like, almost entirely through the entire board huge. And you know I forgot to take a picture. I can patch a lot of stuff, especially if I were still planning to paint. But when I saw that hole, I was just done. I know when to hold 'em, and I know when to fold 'em. I gave up and played with Baby Girl and watched Property Brothers for the rest of the day.

And what did I do with the counter I destroyed?

It's the flooring version of duck tape: sticky tiles. I bought a 4' countertop at Menards that actually looks pretty decent, considering it cost $17. But I need to cut 6" off of it, and I'm working up my nerve. My plan is to stage this as a beverage center or something like that; it's different because it's supposed to be, not because I totally screwed up! We've decided to take the plunge and put the house on the market in a few weeks, so it'll have to be better than sticky tiles.

I'm glad this project worked for the original blogger (and her project looks really good, too) but I would say unless you know exactly what's underneath your laminate, or unless you're ready to fork out the money for new counters if this goes bad--something that's a little more expensive for me because I have to custom order since we have a peninsula--either skip this project or try it somewhere that you can pass off as a beverage station if it doesn't end well.

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