Yeah, it kind of felt like a race. A very long drawn out race.
My kitchen was hideous when we bought our house (which was built in the early 1950’s and had its last kitchen remodel in the 70’s). It boasted gun metal gray 4″x4″ tile flooring and the same ugly tiles on the counters and back splash. The worst part was, the white grout that had been originally used, had never been sealed properly and was black and stained. The cabinets were no better. Originally, they had been oak but the previous owner had painted them black, then tried to strip them and paint them white. Basically, they too were grey. It was not a pretty room and I avoided spending time in there.
To give you an idea of what we were dealing with, here’s the last tile counter in the home. It is on my next “project” list as I can’t stand to look at it in my dining room. As the buffet space, it’s very unappealing.
So, to recap…
Eearlier this year, I re-stripped the cabinets and painted them white, removed the tarnished hardware and replaced it with black updated hardware, tore out the tile flooring and put down wood planking with river rock thresholds, and built concrete counter tops ( my goal was to create a look of stone) and concreted the back splash. To be honest, I thought I was done. I mean, really, I went from the above to this. I was pretty pleased with the outcome…for about 3 days.
Yep, it took 3 days for me to realize something was WRONG!
I quickly discovered two things.
1. Concrete makes a horrible back splash. It’s much too porous.
2. AND, concrete has to be sealed with some sort of compound on a bi-weekly basis if you are using it as a counter.
So, I had to get back in the saddle and do some plan modification. Isn’t that how it always is with a remodel project?
First things first, I needed to “seal” my counters. There is this marvelous product out there that is called epoxy resin. It is quick mixing, quick curing, and can be poured as thickly or as thinly as you wish. One word of caution though, when using this product, don’t mix the whole compound at once if you aren’t going to pour it right away. You’ll just end up with a useless block of resin and if you use a plastic bucket to mix in, you’ll have a smoking block of resin. Yep, I learned that the hard way. I wish I’d gotten a picture of that, but there was a bit of a panic occurring as we tried to rush the smoking bucket out of the house.
Also, I probably should have cleaned the drill mixer faster because that hardened too and we had to replace the part. Lesson learned.
Once we figured out the “proper” way to prepare the resin (small batches at a time) and apply it (a spackle trowel worked great and each batch flowed smoothly into the last), we were ready to attack those counters.
We had prepped the space by deep cleaning the counter tops and building frames where our stove top and the sink openings were. We wrapped the frames in cling wrap so the epoxy resin wouldn’t adhere to them (remember that lesson from above?).
We also nailed in a drip catch under the counter edges, but we removed that when we realized that the epoxy could be shaped over the rounded counter top edges with very little drippage. We stapled up drop clothes instead to protect the cabinets and floor and went to town.
As you can see, the resin is very slow moving, almost like honey. And joy of joys, it is self-leveling!!!!
The whole application took only 1 hour ( I actually spent more time prepping the area). We then let the kitchen cure for 72 hours and voila’, the easiest cleaning counter spaces you’ve ever seen.
AND I didn’t lose my “stone” look I was going for when I decided on concrete.
With the counters done, it was time to attack the back splash areas. The resin would not work on the vertical areas so I had to get creative. Tile was out of the question. No way would I bring tile BACK into my kitchen. Inspiration struck when I saw some plastic “metal” ceiling tiles at Home Depot.
Steel sheeting is pretty easy to work with and if you get thin enough sheets, cutting it is simple. With a lot of measuring, we put up the sheeting and wrapped it around the exposed edges of the concrete. We flamed the bottom edge that sits on top of the counter so that it gives the illusion of a slightly uneven flow from counter to back splash.
To hide seams and to enhance the metallic features, I did bring back some tiles. Yeah, I know I said I wouldn’t, but these accent tiles couldn’t have been more perfect. They were the right size, the right material, the right hue… God’s little joke on me. I should learn to never say “NEVER”.
I used glass metallic accent tile to cover the seams and edges that were exposed.
Lastly, because steel does rust and sinks and stove areas tend to need lots of damp wiping, We put up steel flashing that had been pattern-stamped.
Now, I have a kitchen I am proud of. Guess the family likes it too, because we spend a lot of time in it in the evenings.
Hard to believe that it started out looking like this.