Wednesday, February 19, 2014

kitchen counter problems

We've been in our house for ten months now.  Most of the "Phase One" projects in our house have been completed--all the walls have been painted, plumbing repaired, mold remediated, floors installed.  Except the kitchen.  We painted the walls, but otherwise have left it alone.

Our kitchen is perfectly adequate.  It is large, has a ton of counter space, has nice floors, and has more storage than we need.

That peninsula counter is a crap magnet, but, it is a very good crap magnet.  It holds lots of crap.

We hope to renovate the kitchen down the road....wayyyyy down the road, say 7-ish years.  (There are many, many, many other projects in line ahead of the kitchen.)  In the meantime, the kitchen could use a refreshing of paint and hardware, since most of the cabinets are chipped and covered in a thick gloppy layer of oil paint. All the hinges are also covered in (multiple) thick, gloppy layers of paint.

I had big plans to get started on painting this kitchen this spring, but after the bathroom vanity fiasco (here and here), I am procrastinating on that project.

Aside from the cabinet issues, I have been exploring ways to fix our counters.  The counters are covered in square tiles, which are in pretty good shape.  I do not particularly like tile counters, and they are impossible to keep clean, but they are functional and would last for a while.  However, our issue is the grout.

Some previous owner PAINTED the grout using regular latex paint.  I have a few words to say to this person should I ever lay my hands on them. (They will not be kind words.)

Some parts of the counter have thick, peeling layers of paint.  While this looks terrible and disgusting, this seems like it would be easy to remove with a stripper.

Other parts have thin layers of paint that I'm betting will take many hours of scrubbing with stripper and wire bristle brush.

As a full reno of this kitchen is very far in the future, and I have peeling paint on my food prep surfaces, I am looking for an inexpensive fix to this problem.  I foresee a few problems.  I don't want to spend a ton of money on these counters.  I am the only one in this house with free time to spend on this type of project; the Mister works very long hours and it is not really feasible for us to DIY new countertops ourselves.

Possible solution number one:  Grout Renew.
Young House Love recently did a post on cleaning the grout in their foyer floor using Grout Renew, which is basically a paint made for grout (not the house paint I currently have on my counters). I will have to spend a few weekends stripping the current paint off the counters, then another few weekends painting the counters.

This would be the cheapest option--about $15 for the Grout Renew, and $15 for the paint stripper.  The significant drawbacks to this inexpensive project is the Extreme Time Suck. I foresee this taking at least a month of weekends, if not two months of weekends.  All of the online reviews (indeed, even those happy, perky YHL kids) state that it is time consuming and tedious.

Add to the fact that I am not putting this on a floor that I can just mop clean and wait for it to dry, but rather I need to spend significant time de-paintifying the counter before I can even start the tedious job of applying Grout Renew...this just a lot of work.  A lot of work on a surface that I need to actually use on a daily basis.  I can't cart the counter out to the garage and work on it in my spare time; I'd be applying smelly chemicals to strip and then paint the counter in the heart of my home in an area that I prepare food on three times a day.

Possible Solution number two: regrouting the tile
I do not have the time or inclination to DIY this sort of messy project, again on a surface I need to use daily.  The projected cost for having a professional do it is over $1000. That is not inexpensive.

Possible solution number three: replace counters with laminate or butcher block.
This is probably just going to be too expensive.  I have over sixty square feet of counters, not including the stovetop area.  Even an inexpensive $15 sq/ft laminate is nearly $1000 when professionally installed.

Laminate also comes in long slabs that you can buy at your local big box hardware store for about $100 a slab. Butcher block can be had from Ikea for about the same price.  The problem for us is that our counter top is a U-shape with angled edges at the bottom of the U.  I don't own the tools (or chutzpah, or patience, or math skills) necessary to cut and install counters.

Playing devil's advocate: I see a full kitchen reno being 7 or more years away--$1000 for new counters for seven years might be a reasonable choice.

Possible solution number four: concrete counter top.
I would love to DIY a concrete counter top like Jenny at Little Green Notebook, but again, 99 problems.  The tile counter is not a level surface, like pouring concrete over a pre-existing laminate would be.  Many tutorials involve building a box for the counter to hold poured concrete, which is beyond my skill set (check out this example).  I've found some forums where people have troweled over tile, but reviews are mixed in both effort and durability.

It seems like my options are roll up my sleeves and get to scrubbing.  Your thoughts and ideas are welcome.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Yay! You're commenting! I love comments!