DIY Master Or DIY Disaster?
Your kitchen countertops are due for a makeover, but the cost of a contractor seems excessive. You’d like to try it yourself, but you’re not sure if the time, energy and effort of a DIY project are worth the savings. Make the right countertop decision with a little help from the experts.
Types of countertop makeovers
The decision to tackle a DIY counter project may depend greatly on the type of makeover you want to see. The labor and expense, as well as the risk, are much higher when you consider hand-cutting and installing stone countertops than if you just plan on sanding and painting over your laminate surfaces. The greatest risk when undergoing a DIY project is making a mistake that could require starting over or calling a contractor for help. If the financial risk of a potential mistake is too great– you may want to leave your countertop makeover to the professionals.
Single-slab surfaces include stone counters made from marble, granite and quartz, or other materials like concrete or wood. While some of these surfaces are more expensive than others, each of them requires something called templating. Cathy Hobbs, a celebrity interior designer explains this process, "Cut outs are created out of a single slab to allow the holes necessary for a sink, faucet, counter surface appliances, etc. One wrong cut can ruin the entire slab." With stone surfaces ranging anywhere from $35.00 to $65.00 per square foot, ruining a single slab could set you back a pretty penny. Hobbs' take on DIY single-slab projects is simple, "Sorry folks, I would definitely 'not try this at home.'"
Taking on a DIY laminate countertop makeover may be worth the cost, but it depends on how you make them over. There are kits available that walk you through the sanding, painting and sealing process for a good temporary countertop update. These makeovers are fairly labor intensive and require close attention to detail, but they're relatively inexpensive and carry a low financial risk if you make a mistake.
If you'd rather completely replace your laminate counters, you'll probably want to get a contractor involved. The countertops themselves are fairly inexpensive, but when you add the cost of tools and time, you're looking at a price similar to the upfront cost for installation.
If you're feeling handy and you're set on installing countertops yourself, tile may be the way to go. You can choose from a wide variety of tile styles to get the look you want and you can even create designs by staggering different colored tiles across the counter. Tiles are less expensive than slab, and if you make a mistake you can simply replace individual pieces. You may even be able to get instructions on tile installation from home improvement stores that specialize in DIY projects.
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