When you remodel your kitchen there are so many different decisions to make: what shade or color for the cabinets, what type of backsplash, what floor, what type of countertop? Granite and marble counters have been all the rage these last couple of years, so those might be high on many people's list. More recent popular options such as Quartz or concrete might be also be something many consider. However, there is one material that is functional, nice looking and that can be very affordable if you do the work yourself, and that is stainless steel.
our final kitchen countertop
The secret here is to not go with a large store that would install the counters for you, but to do a bit of research and be willing to do some of the work yourself. If you go that route you can end up with gorgeous counters that also cost a fraction of many other options out there. When we first started to think about counters, we were set on butcherblock counters because we love the look of nice wood! However we quickly realized we didn't want to constantly be careful and on guard for waterspots, so then we turned our attention towards stainless steel.
the old Formica counters
First up we went to our local super store - Home Depot. They quoted us $150/square foot installed, which I guess isn't super expensive, but it was definitely more than we wanted to spend. We have a really small counter, only about 20 square feet, but for that price it would still have ended up costing about $3000.
Next up we checked our local sheet metal place and they gave us the much more reasonable quote of about $400 (about $20/square foot!). This price was for ordering and bending the steel to shape, that required we did some of the work ourselves. Happy to try our hand at a new project, we agreed and went to work.
First of all we needed to make a plywood model of our counter. The old counters were Formica laminate from the 40s, and we decided we would just leave them as is and simply install the plywood and stainless steel on top of that to make it easier. This would mean a counter that was raised about an inch or so, but we did not have an issue with that at all.
So, we carefully measured our counter and cut out a plywood sheet that fit perfectly. At this point we had to remove our sink so we could cut a hole out for that on the plywood.
Darren from our local sheet metal place told us to make the plywood model pretty snug, but to leave just a little leeway so the metal wouldn't be buckling. We tried to follow his advice, and once we had our plywood model we brought it to Darren so he could get to work doing his part.
Now he worked with a 20 gauge stainless steel sheet that he made to fit right on the plywood model with a hole cut out for the sink.
A few days later Darren came by both with our plywood and our new stainless steel counter which was covered by a protective film. We tried everything on: plywood first, then stainless steel and tada - it fit almost perfectly, we just had to do chisel out a small amount of wood to make it fit perfectly.
Now when we knew it fit right, we put some liquid nails on top of the old formica counter and then fitted the plywood on top.
To make sure it was properly secured, we also put some screws in.
Then we put some more liquid nails on top of the plywood and fitted the stainless steel on top of that.
We added some weights and clamps to the counter and let it set over night.
Once we had installed the counter, we could turn our attention towards installing our new top mount stainless steel sink.
That was a project in itself, that took a fair amount of time and tinkering to get right... Once installed we added some clear silicon on the edges to protect it against water.
Darren had made sure he made a pretty wide edge to cover the extra height of the plywood on top of the old counters, and I really love how that extra height adds a nice touch. The edge is tucked in a bit, so it isn't sharp at all.
We have received some questions regarding scratching - does the stainless steel scratch easily and are we happy with it now, a few months later? I must say, we couldn't be happier with the counter.
completed kitchen remodel
It is so great because it's not sensitive. You can bang it up pretty good, and it still looks great, you don't have to be concerned about water spots, you can put hot pans on it etc… We haven't had a problem with any major scratches at all; sure you get tiny scratches all the time, but over time those small scratches almost polishes the metal and makes it look even better.
I love this technique we used here and would love to try doing it again using copper - that is if we ever get the opportunity to remodel another kitchen! Overall though, I think choosing stainless steel was a great choice. It's a natural material, it's not fake, it's extremely durable and it turned out to be cheaper than any other options around, really!