When I bought the house, the kitchen counter was covered with white tile. In general, I'm not a fan of tile because of the difficulty of keeping grout clean. I really did not like these particular tiled counters. The grout lines were wide and slightly sunken, and the gritty sanded grout had not been sealed; I didn't feel like I could get it properly clean. Of course, the tan/brown color made the grout look perpetually dirty anyway.
I decided to see what was under the tiles. I removed one and discovered a faux wood laminate. Not terribly attractive, but at least it was a smooth surface that I could keep clean! The tiles popped off with little effort, and the thinset (or whatever they'd used) scraped off easily. In no time, I had cleared one section of counter.
I moved merrily along until I got to the corner. There I discovered that the laminate ended in a diagonal line, and beyond that, the tiles were sitting on particleboard. Ugh! Now I had two areas of exposed thinset-on-particleboard. :(
Unbelievably, my canisters fit perfectly to cover them.
On the other side of the counter, I peeked under a tile and found laminate again. Hooray! I once again began removing tiles, only to discover that a large section of the counter had been water damaged. The laminate had been pulled off in a jagged line and the remaining particleboard slathered with some kind of plaster. There was also a wide line cut into the counter, possibly from a circular saw? So much for the hooray. :(
There wasn't much I could do to fix this problem. I put down some adhesive shelf paper to cover the plaster, which was so rough as to be pointy and sharp.
I was left with a hodgepodge of laminate, tile, particleboard and shelf paper on the counters.
I lived with these ridiculous counters for quite a while. Putting stuff on them provided only slight camouflage.
Naturally, fixing the counters was a big priority in the kitchen makeover. I began by removing the remaining tile. It did not easily pop off the particleboard like it had the laminate, so I had the pleasure of smashing it into bits. I'm such a dork, I could not resist playing the "The Incredible Hulk" DVD during this process. Bane smash! :D
With the tile gone, the wooden trim now sat above the countertop by about 3/8 inch.
After investigating several options for resurfacing the counter, I decided to fill the voids with plywood and then paint on a faux finish that I hoped would resemble stone. I put down the plywood using my pneumatic nailer plus a few screws where needed. (One piece of the plywood was so warped that I actually had to sit on it to hold it flat while I drove in the screws. I hate warped plywood!) To ensure that everything would look as seamless as possible once painted, I countersunk the screws and filled them with wood filler, used small cove molding to ease the transition between backsplash and countertop, and then caulked all the seams.
The trim had been varnished with the same evil stuff as the cabinets, so I had to sand it before priming it and the plywood with grey primer.
I followed this with grey latex paint (which was nearly the same color as the primer).
Next came the faux finish, which I will detail in tomorrow's post. I'm splitting this project into two posts because I expect some people will find it by Googling "faux granite counter," and they're probably not interested in the counter backstory. (Who can blame them?) Most people wanting to faux finish their counters would just begin at the primer stage.