That’s a fiiiine looking countertop, friends.

November 05, 2012   //  Posted in: Kitchen   //  By: Emily   //  19 responses

I’m going to cut right to the chase. The countertops happened. They’re here, they’re amazing, and some might even go as far as to say that they’re totally bitchin’. Mostly me and Pete, probably not our parents, but we think they like them just swell too. After almost four years of dreaming about this day, I’ll use all sorts of elated profanity in exclaiming how happy I am to have totally transformed the oak-blue-dingy kitchen (before here) into this thing of in-progress-beauty:

After three years, the gray/black laminate is gone.

I bought the new white acrylic countertops several weeks ago, and then waited patiently while the contractors took measurements and placed my custom order. To make sure it’s known upfront, the countertops were not sponsored by anyone and the 41 sq. ft. cost me just shy of $1,600 with tax, and with sink installation costs. Do the math, that’s a darn good deal at under $40/sq. ft.. I chose allen & roth “white” from Lowe’s with a stainless sink and an eased countertop edge (several edge options were provided at no extra cost per linear foot, and eased was one of those options). By opting not to have an acrylic backsplash, it’s estimated that I saved an additional $320, and by going with Lowe’s allen & roth instead of DuPont Corian, I saved another $350.

It was a 5-week turnaround from order to install, a timeline that I’m told can be a little longer or shorter depending on the time of year that you’re installing and also based on what material you’re ordering. Lowe’s had hired a local subcontractor to perform the installation; the cost was already factored into the price of the countertop per square foot, so DIY wasn’t an option for us. All we had to do was clear our belongings out of the lower cabinets (just to keep things neat and prevent dust from getting in our Cheerios) and lift off the existing countertop, which we did over the course of a few hours the day before our install was scheduled. I’ll note that we did effectively remove the countertops but doesn’t mean that they’ve been discarded, sold, upcycled, or even moved from the wall in which we have them leaning against in the dining room – they may sit right there until pigs fly or until we can at least figure out how to get a solid 10-foot length of laminate around the right angle of the staircase into the basement to make a new laundry bench. We also might lacquer up the bottoms and use them for sledding this winter, we shall see, it’s an idea.

In any case, we were able to sit back and watch the countertops go in without so much as having to lift a finger. I reorganized 1,000 pins on Pinterest like a zombie during those few hours, and took photos of the progress sporadically when I didn’t feel like I was in the way.

Our countertop configuration wraps around three walls in our kitchen and arrived in four unique pieces: two small pieces to flank the stove, and two long pieces for the back wall and right wall.

Assembling the corner of the countertop.

The crew used fused the two joining pieces together using an epoxy and clamps and something that looks like it was swiped from the hospital.

Fusing the two pieces of countertop together with epoxy.

I wish I could say that there is no way for you to tell that there was ever a seam there because I did an unfathomable amount of research on the topic and was very much under the impression that it would be visibly seamless, but oh, what, wait for it, and squint hard:

Uhhh, is that a visible seam in my acrylic countertop? Yes. Yes it is.

Not only can I see a division in the two pieces caused by discolored epoxy, but I can also feel a little divot in the finish – there is a seam that runs along the edge of the countertop, and the 2″ closest to that outer edge as visible from above. I’m hopeful that it can be corrected in a follow-up install appointment that I already made for next week. If that’s as visible as seams in acrylic can be though, I’m still OK with my decision.

What’s more obvious is that there’s a bit of work to do to repair walls that were previously covered by a backsplash, and in a few places on the cabinets where I hadn’t been able to stain. I expect that those touchups will go quite well once I get started on them in the coming week.

I'll need to stain this part of the cabinet that was hidden behind the backsplash.

But back to cool things – can I tell you how SMOOTH the surface is? The crew ran over it with a high grit sandpaper and really buffed it into pristine condition. It’s smoother than an eggshell, and I’m not exaggerating, and because solid surface countertops are the same material through and through, if there are any scuffs or bumps that happen during its life, we can sand it smooth again ourselves.

The undermount stainless sink is also a beautiful thing, and it looks even better with the faucet installed; check back for a full overview on that later this week when I finish taking photos of it. One thing that’s totally noteworthy based on this next photo is that without the backsplash, the countertop is a lot deeper, as in, 1-inch deeper. It’s not something that I anticipated, but it’s shockingly noticeable in person, just look at how much space there is behind the sink:

Smooth finish, beautiful stainless sink.

Shortening one countertop surface (an edge to the left of the stove that overhung in the walkway between the living room and kitchen) proved to be another incredible decision. Our passthrough is now unobstructed, and with the surface smaller, it’s bound to be less of a catch-all space. It forces us to live a little differently in the kitchen, and that’s a much needed change.

Remember what it looked like before, and I mean way before, like before I removed the pet door?

The basement door before, yes, also prior to having removed the pet door.

Without that extra foot extension from the kitchen, the view looks a lot different. Ignore those huge planks of Formica, they’ll be there awhile.

Updated countertop: Note how the countertop on the left no longer has a dramatic 15" overhang.

The white countertop makes all the difference in the world in how the new stained cabinets present themselves. They look great, and even though I’m still considering taking them down to a matte finish, they do look a lot better than I expected with the satin polyurethane.

The cabinets? POW.

Obviously, many of these photos were taken while we were in the midst of replumbing the kitchen sink and installing the new faucet, that accounts for the PVC explosion on the floor, but you may notice something else – the kitchen island is gone. We removed it briefly for the installation and decided to leave it out of the kitchen for awhile. Without its large frame, the kitchen is awkwardly spacious in both a good and bad way; we’re exploring our options for creating or buying a smaller island to take its place. If you have any good ideas, send them our way.

  • Rachel
    5 years ago - Reply

    Your kitchen is beautiful! Great job Emily!

    • Emily
      5 years ago -

      Thank you!!!

  • Annabel Vita
    5 years ago - Reply

    Gorgeous gorgeous gorgeous! I love all the changes you’ve made and I’m excited to see how the island situation evolves.

    • Emily
      5 years ago -

      Thanks Annabel!!

  • Sara Aaserud
    5 years ago - Reply

    Love it!! It’s such a huge difference compared to the “before” shots with the oak cabinets and blue counter tops.

  • Megan
    5 years ago - Reply

    Hi Emily
    I really like your kitchen redo and how you explained the process. For a non-DIYer like me, it’s so helpful to see all of the steps outlined. I’m thinking of buying new counters for my parents this Christmas (something similar to the allen + roth). Their counter space is about the same size of the counterspace surrounding your sink (one wall only). Would it be reasonable to say that a new counter that size would be about half the cost you mentioned? ($1600)
    Thank you!
    P.S. I find reorganizing pins on Pinterest oddly satisfying:)

    • Emily
      5 years ago -

      Hi Megan! Glad you like my kitchen! Yes, the countertop would surely be less expensive if the square footage is smaller. Just remember, the sink “installation” costs get layered onto the bottom line, as do taxes, and that’s why my $1,600 was a little more expensive than the raw countertop cost (40 sq. ft x $32/sq. ft. = $1,280 + sink + taxes… and sometimes + backsplash costs + fancy edge costs). If we had installed our own sink (considered for about .05 seconds) we would have saved an additional $250, but it was just so much easier to have it already attached at the installation process.

      Reorg-ing the pinterest boards is satisfying now, but it felt like a total brainpower suck while I was at it. I wish they would make a little easier to bulk-sort pins!

      Good luck with the countertops, what a nice daughter you are!!

  • Victoria
    5 years ago - Reply

    I really love your kitchen. Actually, I love your whole house. In the kitchen, I like that you started with more countertops and went to fewer; and that they started light and went dark. It’s sort of not the typical look, but I love it. I have seen some cool pictures of kitchen islands with the sides made of reclaimed barn wood. In your chic black and white kitchen, maybe a rough, natural-materials element would look nice? Also, you could put one of those brass hanging racks above it for pots and pans if you ever needed more space.

    • Emily
      5 years ago -

      Thanks a lot, Victoria! We’ve thought a lot about building a reclaimed island base and finding a scrap stone or butcher block top. I definitely think that direction has a lot of potential. We’ve also considered a hanging pot rack but there’s a light and fan up there now, both of which we use pretty regularly, so I think that’s out of the question :-/. Thanks for the nice comment!

  • Ashley
    5 years ago - Reply

    Beautiful kitchen! I am dying for white countertops and decided on the exact one you have. However, when I went to Lowe’s to order, the sales guy literally talked me out of them. He said they would be too high maintance, stain and scratch fairly easily :( I’ve looked high and low at every other kind of countertop and had decided on a white quartz that resembles Calcutta marble (at nearly triple the price of the Allen & Roth!). Today, I decided to search one last time before ordering to see if I could find anyone that had white Allen & Roth countertops, and I found you!! How are they holding up for you? Any problems with stains or scratches so far?
    Thanks so much!

    • Emily
      5 years ago -

      Hi Ashley! I’m surprised they talked you out of them – Acrylic is so practical and popular! The only real concerns our store’s associate had was in respect to the seamless sink – we went with stainless instead because we heard that because it was subject to more banging and liquids it could discolor more quickly than the countertop surface. Our Allen & Roth countertops so far have been really great. We’re careful not to drag our appliances across them to lessen the chance of scratches, and have not had any issues. You would always want to use a cutting board, but isn’t that the case with any countertop other than a butcher block? We definitely have not had staining issues, even when coffee splatters and isn’t wiped up immediately. Acrylic is non-porous so nothing is supposed to soak in, no germs, nothing, in fact I thought that was the biggest reason people chose acrylic. I mean, look at name-brand Corian! They’re huuuuge!

      The acrylic countertops are also solid/thick, which means you can lightly sand the surface with a fine grade sandpaper should a scratch appear, and even the surface back out. In fact, during installation, this is exactly what the professionals do to give you that fresh perfect finish.

      Of course, your calcutta quartz sounds absolutely delightful too, but if you go the acrylic route I am sure that you will not be as inconvenienced as the salesperson insinuated!

      GOOD LUCK! I hope this helps.

    • Ashley
      5 years ago -

      Thank you so much! The sales man even scratched and poured orange soda on the white countertop sample to show me how easily it stained and scratched. Then, he used a Brillo pad to clean it and he was even surprised how well it cleaned up, but made sure to tell me normal wear and tear wont be as easily cleaned. Thanks again, you have given me hope in a more affordable option :)

  • Taryn
    4 years ago - Reply

    Hi Emily,
    Love your blog and I followed your kitchen remodel- which inspired me to go with white allen + roth countertops for our modern remodel as well. From a far they look fantastic but upclose we see an irregular pattern of sanding and very matte finish (after just completing install). We called Lowe’s and asked them if this was normal and they said they would call us back (3 weeks later and we’ve heard nothing). Also after very little use we’re finding they stain pretty easily.

    Love the look but would love to hear your experience and take on the wear after living with them for a little bit. We really thought highly of the installers but want to be able to hold them accountable if this was just a subpar job.

    Thanks for all your awesome blogging!

    • Emily
      4 years ago -

      Oh no! I did NOT have this experience with the installation! I did have to put in a call after the fact because one of the corner seams was visible (and in hindsight, it was the day of the install, but then the next day and every day thereafter I never noticed it again). I remember calling Lowe’s and trying to get them to send the crew back took a few days, and I expected a better service than that, but in the end they were very helpful… From what I understand, the countertops can be sanded down with a very, very fine grade sandpaper (this would be a productive way of eliminating some surface scratches), but I wonder if it would help in this case too. Not that you want to have to deal with finishing the job yourself, but it might help.

      We didn’t have any issues with staining; if coffee or a kool-aid cup left a ring in a spot, for instance, we were able to remove it completely with light rubbing and some cleaning spray.

      I hope that it all works out for you!

  • Beth
    4 years ago - Reply

    Your kitchen looks incredible! great idea to widen the walk through space…..have you considered a stainless steel prep table as an island? They come in lots of different sizes and could be obtained from a kitchen supply store such as Chef Mart. They are very reasonably priced compared to an island offer you a great space to cut and prepare food (sparing your awesome countertops a mishap) and are a nice place to store any nice pots and pans you might like to show off. I ordered the same counter tops and can’t wait for delivery thanks for showing us what to look forward to!

  • john
    3 years ago - Reply

    I came across this article accidentally. I used the same countertop on my project. At first it seemed as a great design idea but that’s where it ends. The installation itself was executed terribly with same seem visibility as seen here. I had them installers called back twice to correct seem issues and surface consistency but they still did not correct it so the company offered me $500 discount which helped towards $5,000 total price tag. Eventually I ended up re-sending the whole surface myself with fine sandpaper on rotary buffer to get rid of all the scratches. This surface scratches so easily that you will end up polishing it often if you want to keep it scratch free. Now after using it for about 6 months I’m realizing that this is by far the worst countertop you can get compare to granite marble or quartz. In addition to that easy scratching it also gets stained by anything that you let stand there overnight. Like a orange, apple, or something else. Even a make up from visiting sister. At times I don’t even remember what was laying there but there it this, another stain spot. For example regular black pepper can that you accidentally put in a drop of water and it rusts. The footprint will stay there for ever. So in 6 months I already have bunch of stains an I don’t have a family. So for family this surface is not practical at all because of the maintenance and constant awareness if something won’t stain it. Or burn it. Or scratch it. Like a drop of wine or even a tea or coffee will stain it. I used every single countertop material available on the marketing a past and more you pay less you get. The best countertop to have that is most practical with least amount of maintenance is the cheapest of all. Laminate. Yes. I admit to say that after all those years and experience with all other materials. Modern laminate surface is the best for daily use.

    • john
      3 years ago -

      Oh yeah and forgot to mention the sink they offer for free but charge $200 or so for installation. This sink is very bad cheap sink from china. Made of very thin steel and it sometimes rusts even though it is stainless.

  • Michelle
    2 years ago - Reply

    We are looking at the white Allen & Roth for a kitchen renovation and I wanted to see how you liked it a couple of years in. Is it still holding up ok?

    • Emily
      2 years ago -

      Pretty good. We lived with it for about 8 months before turning that house into a rental – renters were sort of hard on it, as they are with most things, so I noticed a few areas where they had slid appliances and cups and stuff and in those places there was evidence of scratching, so I would expect in several more years with natural use you would begin to see heavier wear. I had read that you can easily sand down the surface when bad scratches occur to remove them, but I never got to that point. The surface was stain-free and still looked pretty slick from afar!

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