Hello! I’m Ana, a mother and homemaker from Alaska.
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posted by Ana White

My friend Kate made me a believer.

When it came time to install a countertop for the Momplex Vanilla kitchen, we did go have a solid surface countertop priced out.  

The cost of the solid surface countertop was MORE than the entire kitchen!!!  And it would take 8 weeks and we'd have to pay for a full travel day each time someone drove to the site to measure, fit and install the countertop (yes, we are to blame there for living in the sticks in Alaska).

Multiply that time two kitchens.

Nothing like going broke, and having to wait two months to make your rethink your options, right?  

A while back, my friend Kate from Centsational Girl had written a post on why she loves laminate countertops.  Yes, laminate.

And as an avid cook (and reluctant dishwasher) in a kitchen with granite, I had to agree with her.  Golly, we don't even have an original glass left - the granite countertops are so hard and unforgiving.

And isn't this beautiful?

image from Centsational Girl

Yep, laminate!

So we thought we'd give DIY-ing a laminate countertop a try.

The first thing we did was cut out particle board (yes, you want to use particle board here because it is dimensionally more square than say plywood and less likely to warp - has nothing to do with the $17 a sheet price tag although that's a bonus) about 2 inches bigger than we need.

Then we figured the countertop should stick out 3/4" past our 3/4" thick doors, so we used a 1x2 to trace underneath the too big particle board piece to find our countertop finished size.

The countertop with be 1-1/2" thick, so we'll be doubling up two pieces of particle board.

We do this by gluing and screwing before we do the finished cut,

And then cut the two together,

So the cut edges are super smooth.  This is important so the laminate will bond with the edges.

Now on to the laminate itself.  We special ordered sheets from our local big box store.  First, we cut strips for the edges of the countertop, 2" wide (to allow for trimming back on the 1-1/2" wide edges).

And then bust out the contact cement,

And roll it on to both the countertop edge and the strips we cut.

And then let the contact cement dry until tacky to touch.

Now you get one chance with the contact cement, so we very very carefully set the edge piece on the edge of the countertop,

And then finished out adjacent edges.

Notice that the laminate is bigger than the particle board.

We use a J-Roller to apply adequate pressure to the laminate, to remove any air pockets and secure the bond with the laminate and particle board.

So about that laminate being too big - we then go back with a rounter with a laminate trim bit, and trim off excess.

That way the laminate is perfectly flush with the particle board.

That's the edges.  Now on to the top ...

Again, just apply the contact cement to the particle board,

And then back side of the laminate.  We wait until the contact cement is tack to touch,

And then use stickers to position the laminate over the countertop,

And then carefully remove the stickers.  Again, we use the J-roller to apply pressure to the laminate.

We cut the top laminate piece a little big, and then used the router to trim down excess.

To smooth out some of the edges, we used a file as well.

Now here's where things get a little tricky ...

I won't go into details, but there may or may not have been an incident right about .....

NOW ....

Where my hair dryer suddenly disappeared.

But the important thing is Mom doesn't know ...

Not bad for $428, eh?

And not a seam in the top of the countertop, anywhere!

Next up, we'll show you how we installed the countertops and the backsplash.

Thanks for checking out our progress on the Momplex - we heart you reading!

XO Ana + Fam

posted by Ana White

Hi Everyone, and Happy Friday!

Today, I'm so excited to share one of the biggest bang-for-your-buck weekend projects you can undertake (in my humble DIY opinion).

Someday, this blank space is going to be Grandma's dream sewing room.  It may take months, maybe even be a year before we get to it, but we've got big plans to convert this large basement bonus room to the perfect spot for Grandma to make her beautiful quilts in.  And Gracie has requested a kids craft area in there too.

But this is going to have to wait. We have another side of the Momplex to finish up, and lots of other necessity projects (like closets and furniture projects) to take on for Grandma who likes to sew.

But one thing we want to do before Grandma moves in to her side of the Momplex is to apply some sort of finish to the concrete.  The concrete is brand new, and will take stain or paint well.  It's also empty right now, so no need to clear out the space to finish the floor.  If we wait until we tackle the sewing room months or years later, the room could be filled with stuff, and the concrete could be stain or need to be cleaned again (adding extra work).

We went back and forth on adding a flooring over the concrete.  We really love the vinyl plank flooring installed upstairs, but it would be thousands of dollars to add it downstairs - and the slab is heated, so it's another layer for the heat to pass through to warm the floor.  Carpet would have insulated the floor against the heat rising, so it's out.  

So we thought we'd try out RustOleum's Epoxy Shield Garage Floor Coating Kit - Can't beat $99 Bucks!

We also reasoned that if and when we finish the sewing room, we could still add flooring over top of the painted floor or throw rugs if Grandma so desired.  We aren't fans of temporary fixes that you have to rip out later on.

We also decided to finish out the basement mudroom area adjacent to the sewing room with the EpoxyShield coating.  This is going to be a high traffic, wetm snowy boot area, and applying a finished concrete coating is a much better alternative than a floating floor, where moisture could get trapped underneath or damage the floor.  

So, here we go!

We are lucky to be working with clean, fresh concrete, properly cured and very smooth.  If you have concrete that has grease stains or paint spots, make sure you properly clean and etch your concrete before applying the garage floor coating - we all know proper preparation is key to a lasting finish. (There's a terrific video here on preparing the concrete and coating application).

The kit comes with a Part A and Part B,

You simply pour Part A into Part B,

And mix the two together.

The EpoxyShield Garage Floor Coating comes in a few different colors, so if gray isn't right for you, there's other options.

So here goes!

First, we edge the outer walls.  Since there's no base moulding up, we can just paint carefully with a brush.

After edging the outsides, we can use a roller to apply the epoxy coating to the bulk of the concrete floor.

To me, there's few things worse than a solid color floor.  Solid colors are not forgiving, so every piece of dust or scratch will be super obvious.  Notice the freshly painted epoxy coating is solid?

The kit comes with little paint chips that you scatter over the freshly painted epoxy coating to break up the solid color.

Once we got the sewing room done, we worked our way out the door to the mudroom slash stair landing area.

Here, there is some moulding and the stairs, so we taped everything off first, and then carefully edged.  It would have been a pain in the petunia to floor under those stairs.  But painting on an epoxy coating?

About as easy as mopping a floor.  And not much more expensive too!

We just kept working our way outward, painting and throwing the paint chips over top,

Until we worked ourselves right out of a job.

Now the hard part, staying off the floor until it fully dries.

It was tough, but we mustered up the will power and took a few days off from working.

And then, after the EpoxyShield coating fully dried, we went back and removed the tape and admired the floor.  Not too shabby for a $99 floor, eh?

So what do you think?  Have you painted your garage or basement floors?  How did they hold up?

UPDATE: Three months later and despite Santa dropping off 6 rolling knee scooters and countless kids playing, the floor is a brand new looking as ever!

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