Q. about countertop install

eleenaMarch 13, 2013

I am installing a SS countertop with integrated sink over cabinets in the clean-up area. I do not intend to ever use it for prep work, so it will be used "lightly", I'd say.

The fabricator told me that they normally attach the the substrate to the cabinets with screws, then glue the SS part to it using a glue, like Liquid Nails, and caulk around.

However, if I ever wanted to remove the counter for any reason, I wouldn't be able to do it without damaging it.

So my question is:

Would it be possible to install a SS counter in such a way that it could be removed w/o damaging it?

The fabricator said that I could - in theory - not glue it down but use silicone caulk around to attach to walls on three sides. In that case, it would be completely "remove-able".

What do you think? Is it a good idea?

Any other advice?

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A couple of things come to mind:

The fact your fabricator is unsure means you probably should not consider this. I can't imagine the SS staying flat and solid if it's not secured all over.

You could make sure the seam in the substrate is exactly at the break of the SS and the rest of the counter. That way you could remove the entire unit without damaging anything. Just make sure the substrate is screwed into from underneath and not down from the top.

    Bookmark   March 13, 2013 at 7:30PM
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Why can't you just unscrew the substrate? If you changed countertop materials you would want the substrate off anyway. Just screw from below vs. the other way around.

    Bookmark   March 13, 2013 at 7:38PM
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Sophie Wheeler

Liquid Nails and top attaching the substrate is a RED FLAG. You will have "lumps" if he just squirts out a couple of lines of LN. It should be done similar to a laminate counter where you use contact cement on both parts and then bond them together with no lumps or gaps between the steel and the substrate. If you do it his way, you'll have small air gaps and it will sound different in different spots depending on if it's bonded at that spot or has a minute gap of air there.

There also isn't any reason in the world to have the substrate attached from the top. A couple of L brackets and some silicone and you should be good to go for the substrate, assuming the cabinets are good and level.

    Bookmark   March 13, 2013 at 8:30PM
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What marcolo said. But, I'd look at some of this guy's other work.

    Bookmark   March 13, 2013 at 8:51PM
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OK, thanks a lot!

The fabricator is a metal shop. Most of the time, they do not install their countertops, carpenters (or other contractors?) do. I have a carpenter who made the substrate but I also have a scheduling conflict, thus, the idea of letting the fabricator install it. I was a bit leery of the liquid nail thing too.

I am not sure I'd be removing the counter in the future but I wanted to have that option (mostly, due to LWO's comment on one of my other threads).

Yes, cabinets are level. It looks like I have to wait for the cabinet guys get here. But now I have enough info to ask them the right questions.

I'll post an update - in case anyone is interested.

Thanks again!

    Bookmark   March 13, 2013 at 9:35PM
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Yep, what Marcolo said. I fabricated the substrate and installed our stainless counters+integrated sink, and I screwed in the substrate from the bottom just like Marcolo suggested. Don't get me wrong, it would be a nightmare to ever uninstall the counter because the tile backsplash would probably need to be removed, but it is possible to do it from below without having to cut up the counter.

I installed ours with liquid nails, and it is flat almost everywhere, but there is one spot where we didn't get good coverage with the liquid nails and it is boomy. (One day I'll drill a hole from below and inject some more adhesive up there, but it's not a priority right now.)

So, from that experience, I would say that a laminate-style installation where you squeegee or roll on the adhesive is a good approach, but not a requirement. Just make sure that you don't glop on the liquid nails so thick that it keeps the counter from sitting flat on the subtop, and get good coverage - a medium bead every 2" would probably not be overkill.

Also, get a bunch of weights and clamps to toss on the counter after it's glued down until the liquid nails is dry. We clamped the front and put weights on the back (bags of rice, boxes of books, etc) and got great results except in the area where we skimped on the glue. Put your weights on sheets of plywood or something similar so you get even pressure across the whole countertop and get good bonds everywhere.

    Bookmark   March 14, 2013 at 3:34AM
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