Countertop Substrate

rileyannApril 26, 2014

So I ripped off my old tile countertops (I'm keeping the existing cabinets) and noticed that whoever attached the 1/2" plywood on top of the cabinets just nailed them in place. I need to raise the plywood in one corner to get it level and want to use screws instead of nails. I was going to use deck screw but not sure what length. I have 1-5/8" screws on hand but those seem too long. Any advice is appreciated. If it matters, I'm replacing with quartz countertops.

Thanks,
Riley

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Trebruchet

Riley:

I wouldn't have any underlayment below 3cm quartz countertops and would use non-compressive shims to level the cabinet tops.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2014 at 9:04PM
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rileyann

Thanks Trebruchet. Why no underlayment? If I remove the plywood, I'm afraid the countertop edge will hang too low and obstruct my drawers. I need the quartz edge to drop below the bottom of the counters to cover the cabinet face the used to be covered by bullnose tile. Right now there is 1-7/8" from top of ply to top of drawer. I think the quartz edges are 1-1/2" wide and will obstruct by draw without the plywood. Maybe the edges can be made less wide. See photo.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2014 at 10:21PM
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Sophie Wheeler

Don't put quartz on those cabinets. Do laminate. And wait until you can replace the cabinets to do quartz. Those cabinets are not worth spending quartz money on and locking them in place.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2014 at 10:40PM
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rileyann

Why, just because they are old or because you think there's some potential structural or compatibility issue?

    Bookmark   April 26, 2014 at 11:30PM
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Sophie Wheeler

Quite poor quality paint job on top of old cabinets with failing drawer glide issues is what I can see from the pic. Wider shot would probably show more.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2014 at 11:50PM
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jerzeegirl

I don't see how the quartz can interfere with anything unless you planning on a laminating the edge. Couldn't you just paint the unpainted part of the cabinet where the bullnose sat? Or if for some reason it cannot be painted, would you be able to install a piece of molding where the bullnose used to be?

    Bookmark   April 26, 2014 at 11:59PM
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Trebruchet

Riley:

I rarely disagree with hollysprings, but you wouldn't be the first person who has bought nice tops first, had them pulled later, installed new cabinets, and had the newer tops re-installed over the new cabinets. It isn't the most cost-effective way to go, but hey, it's your budget.

The most common use of a built-up edge is on 2cm estone and seems to be more pervasive out West. If you're going to be pulling the tops eventually, 2cm would be lighter and easier. I wouldn't stick 'em to the plywood very well though. A dime-sized dab of silicone every 30" or so max.

Why not just remove the plywood, get 3cm, and paint the cabinet edge to match?

    Bookmark   April 27, 2014 at 11:23AM
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Sophie Wheeler

The thing about putting so much money into the tops and trying to do the cabinets later is that it locks you into exactly what you have now. Even well functioning kitchens can benefit from layout tweaks. People learn to live with all kinds of dysfunctional spaces because you can just get used to anything. When redong a kitchen, it's a chance to break free from some builders poor choices. Unless you set them in stone.

Don't make the classic newbie renovator's mistake of paying attention to all of the glossy pretty surfaces and no attention to the bone structure underneath. It's a mistake that bite$ you in the end.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2014 at 12:52PM
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rileyann

Trebruchet, I need to verify the thickness of my countertop with my fabricator/installer. Thanks for bringing up the need/no-need issues with the underlayment. I live out west, so like you said, the edge detail is widespread. Every fab/installer I talked to in the past wanted to know what type of edge and how much overhang we needed. The attached sheet is what we generally see from all the contractors. I don't want to have to paint the exposed edge because it will likely stand out too much.

Hollysprings, thanks for your input. We love our cabinets and don't see the need to replace them anytime soon. Plus, we have a budget. Send money if you want them replaced :).

    Bookmark   April 27, 2014 at 1:21PM
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Sophie Wheeler

Look at stripping them and giving them a proper paint job then. And replacing the drawer glides. Neither of those things are going to last you very long without giving you issues. That's a LOT of work to do DIY though, and as expensive as buying new cabinets if you pay to have it done. But, you have either time, or money. If you've got neither, put on the laminate and keep working to get the money. There would be absolutely nothing wrong with putting laminate on those cabinets to bide you some time until you could tackle the project properly.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2014 at 1:37PM
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Trebruchet

Riley:

You said in your first post that you are using quartz countertops. That comes in 2cm (3/4"+-) or 3cm (1 1/4"+-). Now you post showing solid surface tops which are 1/2" thick. There is no 1/2" quartz to my knowledge. What product are you using, and what thickness is it, please? Solid surface gets no solid underlayment at all. Ever.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2014 at 3:10PM
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rileyann

That's just a general detail sheet. I believe a lot of contractors out here do those for different solid surface materials. Let me get specifics from my contractor and report back.

Also, for quartz used as backsplash, is it attached directly to the studs, hardibacker, drywall or something else?

    Bookmark   April 27, 2014 at 3:58PM
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greenhaven

I just had quartz installed on open cabinets, a flat sheet, no stacked edge. Paint matching has come an awfully long way, so it is likely you could get pretty darn close.

Alternatively you could use a piece of decorative, flat-ish trim to cover that unpainted area.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2014 at 5:27PM
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Trebruchet

Quartz used as a backsplash should be siliconed to the drywall with dime-sized dabs every 12" or so.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2014 at 11:15PM
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rileyann

Verified with the contractor that our new counters will be 2cm. So keep the plywood underlayment, right? BTW, we're using Eco by Cosentino.

Regarding the backsplash, when I remove the tile that's currently there, the drywall will get destroyed. I don't want to have to put new drywall up so would it be acceptable to just silicone the quartz directly to studs? This would give me 1/2" more depth to the counter.

Thanks for all the help!

    Bookmark   April 28, 2014 at 12:46AM
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Trebruchet

Riley:

Keep the underlayment.

Why remove the tile at all? You can purchase box extensions for any outlets in the wall and just install the splash over the tile.

    Bookmark   April 28, 2014 at 6:22AM
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greenhaven

I still don't understand why she needs an underlayment at all. It might be because I had an exhausting week. 2 cm does not need the structure of an underlayment, right? And no edge she has on it will interfere with the drawer function?

Rileyann, what kind of edge is on your quartz?

    Bookmark   April 28, 2014 at 7:10AM
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Trebruchet

greenhaven:

2cm estone can be installed directly on cabinets with silicone and can even be cantilevered up to 8" without additional support.

She will be using a mitered or built-up edge to cover the plywood and the unpainted edge of her cabinets. As long as the mitered or built-up edge isn't too deep, it will not interfere with the drawer function.

    Bookmark   April 28, 2014 at 11:29AM
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Linelle

I live 50 miles north of San Francisco. I have Caesarstone counters in the kitchen that are 2 cm, which seems to be standard here. The fabricator (or code?) required 5/8" plywood underlayment. The contractor tried to keep the old 3/4" plywood that was under the original tile counter and the fabricator flat refused to use it. I have a laminated edge that looks great.

OT: I'm getting my guest bath redone and am using 2 cm carrara on the vanity which happens to have an inset top, so I can go without the laminated edge.

Riley, I put new counters on old cabinet boxes. I did have them professionally painted and added new drawers and drawer fronts. I paid a premium to have them painted, but nowhere near what I would have had to pay for all new cabinets. I realize I retained all the things wrong with my kitchen's layout, but there are lots of good things about it that also stayed. I couldn't have afforded a total redo. I realize that I paid a decent amount for quartz counters and if I ever want to redo the kitchen (unlikely at my age), I still won't regret putting quartz on old cabinets.

    Bookmark   April 28, 2014 at 11:53AM
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ajc71

Why is it that such a simple question gets a response that say to rip out the cabinets because they are not worth anything and that the paint job is lousy based on a close up picture of a drawer front corner and some faceframe? Just finished a project where a Peacock kitchen was installed, I have news for you...if I were to take a close up picture of those freshly field panted cabinets they would not look all that much different then the OP's picture....

And also based on that picture the drawer slides are junk....yes maybe there is a not a .187 reveal between the edge of the maple box and the faceframe opening which may indicate there are not Blum undermounts installed but who knows and what difference does that make?

    Bookmark   April 28, 2014 at 12:08PM
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greenhaven

Trebuchet said:

"greenhaven:
2cm estone can be installed directly on cabinets with silicone and can even be cantilevered up to 8" without additional support.

She will be using a mitered or built-up edge to cover the plywood and the unpainted edge of her cabinets. As long as the mitered or built-up edge isn't too deep, it will not interfere with the drawer function."

Thanks, that's what i thought, but it seemed to be going 'round and 'round on this thread and I was nooot following.

    Bookmark   April 28, 2014 at 1:43PM
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rileyann

We're doing the standard squared edge.

Linelle -- thanks for the post. Can you post a pic of your laminated edge. I'm not sure what that is? Same as a built-up edge?

ajc71 - I like your post!

    Bookmark   April 28, 2014 at 11:34PM
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Texas_Gem

I have to agree with ajc71, of all the houses I have been in, I can think of only one where the cabinets weren't salvageable.

Not everyone has money for a 20,000-60,000 renovation, and not everyone's houses could even begin to recoup the costs of such a reno. A little paint and new countertops can go a LONG way towards raising your property value though, and give you a much nicer space to work in.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2014 at 12:25AM
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Linelle

rileyann, yes, same as a built-up edge.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2014 at 1:10AM
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amberm145_gw

I think hollysprings has a valid point. Maybe ripping out the cabinets isn't the solution. But she said to go with laminate instead of quartz. So how is she the one who is wasting money?

    Bookmark   April 29, 2014 at 1:45AM
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sjhockeyfan325

Note that the edge can be "stacked" ie. add a straight piece below the 2 cm counter, or it can be mitered - here's a picture of my 2 cm Ceasarstone bathroom counter, with mitered edge.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2014 at 12:13PM
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rileyann

Trebruchet, so I'm re-reading the thread and just realized the you said the 2cm quartz can be installed without the plywood underlayment. Just want to make sure in case my contractor decides that the unpainted edge of my cabinets will be covered better if the plywood underlayment is remove.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2014 at 11:52PM
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Trebruchet

Riley:

Check your estone manufacturer's fabrication and installation instructions, but they don't vary much.

Your cabinets look like they could be the old fashioned site built type. Remember, modern appliances like slide-in ranges are designed to fit into tops that are 36" high. The more you deviate from that by changing top thickness, the more alterations you may have to make to appliances to get them to fit.

    Bookmark   May 2, 2014 at 12:40AM
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