You can install your own solid-surface countertops. We show you where to get the materials and tools and give you a brief explanation of how to fabricate the material.
Besides your countertop material, you’ll need a two-part adhesive gun, adhesive, router bits and abrasives to fit an orbital sander. Then use your regular woodworking tools to rip and crosscut the solid-surface material.
There are sources that will sell solid-surface materials and tools to DIYers. But only if you’re talking about the acrylic material (like Wilsonart, Avonite and Meganite), rather than “engineered stone” (quartz/resin) products like Cambria and Silestone. Engineered stone materials are only available through authorized dealers and are custom made for each job. DIYers can buy solid-surface materials at wholesale prices from solidsurface.com. It sells surplus and discontinued sheets from several major manufacturers.
Full-sheet sizes vary but are usually 30 in. x 144 in. x 1/2 in. (partial sheets are half that size). The square-foot prices vary by pattern and manufacturer, ranging from $10 to $20 per sq. ft. plus shipping ($150 to $300, depending on your location). The total is about one-third of what you’d pay an authorized dealer if it would even sell to you. Solidsurface.com also carries the special adhesives you’ll need for the joinery. And you’ll have to spend about $250 for special tools and materials.
Mount the abrasive discs on a random orbital sander and smooth out all the glued seams. Use the router bit with the nylon bearing to add a decorative edge.
It’s possible to do the installation yourself if you’ve built a cabinet or two or are an intermediate woodworker. Solid-surface materials can be cut and routed just like wood. Use sharp, carbide-tipped bits and blades so they cut cleanly through the material instead of heating it up and melting it.
The supplier provides great instructions on its Web site, but here’s the routine in a nutshell. Simply rip the sheets with a table saw or circular saw and straightedge to get the 4-in. backsplash and the 1-in. front lip. Then apply the adhesive to the front lip and clamp the pieces together for 30 minutes. Use the special router bit (with a nylon bearing) to rout a decorative edge. Then lay down 3/4-in. plywood over your existing cabinets and install the new countertop. Glue the backsplash and seams and sand them with the special discs.
Have the necessary tools for this DIY project lined up before you start—you’ll save time and frustration.
Avoid last-minute shopping trips by having all your materials ready ahead of time. Here's a list.