After Wednesday’s documentation of my 11-month kitchen floor painting/stenciling saga, I definitely need to devote a couple of posts to the kitchen renovation work that I did not do myself. First up, the demolition of the countertop!
Before I get started, let’s get caught up…
Also, let’s revisit the countertops that are getting demolished, lest anyone think something nice is being destroyed here. First of all, this is definitely floor tile. The same tile that’s under the paint on the floor, in fact, only smaller. Second, it was definitely installed directly over the original countertop, which was sheet Linoleum glued to plywood with a metal edging band. Because the tile is sitting on top of the old countertop, it’s higher than the sink, hence the hand-sculpted grout transition edge you see. I cannot stress enough how gross this situation was. It had to go.
A good eight months passed between when I finished painting the kitchen floor and when we decided to go ahead with the rest of the kitchen renovation. By this past October, we’d been living in the house for a year and a half, and I guess it was a combination of knowing dealing with the countertops would be expensive, and just plain putting it off. But on September 27, this happened:
In case the photo isn’t clear, that’s the inside of a cheap kitchen faucet. It’s made of plastic, and the plastic is snapped cleanly in half. The faucet had been leaking incessantly, so I decided to take it apart and see what I could tighten up or if there were any washers I could replace, and…well, it basically just fell apart in my hand. Which explained the leak, and also meant either I was going to have to temporarily replace the faucet, or the gods of plastic were trying to tell us that it was time to do what we’d be planning to do for the better part of two years and just move forward with the kitchen renovation. The latter option seemed correct.
(September 27, 2019 is the day I started washing dishes in the bathtub. Let’s remember that date for when it comes up again in a future post.)
We knew we couldn’t do the countertop demolition ourselves. Between the tools we’d need to have at the ready, the skills it would take to remove the countertop without damaging the cabinets, and the need to then haul all of the debris to the dump, it was just beyond what we were realistically capable of doing. It’s really hard for me to admit when something is too hard for me to DIY, but I’m getting better about it. We called Francisco, a lovely handyman who had previously removed a concrete block wall for us and done a great job doing it cleanly and efficiently, and got a reasonable quote—which specified “a case of Corona” as part of the payment for him and a buddy. That sounded funny in October 2019. Six months later, it sounds downright sinister.
It took Francisco and his buddy a long time and a LOT of effort to remove the countertops. I’m really shy when it comes to taking photos of people doing work in the house, but I sneaked in a couple of times while they were taking debris out to the truck. First they chiseled off the tile, which was easier than I’d imagined it would be. Then they set about trying to remove the original plywood countertop, which was an absolute BEAST. It wasn’t neatly held in place with a few screws, it was nailed to the cabinets…with approximately one million 4″ nails. They used a reciprocating saw, a circular saw, multiple sizes of pry bars and chisels, hammers, mallets, and an angle grinder. It was an ordeal.
But! They didn’t damage the cabinets AT ALL! Like, not even a tiny scratch or chipped bit of paint. Amazing. Plus they swept and vacuumed when they were done. Then they loaded up their case of Corona (beer, not virus) and headed off to the dump.
The walls—which are concrete and plaster over rock lath/button board—took a beating, however. I expected this, because there’s really no way to rip tile off of plaster without causing damage. Not a big deal, though, and something I knew I’d be able to take care of myself before tiling the backsplash.
SO MUCH IMPROVEMENT, yes? It’s kind of wild to look back to the kitchen as it was in early 2018 and see just how much better it looked post-demolition—even without countertops or a sink. We started feeling really excited after the demo was done, and we went full steam ahead from this point on. Can you see it all taking shape and starting to come together? IT’S HAPPENING!!