how to extreme

Build a Solid Surface Kitchen Countertop

Construction How-To, Countertops, Remodeling July 14, 2016 Sonia


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A Step-by-step DIY Guide to Building with DuPont™ Corian®

By David Hugh

Building your own kitchen countertops can be a very gratifying project, as they are often the centerpiece of a home, and make for a heck of a DIY project you can be proud of. I know this because I recently finished my own kitchen countertops using Corian® solid surface material, and my family and I are thrilled with how it came out, not to mention the cost savings by doing it myself. Fortunately, I photo documented most of the construction stages of my new top, and now I have the opportunity to share my experience and process with you in this guide.

I did my best to follow the detailed how-to guides at SolidSurface.com and, as you will read, in some cases I didn’t always have the best tool for the job. But, hey, part of any DIY project is being resourceful and the joy of problem solving, and in the end it all worked out for me. Throughout this guide, I try to inform you if there is a more appropriate tool or technique than what I may have used to “wing-it”.

Solid Surface vs. Stone

I selected solid surface because of its characteristics as a countertop material and its fantastic workability and versatility. Regular woodworking tools can be used to cut and shape the material, unlike working with granite or engineered stone. One of the best and unique features of solid surface is that it can be glued together to appear seamless, depending on the material pattern and correct color-matched adhesive used. Other appealing features include it being non-porous, making it more hygienic, easily renewable and repairable, warmer to the touch, and no sealing is ever required.

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How Much Will You Save?

You could expect to save from $20-$30/sq ft by doing it yourself. An average 12-ft. long kitchen (~25sq-ft.) on the high-end that might cost $3,750 would cost more like $1,169 as DIY, a savings of $2,581. Not bad. This of course completely depends on what material you select and which tools you need to buy, but overall the savings can be pretty significant.

The savings for my larger-than-normal job were calculated at around $3,875. The material cost of my five sheets was $2,000 (note: shipping was delivered for free to a local freight terminal, and I just rented an hourly Home Depot truck to pick it up) plus $366 for a sink, and another $425 for tooling and accessories (adhesives, adhesive dispensing gun, router bits and sanding discs all purchased from SolidSurface.com) for a grand total of $2,791. Had I hired professionals to do it, the cost would have been around $6,600. That is an estimated savings of $3,809! Again, this was a fairly large project but had it been smaller, the savings would have scaled with the size of the job.

Sheet Material and Tooling Required

I had a decent size job made up of a main countertop, an island, and an add-on work desk, which measured to require five sheets of material at 30”x144”x0.5” per sheet. After much spousal deliberation we ultimately selected the color of Delta Sand, which was on overstock special at SolidSurface.com, but there are a handful of sources online that offer material.

I already had most of the tools for cutting and shaping and what I didn’t already have I was able to get online. If you do any seaming, which you most likely will, you will want to make sure to purchase an adhesive gun and matching adhesive, as noted by the asterisk below.

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  • 5 sheets Delta Sand “Overstock” Material (30”x144”x0.5”)
  • Seamless Undermount Karran Edge E-350 StainlessSteel Double Sink
  • Adhesive dispensing gun*
  • 2 tubes color-matched adhesive*
  • 20 extra adhesive mixing tips (strongly recommended)
  • Circular saw (corded or cordless 18v with extra batteries or track saws are great)
  • Long straight edge/fence(used for saw and router)
  • Router and router bits (router bits I used are explained in appropriate section)
  • Random orbit sander and sanding/finishing kit (multiple grits required for optimal finish)
  • Counterbalance (for island overhang supports)

* required for seaming Planning the Layout I won’t go into details of designing a kitchen, but I do recommend putting the time into planning, you won’t regret the future time and effort savings. For our kitchen, which included all new cabinets, I used one of the many online tools to design the layout in 3D using standard cabinet sizes.

YOu could create smaller templates and place them on the material to be cut, but it is nice to have one large template to just place and go. the corner gussets help keep it all together and maneuverable.

You could create smaller templates and place them on the material to be cut, but it is nice to have one large template to just place and go. the corner gussets help keep it all together and maneuverable.

Whether you are working with existing cabinets or putting in new cabinets, it’s very important to measure and remeasure the cabinet layout to ensure you are ordering enough countertop material, including all edge buildups and backsplashes.

Build a Template

Before making any cuts to my new countertop, I took the important step of building a template. A template is helpful because most kitchens are not perfectly square, and with longer countertops being out of square can cause problems. Templates make the overall fabrication process much easier, and the result is you’ll have the exact size and shape of each counter-top section to build.

Creating a template as a guide is an easy way to transfer the intended shape of the top to the material that is being used for the new top. You can use the template as a guide to mark where to make all of your cuts.

The notes written on the templating cardboard provided needed detail at particular locations.

The notes written on the templating cardboard provided needed detail at particular locations.

Tape was used to fasten the cardboard strips together, and the corner gussets were added to increase their stability when moving the template about. Using hot melt glue and Luan strips is another method that is often used for creating templates.