Kitchen Update, Part 4: Solid Surface Countertop & New Sink

OMG, I super love it!! I didn’t know I could feel this way about a counter top.  Our new counter top by Samsung, under their “Staron” brand.

2013 update: I think Samsung stopped making it.  The Staron website is dead and Home Depot doesn’t carry samples for it anymore. Wtf, why?  My solid surface countertop is AMAZING.

Countertop Before

Old pinkish laminate counter top which was miraculously undamaged, despite our best efforts to “test it”.  Also: crappy two-bowl sink that always looks dirty and is too small for anything.

Countertop After

Our new Samsung Staron counter top is a BEAUTY!  Perfect little white flakes give the surface an almost shimmery snow-like quality.  I especially love the lack of grey flecks.  Most of the “white with flecks” counter top options looked too much like cookies ‘n cream to me.  This one is like gazing into a gorgeous blizzard.

Quick, look now before we crap it up with appliances and dirty dishes:


Way to diversify your biz, Samsung. TVs, phones, and countertops? Why the hell not…

Solid Surface Countertop Seam

The seam is practically invisible.  I can only find it because I know where it is, but even then it takes me a moment to spot it sometimes.  The “seam-baking” step of the countertop installation was my favorite.

The installers glued little blocks (small Staron samples?) to the countertop then put these strong clips on while the seam “baked”.  Dad and I both were looking at these when one suddenly EXPLODED off and freaked us both out!!  We didn’t go near it again after that.  At this point I thought the seam was huge and hideous, but it cleaned up so nice the seam has really all but vanished.

New Kraus Sink


LOOK AT THIS HUGE SINK, OMG!!!  It’s a Kraus 31 1/2″ undermount single bowl 16 gauge stainless steel sink and it is AWESOME.  That water bottle holds 20 oz.  Every pan I own can fit into this sink.  

I ordered the sink from Amazon, mostly due to not being able to find anything like it locally but also because it was only $370, way less than I expected to pay for such a gigantic sink.  The sink is very light weight and all I had to do was hand it off to the guy who came to measure our countertop.

All in all, this new countertop is a huge raging success.  The solid surface is beautiful, the gigantic sink is amazing.

Budget DIY Kitchen Remodel: Contractors for Heavy Lifting

There are some things beyond our abilities/time as DIYers.  Those things are:

  • Countertop installation
  • Sink installation
  • Range hood installation
  • Flooring installation
  • Popcorn ceiling removal

To make ourselves go extra crazy, four of those things are going in over the course of the next five days.  Here are two last looks at our kitchen in its “before” state.

Bidding Adieu to Laminate Countertops

I think laminate gets an unfairly bad reputation.  Knowing that we were soon going to replace this countertop, we started going rough on it just to see what it could take.  Tools, hot pans, sharp knives – this counter survived it all!   We couldn’t destroy the laminate even when we tried.

For like, 10 bucks a square foot or whatever it is, this stuff is kitchen gold.  Sure, you won’t brag about it in your real estate listing, but it’s functional stuff!

The real villain here is the sink: its double bowl design means that our larger cookwear can’t fit into either bowl, making dish duty even more sucky than usual.  It’s a weird coated surface sink, too, and the pale surface shows every bit of dirt. Furthermore, the over-mount design means the seam between it and the countertop collects loads of filth and mold.  As far as First World middle-class problems go, this one is pretty crappy.

So, don’t feel bad about getting laminate countertops.  Do feel bad about getting a too-small double-bowled not-stainless sink.



Smell ya later, popcorn ceiling

Apparently this junk looked good in the 70s, but it’s just a horrid trap for cobwebs and water stains (which cannot be scrubbed off or painted).   It’s disgusting, and it falls down on its own, bit by bit.  Our contractor will be removing the popcorn, “re-mudding” the ceiling, and then painting it in the kitchen, dining room, and living room.



And so it begins…

Budget DIY Kitchen Remodel: Why We Chose a Solid Surface Countertop

We’ve scheduled a contractor to come out on March 15th and give us an estimate for all of the following:

  • new countertops
  • new sink + new faucet
  • laminate flooring in dining room, kitchen, drop zone, and hallway
  • lighting changes – just something that isn’t three ugly fluorescent bulbs

That means we have until March 14th to procrastinate on choosing colors need to make a decision on this counter top!

Our new counter top must-haves:

  • Undermount sink!
  • No bizarre cleaning regimens (I don’t want to seal / buff / oil anything)
  • Reasonably durable, though neither of us is particularly destructive nor do we intend to chop food or put hot pans on the counter
  • Must be cleanable with normal cleaning solutions, like Lysol kitchen spray
  • Affordability – our budget for this kitchen update is around $5000
  • Stain resistant – we can be messy

This kitchen’s a work zone. We both cook twice daily.  I don’t know where some of these counter top manufacturers get off making counter tops that aren’t rugged or stain proof but I suppose if you don’t actually use the counter top for cooking, it’s fine if it’s made of paper mache.

Corian solid surface counter top quickly became a front-runner.  Young House Love first drew my attention by choosing it for their kitchen.   (I swear I am not stalking them.  Okay, maybe a little.)

We eventually decided on Corian for all of the following reasons:

  • Non-porous (stain resistant!) and solid all the way through, so if terrible things happen they can be sanded/buffed out
  • Highly rated by Consumer Reports
  • Works with undermount sink, wooo
  • I just like the feel of Corian.  As in, I REEEEEALLY like the FEEEEEEL of it.  It’s so soft and smooth.   (Actually, forget I said that, that was creepy.)

The next challenge was figuring out what color to go with.  I hate agonizing over colors, I really do, but with the counter top making up about half our kitchen update budget, I couldn’t afford to just choose on whim.

Here are our samples, chillin’ on the pantry’s painted shelves.


There’s a slight “warm” tone to the less-speckled white Corian sample which clashes just a tad with the cabinet paint color.  (But seriously, that observation can safely be filed under “shit only Mandi would notice”.)

Ehh?  I feel like no matter which one I pick, it’s going to be WAY better than the aging off-pink laminate with scuffed up wood border that we have now.  I think the speckly grey/white one is my favorite.  The ‘Pot had a sample similar to it with tiny black flecks, but it looked way too much like Oreo crumbs in milk.  Not that I don’t love Oreos or milk or the combination thereof, I just worry about the world’s Oreo supply should I crave Oreos every time I go through my kitchen.  Ultimately, we chose a bright speckled white (and it was perfect).

When we went to make the purchase at Home Depot, we discovered Samsung had a promotion on their version of Corian that brought the price of a Samsung Staron counter top several hundred under the cost of the same counter top in Corian.  There we were, presented with another option we hadn’t even considered after hours of ruling out other choices.  A quick look at online reviews revealed Staron is just as well reviewed as Corian and chemically quite similar, so we said what the hell and went with it.

Our gorgeous Staron counter top was installed a few weeks later!

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