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…

DIY Floor Removal: Surprise! Electrical Outlet in Floor

Floor outlet = floutlet

Found this outlet near the slider door.  The handwriting says “We don’t need this outlet”.

My elite carbon dating skills have dated this floor to 1993, so this outlet has been boarded up and un-loved for nearly 20 years.  Will it still work?


2013 Update:  We cut the new flooring around this outlet, but finding a cover for it was an $80 nightmare.  Unfortunately, a year later, I still have yet to find a use for it. I had dreams of a “charging station” over it, but I use the railing as a coat rack and am loathe to give that up for a thin table.  Maybe the previous owners were right to cover it up?  I don’t know.

Budget DIY Kitchen Remodel: Choosing a Kitchen Sink

With the countertop chosen and a measure scheduled with our installers (The Home Depot), the next order of business in our DIY kitchen remodel was to choose a sink and have it available for the measuring appointment.  Somewhat surprisingly, none of the sinks at the d’Pot really fit our requirements:

  • single bowl
  • huge size
  • under-mount
  • stainless steel


On Amazon we found this beauty: a Kraus brand single bowl stainless steel under-mount sink.  70+ reviews and 5 stars?  Yeah, I’m there.

The Kraus sink checks all our boxes (including price – at $300, it left budget for a classier faucet) and it’ll arrive with plenty of time to spare before the measure in two weeks.

choosing a kitchen sink kraus stainless steel


We also checked Home Depot’s website, which boasts of its 4000+ sink inventory, but none of those 4000 sinks met our needs, either.  I don’t know how that’s possible.

Some of the things we grappled with while choosing a kitchen sink:

Single Bowl vs. Double Bowl

This was an easy decision: I want a huge sink.

Like, the biggest sink that will fit in this kitchen, because I am done fighting with runt sinks designed for washing nothing larger than a drinking cup!

I have always been unhappy with double bowl setups in previous homes, and I can’t think of a single positive thing to say about them. I don’t do a lot of dishes by hand, but when I do it’s because I’m washing a couple one-off items like cookie sheets… and I don’t want soapy cookie sheets hanging halfway out the sink, dripping water and soap everywhere.

I really didn’t know what I’d do with a narrow bowl or a corner bowl or any of the other oddities I saw on display in the sink aisle.

Sink Size

I got the biggest sink that would fit, and it was completely worth it.  Go big, there’s no disadvantage to a large sink.  Just make sure of two things:

  • You’ve left enough space for a faucet
  • The bottom of your new sink won’t be lower than the drain pipe underneath your current sink


Under-mount has changed my life. An under-mount sink eliminates any “bump” between countertop and sink, so wiping crumbs off the countertop and into the sink is effortless.  Just wipe and in they go.  Future buyers will love you for your under-mount sink choice.

Also: no caulk rim around the sink edge to get dirty (or moldy).

Stainless Steel

Stainless just looks and functions better.  I’ve lived with two beige colored sinks that must’ve been painted or coated with something to give them that look, and they both looked nasty all the time no matter how much I scrubbed.

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