Repair kitchen counters that show a history of wine spills, dropped pans and unidentified sharp objects, and you’ll maintain the value of your kitchen and home. You can easily hide some counter mishaps, while only professional contractors can solve other surface problems. Here’s a look at counter cures and lost causes.
Even granite counters suffer kitchen wear and tear. But you can make them shine with a little time and know-how. After you fix them, don’t forget to reseal them.
• Cracks, chips, scratches: Fill nicks in granite by building up layers of epoxy resin coloured to match the stone. Clean the area first with acetone, which breaks down grease. Be sure to open a window for ventilation.
• Stains: The type of stain — wine or ink, oil or bleach — determines the type of poultice you’ll need to suck it out. A paste of flour and hydrogen peroxide pulls out grease, oil, bleach, and ink stains; a mix of flour and bleach cleans wine stains. If you want to go commercial, check out Alpha, Aqua Mix and StoneTech stone cleaners. Cost: $6 to $20.
Solid-surface countertops, such as Corian, are man-made from resin, acrylic and other materials. They’re tough but not impervious to scratches and stains. To repair minor scratches, rub a white polishing compound on the area with a wool pad, then apply a countertop wax. Cost: low.
For deeper scratches or cuts, you’ll have to call a professional. Figure labor costs at about $15 to $35 an hour. If you need to replace portions of the counter, figure at least $35 to $65 per square foot.
Fixing gouges or covering burns in laminate is tough for mortals, though repairing minor problems is doable.
• Fix small chips with laminate repair paste that matches the colour of the countertop.
• Cover scratches with countertop polish or car wax.
• Fix peeling laminate with contact cement applied to both surfaces and pressed back into place.
• Remove coffee and tea stains with vinegar or a paste of baking soda and household cleaner.
Bigger problems will require replacing the damaged stretch. Laminate comes in a billion colours, but finding an exact match for an old counter could be difficult or impossible.
To get the look you want, replace the counter. Labor will cost $15 to $35 per hour; countertops range from $3 per linear foot for Plain Jane straight-edged laminates to $100 per linear foot for laminates with a beveled edge that look like granite.
If you’ve planned ahead and stockpiled old tiles, then grab a few and replace cracked or scratched areas. If you don’t have extra tile, then attempt the following first aid:
• Wipe away scratches with a dab of toothpaste on a clean cloth.
• Work epoxy glue into cracks with a toothpick, then colour with matching oil-based artist paint.
• Remove old grout with a utility knife, then replace with a rubber trowel.
Stainless steel countertops become scratched, stained and dull over time. Although you’ll never completely remove scratches, you can buff them into a warm patina by massaging with vegetable oil.
Remove stains with a paste of baking soda and dish soap. A sprinkle of Barkeeper’s Friend will remove stains without scratching.
The 99¢ quick-fix
If you’ve ever had a scuff mark on a coloured countertop, you know that it sadly becomes the room’s focal point. But we found the right supplies to save you any embarrassment.
Crayons, 99 cents
Spatula knife, 99 cents
A microwave-safe bowl, 99 cents (If you have one you’re willing to sacrifice to melt crayons in, you just saved another 99 cents.)
Total: $2.97. $3.96 if you throw in a weak lemonade-type drink.
What you do:
Pick the crayon whose colour comes closest to matching your countertop. Peel off the paper and place it in the bowl.
Pop the crayon and bowl in the microwave.
Pour the hot, melted crayon onto the scuff mark and work it into the indentation with the spatula knife.
Scrape off the excess with the spatula knife.
The crayon mixture will harden and dry quickly, erasing your countertop flaw along with your embarrassment.
Remember, always test an inconspicuous area of your counter before attempting a repair.