This is the countertop I chose. While it has much more movement than the "dream kitchen" photo, I actually like the energy. It also picks up color from the tile and my current cabinets, but will work in a kitchen with white cabinetry in the future as well.

Kitchen Renovation Part 5: Countertop Installation!

After a long [and slightly painful] process, my dolce vita laminate countertop has been chosen, ordered, installed, removed, reordered, reinstalled, and is now perfect!

Dolce Vita Laminate Countertop

Here are some photos of my "bad" countertop. All of these problems were remedied with the reinstall, but held up my schedule for over 8 weeks.

Here are some photos of my “bad” countertop. All of these problems were remedied with the reinstall, but held up my schedule for over 8 weeks.

So… in case you are wondering why have I had the tile that long without putting it up… the answer is my countertop. Oh, my dear, dear countertop that took me months to pick out (if you can remember my desperate blog post about how many counter choices are available). I ended up choosing the Formica 180FX Laminate in Dolce Vita. It has a really unique driftwood-like pattern, and even though it’s an upgraded laminate product it still fit within my budget of $2,000.00 total for tile and countertop. It’s absolutely beautiful. However, after ordering, measuring, and installing the countertop over an 8-week period, there were majors problems with the measurements:

  • First, the seam was not in the location of the counter that had been discussed with me. I knew that the counter had a very very busy pattern, so I was very adamant about running the pattern all in one direction to avoid having too noticeable seams. Well, apparently all of my discussions were not enough for them to listen, so it was manufactured with a giant diagonal seam across a huge part of the L-shaped counter that shouldn’t have been there (1st photo on right).
  • Second, the original laminate counters in my kitchen were done with an “apron front” — which basically means that the countertop fits over the cabinets like a shoe box lid, rather than resting right on top of the cabinets. Even though the counter was measured, they didn’t notice the apron-front, and set the new counters right on top of my cabinets from 1957. This left a lot of unfinished pieces of cabinet showing, and gapping above my dishwasher (photo 3 and 2 on the right). Another catch to the way the countertops were set was that it completely messed up the backsplash height measurement for my custom cut tile. Instead of the backsplash height being 16″ as I measured, it was now 15 1/4″. Once you see my tile you’ll understand why I couldn’t just trim it to fit :).

Sadly, after discussing these major problems with the countertop installers (I will tell you their name if you ask me for it, but since the problem was corrected I will not reveal it publicly), they decided that none of my issues were problems, and basically hung up on me. So, I ended up having to write a detailed (4 page) letter explaining every issue along with every person involved, and copying the corporate headquarters of the company. After the letter was received by the headquarters, they were instantly back to my house to remeasure and redo the countertop manufacturing and installation. Another 6 weeks later, and my new- new countertop has been reinstalled. The new one is fabulous and I couldn’t be happier!

goodcounter

Here are some updated photos of the new countertop installation. You can see in each photo how the problems were remedied.

Here's a shot of the new countertop with the sink just sitting in the hole cut-out before installation.

Here’s a shot of the new countertop with the sink just sitting in the hole cut-out before installation.

 

Edge Detail of the Dolce Vita Laminate Countertop

Per request, here’s a photo of the edge detail for this countertop. Laminate countertops come in all different types of edge profiles (although I’ve found that once you get into fancy edging the price goes way up). I just got the basic edge veneer because of the curve near the left of my countertop in the picture above.

basic edge veneer

basic edge veneer

 

Current Seam Situation

I’ve had a few inquires for closeups of the current seams on the countertop. I did my best to take some photos of them. In some instances they are so difficult to see I actually used my finger to point them out to you. Hope this helps!

 

Dolce Vita Laminate Countertop Revealed:

tile-counterdetail

11 thoughts on “Kitchen Renovation Part 5: Countertop Installation!”

    1. Hi Nicole, They didn’t eliminate the seam, just put it in a different place and matched the pattern very, very well so you can barely see it. I have one seam at the sink (very hard to see because the sink cutout has eliminated most of it), and the other is about 6 inches from my stove. Typically laminate countertop sheets come in 8, 10, and 12 foot lengths and 30, 36, and 42 inch widths. So, in a traditional L-shaped countertop that’s about 26 inches wide, if you take a laminate piece that’s 12 feet by 42 inches you can eliminate that ugly corner seam and move it down (I know, math is the devil). Any of the countertop installers will help you find the best place for the seam. If you are using an installer, I recommend having them draw it for you, so there are no surprises. I’d also recommend having them add that drawing to your signed contract. I made this mistake and when the countertop was delivered all the seams were in different places than we had discussed. As far as the “brown” line, you can probably see in the closeup mistake photos above that it’s not noticable (I think because of a combination of the installer doing a very good job, and the color/pattern I chose)… however it is there. The great thing is that now they make all different “upgraded” edges for laminate countertops that completely eliminate this brown line because they are manufactured differently. Check out http://www.countertop.com/edges/ for some options. they look really nice if you have the budget for it! I can take more photos if that will help you. Let me know.

      1. I am planning on getting the dolce vita laminate countertop and was concerned about the mitred corner looking bad. Can you post a picture of how the seams were done so I can show it to the contractor. I don’t think they have ever cut the countertop the way you have shown it. It looks fantastic. Can you recommend a website where this type of cut is done?

        Also what type of backsplash tile did you go with?

        1. Hi Wanda,
          Information about the backsplash tile can be found in this post. The picture that says “no more seam” is showing the direction of the grain. It’s basically all going in the same direction. It’s not a standard cut, so I don’t think I can recommend a website to you. I just thought with the pattern that it made the most sense. The seams are nearly invisible (there’s one near the sink, which also isn’t standard, but because of the length of my counter it had to be done), and another about 6″ from the stove (again, not standard). The trick is to get the pattern to line up. I’ll try to take a picture of it later on.

        2. Hi Wanda,
          At the bottom of this post I put 4 photos of the current seams for you. Hope that helps. Let me know if you have any more questions.

  1. I really appreciate you being so candid about the counter top installation process. It is really helpful for the rest of us stuck in the middle trying to figure out the best way to approach things. The pictures really do speak volumes. Your kitchen looks great! I will definitely get a rendering to go along with the contract. Would you mind sharing your source for the counter tops with me? Was it a contractor through Lowes?

  2. halleluyah ,im not crazy!I had the same worries and although Ive had experience in renos,fabricators were acting as if Ime crazy for not wanting a seam at the corner of my golden Mascarella countertop because they wouldnt garantee a perfect seam.and asked for an insane amount to make it for me.I did get a deal on the fancy edge and the seam will be behind the slide in stove.Im wishing that it looks as good as yours does.wishme luck!

  3. Amy, we are getting ready to have laminate put in and, like you, I do NOT want a corner seam! Wondering what installer you went with. We were planning tentatively on Home Depot. Hoping it wasn’t them who were not responsive to your complaints. Glad when you went “higher up” it was resolved. Will plan to get some of those critical ( to me ) points in writing. Please let me know the co. you went with. Thanks!

  4. As a Sales Person for Countertops, please make your readers aware that NOT ALL COUNTERTOP INSTALLERS DO CUSTOM WORK like you kitchen. Your kitchen is VERY custom to most countertop installers in Canada, especially in the Atlantic Provinces. Mitres (or your corner join) are standard for L-Shape and U-Shape kitchens, and most times are not able to be altered.
    Formica’s Dolce Vita 180FX colour is an extremely hard patterned colour to join up, and hardly ever does nicely. The first image that you uploaded of your first join is a standard join and is what is usually done for the customer, and the customer should be aware that the mitered pieces WILL NOT line up in pattern.
    People who are looking at the 180FX colours and don’t like joins, PLEASE make sure that you talk about the mitres with your counter top installer and make your self aware of what the joins can look like. Google, google, google. It is your new best friend when trying to figure out what it’s going to look like.

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